Sunny Ridge delivers in Withers; Rudy Rodriguez continues winning ways on inner track

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

February 3rd, 2016


There was a pair of graded runs at Aqueduct this weekend.

Withers S. (G3): Dennis Drazin’s homebred SUNNY RIDGE (Holy Bull) prompted the pace from the opening bell and gradually wore down his main foe en route to a three-parts of a length tally with Manny Franco in the irons. The talented Jason Servis pupil clocked 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner surface in 1:46 4/5. Flexibility (Bluegrass Cat), the 1-2 favorite following a victory in the January 2 Jerome (G3), was never a serious factor finishing fourth.

Toboggan S. (G3): Robert LaPenta’s SASSICAIA (Bernardini) rated well off the pace but put in a big late run to get up and secure a neck decision for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. Making his graded stakes debut, the five-year-old stopped the teletimer in 1:10 2/5 for six panels on the fast inner oval.

Track Stats

A total of 38 races were held over the inner strip at the Long Island, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 37 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 55 percent of the wins during the week. Twelve races were won in wire-to-wire fashion (32 percent).

We thought the inner surface played fairly this past week, with all types coming home a winner. And each of the four days of racing yielded a trio of wire-to-wire winners. Five of those came going long, and seven in one-turn dashes.

For those who didn’t take notice, trainer Rudy Rodriguez is on quite a roll, winning three races alone on Saturday. He easily leads the trainer standings with 29 wins on the inner track (10 more than Linda Rice in second) and we suggest riding the current trend with Rodriguez until it slows.

Meet Totals









106 (39%)

2ND Choices:


48 (18%)

Dirt Wire:


78 (29%)





Thursday (1/28)

4TH – FREE N CLEAR (Bluegrass Cat) didn’t really make the winner sweat in this run, but the first-time starter was clear of her nearest foe while second in a nice start to her career. The Nick Esler trainee won’t be a maiden for long with races of this nature and expected improvement going forward.

5TH – We think trainer Steve Klesaris made a good claim of race winner METAL MAGIC (Yes It’s True), who took over leaving the far turn and came home well in a sharp score. The three-year-old colt has room for growth, as well.

Friday (1/29)

2ND – ITSGOODINTHEHOOD (Old Fashioned) was very professional in a sharp debut win and might have a bright future ahead of her for Rudy Rodriguez. The sophomore lass chased a clear leader early, moved to the fore in early stretch and then powered home in a fine display for the level.

6TH – BEAR IT (Majesticperfection) took the lead at the top of the lane and held a nice edge down the stretch en route to a comfortable maiden tally in her first outing for Christophe Clement. The four-year-old has been solid from a trio of career runs to date, and we think she might have a future on the turf going forward.

Saturday (1/30)

1ST—TIZ LONG GONE (Tizway) took the lead soon after the start and was always in control in posting a fine debut tally for conditioner Linda Rice. The sophomore colt, who was sent off at a nice price, is surely one to keep an eye on this season.

3RD – FORTUITOUS PATH (Quality Road) was last early but closed with a ton of energy to draw off from this field for Rudy Rod. This was the first run for the four-year-old without Lasix, and he posted a lifetime best 103 BRIS Speed number in the process.

4TH – We tabbed ADVENTIST (Any Given Saturday) for the win in just his second lifetime start in this graded offering, and while the Leah Gyarmati trainee finished third, we like what we saw and still consider the sophomore to be a very good prospect.

7TH – JCS AMERICAN DREAM (Catienus) cost herself with a poor break from the rail, forcing her to last through the opening half-mile, but the mare offered a commendable late run to be a clear second in a fine effort under Jose Ortiz. The Chad Brown charge will be tough next time with even slight improvement from the start.

Sunday (1/31)

5TH – We’re not certain what MY MAN SAM (Trappe Shot) topped in this maiden score, but the Brown trainee surely looked good in dominating through the lane over this field. The three-year-old colt could be a nice one going forward with continued growth.

A Look Ahead

There is no graded racing this week at Aqueduct.