Review of Alex M. Robb Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Alex M. Robb Stakes was inaugurated in honor of Mr. Alex M. Robb for his contributions to New York State breeding. In 1932, Mr. Robb became associated with New York breeder Willis Sharpe Kilmer and took charge of his racing and breeding interests. In 1942, Robb became first Executive Secretary of the Thoroughbred Racing Association and in 1946 was invited by George D. Widener to be Secretary Treasurer of Westchester Racing Association and General Manager of Belmont Park. When the New York tracks merged in 1955 he stayed with the New York Racing Association, and in 1962 was invited by Ashley T. Cole to rehabilitate New York breeding and was named Director of the Thoroughbred Breeders Service Bureau. Alex M. Robb passed away in 1985. In 1997, More To Tell finished first but was disqualified. * The 2000 edition was scheduled for December 31st, but adverse weather conditions forced the cancellation of that day’s card. As such, the race was contested on January 6, 2001.

Race 8. Alex M. Robb Stakes. For three-year-old and up at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Purse $100,000.

Entries:

PP Horse Jockey Trainer M/L
1 Winston’s Chance Harry Hernandez Debra Breed 8/1
2 Mr. Buff David Cohen John Kimme 2/1
3 Twisted Tom Junior Alvarado William Mott 5/1
4 Testosterstone Eric Cancel Gary Sciacca 20/1
5 Hit It Once More Luis Reyes Gary Sciacca 12/1
6 Control Group Manuel Franco Rudy Rodriguez 9/5
7 Caledonian Dylan Davis John Terranova II 10/1
8 Black Tide Jose Lezcano David Cannizzo 15/1

The horses who figure to take the most money in Saturday’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes at Aqueduct have the same front-running style. The 1 1/8-mile race for New York-breds might be ripe for an upset from an off-the-pace runner, and Winston’s Chance just might be the right one.

Mr. Buff, a winner of two straight, and Control Group, a graded stakes winner and defending Alex Robb winner, are the likely favorites. But their success has been predicated on getting to the front early in a race. With the speedy Black Tide entered in this field, Mr. Buff and Control Group are unlikely to make the front, or at least unlikely to have it to themselves. Add Hit It Once More to the mix and the pace figures to be hotly contested. He likes to be up on the pace like a few of these in this spot. He exits back-to-back wins at this distance and the 3-time local winner is an obvious prominent throughout threat. Should be on the board.

Though he has yet to face Mr. Buff, Winston’s Chance has been competitive with several of the others in this field. He beat Control Group at Finger Lakes in 2017 and was beaten a neck by him at Finger Lakes in July.

Winston’s Chance has won at five distances, including going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga. Ironically, he was on the lead that day. In back-to-back allowance wins going two turns at Finger Lakes in 2017, Winston’s Chance did come from off the pace. He is sharp, versatile, and consistent. He owns competitive numbers and projects a ground saving stalking trips. He should be in top three.

Control Group began 2018 with a four-length front-running victory in the Alex Robb, a race that was delayed multiple times due to weather-related cancellations or insufficient entries. Most recently, Control Group finished third in the off-the-turf Red Smith, fading late after chasing the early pace. He is likes Aqueduct and is 5-for-10 at this distance. He should finish in top three.

In a two-week span, Mr. Buff won two open-company allowance races going 1 1/8 miles over Aqueduct’s main track. He was third in the Empire Classic after chasing the early pace.

Hit It Once More, who figures to be on the lead.

The late-running Testosterstone, who is wheeling back 13 days after pulling a 24-1 upset in a statebred second-level allowance from off the pace.

Twisted Tom, who has yet to regain his top 3-year-old form of a year ago.

Stakes-winning sprinter Caledonian complete the field.

Our Top Three Picks

  • Mr. Buff
  • Winston’s Chance
  • Control Group

 

 

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