Trainer Rudy Rodriguez entered Sunday’s card at Aqueduct on top of the trainer standings with a record of 47-10-2-5 and has a number of stakes contenders lining up to bolster purse earnings already at $429,253 at the Ozone Park, N.Y., track. He added one win and a second-place finish on Sunday.
The 48-year-old conditioner, who has won 14 individual NYRA meet titles in his career, captured the 2018 winter meet with 38 wins.
“We’ve got a good group of people working for us, the same people that have been working for us all along,” said Rodriguez. “When the horses are running the way you see them train, that’s a plus. Some horses are running good and some horses are running a little better, we just have to keep working hard and hopefully things will keep working out.
“I’m not really thinking about winning titles, I’m just trying to keep my horses running good,” added Rodriguez. “If it works out that’s good, but I think we’ve been holding our own the past couple years”
The Elkstone Group’s Wudda U Think Now, a New York-bred son of Fast Anna, earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure for his half-length score on Friday when travelling seven furlongs in a first-level allowance sprint for state-breds.
Bred by Mina Equivest, Wudda U Think Now was purchased for $60,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Yearling Sale. Out of the Unbridled Jet mare Unbridled Grace, Wudda U Think Now graduated at second asking in November when sprinting six furlongs on a muddy Big A main track and followed with a good second on December 10 to Jerry the Nipper, who came back to win a second-level allowance tilt.
Rodriguez said Wudda U Think Now has improved steadily since arriving in his care.
“He’s been very consistent since we got him,” said Rodriguez. “The people at the farm did a good job and the horse came back very good. I’m just trying to keep it together and the horse is showing that he can be any kind of horse.
“I’ll talk to the owner, Mr. Grant, and see what is next but we’d like to break the conditions and then see what we’ve got,” added Rodriguez. “I don’t want to take anything away from the horse. I like him a lot. He’s great body wise, behavior and training in the morning. He’s a straightforward horse that will improve with racing.”
Michael Dubb’s Pete’s Play Call was claimed for $62,500 out of a winning effort on November 27 at the Big A and captured the Gravesend on January 2 at first asking for new connections.
“He’s been very consistent. We were lucky the other day with five horses in the race and a horse in front to set it up,” said Rodriguez. “Speed held up good that day and thankfully it worked out for us.”
Rodriguez said he will consider pointing the 8-year-old Munnings gelding to the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan, a seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up on January 30.
“That’s what we’re pointing for and if he trains into that race the same way, I think we’ll take the chance,” said Rodriguez.
E.V. Racing Stable’s Eagle Orb, winner of the Notebook for state-breds on November 14 at the Big A, finished second last out in the Jerome on New Year’s Day in a race won in frontrunning style by Capo Kane.
“I’m not sure if distance will be an issue for him, but the other horse ran a big race. We tried to make a run at the winner but we couldn’t catch him,” said Rodriguez. “The owner wants to point at the Gotham so we’ll give him another shot at the mile.”
The Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, a one-turn mile offering 50-2-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers, is slated for March 6.
Graded-stakes placed Water White, a 4-year-old Conveyance filly also owned by E.V. Racing Stable, was last seen on track in June when a distant third in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont.
The talented gray, who captured the Busher Invitational in March at the Big A, returned to the work tab on January 3 and added a second three-eighths breeze Sunday morning in 38.01 on the Belmont dirt tracking track.
Repole Stable’s Backsideofthemoon earned a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure for his six-length score in the nine-furlong Queens County on December 19 at the Big A.
Rodriguez said the 9-year-old Malibu Moon gelding, who sports a record of 47-8-9-7, will likely return in the $100,000 Jazil, a nine-furlong test for 4-year-olds and up on January 23 at Aqueduct.
“It looks like he came out of the race well. We’ll point for the Jazil and hopefully he can have another good year,” said Rodriguez.
Backsideofthemoon won the 2018 Jazil and finished second in last year’s renewal to likely returning champion Mr. Buff.
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