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OZONE PARK, NY – Noda Brothers’ Danny California needs a reversal of his recent form if he hopes to contend in Saturday’s $100,000 Queens County Stakes at Aqueduct.
The Queens County is a 1 1/8-mile dirt route open to horses 3 and up. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card and has a local post time of 3:45 PM.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the Queens County:
1. Danny California 15/1 – He makes a quick turnaround after racing in fifth at every point of call in last Saturday’s Alex M. Robb Stakes against fellow New York-breds. He won 3 straight this summer, including the 1 1/2-mile Miner’s Mark Stakes against open company, but he’ll need to show much more energy than he has in his last 2 starts, including the TAA Marathon (G2).
2. Mirinaque 4/1 – The Argentinian native makes his first start for new trainer Wesley Ward after Maria Munoz returned to the South American country for the winter. A Group 1 winner at both 1 and 1 9/16 miles on dirt, he struggled in his first 2 American starts but was a strong second in the TAA Marathon last time out. Ward hits at 30% with new horses in his barn.
3. Empty Tomb 6/1 – He makes his stakes debut in this spot after exhausting his allowance conditions and will try to give trainer Mike Maker his first title in this race. He reunites with jockey Manny Franco, who piloted him to a second-place finish on a muddy Saratoga course while going this distance before earning his most recent victory in a 1 1/16-mile Belmont Park event.
4. Backsideofthemoon 8/5 – Trainer Rudy Rodriguez and owner Repole Stable claimed this grizzled 8-year-old veteran for $62.5k after he finished second to Empty Tomb in that rival’s latest win. Backsideofthemoon immediately paid dividends for his new connections, winning a sloppy (sealed) optional claiming event over this course and distance last month.
5. Musical Heart 9/5 – He missed to Backsideofthemoon by a neck last time out and was claimed for $62.5k by trainer Rob Atras and owner Michael Dubb. Atras is familiar with this 5-year-old gelding; he claimed him for $25k in July, then lost him next out for $32k after he wired a field going 1 1/8 miles on a fast Saratoga course. Atras wins at 27% first off the claim.
6. Forewarned 8/1 – Owner/trainer Uriah St. Lewis has never shied away from a challenge with this horse and sends him out for his 15th straight stakes try. His only 2 victories in that span came against fellow Ohio-breds, but the hard-trying intact son of Flatter has hit the board in 16 of his 31 career starts and should be considered at least a spicy exotics threat, if not more.
7. So High 50/1 – Like Musical Heart, this is his first start for new connections after getting tagged for $25k out of a fifth-place finish (beaten 3/4 of a length) going 1 1/16 miles on the local lawn. A winner on turf and synthetic surfaces, his lone prior dirt try was a second-place effort against optional claimers in a sloppy (sealed) off-turf Monmouth Park event at 1 1/2 miles.
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