03/16/2012 1:33PM

Aqueduct: Leave of Absence looks tops in Time Tested Stakes

Tom Keyser
Leave of Absence has a win and two seconds this winter over Aqueduct’s inner track.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Rick Violette is one trainer who won’t be happy that Aqueduct’s inner track season will come to a conclusion on Sunday.

Violette, who splits his stable between New York and Florida during the winter, entered Friday’s card with 18 wins, 14 seconds, and 7 thirds from 60 starters at Aqueduct since the inner track opened Nov. 30.

His last runner of the meet will be Leave of Absence, who looks formidable in Sunday’s $75,000 Time Tested Stakes for older male sprinters at six furlongs. Following Sunday’s nine-race program, racing will shift to the main track beginning Wednesday for a 23-day session.

Leave of Absence has a win and two seconds this winter over the inner track. On Dec. 18, he couldn’t catch the loose-on-the-lead Hillswick. On Jan. 22, Leave of Absence took advantage of a contested pace to beat Head Heart Hoof – subsequent runner-up in the Hollie Hughes – by three-quarters of a length.

On Feb. 23, Leave of Absence could not catch the heavily favored front-running Crossbow, finishing second by 4 1/2 lengths. Though Leave of Absence wasn’t going to catch Crossbow, Violette believes he could have finished closer with a better trip under Alan Garcia.

“Alan wanted to try to get through on the fence and got stopped,” Violette said. “It was actually a pretty good race.”

There could be a contested pace Sunday between W.W’s Lady’s Man and Arch Traveler.

Last year, Arch Traveler was the beaten favorite in both the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont and the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga. Following the Amsterdam, Arch Traveler had some hind end issues that prompted his connections to send him to the farm.

He came back with a dull effort, finishing last in an allowance race at Gulfstream on Feb. 10 that was run in the slop. Since then, trainer Jimmy Jerkens has equipped Arch Traveler with blinkers and believes he has seen a difference.

Jerkens said he put blinkers on Arch Traveler because in both the Amsterdam and last month’s allowance race, Arch Traveler was attempting to bear out. Jerkens said the horse has seemed to train better in the blinkers, including a bullet five furlong move in 1:00.40 on March 8.

“He had been a little sluggish in his works, and he sure ran like it too,” Jerkens said of Arch Traveler’s debut. “He’s been acting perkier. Hopefully, he’ll run better.”

Flat Bold wheels back on five days rest after finishing fourth in the Bensalem Stakes at Parx on Tuesday. In February, Flat Bold won a money allowance at Parx two days after finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Toboggan.

Sam Sparkle, who upset Crossbow in an overnight stakes similar as this last December, completes the field.