01/13/2010 1:00AM

Ah Day returns to scene of success


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The Maryland-bred and -based Ah Day has won 10 stakes races in his career, with the only graded victory coming over Aqueduct's inner track last March.

Ah Day, who won the Grade 3 Toboggan here on March 7, is slated to make his second start over the inner in Saturday's $65,000 Evening Attire Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. The Evening Attire, formerly known as the Aqueduct Handicap, drew a field of six, including the Paul Pompa coupled entry of Understatement and Well Positioned. With only five betting interests, the Evening Attire is carded as race 3 on Saturday's nine-race card.

Now 7, Ah Day will be running back on two weeks' rest for the second straight time. On Dec. 18, Ah Day cruised to a front-running allowance victory going 1 1/16 miles at Laurel. He used that as a prep for the Jan. 2 Native Dancer Stakes in which he finished third, 7 1/4 lengths behind winner Greenspring, who ran his record to 5 for 7.

"He got trapped on the rail, he couldn't get through," King Leatherbury, the trainer of Ah Day said. "The rider said he should have been second. The winner could be a nice horse."

Leatherbury said his options were to run Ah Day back in this race or wait for the John B. Campbell Stakes at Laurel in mid-February.

"He came out of his last race so good," Leatherbury said. "I figured I'll take a look at that race. It's only $65,000, it doesn't figure to come up too tough. I'm encouraged to come."

Ah Day has won stakes races from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles in his career. Though his most recent victory came in front-running fashion, typically Ah Day benefits from fields with plenty of speed. On paper, it looks like there should be ample speed in the Evening Attire.

"He wants a fast pace in there," Leatherbury said.

Both of the Pompa-owned horses possess speed. Understatement, who is 2 for 2 over the inner track, is getting blinkers for the first time. Well Positioned comes off a seven-length first-level allowance victory at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 6, earning a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

Leatherbury said Sheldon Russell, who has ridden Ah Day in his last six starts, would likely come up to ride.

"He wants to ride him," Leatherbury said. "I named him on a horse here at Laurel the same day that should win, but he doesn't want to pass up Ah Day."

Long weekend features three stakes

The Evening Attire kicks off a stakes-filled weekend at Aqueduct that includes the $65,000 Affectionately on Sunday and the $65,000 Jimmy Winkfield for 3-year-old sprinters on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Yet Again, who won the Affectionately last year, heads the list of prospective runners for this year's renewal. Others expected to run include Pamona Ball, Saxet Heights, and Tidal Dance. Trainer David Donk is expected to start either Pumpkin Shell or Sapphire Sky. Love's Blush and Tidal Dance are possible.

The Jimmy Winkfield, run at six furlongs, is likely to draw a bevy of out-of-town-based horses, including Deputy Daney, Love Who, and Red Bengal. Others possible to start include the locally based Magnification and Citizen's Arrest.

General Maximus nears return

The New York-bred General Maximus, most impressive winning his debut by four lengths on July 9 at Belmont Park, is nearing a return to the races, according to trainer Joe Imperio.

General Maximus has been in training at Goldmark Farm in Ocala, Fla., where last Saturday he worked five furlongs in 1:00 over the facility's all-weather surface. It was his 10th work since resuming training last fall.

According to Imperio, General Maximus developed a chip in his ankle that needed to be surgically removed shortly after his debut victory. Imperio said he was going to enter General Maximus in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park before the horse developed mucus in his lungs a few days before the race. Imperio said he is hoping to run General Maximus in a sprint race at Gulfstream at the end of January or early February.

Imperio said he has nominated General Maximus to all of the 3-year-old stakes races at Gulfstream, but said how the horse performs in his comeback will determine which course to take.

"The horse will tell us," Imperio said Saturday morning at Aqueduct. "If he runs big, we'll proceed forward. If he doesn't run big, we'll regroup and bring him back up here."