Sudden Surprise highlights Damon Runyon; Fall Highweight top three square off in Gravesend
The mile-and-70-yard contest is one of two stakes on the day-after-Christmas program at Aqueduct, sharing the spotlight with the $100,000 Gravesend S. sending a field of six sprinting three-quarters on the inner track.
The Damon Runyon will get the stakes action underway pretty early on the card and could end up moving Sudden Surprise’s record to five-for-six. The bay colt opened his career with three straight scores, including the Funny Cide S. and Bertram F. Bongard S. at Saratoga and Belmont Park, respectively.
Next came the Sleepy Hollow S., part of Empire Showcase Day at Belmont, where Sudden Surprise found himself not on the lead for the first time. The Giant Surprise homebred finished fourth on that occasion, then returned to the winner’s circle last out with another front-running effort in the Notebook S. at Aqueduct.
Sudden Surprise has only ever faced fellow New York-breds and continues that tradition on Saturday when lining up in the Damon Runyon.
Also featured in the race is Spooked Out, Gehrig and Taoiseach. Spooked Out is the only other runner in the group with prior stakes experience, having finished fourth in the King’s Swan S. last out on November 27 at Aqueduct.
Gehrig just broke his maiden in his second start by 2 1/2 lengths, while Taoiseach posted a three-quarter length allowance/optional claiming score just two weeks ago going 1 1/16 miles over the track.
Toward the end of next Saturday day, Green Gratto will attempt to earn a second straight stakes win in the Gravesend.
The Gaston Grant-trained five-year-old upset the Fall Highweight H. (G3) at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving weekend and could continue his holiday success in the Gravesend while making his 16th start of the year. Green Gratto placed in both the Carter H. (G1) and Tom Fool H. (G3) earlier this year.
The Gravesend gives multiple Grade 1 winner Palace an opportunity to avenge his head loss in the Fall Highweight, a race he won in 2013. The City Zip six-year-old captured the Hudson S. on Empire Showcase Day, ran third in the Frank H. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park, then tried the Fall Highweight in his last race.
Fabulous Kid completed the Fall Highweight trifecta another half-length back in third and will try his luck against Green Gratto and Palace yet again in the Gravesend.
Sudden Surprise and Green Gratto photos courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography