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OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Set to make his first graded stakes attempt since a fourth-place finish in the 2014 Travers, Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable’s Kid Cruz will look to add black type to his pedigree facing four competitors in the Grade 3, $200,000 Excelsior at 1 ¼ miles for 4-year-olds and up.
The Excelsior is the first of five graded stakes races on Saturday’s card at Aqueduct Racetrack anchored by the 92nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial.
The 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid won last out on February 13 in the John B. Campbell Stakes at Laurel Park. Previous to that race, in his first start of the year on January 16, the Linda Rice trainee came up short to finish fourth in the Jazil Stakes at the Big A.
“He’s probably gotten more time than he needed between races but we are where we are,” said Rice. “I’m always concerned going a mile and a quarter that there’s not enough pace in the race, that always concerns me. In his shorter races, there’s usually a more honest pace for him to close into, but it is what it is and we’ll give it a shot.”
Installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite, Kid Cruz will depart from post position 2 with Jose Ortiz in the irons.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will enter Madefromlucky for Cheyenne Stables LLC and Mac Nicol. The 4-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky began his 2016 campaign at Gulfstream Park where he finished eighth in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. In his most recent race on March 13 in the Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct, he ran an encouraging third.
“He’s training well,” said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher. “He came out of his last race in good form and we’re hoping for another big effort. He seems to be more mature [as a 4-year-old] physically and mentally.”
With Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons, Madefromlucky will leave from post 4 as the 2-1 second-choice on the morning line.
Looking to make his 49th career start, hard-knocking veteran Turco Bravo will enter from the barn of trainer Gary Contessa and Winning Move Stable.
With a career record of three wins and three second-place finishes from seven starts at the distance, the 7-year-old Chilean-bred heads into the Excelsior coming off a victory in the Stymie and will leave from the rail as the 7-2 third-choice on the morning line with Dylan Davis in the irons.
Rounding out the field are Good Luck Gus, who most recently won the Haynesfield Stakes in February at Aqueduct for trainer Rudy Rodriguez and owners Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables; and Norumbega for Hall of Fame trainer Shug Mcgaughey and owner Stuart S. Janney.
The field for the Grade 3, $200,000 Excelsior Stakes:
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