News » Aqueduct: Bird House looks to close out season same way she did in 2012

December 18, 2013

By David Grening

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Bird House ended her injury-shortened 3-year-old campaign with a solid allowance win over Aqueduct’s inner track. She hopes to end her busier 4-year-old campaign in the same fashion Friday when she runs in a $64,000 second-level optional $35,000 claiming race for New York-bred fillies and mares, the nominal feature on Aqueduct’s nine-race card.

This six-furlong race was one of several brought back from Sunday’s program that was canceled due to concerns over the track following Saturday’s winter storm.

Bird House may have gained an advantage when the race was re-drawn as she had the rail for Sunday and is now in post 6 of seven on Friday.

When last she ran in this condition, Bird House finished third behind Hot Stones and Pennymine, who is her main rival on Friday. Bird House was wide throughout while Pennymine split horses in midstretch and finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Bird House while losing by a neck to Hot Stones.

Gary Gullo, who trains Bird House for Team Power Play Racing, said he felt the wide trip cost Bird House a chance to win that last race. Bird House broke toward the outside in that race and was last early in what was a paceless race.

Gullo said Bird House, who returned off ankle surgery last December to win a first-level allowance race over the inner track, is versatile enough to lay closer if need be. This race, like the last one, seems to lack pace.

“She’s a horse that can do anything. She can be up close. She can be back,” Gullo said. “It’s a question of her being right or not. When she’s right you don’t really have to worry too much. She’s doing great right now. I expect her to run a big race.”

Irad Ortiz Jr., who has ridden Bird House in all 14 of her career starts, rides the filly again.

Pennymine, who had the outside post when this race was originally drawn with eight horses, again has the outside in what is now a seven-horse field.

Pennymine, trained by Rick Schosberg, steadied slightly early while in behind horses in her last race and then split horses in deep stretch before coming up a neck short behind Hot Stones.

“He had to wait a little bit,” Schosberg said, of jockey Junior Alvarado. “What I like about her now is she’s matured a lot. Early on, she wouldn’t have tolerated being in that tight. For whatever reason, she’s gotten mentally tougher.”

Hot Rendezvous, trained by Gary Contessa, has won two of her last three starts. In her lone loss, Hot Rendezvous finished fourth behind Pennymine when she was squeezed back at the break.

Sachi Sweepin was fourth in the same race that Pennymine and Bird House come out of and she figures to be on the lead breaking from the rail.

La Bella Valeria, Uncle Southern, and Jitney complete the field.