Trainer Falcone Discusses Race Placement Strategy and More

Trainer Robert Falcone, Jr. is tied for third in the Aqueduct winter meet trainer standings with seven wins heading into Sunday’s card. 

The 28-year-old conditioner enjoyed stakes success in December at the Big A with John Grossi’s Racing Corp.’s Maiden Beauty, who notched a gate-to-wire 3 3/4-length score in the nine-furlong Bay Ridge.

But Falcone, Jr. has also profited in the claiming ranks, including with Miss Peppina, who was claimed from the conditioner for $14,000 out of a nose score in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint January 9 at the Big A.

“No one wants to stand in the cold and lose,” Falcone, Jr. said. “Miss Peppina won for $14,000 last week and she just got up. If I ran her for $25,000, she’s not going to win.

“You spot them in the right spots because you want to win races, but you’re going to end up losing horses when you do that,” Falcone, Jr. added. “I had 29 horses here at one point and now I have 20.”

Falcone, Jr., who also has a small string out in California, said he is doing his best to put his horses in winnable spots this winter.

“Keep them happy and spot ‘em where they can win. If you’re the favorite, it means you’re in the right spot,” Falcone, Jr. said. “The toughest part is replacing them when you’re a claiming outfit and you don’t have ten 2-year-olds coming in every year. To get one back in the claim box isn’t easy, you’re shaking five-ways, six-ways, but you want to win races and show people that your barn is capable of winning. If you protect them, you’ll keep running third and fourth.”

the Big A race horseJohn Grossi’s Racing Corp.’s Empty Tomb worked a half-mile in 52 flat Friday over the Belmont dirt training track in preparation for a possible start in Saturday’s $100,000 Jazil, a nine-furlong test for older horses at the Big A.

Empty Tomb, a 6-year-old son of Speightstown, set a pressured pace last out in the nine-furlong Queens Country, relinquishing the lead late to 42-1 upset winner Forewarned, who is probable for the Jazil.

Falcone, Jr. said he on the fence regarding the Jazil with the $125,000 Stymie, a one-mile for older horses on February 26, a long-term target.

“He’s doing good. He came out the race good and worked well. I’m still on the fence with him [regarding the Jazil],” Falcone, Jr. said. “I’m not sure a mile and an eighth is really his preferred distance. Even if I do run here, the race I really want to run him in is the Stymie. I think the one-turn mile suits him perfectly.

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“He walked yesterday and jogged today. He’s doing good. He’s on the muscle. He’s ready to run again,” Falcone, Jr. added. “I don’t have a problem with running him. I’m just trying to figure out what’s best for the long term.”

Falcone, Jr. said Maiden Beauty, a 6-year-old Revolutionary bay, will target the one-mile $100,000 Biogio’s Rose for older New York-bred fillies and mares on March 6 at the Big A.

“She’s doing really good. She’s such an easy horse to deal with,” Falcone, Jr, said. “She has a lot of class. She’s an easy horse to train and real sound.”

Maiden Beauty entered the Bay Ridge just 11 days after a neck score in a one-mile optional-claiming event on December 19 at the Big A.

Falcone, Jr. said Maiden Beauty, who he claimed for $45,000 from Tony Dutrow in June at Belmont, could look for a similar prep ahead of the Biogio’s Rose.

“When she ran in the ‘2X’ both times at Aqueduct with Tony last year, he ran her for the tag and that’s how we were able to run her in the allowance before the stakes without the tag,” Falcone, Jr. said. “She’s still eligible for the ‘3X’ without the tag. Depending on when the race is written in the next book, I may go for the ‘3X’ and then go to the Biogio’s Rose.”

Sanford J. Goldfarb, Irwin Goldfarb and Nice Guys Stables’ Kept Waiting will make her dirt debut in Race 7 on Thursday, an open seven-furlong allowance for older fillies and mares.

The 5-year-old Broken Vow bay, bred in the Empire State by John Lauriello, boasts a career record of 9-3-3-1, all on turf, including a five-length romp last out December 2 sprinting six furlongs at the Big A. 

“She works good on dirt and does it easily in hand. She has the speed to be close and we figured we’d give her a shot on the dirt,” Falcone, Jr. said. “If she does handle the dirt the way she trains in the morning, there’s no reason she doesn’t have a shot to hit the board.”

Falcone, Jr. claimed Kept Waiting for $40,000 in September 2020 out of a runner-up effort in a maiden claiming tilt at Belmont. She graduated at first asking for new connections on the Belmont turf and two starts later notched a state-bred allowance win over the same course in April.

“If she does take to the dirt OK, we only have one more start and then the turf isn’t that far away,” Falcone, Jr. said. 

Kept Waiting will exit post 4 under Kendrick Carmouche.

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Rich Nilsen is an 18-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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