The uncertainty regarding how she’ll handle a wet track – if only because she’s never raced over one – may be the biggest hurdle Big Birthday faces Sunday at Aqueduct when she tries to clear the second-level allowance condition.
Rain and warm temperatures are forecast for Sunday’s eight-race card, which drew only 52 horses.
Big Birthday, a 4-year-old daughter of Mineshaft trained by Chad Brown was a sharp winner of a first-level allowance race here at 4-5 on Jan. 18. That day, she was widest of all as part of a four-ply speed duel, then kicked on when asked to run by jockey Manny Franco turning for home. She earned a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure.
Though Big Birthday has never raced over a wet surface, her sire, Mineshaft, won a Grade 1 over a sloppy track. It’s Tricky, a half-sister to Big Birthday’s dam, Jellicle, also won a Grade 1 over a wet surface.
Sunday, Big Birthday breaks from post 4 in a six-horse field in a race where the speed is drawn to her inside.
Trainer Linda Rice sends out the uncoupled entry of D J’s Favorite and Picture Day, both of whom are multiple winners over a wet surface.
D J’s Favorite is wheeling back just nine days after finishing third in this condition over a fast track going a mile. This will be her first start at seven furlongs.
“D J loves a wet track, which is the reason I put her back on short rest,” Rice said. “I think she’s okay at seven-eighths. I think Chad’s horse looks real tough in there.”
Picture Day has not run since finishing second in this condition on Sept. 9 when not offered for the optional claiming price of $62,500. She is one of two horses in this field in for the tag Sunday.
“She came out of her last race a little crabby, so I gave her some time,” Rice said. “Seven-eighths might be a little far for her off the layoff.”
Kendrick Carmouche, who has not ridden in a race since breaking a leg in a spill on Sept. 8 at Kentucky Downs, makes his return to the saddle here. He rides Short Kakes for trainer David Cannizzo.
Mid-Atlantic shippers Celesse and Hailey’s Flip – the latter in for the tag – complete the field.
Big Birthday, by Mineshaft
Last 3 Beyers: 85-84-77
◗ Finished third in a key first-level allowance here Dec. 8.
◗ Not only did Big Birthday win next out, but fourth-place finisher Bluegrass Jamboree came back to win her next start by 8 1/4 lengths with a career-best 95 Beyer. Sixth-place finisher Aunt Babe came back to record a career-high Beyer next out when second.
D J’s Favorite, by Union Rags
Last 3 Beyers: 71-79-82
◗ Two of three career wins have come over a sloppy track.
◗ Has finished third twice in this condition in New York.
Short Kakes, by Kodiak Kowboy
Last 3 Beyers: 71-43-74
◗ Has finished second in this condition twice. In between, she reared at the start when she finished seventh of eight in the Interborough Stakes.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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