04/21/2012 6:21PM

Aqueduct: The Lumber Guy rebounds from Wood dud by taking Jerome

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
The Lumber Guy, fifth in the Wood Memorial two weeks ago, scores in the Jerome under Corey Nakatani.

 OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The Lumber Guy regained the luster he had lost in the Wood Memorial with an eye-catching 2 3/4-length victory over Brigand in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.

 The Lumber Guy and Brigand - both New York-breds - dueled from the outset, with The Lumber Guy, under Mike Luzzi, edging away in the final furlong. Brigand was reported to have lost a right hind shoe in the race.

 Stirred Up, the 2-1 favorite, rallied from last to get third, 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Dan and Sheila. Adirondack King and Term Loan completed the order of finish. Right to Vote scratched.

 The Lumber Guy, a son of Grand Slam owned by Barry Schwartz, had won his first two starts before attempting to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby by running in the $1 million Wood Memorial, a 1 1/8-mile race on April 7. After setting the early pace, The Lumber Guy faded to fifth.

 Despite wheeling back in two weeks, trainer Mike Hushion was confident his horse would rebound and he did just that.

 Breaking from the rail, The Lumber Guy sparred with Brigand, breaking from post 2 under Corey Nakatani, through an opening quarter in 22.98 seconds, a half-mile in 45.83, and six furlongs in 1:10.08. There was a brisk wind at the horses’ backs down the backside, which may have contributed to the fast early fractions.

 “I know the fractions might say differently, to me it felt like we went slower and it felt like I still had a lot left,” Luzzi said.

 In upper stretch, The Lumber Guy kept on going while Brigand, perhaps hindered by losing a shoe, couldn’t match strides.

 The Lumber Guy covered the mile in 1:36.04 and returned $6.50 as the second choice.

 “He showed what we were hoping he was,” Hushion said. “His stride looked awfully good down the backside. He’s a nice big mover.”

 Hushion said he is more inclined to point The Lumber Guy to the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan - a one-turn 1 1/8-mile race on May 12 - than the $1 million Preakness, a two-turn 1 3/16-mile race, at Pimlico on May 19.

 Rice, Velasquez win four races

 Trainer Linda Rice and jockey Cornelio Velasquez both won four races on Saturday’s card and will head into the final day of Aqueduct’s spring meeting atop the trainer and jockey standings, respectively.

 Rice won the second race with Finn Again ($7.60) with Alan Garcia up. Velasquez won the next three races on the card, first aboard Miss Valentine ($3.60) for Christophe Clement in the Northern Willy Stakes, then for Rice aboard Cricky’sgoldeneyes ($7.90) and N. F.s Destiny ($22.20). Rice and Velasquez culminated their four-win day with Abilio ($8.50) in the eighth.

 “I thought we had a real good chance to win the second, sixth, and eighth,” Rice said. “I wasn’t counting on the fifth.”

 Rice goes into the final day with a 12-11 lead over Rudy Rodriguez. Rice has four horses entered while Rodriguez will saddle three.

 Meanwhile, Velasquez has a 23-18 lead over David Cohen entering the final nine races of the meet.