Michael Langford’s Jonesboro, a two-time graded-stakes winner in 2009 and earner of $1,465,575 in his 42-race career, and Riley Tucker, a close fifth to Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) contender Gayego in the Ancient Title (GI) at Oak Tree at Santa Anita, headline a field of eight older horses entered for Friday’s 17th running of the $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap (Grade III) at a mile on the main track.
The Ack Ack will go as the ninth race on Friday’s 10-race card with a 4:55 p.m. (all times EST) post time. First post on Friday is 12:40 p.m. for a program that also includes the simulcast of the first day of the 26th Breeders’ Cup World Championships from Oak Tree at Santa Anita. The Breeders’ Cup card will kick off at 3:35 p.m. with the Marathon, which will be followed by five races for fillies and mares that will culminate with the Ladies’ Classic at 6:45 p.m.
Trained by Randy Morse, Jonesboro won the Grade III Texas Mile at the Ack Ack distance in April at Lone Star Park and also won the Cornhusker Handicap (GII) at Prairie Meadows in June. The 7-year-old has compiled a lifetime record of 14-11-3 and has been installed as the 5-2 second choice in the morning line by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.
Cliff Berry, who has been aboard Jonesboro in his past five starts, has the call Friday. Jonesboro will carry top weight of 119 pounds, conceding 2-6 pounds to his seven rivals, and break from post position seven.
The morning line choice for the Ack Ack is Zayat Stables’ Riley Tucker, who seeks a breakthrough first stakes victory after battling many of the top sprinters in the U.S. throughout 2009. Along with his Ancient Title run, the 4-year-old Steve Asmussen trainee finished second to Munnings in the Tom Fool (GII) at Belmont and a close fifth to Pyro in the Forego at Saratoga. Battaglia has listed the son of Harlan’s Holiday as a lukewarm 2-1 choice in the morning line.
Aaron Gryder will be in the saddle aboard Riley Tucker, who has been assigned 115 pounds and will break from post position two. Riley Tucker, who has a record of 3-4-2 in and has earned $297,624, will bid to give Asmussen his second consecutive victory in the Ack Ack. Asmussen won the 2008 running with Magna Graduate.
A close third choice in the Ack Ack at 3-1 is the Millard R. Seldin Revocable Trust’s Greeley’s Conquest, whose lone win in six races this year came in the Remington Sprint Cup at Remington Park on Aug. 22. The Gary Thomas trainee was second to Magna Graduate in the 2008 Ack Ack and finished a close sixth to Breeders’ Cup Sprint contenders Fatal Bullet and Capt. Candyman Can in the Phoenix (GIII) at Keeneland in his most recent outing
Chris Emigh will ride the 5-year-old son of Mr. Greeley, who will carry 117 pounds from post five.
Aside from Jonesboro, the only other 2009 graded stakes winner in field is Hicklin Farms and Tom Gregerson’s Let It Rock, a 12-1 shot who captured the Grade III Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park in March. Trained by Judi Hicklin, Let It Rock will carry 115 pounds and break from post position four under Terry Thompson.
The field for the Ack Ack, from the rail out (with jockey, weight and morning line odds), is as follows: Glamour Guy (Leandro Goncalves, 113 pounds, 15-1), Riley Tucker, Demarcation (Jesus Castanon, 115, 10-1), Let It Rock, Greeley’s Conquest, Que Paso (Miguel Mena, 114, 10-1), Jonesboro, and Spotsgone (Jon Court, 114, 12-1).