04/02/2010 9:40PM

33 Minutes


This is one of those Saturdays you're going to need a timetable: Twelve graded stakes in three hours, with six of them in the 33 minutes from 5:12 to 5:45 p.m. ET, including four Grade 1's and the final preps for the two current Kentucky Derby favorites:

Groundhog Tempting as it is to watch everything from the home OTB parlor, I'm planning to drive over to Aqueduct for the first Grade 1 races in New York since the Cigar Mile Nov. 28. Wood Day is a little like Groundhog Day for a lot of the seasonal New York horseplayers who spent the winter hibernating. They emerge from their caves and condos, pasty white and squinting into the unaccustomed sunshine. (The forecast is for clear skies and a high of 67.) For some it's the unofficial beginning of the New York season, though others go back to bed until Belmont opens (April 30 this year.)

There's a $500k-guaranteed all-graded-stakes pick-4 on the Saturday menu combining the Bay Shore, Excelsior, Wood and Carter, but with three 4-5 ML favorites and just 23 betting interests in the four races, the forecast looks a little chalky. Still, it should pay more than Friday's late pick-4 at Aqueduct, where $3.40, $3.80, $3.70 and $2.60 winners produced a $28-for-$2 payoff and completed a $190.50 pick-6. In Saturday's pick-6, the four graded stakes are bracketed by a pair of open-looking statebred grass races. [Update: Race 6 is off the grass, race 11 is still on.]