Trainers Set Sights on ‘wood’ Day

Champion Horses Target Undercard Stakes

Grade 3 Withers Stakes winner Alpha came out of last Saturday’s (Mar. 24) five-furlong breeze at Palm Meadows in great shape, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he is in the midst of finalizing plans to ship the Bernardini colt to New York for the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial on Apr. 7.

Risky Rachel, with jockey Cornelio Velasquez in the irons, cruised to victory in the $75,000 Broadway Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack last Saturday, Mar. 24.

“There’s a flight to New York on Apr. 4, but that’s a little close to the race,” said the trainer. “There might be another one going up on [Mar. 30]. We’ll figure it out in the next day or two .”He’s in great shape,” added McLaughlin of Alpha, who covered five furlongs in 1:00.99, secondfastest of 19 at the distance. “He’ll definitely be there.”

McLaughlin also could have a pair of contenders going in the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap on the Wood undercard. Emcee, third to Calibrachoa and Caleb’s Posse in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap, and Crossbow, winner of both his 2012 starts, are both under consideration for the seven-furlong race.

“We’re going to get a little closer and see what’s going on,” said Art Magnuson, McLaughlin’s assistant. “There’s also the Westchester [Handicap, Grade 3, Belmont Park, Apr. 28] to consider. They’re both doing well, so we’ll see.”

In addition, McLaughlin said Godolphin’s It’s Tricky remains on track for the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap on Apr. 14. Last Friday, Mar. 23, the four-year-old daughter of Mineshaft breezed four furlongs in 48.45, her first workout since her victory in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap. ‘The Lumber Guy’ goes for Wood

Barry Schwartz’s undefeated homebred, The Lumber Guy, recently outfitted with a patch for a quarter crack, zipped five furlongs in 1:01.64 Sunday morning, Mar. 25, over the training track at Belmont Park in preparation for the Wood Memorial, which would be his third career start. It was the second fastest of 14 moves at the distance.

“He worked well this morning,” said trainer Mike Hushion of the gray New York-bred. “We’re still looking at the Wood. He’s probably going to run. “

Hoof specialist Ian McKinlay repaired the quarter crack earlier this week, said Hushion. The colt sustained a grabbed quarter on his left front hoof during his 4 1/4-length vic- tory in the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park on Feb. 25.

“He had a little glitch, but he’s back on schedule, and right now, we’re going to give [the Wood] a try,” said Hushion.

The 1 1/8-mile Wood would be the first two-turn race for The Lumber Guy, a front-running 9 1/4-length winner of his debut at the Big A on Jan. 28. The Grand Slam colt’s 1:10.20 for the six furlongs earned him a 90 Beyer Speed Figure and a spot on NYRA’s “New York Watch” list, which spotlights promising colts and fillies that have recently cleared the maiden ranks at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

“I’d rather take a mini-step first time two turns, but we’re talking about the Wood so sometimes you do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do,” said Hushion. “His race in Maryland was pretty straightforward. He came out of the gate, stumbled, took off, and said goodbye.”

A rider has yet to be determined, added Hushion.

Trainer’s ‘perfect’ start

Risky Rachel, like her trainer’s career winning percentage, was “perfect” the morning after her victory in last Saturday’s $75,000 Broadway Stakes, her conditioner, Juan “Manny” Coronel, reported.

In the Broadway, Risky Rachel became the first starter and winner for her 35-year-old trainer, who had previously assisted trainers Frank Martin, Sr., Angel Penna, Jr., and H. James Bond.

“The owner [Sanford Bacon] was just here, and we checked out everything and we’re really, really happy,” said Coronel.

Born in Argentina, Coronel is the son of trainer Manuel Coronel and rode briefly in his home country before immigrating to the United States. Risky Rachel is currently the lone horse in his barn, although the trainer expects to soon receive four or five additional horses.

“When I stopped riding I moved to this country because I wanted to continue learning, and New York is the best of the best,” said Coronel. “I’m so proud to have spent the past seven to eight years with different trainers like Frank Martin, Angel Penna, Jr., and James Bond. I’ve worked for really, really good people. “

Coronel said Risky Rachel’s victory caught the attention of acquaintances in Argentina and the United States.

“I’m so blessed, so blessed,” said Coronel. “Now I feel relieved. Everything was perfect. Yesterday was very exciting. I got phone calls yesterday from everywhere, from my country, Argentina, from friends here in the United States. Today people have been coming to see me [at the barn].”

The Broadway was the second stakes victory for Risky Rachel, who in 2011 won the Friendly Island Iroquois under Bond’s tutelage. With the mare hitting her best stride at the age of five, Coronel said he and Bacon want to thoroughly explore their options before they map out a plan for the daughter of Limehouse.

“We have a couple of choices, but we’ll see,” said Coronel. “It’s the first day after the race, and she came out of the race well. Over the next couple of days we’ll see what the best choice is for her. She’s a nice, nice New York-bred, so we want what’s best for her. We have to be smart for the next race. We want to win again.”

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