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Four NYRA stakes winners clash in $100K Hollie Hughes
Credit: NYRA

Four NYRA stakes winners clash in $100K Hollie Hughes

OZONE PARK, NY – An accomplished field of five New York-breds, four of which are stakes winners, has been assembled for the featured event on Aqueduct Racetrack’s Monday holiday program in the 42nd running of the $100,000 Hollie Hughes.

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The 6-furlong sprint is named in honor of the 1973 Hall of Fame inductee, who trained talented runners in both the flat and steeplechase categories. In addition to winning the American Grand National 6 times, the native of Amsterdam, New York also trained 1916 Kentucky Derby winner George Smith.

The talented field attracted two previous winners of the Hollie Hughes, including last year’s winner Amundson for trainer Horacio DePaz.

The 5-year-old bay son of Curlin seeks his first trip to the winner’s circle since last year’s Hollie Hughes, where he dictated terms and won by 2 lengths. Amundson will make his first start since a distant seventh as the favorite in the John Morrissey last summer at Saratoga.

“He runs hard every time,” DePaz said. “We gave him a break after the race at Saratoga. It was nothing physical, it was just a mental break more than anything else. We just wanted him freshened up for a 2021 campaign to get him geared up for the springtime.”

Owner Barry Schwartz has won the Hollie Hughes a record 6 times, including 3 straight victories with Papua from 2003-05.

“He’s got a good track record in the race, hopefully we can continue it,” DePaz said of Amundson.

Jockey Jorge Vargas Jr. was aboard for last year’s victory and will be back aboard from post 5.

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Trainer Michelle Nevin will saddle two contenders, including 2018 Hollie Hughes winner My Boy Tate, who looks to become the first non-consecutive winner of 2 editions of the race since Be Bullish won in 2011 and 2014.

Owned by Nevin and Little Red Feather Racing, the homebred son of Boys At Tosconova will try to make amends after a pair of fourth-place finishes at the Big A against stakes company. In addition his Hollie Hughes score, My Boy Tate also owns stakes triumphs in the 2018 Say Florida Sandy and the NYSSS Thunder Rumble in November 2019.

Jockey Manny Franco has piloted My Boy Tate to 3 of his 7 lifetime victories and will return to the saddle from post 4.

Nevin also sends out Our Last Buck, who arrives off a triumph in the Say Florida Sandy on January 9. The 7-year-old son of Courageous Cat tracked in fourth just off of multiple stakes-winner Funny Guy, angled into the four path in upper stretch and took command inside the 1/8 pole to win by 3 3/4 lengths.

“He’s a very easy going horse and he seems very versatile,” Nevin said.

Meet-leading rider Kendrick Carmouche will be back aboard Our Last Buck from post 3.

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Ronald Brown’s Tribecca is the most seasoned horse in the field with a 13-5-5 record through 40 starts and seeks his third stakes triumph from post 1.

Trained by Chris Englehart, Tribecca was a last-out fourth beaten a length in the Fall Highweight (G3) but was a gate-to-wire winner in his previous effort when taking the October 24 Hudson Handicap against fellow New York-breds at Belmont Park.

“I thought he ran very well last time, but he still finished fourth,” said Englehart. “It was a good effort, but I’d like to stick with the New York-breds with him.”

Since claiming Tribecca for $25,000 in August 2019, Englehart has saddled the veteran son of Bustin Stones to 6 trips to the winner’s circle in 10 starts.

“My owner picked him out and we dropped the claim,” Englehart said. “He had a few issues and my team in New York did a good job with him and got him to improve some. We addressed the issues and he got good and sound. He’s a pretty durable horse.”

Jockey Trevor McCarthy will ride Tribecca.

Completing the field is McCourt Racing’s Big Engine for trainer Linda Rice, a 6-year-old son of Not For Love who was second to Tribecca in the Hudson 2 starts back. Never worse than second when competing over the Aqueduct main track, Big Engine broke his maiden at the Big A at third asking in February 2019 and defeated state-bred allowance company in his final start of that year.

Jockey Eric Cancel will be aboard from post 2.

The Hollie Hughes is slated as Race 7 on Aqueduct’s eight-race program. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.

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