01/09/2012 3:37PM

Aqueduct: Black Pen looks to build on strong comeback


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Black Pen came off a near eight-month layoff to run a strong second in a first-level allowance race Aqueduct on Dec. 30. A step forward off that effort makes him the one to beat in Wednesday’s featured first-level allowance race going six furlongs in which he is coupled with Six Flings.

However, there are several members of this field coming off lengthy layoffs that loom major threats to Black Pen, if they are able to fire fresh.

Strategic Move and Sovereign Default finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in a first-level allowance race going seven furlongs at Belmont Park on May 14. Neither has raced since.

Strategic Move came out of that May 14 race with “an unusual injury” that required surgery, according to trainer Steve Klesaris. Strategic Move had been ready to run a month ago, before contracting a temperature, Klesaris said. Since recovering from that illness, he has fired two bullet works at Parx Racing. Last winter, Strategic Move was a two-time winner over the inner track.

“He’s ready to go, outside of mentally needing the race,” Klesaris said. “A lot of times a race is going to do much more for a horse. You can breeze them a number of times, but they may need to get a real run underneath them to be at their best. But he won’t be embarrassed in there.”

Klesaris is not thrilled with the rail post position, but is happy to have leading rider Ramon Dominguez up.

In July 2010, Sovereign Default won his debut by two lengths over Stay Thirsty. He needed hind ankle surgery that summer, which knocked him out the remainder of his 2-year-old season.

Sovereign Default returned in January in a first-level allowance race in which he was defeated three-quarters of a length by Crossbow. He came out of that race with respiratory issues that surfaced again following the May 14 race.

Trainer Rick Violette is hopeful that all those issues are behind Sovereign Default, who has a series of solid, though not spectacular, workouts leading up to his return.

“He’s not wired for sound first-time out,” Violette said. “He’s ready to give a good account of himself, but this doesn’t have to be his best race ever.”

Alan Garcia rides Sovereign Default from post 2.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has the uncoupled entry of Miami Mako and Opening Move in the field. Miami Mako, a stalker, comes off a third-place finish to Regal Revenge in a first-level allowance at Parx on Dec. 17. Regal Revenge came back to run second to Caixa Eletronica in Sunday’s Rise Jim Stakes.

Opening Move’s best career race came over the inner track last March, when he won a maiden race in the mud by 5 1/2 lengths. He has not run since finishing last in a turf sprint at Belmont, from which he emerged with a splint bone issue.

Quick Money, a two-time winner over the inner track last winter, adds pace to the race.