The Queens County Handicap- $125.000 Purse
AQU- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
December 21, 2019
There are a couple of big names coming to the Big A this Saturday for the 14th running of The Queens County Handicap, a nine furlong ungraded race that runs on the dirt. Initially, this was a Grade 3 when it first appeared on the calendar in 2004, but lost that designation in 2012. The distance also shortened that year. Twice, the race has not been held: 2011 and 2017, and the purse mark has hovered around the $100.000 mark. Pumpillian and Sanny Village were the most successful winners of the race, taking it in consecutive years in 2009 and 2010. Hillside Stables and Mb Stables are two time winners as trainers. A couple interesting names have popped up for this race, so it should be pretty interesting. Let’s take a look!
#1- Mount Koya (Jokerjoes, ridden by J J Castellano)- This horse has won four out of nine, and has hit the board in seven of those races, but has never been anywhere close to the level he is running at here. Probably has to pick it up just a little bit, but if he rises up to the level of competition, that could be it all it takes. This cheap $10.000 claim from September has earned the chance to try out a stake.
#2- Xmas Snow (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by D Cohen)- Perhaps fittingly, he was best during the winter months last season, starting with a Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf win last November at CD and running well until it came spring time. After a dry spell, he looked good in running third in the Clark Handicap a few weeks ago. It’s his time of year, I guess.
#3- War Scent (Invicta Group Llc, ridden by J Alvarado)- It’s career start number 55 for this eight year old gelding, and though he has not won this year, he has finished second in his last three races, with one being in a tight photo at the Grade 3 Cougar Handicap. This would seem to be a good race for him to be in, but the trainer was probably hoping some of the rivals he’ll see here wouldn’t have been entered.
#4- King Niagra (Nakamura Stables, ridden by E Cancel)- Makes his debut for Nakamura Stables three and a half months after a $150.000 private sale. This represents a drop, purse-wise, for King Niagra, which could simply be because of the layoff. It looks like he needed the rest regardless, so a sudden turn around in form towards the positive is very much possible here.
#5- Zee Unit (Rampage Stable, ridden by J Rosario)- The trainer will be hoping to forget about his last start, where he finished last and was beaten twelve lengths in the Grade 2 Marathon at SA. Even before that, he had been struggling in some rather aggressive placement. Needs to find a way to run like he did in the Curlin over the summer at the Spa, because it’s been a while since he turned in a strong effort.
#6- Texas Flood (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by S R Bahen)- After running in graded stakes, then the $300.000 Empire Classic, Texas Flood showed up at FL for a $19.500 NY-bred optional claimer a few weeks. If a certain other stable did that, there would have probably been a forum post or two. Of course he won, now he’s back where he belongs.
#7- Shootfronthehip (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J Lezcano)- Once a KYD winner, always a KYD winner, so regardless of him not being on good form at the moment, he’ll always be a headliner. His run in the BC Dirt Mile was disappointing, but it was just three lengths from a win, and a similar effort is probably all it takes to get a positive finish here.
#8- Banshee Star (RNP Stables, ridden by M Franco)- He’s seen Shootfromthehip before. In the 2017 KYD, where he ran third. Now, Banshee Star was entered into this race pretty much immediately after being acquired in the auction on Sunday for $49.210. New trainer returns him to the main track, which was the surface of his last win, right here at AQU in April.