12/23/2009 12:00AM

Aqueduct roundup


All right then, why don't we wrap up everything that's been going on at the Big A during the last 12 days?

In a word: nothing.


With a 9-4-1 start from his first 16 meet starters, Todd Pletcher more than doubled up his four closest pursuers - Steve Asmussen (4 for 7), Tony Dutrow (4 for 9), Cody Autrey (4 for 12), and David Jacobson (4 for 20). After sending out Awesome Ashley (Garland of Roses) and Ibboyee (Damon Runyon) in the first week, Pletcher notched his third stakes win with Life at Ten ($10.20) in the Snit overnight stakes, which was originally scheduled for the canceled card of Dec. 9 and was brought back three days later. Five Pletcher-trained runners have notched their maiden wins on the inner track.


Saving ground is vital on the tight-turned inner track, so it's somewhat surprising - and probably just a statistical aberration - that horses breaking from the rail opened the meet at 2 for 49 (the winners were odds-on Positive Prospect and second choice Iberian Gate). Those in post 2 fared only slightly better at 3 for 49.


After a cancellation because of heavy rain and strong winds to start Week 2, the inner track was miraculously fast by first post Thursday, Dec. 10, and it turned out to be a big day for closers. The only wire-to-wire winner was Saarlight ($2.90), an overwhelming favorite as she took her second-level allowance condition by a measured length. Meanwhile, Royal Lord ($19.80) made up a five-length deficit; first-time starter Golden Galleon ($6.90) was fifth of seven and wide on the turn before overtaking everyone; and Robachino ($9), Salty Doll ($54), El Borracho, and Eltish Star all rallied from the rear-half.

Early-pace types against the trend included Magnificent Max, Victoria Lynn, Really Somebody, Carmen Camacho, Musicsetsmefree, Sultrysilver, Neverbeendancin', Lyke a Hurricane, Wicked Climb, and Golden Guska.

The track was fast again Friday, Dec. 11, and appeared to play evenly.

Horses with tactical speed dominated over the weekend of Dec. 12-13, however, with 17 of 18 winners never worse than third at any point. The only exception was Race 5 on Dec. 13, when second choice Wolfson ($7.80) was fourth and three lengths off the early lead before outkicking odds-on Seneca Summer.


The Beyer Speed Figure par for Saturday's 51st running of the six-furlong Gravesend, formerly a Grade 3, has been just more than 104 since figures became available in 1990.

Sunday's feature is the 31st running of the $65,000 Alex M. Robb, a 1 1/16-mile route for New York-breds. Heading the list of 25 nominations is the Asmussen-trained Haynesfield, a 3-year-old who won the Damon Runyon, Count Fleet, and Whirlaway by a combined 15 lengths on the inner track last winter and is coming off victories in the Empire Classic and the Grade 3 Discovery.


Chippewa Court

Trainer: David Jacobson

Last race: Dec. 11, 7th

Finish: 2nd by 1

Rallied five wide and closed well to beat everyone except a 3-5 shot who shot through an opening on the rail turning for home. Consistent mare has been in the money in 12 of 15 lifetime starts on fast dirt tracks.

Golden Guska

Trainer: Dominic Galluscio

Last race: Dec. 10, 9th

Finish: 3rd by 1 1/2

Broke from the far outside to engage in a pace duel through sharp fractions and held on gamely when run down late on a closer-favoring track in first try versus N3L claiming sprinters.

Mr. Grievance

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Last race: Dec. 13, 6th

Finish: 1st by 17

Returned from a 54-week layoff for his second career start and drilled statebred maiden special weight sprinters by a country mile under mild urging. Should be mighty tough going through his allowance conditions.

Wall Street Wonder

Trainer: John Terranova

Last race: Dec. 12, 2nd

Finish: 1st by 2

Nine of his first 10 starts were on turf or synthetic surfaces. Returning from a two-month layoff, he tracked the favored pacesetter to midstretch and drew away to win a first-level allowance sprint with a 99 Beyer.