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Trainer Leah Gyarmati gave Strings and Arrows a five-furlong breeze Thursday, December 31st, on the Belmont training track.  Our colt went the distance in 1:03.03, which was in the top one-third of the 34 horses that worked five furlongs. Strings and Arrows remains on track to return to the races by President’s Day Weekend, either January 16th or the 18th.

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Castle Village Farm regularly contributes a percentage of its horses’ earnings to backstretch charities and thoroughbred retirement organizations.  The contributions for 2009 went to BEST, the Backstretch Employee Service Team at the NYRA tracks, and to ReRun, Inc., a New Jersey-based retirement group.  BEST operates medical clinics for grooms and hotwalkers at Belmont and Saratoga, as well as paying for specialist and hospital care for backstretch workers who need it. ReRun is very active in rescuing horses from slaughter and finding them long-term homes. You can learn more about these organizations at www.rerun.org and www.bestbackstretch.com.

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The Daily Racing Form makes Talking Blues the 5-2 favorite in Friday’s 6th race at Aqueduct. It’s a one mile, 70 yard maiden claimer for four-year-olds and up, with a field of 10. Post time for the race is 2:48 pm.  Talking Blues will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik and will be making his first start for new trainer Bruce Brown.

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On Monday morning, December 28th, Iguazu had his second half-mile breeze since heading south to the Palm Meadows training center. He went the four furlongs in a comfortable 50.40 seconds. Trainer Bill Turner is pointing Iguazu toward a maiden race, most likely in the third week of January, at Gulfstream.

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Talking Blues breezed an easy 5/8ths of a mile for trainer Bruce Brown on Monday morning, December 28th.  Bruce says our boy is all ready to go in whichever of the races is used by the racing secretary for January 1st.

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Talking Blues to Enter for January 1st. Talking Blues will be entered for the maiden claiming races at Aqueduct that are in the condition book for January 1st. One’s for NY-breds, one’s for open company, but the racing office will probably use only one of them, so we’ll take whatever is used. Both races are at a mile and 70 yards, which should help Talking Blues’ closing style. Jockey Rosie Napravnik gets the call for trainer Bruce Brown.

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Strings and Arrows Eyes mid-January Return. Strings and Arrows continues to progress toward his return to racing. He worked five furlongs on December 24th, and is pretty close to a start. Trainer Leah Gyarmati is looking at two races at Aqueduct, both NY-bred maiden specials. There’s a 5 1/2 furlong sprint on Saturday, January 16th, and a mile and 70 yard race on Monday, January 18th. We’ll decide which way to go as we get closer to race day.

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Bagavond Healthy and Happy Down on the Farm. Bagavond is doing well on his winter break at Diana McClure’s Carousel Stable in Berryville, Virginia. Diana reports that he “the second smartest horse we’ve ever had here” (as for who was the smartest, that’s no contest — Introspect in a walkover. Bagavond gets turned out every day in the snow and is feeling great. He’ll start back to work early in the new year, with the aim of being ready to race when the turf season begins in April or May.

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Iguazu Breezes Impressively at Palm Meadows. In his first official workout since shipping to the Palm Meadows training center in Florida, Iguazu breezed half a mile in 48.20 seconds, the third-fastest of 20 horses who worked at that distance today. Trainer Bill Turner said that Iguazu has grown considerably in the few weeks since heading south, and Bill is looking forward to seeing him race at Gulfstream early in the 2010 meet.

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Talking Blues Pointing for New Year’s Day Race at Aqueduct. Trainer Bruce Brown says that Talking Blues has bounced back well from his race on November 26th and should be ready to race as soon as racing resumes at Aqueduct after the holiday break. There’s a NY-bred maiden race going a mile and 70 yards in the condition book for January 1st, but if something suitable comes up on the overnights earlier, we’d enter there as well, since we want to be sure to get in whatever race the Racing Secretary decides to use.

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