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Aqueduct kicks off fall meet

Aqueduct Racetrack, the only racetrack in New York City, opens its 39-day fall meet on Wednesday. The opening-day feature is the $65,000 Proud Truth S., a 1 1/8-mile contest for three-year-olds that could serve as a stepping stone to the November 21 Discovery S. (G3).

Topping the five-horse field in the Proud Truth is multiple stakes hero BUNKER HILL (Trippi), who comes off a 2 1/2-length score in the Princeton S. at Meadowlands. PRECURSOR (A.P. Indy), third to Lord Justice (A.P. Indy) and Bunker Hill in the Big Brown S. at Monmouth in his latest, will try to turn the tables.

Barbaro S. (G3) third DENVER (Fusaichi Pegasus), a remote seventh in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) and fourth in the Jerome H. (G2) in his past two, gets class relief in this spot, while reformed claimers RETRIEVER (Golden Missile) and BAD ACTION (Brahms) will be making their stakes debut. Retriever just missed to Grade 3-placed older horse Ea (Dynaformer) in a recent allowance/optional claimer, with 2008 Belmont S. (G1) upsetter Da' Tara (Tiznow) in third.

The Discovery, mentioned as a potential port of call for Pennsylvania and Ohio Derby (G2) victor Gone Astray (Dixie Union), is one of 15 graded events on the stakes schedule. Twelve will be held on the main dirt track, two on the turf, and one on the inner dirt track.

The highlight of the meet is the November 28 card, featuring the Cigar Mile H. (G1), the Gazelle S. (G1) for three-year-old fillies, and the Remsen S. (G2) and Demoiselle S. (G2) for juveniles and juvenile fillies, respectively. Cigar Mile Day is the heart of Aqueduct's HolidayFest, a four-day event that commences with the Fall Highweight H. (G3) on November 26, Thanksgiving Day, and continues with the Top Flight H. (G2) on November 27.

The Cigar Mile is likely to attract Metropolitan Mile H. (G1) star Bribon (Fr) (Mark of Esteem [Ire]), who was a closing third in last year's edition. The 1 1/8-mile Gazelle, which was transferred to Aqueduct from its former Belmont Park home, is expected to mark the return of champion Stardom Bound (Tapit), last seen finishing third as the 3-5 favorite in the Ashland S. (G1) in April.

Also switched from Belmont to Aqueduct this year is the October 31 Bold Ruler H. (G3). The sprint has been lengthened from six to seven furlongs in its new venue and shares the Halloween card with the Turnback the Alarm H. (G3) for distaffers.

Three graded stakes are set for November 7 -- the Red Smith S. (G2) for turf horses, the Nashua S. (G3) for two-year-olds and the Tempted S. (G3) for two-year-old fillies. The following weekend is highlighted by the Stuyvesant S. (G3) on November 14 and six divisions of the New York Stallion S. on November 15.

The meet's final graded race is the Queens County (G3) on December 12. As has become customary, the Gallant Fox H. is the New Year's Eve feature.

Aqueduct's popular Pick the Pros and Ponies Contest begins November 1 and continues every Sunday. In this free contest, contestants must correctly pick the winners of four designated National Football League games as well as the winners of the 3RD and 5TH races on the day's card for the chance to win a $1,000 prize. All entries must be in by 1 p.m. (ET) on the day of the contest.

The nationally acclaimed 2009 Aqueduct Fall Handicapping Challenge is scheduled for November 14-15.  There will be $80,000 in prize money up for grabs, based on 200 entrants. The top three finishers will be automatically eligible for the 2010 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas on January 29-30.  NYRA will provide reimbursement for air fare and hotel accommodations. For more information on the 2009 Aqueduct Fall Handicapping Challenge, visit www.NYRA.com, or phone 718-659-2373.

First race post is 12:30 p.m., except for Thanksgiving Day, with a special post time of 11:25 a.m., and November 27-28, when racing begins at noon. Gates open at 11 a.m, except for Thanksgiving's 10 a.m. opening.

Aqueduct will take a holiday recess with no live racing scheduled December 14 through Christmas Day, December 25. Aqueduct will re-open for live racing on December 26.

In addition to its live racing dates, Aqueduct will be open for simulcasting on Mondays and Tuesday during the rest of the 2009 Aqueduct meet, starting November 2. There will also be simulcasting during the holiday break from December 14 through December 23. The track will be completely dark on Christmas Eve, December 24, and Christmas, December 25.

Aqueduct boasts free admission and free general parking seven days a week.


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