Six older horses seek their first graded stakes score in the $150,000 Toboggan Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack Feb. 2, led by 120-pound highweight Mine Over Matter and the recently claimed Johannesburg Smile, who carries 118.
The six-furlong Toboggan, to be run as race 8 with an approximate post time of 4:48 p.m. EST, is one of four stakes on a day anchored by the $200,000 Withers for sophomore runners.
Chester and Mary Broman's Mine Over Matter, who will be sent out by trainer Mike Hushion along with stablemate P J's Magical Wink, is a familiar face in New York where he won two stakes in 2012 -- the Oct. 20 Hudson at Belmont Park and the April 22 Fabersham -- while racing competitively in many others. The final start of 2012 from the 6-year-old son of Mineshaft resulted in a third in the Fall Highweight Handicap behind Caixia Eletronica and This Ones for Phil, after which he ran second Jan. 20 in the Turnofthecentury Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths to the Bob Baffert-trained Brigand.
Mine Over Matter drew post 5 and will be ridden by Junior Alvarado. P J's Magical Wink, a 5-year-old Florida-bred Gimmeawink gelding owned by Marty Cunningham, starts from post 4 under Channing Hill in his first outing of 2013. He wrapped up 2012 finishing fifth in a Dec. 23 allowance at Parx Racing; this is his stakes debut.
Johannesburg Smile won a Jan. 4 optional claimer while running for the $100,000 tag. He beat Gallant Fields by half a length after pressing the pace and looming up to take the lead just past the five sixteenths pole. The 6-year-old son of Johannesburg is a multiple winner of overnight stakes on the NYRA circuit for breeder Francis Paolangeli and trainer Dominic Galluscio.
Another familiar contender is Head Heart Hoof from the barn of Rudy Rodriguez; he will also carry 118 pounds when breaking from the far outside under Cornelio Velasquez. The 7-year-old New York-bred son of Intidab won the Jan. 9 True Blue Stakes going six furlongs by 2 1/4 lengths over Royal Currier. He has been in the money in his past four starts for owner Michael Dubb and partners including an Oct. 26 claiming race in which he could have been had for $30,000. Rodriguez will also saddle Zayat Stables' Jan. 10 allowance winner Sinai, a 5-year-old son of Rockport Harbor.
Isn't He Perfect, runner-up to Last Gunfighter by a half-length in the Jan. 19 Evening Attire Stakes last time out, ran well in overnight stakes on the NYRA circuit in 2012 but has not recorded a win for trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal since an allowance score at Belmont last May. The 5-year-old Pleasantly Perfect runner competed on the 2011 Triple Crown trail and ran ninth in the Preakness Stakes.