03/25/2013 12:50PM

Aqueduct: Main track offers one-turn miles as sign of spring

Shigeki Kikkawa
The well-bred Make Your Move is a recent maiden winner

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Despite Mother Nature’s last-ditch effort to hold on to winter by producing another storm on Monday, spring does begin for New York horseplayers Wednesday with the opening of Aqueduct’s main track.

It will be one of those don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it type of meets, with only 19 cards of racing before this circuit moves to Belmont Park on April 26. New York Racing Association officials are hoping to add turf racing to the mix here on April 3, though that is weather dependent.

With the exception of April 6 – the day of the $1 million Wood Memorial and three other graded stakes – the racing carded for the main track will basically be the same as it was over the inner. The primary difference is that races carded at one mile will be run around one turn instead of two. On Wednesday’s card, there are five races carded at one mile.

The jockey colony, dominated by brothers Irad and Jose Ortiz all winter, could get an influx of familiar faces midway through the meet. With the Gulfstream meet ending April 5, jockeys Javier Castellano, John Velazquez, Jose Lezcano and Edgar Prado are expected to return to New York while also spending some days at Keeneland.

Florida shippers are always a welcome sight in the entries, and Kiaran McLaughlin sends up two for Wednesday’s card. The well-bred Make Your Move, a recent maiden winner for $50,000 claiming at Gulfstream, is in for $60,000 in a starter/optional claimer that goes as the third. Silent Fright, seventh when returning from an 11-month layoff in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint at Gulfstream on Feb. 22, should appreciate stretching out to a mile in the seventh, a $67,000 first-level allowance race.

Turning back in distance should be the key for Mister Cip in a New York-bred optional claimer that goes as the eighth race.

After two disappointing races to begin his career, Mister Cip romped to a 13-length victory over the inner track going six furlongs in his first start for Rudy Rodriguez. He then ran in a two-turn mile race on March 2, but couldn’t handle the trip, as he set the pace before getting beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Cousin Michael.

Wednesday, he is in the same allowance condition going 6 1/2 furlongs and certainly looms the horse to catch and beat under seven-pound apprentice Manuel Franco, who won his first race in the United States here on March 22 aboard Roaring Seasons.

“We were kind of disappointed that he couldn’t handle the mile; he was training good for that race,” said Gustavo Rodriguez, the assistant trainer who is overseeing the stable while his brother Rudy serves out a suspension. “I think his [best] distance is going to be from six to seven [furlongs]. Maybe down the road we’ll try him a mile again.”