03/21/2012 4:36PM

Aqueduct: Dutrow's pair packs 1-2 punch in Friday optional claimer

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Barbara D. Livingston
Groomedforvictory has four wins in seven starts over the Aqueduct main track.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – There is no bigger proponent of Aqueduct’s main track than trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. Despite the fact he won with 38 percent of his starters during the inner track meet, Dutrow was probably elated when NYRA moved up the opening of the main track to Wednesday, two weeks earlier than scheduled.

That’s especially true when it pertains to Groomedforvictory, who heads a Dutrow-trained uncoupled entry in Friday’s $71,000 optional claiming race going one mile. Groomedforvictory is one of four horses entered for the $75,000 claiming price – including the other Dutrow-trainee Star of New York. Joe Vann, last year’s Illinois Derby winner, is the only horse entered for the third-level allowance condition.

Groomedforvictory has an affinity for the one-turn mile. Since November 2010, Groomedforvictory has three wins and a head loss to Apriority in races run around one turn. Overall, he has a 4-2-0 record from 7 starts over the main track.

Dutrow claimed Groomedforvictory for $62,500 out of a one-turn mile victory on Feb. 12, 2011, at Gulfstream. After a nine-month layoff, Groomedforvictory came back and won a New York-bred overnight stakes by a head going a one-turn mile over the main track.

Groomedforvictory made his next two starts over the inner track, finishing third in the Alex Robb on New Year’s Eve and last of six behind Stormy’s Majesty in the Mr. G.J.G. on Feb. 12. Dutrow had Ramon Dominguez named to ride Groomedforvictory, but he is injured and will not ride this week. Dutrow said he planned to name C. C. Lopez on Groomedforvictory, who is likely to be forwardly placed from the rail.

Dutrow’s other entrant, Star of New York, will likely be coming from off the pace under Cornelio Velasquez from the outside post. He finished third in the Mr. G.J.G. Stakes. Star of New York has a 1-4-2 record from 8 starts over the main track.

“I think he’s going to run big,” Dutrow said of Star of New York. “If Groomedforvictory doesn’t fire, I think Star of New York will.”

Manteca makes his second start off a layoff and first since David Jacobson claimed him for $50,000 on March 3. Manteca finished second to Tech Fall in that race after setting the pace. He finished 5 3/4 lengths ahead of the rest of the field.

“We look for a good race from him,” Jacobson said. “We haven’t had him that long. When you claim a horse and they run good, that’s always a plus.”

Joe Vann finished fourth in a similar spot as this when he returned from a six-month layoff. His connections expected him to need the race and are expecting a better showing Friday.

Sun Dance Moon, who went winless in five starts over the inner track during the winter, should appreciate returning to the main track where he is 2 for 2.