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Say Florida Sandy Stakes 2024 | Aqueduct Picks

Say Florida Sandy Stakes 2024 | Aqueduct Picks

Race Point Stables’ Andiamo a Firenze will look to score fresh off the claim for new connections in Sunday’s $100,000 Say Florida Sandy Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for older New York-breds, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Say Florida Sandy Stakes is slated as Race 4 on Sunday’s 10-race program, which also features the re-scheduled $100,000 Rego Park in Race 9. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.

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The 4-year-old Speightstown colt, out of the Langfuhr mare My Every Wish, is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes-winning multi-millionaire Firenze Fire, who now stands at Arrow Stud in Japan. 

Andiamo a Firenze, who was bred and campaigned previously by Mr Amore Stables, started his career with trainer Kelly Breen before joining the Carlos David barn in the summer. He was haltered by trainer David Duggan for $62,500 from a pacesetting runner-up effort to American Monarch when racing off a two-month layoff in a six-furlong optional-claimer against open company here on New Year’s Eve.

The strong performance by Andiamo a Firenze, who worked back a half-mile in 48.61 seconds Tuesday over the Belmont Park dirt training track, garnered a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

“The distance is a bit of a question mark at this level, but he was claimed from good people that got him right,” Duggan said. “He’s trained well and worked nicely the other day, so we’ll how it goes.

“He’s a classy dude,” Duggan added. “He’s been competitive in every barn he’s been in and the pedigree is there. I’ve always had an eye on the horse. You look at 20 different horses a week and he rose up the last time we looked at him. He’s been on our radar for a while.”

Andiamo a Firenze showed early promise with a debut maiden score in June 2022 at Belmont Park ahead of a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Sanford one month later at Saratoga Race Course. He captured the Spa’s state-bred Funny Cide traveling 6 1/2- furlongs that August ahead of a distant fourth in the Grade 1 Champagne going a one-turn mile in October 2022 at Belmont at the Big A.

Andiamo a Firenze closed out his juvenile campaign with a narrow nose defeat in the New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes.

Andiamo a Firenze tried his luck on the Kentucky Derby trail here last year, finishing fifth in the one-mile Jerome and a distant fourth in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Withers. He returned to form with a prominent second sprinting six-furlongs in the state-bred Damon Runyon in March here.

Duggan said Andiamo a Firenze, who has yet to win beyond 6 1/2-furlongs, is at his best when loose on the lead. He will exit post 2 Sunday under returning rider Luis Rivera, Jr.

“He’s very sprinter looking and that’s the concern going seven-eighths,” Duggan said. “He’s a one-dimensional sprinter and he’s always been a little bit better being on the lead. He seems a little bit braver when he’s there, so the concern is if there’s a bit of pace pressure and going head-to-head with him to take away his strong attribute.”

Duggan has hit the board with 6-of-7 starters this year at the Big A, including a pair of wins.

“This is our time to shine,” Duggan said. “We focus on the winter campaign 90 percent of the time. We have a couple more bullets to fire during the winter this year than in past years, and the ones that we have are fitting in nicely into the condition book and the program here.”

William J. Butler’s New York-homebred Rotknee [post 3, Jose Lezcano], has hit the board in 6-of-8 starts at the Big A led by a score in the state-bred Hudson in October over muddy and sealed going.

Trained by Mike Maker, the 5-year-old Runhappy colt has performed admirably sprinting six furlongs against open company in his last two outings here in events won by fellow New York-bred Bold Journey when third in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap in November and second in the Gravesend on December 30 on a muddy track.

Rotknee earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his prominent effort in the Hudson where he opened up by 5 1/2-lengths at the stretch call en route to a one-length score over the late-running Grade 1-placed Ny Traffic. He will carry a field-high 124 pounds Sunday, six pounds more than each of his five rivals.

Rotknee, a half-brother to multiple stakes-winner My Mane Squeeze, is out of the Speightstown mare In Spite of Mama, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-placed A Freud of Mama.

Klaravich Stables’ dual stakes-placed Aggregation [post 1, Manny Franco] arrives from a prominent runner-up effort to stablemate Dr Ardito in the state-bred Alex M. Robb for trainer Chad Brown.

The 5-year-old Flatter dark bay rode a two-race win streak into the one-turn mile Alex M. Robb and opened up by three-lengths under Kendrick Carmouche at the stretch call but could not stave off the charge of Dr Ardito.

In his prior outing, Aggregation earned a career-high 100 Beyer for an open-company allowance score here.

Bred by Graceville Breeding, Aggregation finished a distant third in last year’s New York Derby at Finger Lakes.

Seacoast Thoroughbreds of New England’s New York homebred General Banker [post 6, Dylan Davis] will look to return to winning form for trainer James Ferraro.

The 4-year-old Central Banker dark bay has made his last four starts at the Big A, closing to win a state-bred allowance sprint in October before good efforts in stakes company when second in the seven-furlong NYSSS Thunder Rumble on December 3 and fourth in the one-mile Alex M. Robb on December 29 against fellow state-breds.

He was a distant fifth last out in a state-bred optional-claiming sprint on January 18.

General Banker enjoyed a strong sophomore campaign that saw him finish third in the Jerome, Grade 3 Withers and Grade 3 Gotham at the Big A.

Five-time winner Disarmed [post 4, Ruben Silvera] will make his stakes debut for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who co-owns with Michael Imperio and Andrew Gurdon.

The speedy 4-year-old Maclean’s Music bay, bred by Kingsport Farms, enters on a two-race win streak here, taking a six-furlong state-bred optional-claimer in October and a 6 1/2-furlong open-company allowance sprint on December 16 where he bested next-out winner Ocean’s Reserve by a half-length.

Disarmed, haltered for $40,000 last December, is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Saravati, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire You.

Rounding out the field is Bona Venture Stables’ four-time winner Ocean’s Reserve [post 5, Lane Luzzi] for trainer Leah Gyarmati. The 5-year-old Speightster chestnut, bred by Pioneer Ventures, arrives from a prominent open-company allowance score on January 14 here.