“I’ll get them later,” Rudy Rodriguez said Monday night as he stood alongside the back walking ring at the Fasig-Tipton sale of select yearlings.
The former jockey has built his business on the claiming game, utilizing the condition to grow his stable and place horses in spots where they are successful.
“I try to find horses that we can improve a little bit,” said Rodriguez. “Physically, the horses are nice and I’m especially looking at their knees and legs. I want a horse that walks nice and will keep running. We’re kind of picky.
“We’ve been very lucky. We got Royal Posse, Belle Gallantey, Silver Screamer, Control Group, some nice claims that can make some money.”
Rodriguez has 30 horses stabled in the corner of Horse Haven on the Oklahoma training track, an additional 14 on the harness track and another string at Belmont. He’s won four races at Saratoga this year, with many more runners to look forward to. Rodriguez and his son, Rudy Jr., run the barn and ride the horses themselves throughout the week.
“We let them tell us what they want to do,” said Rodriguez. “The most important thing is you’ve got to try to get the horse to understand you and you understand the horse and try to do the best by him and hopefully he can give you the best of him.
“I’m going to run the whole barn on the 19th or the 20th,” he joked. “They’re all ready to go.”
As training hours came to a close Thursday morning, Rodriguez strolled the shedrow with The Special’s Shayna Tiller while his son readied the barn for afternoon racing. (Originally published in the Aug. 12 issue of The Saratoga Special.)
Transistor: The 3-year-old bay colt grabs his stall guard and nips at Rodriguez standing outside the stall. Arindel’s homebred son of Forty Tales finished third for a $50,000 tag July 23 after winning a starter allowance at Belmont in June. “He’s a pretty good horse. He’s very good to us. He’s run some pretty good races for us since we got him. He’s very easy. Rudy gallops him. He just does his job and is a very cool horse. He was supposed to run Wednesday main track only, he finished third the other day. Maybe we’ll try to run him in a stake in Philadelphia. He’s very nice, looking good.”
Liza Jambalaya: The chestnut daughter of Ghostzapper is adorned with a thin stripe down her face, and pricks her ears as company approaches. Vince Scuderi’s unraced homebred posted a 5-furlong breeze in 1:01.44 Friday. “She’s a full-sister of (Grade 1 winner) Paulassilverlining. We’ve got big hopes for her. She’s been doing good. Hopefully at the end of the book she’ll run. She’s very quiet. I wish she could give a little bit more, she can be a little lazy. Hopefully she can take us to the next level. All of the family is good. She’s doing good, we’re getting close.”
Stop Me If You Can: Purchased at last year’s Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale, E.V. Racing’s 2-year-old son of Giant Surprise finished fourth in a maiden special last week. “Before that he finished second by a nose. He ran well. He’s going to be a nice allowance horse. He can be a little bit tough. You’ve got to be careful because he will throw you down.”
Radiant Beauty: Peachtree Stable’s 3-year-old daughter of Orb won for a $32,000 tag July 27. “She likes Saratoga, she ran good last year too. She runs hard, she ran a pretty good race over here. She won, but the turf was pretty soft for her. She’s a nice filly to have around. She’s good, but to jog she’s a little tough. She doesn’t like to jog, she wants to go gallop but she’s easy to gallop.”
Danyelli: Zayat Stables’ chestnut daughter of Mineshaft finished ninth in an allowance at Suffolk Downs June 10. “She’s a nice filly, it’s just the competition is a little tough for her. She’s an easy horse to ride, she’s nice. She ran a couple good races for us in the winter, but now she needs to step up. This is not winter.”
Frosty Margarita: Gabrielle Farm’s homebred daughter of Frost Giant is a multiple stakes winner with $546,176 in earnings. She is entered in the Jack Betta Be Rite Stakes at Finger Lakes Monday. “She’s running in a little stake, the distance is good and she likes the track. She’s been good. She’s paid her way, she doesn’t owe us anything. She’s one of the best horses we have in the barn.”
Mister Muy Bien: Gabrielle Farm’s homebred is a half-brother to Frosty Margarita, by Central Banker. The bay colt worked 5 furlongs in 1:03.55 Friday. “This is a baby. His name is Mister Muy Bien, but it should’ve been Mr Muy Loco. He’s nice to gallop but he can get an attitude. I’ve got to jump on and go. If you try to wait around he’ll start rearing up. He’s ready to go. My first stake I won with his mom.”
Chillinwithfriends: The bay daughter of Friend Or Foe eagerly comes to the stall front as her trainer approaches. Carl Lizza Racing Stables’ and Michael Imperio’s 2-year-old placed third in her debut July 25. “She’s a nice filly, she’s supposed to run in the last book. She ran very good. They ran fast and she didn’t embarrass herself. She showed up. Hopefully she can stay the same way and we can give her another chance here.”
Control Group: Claimed as a maiden for $62,500 by Michael Dubb and David Simon in January 2017, the son of Posse broke his maiden in his next and has won eight more including the Grade 3 Discovery at Aqueduct in November. Rodriguez is training toward the Evan Shipman against New York-breds Aug. 20. “He’s been good to us. He won all his conditions and a Grade 3 in the winter. We took him to Finger Lakes and he won the last two. He’s been very, very solid. He won the Claiming Crown. He won a bunch of races for us already. He wants to go to the lead, that’s his best weapon. When he’s comfortable in the lead he can carry his speed and he likes two turns.”
Tapit Tango: Purchased for $37,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale, the dark bay son of Tapizar towers way over his trainer, nearly touching the top board of his stall doorway. He posted a 5-furlong workout in a bullet 1:01.34 Friday. “He’s just a baby 2-year-old. He’s not ready to run. He’s a nice baby but you’ve got to be very nice to win here. We have high hopes for him. He’s big but very easy. He doesn’t act like a 2-year-old. He’s well behaved and ready to go, just fitness wise I think he needs a couple more weeks.”
Woodbury: The son of Power Broker was purchased for $120,000 at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale for eFive Racing, and finished second to blowout winner Dugout July 23. “He finished second. Nice, nice baby to have around. We picked him up in the Timonium sale. He ran a very good race on the dirt. The winner just ran a freak race. I thought we could’ve won the race. I really like him, but the other horse was very good. They went together right from the gate but he just sprinted away from us. At the end of the meet we’ll run him back.”
Island Kitten: The bay filly stood quietly at the front of her stall, lip droopy as she received magna wave therapy. The 2-year-old daughter of Kitten’s Joy worked 4 furlongs in :49.44 Friday. “She’s somewhat ready to run. She’s been very good working in the morning. She’s just a 2-year-old and she’s doing everything right. Hopefully she can compete the right way. She’ll probably go on the grass on the 19th or the 20th. She looks comfortable on the grass and she’s by Kitten’s Joy. She breezed good on the dirt too so we’ve just got to hope she can pull herself together because the competition is deep. When you put her in company she gets on the bridle and she gets tough. So that’s good.”
Frostie Anne: Claimed by Rodriguez and Imperio after winning for a $25,000 tag in December, the 5-year-old daughter of Frost Giant rides a 4-race win streak including the Sis City Stakes at Aqueduct in March. She is entered in today’s seventh race. “She’s been very good to us. They put her for 25 and she was winning so we know she likes to win but she’s tough. She pulls, right now my back is killing me. She gives me a hard time but I think right now we’re getting a good communication. But man, when we got her she wanted to run off. She’s in the program and lets me do what I want, which is easier for her too. The last couple races she’s run in allowances. We’re supposed to enter today, main track only, hoping for rain. If it doesn’t rain, we’ll run her in a stake.“