04/07/2011 2:50PM

Aqueduct: Apriority tests graded stakes company in Carter


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – David Fawkes trains reigning sprint champion Big Drama, but it will be another potential sprint star in his care that the Florida-based trainer will be sending out in Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.

Apriority, a 4-year-old son of Grand Slam, makes his graded stakes debut in the seven-furlong Carter, which drew a field of 12, led by Grade 2 winner Morning Line and the streaking multiple graded winner Calibrachoa. The Carter tops the undercard on Wood Memorial Day at Aqueduct.

WOOD MEMORIAL DAY: Watch video of Uncle Mo and read Dave Litfin's analysis

Apriority began his career toiling on the synthetic surfaces and turf in Southern California. Owner/breeder Donald Dizney last summer sent the horse from Gary Mandella to Fawkes in Florida, where after finishing fifth in a maiden turf race, Apriority has won four of five starts since trying dirt.

That streak included a near track record-setting performance when he won a third-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park on March 5. His final time of 1:14.47 for 6 1/2 furlongs was .03 of a second off the track record. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 113.

“He was a little quiet off the race for a couple of days,’’ said Fawkes, who arrived at Aqueduct with the horse on Wednesday. “He came in here like a monster.’’

Fawkes noted that prior to that allowance win, Apriority was “outgamed to the wire’’ in a workout with the Grade 2 winner Duke of Mischief. Last Saturday, Fawkes put those two in company for another workout and noted that Apriority “gave Duke all he wanted.’’

Apriority’s lone loss since moving to the dirt came in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita, where his late run fell a head short to Amazombie, who last weekend won the Grade 2 Potrero Grande at Santa Anita.

“It looked like he lost his action, lost his footing, on that track down the backside,’’ Fawkes said.

An expected fast pace should benefit Apriority as should the seven furlongs, according to Fawkes.

“Actually, I think that’s his best distance,’’ said Fawkes, who was very high on Apriority’s maiden win going seven furlongs at Calder last November.

Morning Line has recorded all three of his wins around two turns, but was only beaten a head in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, a one-turn race, and was beaten less than two lengths in the Hal’s Hope, a one-turn mile race at Gulfstream. Morning Line, trained by Nick Zito, is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap going 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 5 at Gulfstream.

Morning Line possesses good early speed, but will likely have to deal with the pacesetting Have You Ever, who is in there to ensure a fast pace for stablemate Calibrachoa. Zito said he didn’t mind there being a rabbit in there, but he had hoped to have drawn outside of him. Morning Line is in post 10 and Have You Ever is in post 11.

Have You Ever served as an effective rabbit in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 5, pressing the speedy Deputy Daney through a half-mile in 44.03 seconds allowing Calibrachoa to rally from 7 1/2 lengths back to win going away.

“It gives us a little security that it will be an honestly run race,’’ said Todd Pletcher, trainer of Calibrachoa and Have You Ever. “We don’t have to worry about anybody stealing anything. He’s tactical enough, he doesn’t necessarily need a pacesetter, but he provides you that option of sitting a little longer if you want to.’’

Kensei, who won the Dwyer at Belmont and the Jim Dandy at Saratoga two years ago as a 3-year-old, finished second behind the Grade 1 winner Misremembered in his 4-year-old debut at Santa Anita on March 5. He raced wide and was a bit rank early on in that race.

Laysh Laysh Laysh, second in the General George, looks to be the strongest of trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.’s three-ply uncoupled entry that includes Be Bullish, second in a stakes here on Wednesday, and Yawanna Twist, second to Inherit the Gold in the Kings Point last out.

Independence War, Sunrise Smarty, More Than a Reason, and Fastus Cactus complete the field.

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