04/18/2009 10:09PM

Saturday Night Notes

Email

--We haven't had a double-carryover in New York since racing was switched to the main track April 1st -- until now. The bet went unhit Friday and again today, so there's $112k already in the kitty for Sunday's sextet. It's a decent-looking sequence -- no stakes races, but no maiden-claimers either: two maiden-specials, two allowance races, one starter handicap and one conditioned claimer, with three of the six on the grass:

Race 4: 3+F MdSpWt, 1 1/16 (T)

Race 5: 4+ StHcp (Cl16k) 1m

Race 6: 3+ NYB MdSpWt 7f

Race 7: 3+ Cl16k N1Y 1 1/16 (T)

Race 8: 3+ AlwN2x(OC50k) 1 1/18

Race 9: 3+F NYB AlwN1x 1 1/16 (T)

It's tough but interesting, more so than today's late pick-4 at Aqueduct, which TVG enthusiastically called a "tremendous sequence." I'm still trying to figure out which was the tremendous part -- the statebred maiden-claimers in leg 1, the $10k claimers in leg 2, or the four-horse field in leg 3.

Tremendous or not, the sequence handled $309k, surpassing the $250k guarantee that it missed last Saturday (by $13k) for the first time since the weekly promotion began in February.

Only one more Saturday at Aqueduct: Don't look now, but Belmont opens in 11 days on April 29, three days before the Derby.


--With the exception of the Square Eddie camp, few of the connections of the 11 3-year-olds colts who ran in today's Lexington Stakes were seriously thinking about the Kentucky Derby going in. It's hard to imagine that the race changed anyone's mind. Only six lengths separated the first 10 finishers in a slowly-run race filled with typical Polytrack spurts and sweeps. 15-1 Advice and 16-1 Conservative, who ran 1-2 (and combined for a  $441.20 Pletcher-McGaughey exacta), are developing colts who might prove interesting down the road and/or on grass, but look a distinct cut or two below the serious Derby contenders at this point.

The Lexington was run in 1:43.33 for 8.5f over Polytrack two races after older N2x fillies covered the same distance in 1:43.14. It's tough to see the race getting better than a 95 Beyer.

Square Eddie broke slowly but rocketed to the lead around the far turn as if he were going to win by a pole before running out of gas and fading to third. He was making his first start since Jan. 17 and might be expected to improve next time out -- but there's still a threshhold question of whether he'll be any good on a dirt track. That's the same question surrounding Pioneerof the Nile, the likely fifth choice in the Derby, who Square Eddie beat twice last year.

Square Eddie and Pioneerof the Nile finished second and fifth respectively in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and are the highest finishers from that race still on the Derby trail. Since that BC Juve, the first one run on a synthetic track, Pioneerof the Nile has won all four of his starts, all G1 or G2 stakes. The other 11 who ran in the race are a combined 1 for 18 since, and 0 for 8 on dirt.


--This just in (seriously, post time was 10:48 pm): Commentator, making his first start of the year as an 8-year-old, led to the top of the stretch but faded to fourth behind Researcher, Ea and Dry Martini in the $615k Charles Town Classic. It was the first time that Commentator, last year's Whitney and Mass 'Cap winner, had been worse than third since the 2007 BC Sprint. Time for the nine furlongs around three (!) turns was 1:49.86.

Researcher, a 5-year-old Two Smart gelding, is now 10 for 17 and has won six of his last seven starts, including the G3 Queens County at Aqueduct Dec. 13, his only graded-stakes appearance. Last time out he won the local prep for this by 22 1/4 lengths in a track-record 1:49.76.