Heaven’s Run­way solid at 7

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Jim Dun­leavy Fol­low Jim Dun­leavy on Twit­ter @DRFDun­leavy

For the bulk of his five sea­sons on the race­track, Heaven’s Run­way ground out a steady liv­ing, rac­ing seven to 10 times a year and earn­ing be­tween $80,000 and $100,000 a sea­son. Not bad for a horse who won five of his first 39 starts, but dis­tinctly blue col­lar.

Now, at this ad­vanced stage of his ca­reer, Heaven’s Run­way seems to have turned a cor­ner. Since be­ing claimed by Rudy Ro­driguez for $62,500 out of a se­cond-place fin­ish in an op­tional-claim­ing race at Saratoga, he has gone 2 for 3, with the vic­to­ries com­ing in stakes, and earned $164,000. On Satur­day at Lau­rel Park, he will go post­ward as one of the top choices in the Grade 3 Gen­eral Ge­orge, a seven-fur­long stakes for 4-year-olds and up.

“He didn’t win a lot, but we al­ways liked him be­cause he was a con­sis­tent horse,” Ro­driguez said.

Heaven’s Run­way made his first 29 starts for his breed­ers, K.K. and Vi­lasini Ja­yara­man, while rac­ing for seven dif­fer­ent train­ers. He started his ca­reer in 2012 by win­ning two of his first four starts, all at Presque Isle Downs, in­clud­ing the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memo­rial Ju­ve­nile.

Heaven’s Run­way would win only three of his next 35 races, with his most im­por­tant vic­tory com­ing in the $50,000 Hockessin Stakes at Delaware Park in July 2015. When Ro­driguez claimed him last sum­mer, he was win­less in 10 starts over 13 months dat­ing back to that race.

Since join­ing Ro­driguez’s sta­ble, Heaven’s Run­way has fin­ished fourth in an op­tion­al­claim­ing turf sprint at Bel­mont Park, run down ex­pected Gen­eral Ge­orge fa­vorite Stall­walkin’ Dude to win the Grade 3 Fall High­weight at Aqueduct, and scored a half-length vic­tory in the Dave’s Friend Stakes at Lau­rel.

In typ­i­cally mod­est style, Ro­driguez de­flects credit for the turn­around.

“I think we were lucky and got him at the right time,” Ro­driguez said. “He’s a nice horse and he tries very hard for us.”

Now 7, Heaven’s Run­way seems primed for his best sea­son yet.

Sound the Horns has po­ten­tial

The best races on the Fri­day card at Lau­rel are the sixth and sev­enth. Race 7 is a first-level al­lowance for 4-year-olds and up. Race 6 is a maiden race for 3-year-olds.

Sound the Horns is by far the most lightly raced horse in race 7, but he also is the most promis­ing.

A $255,000 buy at the 2015 Ocala Breed­ers’ Sale March sale of 2-year-olds by West Point Thor­ough­breds, Sound the Horns didn’t start un­til Dec. 30 of his 3-year-old sea­son when he fin­ished se­cond. He re­turned on Jan. 28 to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Sound the Horns, a son of In­clude trained by Graham Mo­tion, will be stretch­ing out from six fur­longs to a mile on Fri­day.

In race 6, Club­man raced well in his only start, and may im­prove while stretch­ing out in dis­tance from seven fur­longs to 1 1/16 miles. A son of Not for Love trained by Jason Egan, Club­man chased front-run­ning fa­vorite Danc­ing With Maude through­out af­ter break­ing from post 1.

The race was ul­ti­mately won by 2 1/2 lengths by deep closer Tiz He the One. Club­man fin­ished fourth, beaten 3 1/4 lengths, with four horses tightly bunched in the bat­tle for se­cond.

Dhar­mas­ter, who lagged well back to the stretch, fin­ished with a be­lated bid to be fifth, a half-length be­hind Club­man. Trainer Mike Trom­betta will add blinkers to Dhar­mas­ter’s equip­ment Fri­day.

Mon­mouth stalls avail­able

Stall ap­pli­ca­tions are now avail­able on the Mon­mouth Park web­site and in the track’s ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing for this sea­son’s meet. They are due by March 16.

The New Jersey Rac­ing Com­mis­sion has ap­proved a 71-day Thor­ough­bred sea­son for 2017, which in­cludes 56 race days at Mon­mouth and 15 tur­fonly cards at the Mead­ow­lands.

Mon­mouth, how­ever, is the only track in the Mid-At­lantic with­out an alternative rev­enue stream from casino gam­ing and is hav­ing dif­fi­culty keep­ing its purse struc­ture com­pet­i­tive with other tracks in the re­gion. Mon­mouth av­er­aged $3.44 mil­lion per day in all-sources han­dle at its 57-day meet last year, a drop of more than 25 per­cent from 2015.

The pos­si­bil­ity ex­ists that the 2017 sea­son could be short­ened if As­sem­bly bill A4246 is passed by the leg­is­la­ture. The bill would re­duce the re­quired min­i­mum num­ber of rac­ing days in the state to 50.

The bill passed the As­sem­bly (77-0) and is wait­ing to be heard by the Se­nate Eco­nomic Growth Com­mit­tee.

Michael Campbell, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Thor­ough­bred Breed­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of New Jersey, posted a memo on the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site Tues­day, alert­ing the mem­ber­ship to pos­si­ble up­com­ing sched­ule changes.

Campbell pointed out that al­though the ap­proved Mon­mouth sea­son is set to open May 13 and run through Sept. 24, the stall ap­pli­ca­tion form has the dates listed as May 13 to Sept. 10.

The Mead­ow­lands turf dates are sched­uled for May 5 and 6, and Oct. 6 through Nov. 11.

JIM MCCUE/MARY­LAND JOCKEY CLUB

Heaven’s Run­way will be one of the top con­tenders in Satur­day’s Grade 3 Gen­eral Ge­orge.

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