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Monday, December 19, 2011
Saturdays are alright for Frazil

By Bob Ehalt

If you follow New York racing on a regular basis, then you had to get a charge out of Saturday’s $65,000 Gravesend Handicap.

Frazil is hardly a well-known horse among those whose involvement in the sport is limited to weekends and graded stakes fare. But for those regulars who spend Wednesdays, Thursdays and every other racing day scanning the NYRA entries, Frazil should be a familiar and popular old friend.

While the Gravesend marked Frazil’s eighth victory in 13 starts this year -- all in New York -- none of the other seven wins had black type associated with them.

His last two wins, which, coincidentally were his last two starts, came in starter allowance contests, the type of races made famous recently by Rapid Redux, Mr. 21-straight wins himself.

In fact, 10 of Frazil’s previous 12 races came in either starter allowance or starter handicap races, which are restricted to horses that started for a specific claiming price -- or lower.

For Frazil, these have been $16,000, $12,500, and $10,000 starter races, all the result of running for a lowly $10,000 claiming tag in 2010. They’re usually filler for weekday cards as reflected in Frazil’s 2011 dance card of three races on a Thursday and Sunday, two on a Friday and Wednesday and one on Monday.

He didn’t grace a Saturday card until his last start, when he captured a $10,000 starter handicap on Nov. 5 while carrying 126 pounds.

Now with a victory in his stakes debut to his credit, it looks like the popular weekday warrior, who never paid more than $5.70 to win in 2011 before his $7 mutuel in the Gravesend, may finally be a Saturday regular.

“I was really proud of him,” said Linda Rice who owns and trains Frazil. “Obviously, he’d been carrying so much weight for so long, the 115 [pounds] helped him. Today, everything went perfectly. I’ve trained him since he was a 2-year-old. He was a big, clumsy young horse. He’s a very big horse, about 17 hands, and we gave him a chance to find his way. He’s something -- he pins his ears back, his head’s down, you can see the expression in his eyes -- he’s a barn favorite.”

Judging by all those odds-on payoffs in Frazil’s past performances, Rice’s barn isn’t the only place he has been a big favorite.