02/04/2010 1:00AM

Aqueduct roundup

Email

WHO'S HOT

The inner track got a couple of days off (Jan. 27-28), giving horsemen, horses, and players a chance to catch their collective breath and get ready for the run-up into the main-track portion of the meet.

Ramon Dominguez continues to dominate the rider standings. Two wins Friday moved him further ahead of second-place David Cohen, 50-38, though third-leading rider Angel Serpa had a double of his own to keep pace at 22 wins.

A short week got even shorter when last Saturday's card was scrapped after three races. The jockeys voted not to ride after race 3 because the freezing temperatures created some issues with the track surface. Despite that, Dominguez expanded his lead, winning two of the three races, giving him 52 through Saturday. Dominguez, Cohen, and Serpa all doubled Sunday, putting Dominguez well clear with 54 wins, Cohen second with 40, and Serpa third with 24.

Trainer Todd Pletcher had two wins in the short week, both Sunday, but remains far in front in the standings. His 23 wins put him well ahead of Gary Contessa (16) and Steve Asmussen (12).

WHO'S NOT

A change of scenery has not helped Bright Halo. A 6-year-old mare, she was a tiger in Uruguay in 2007 and 2008, at one point winning seven of nine, including a Group 2 and multiple Group 3s. She next went to Dubai in January 2009 but failed to threaten in her only start there, then finished seventh in her lone start in France last May, also her only turf try. Her connections brought her to the U.S. this winter. She faltered badly to be seventh in the Snit here Dec. 12, but the layoff and new surroundings could have been an excuse.

It's tough to come up with another excuse after her poor run in last Saturday's . She showed a bit more speed to stalk early, but as in her other non-Uruguayan races she ran up the white flag and hit the brakes hard. She finished last of five, some 32 lengths behind the fourth horse.

It may be time for trainer Paulo Lobo to go back to the drawing board.P

TRACK TRENDS

After a week of speed holding a strong hand, the short week began nicely for the closers. Friday's card played much fairer, with five winners who came from well off the pace. Yet, while closers did very well on the day, it wasn't as if you couldn't win using speed. There were four winners who were on or near the pace from the start.

Saturday was more of the same, albeit just through the brief card (three races). Two of the day's three winners won wire to wire; the other stalked in fourth early and rallied for the win.

The track was none the worse for wear Sunday. Speed fared well, as it does most of the time here, but it was hardly a case of "make the lead and win."

TAKING INVENTORY

Owner Mike Repole still beams over his veteran Cool N Collective. Despite a lifetime of heavy investment looking to upgrade his stable with young horses, it's Cool N Collective, a 13-year-old, who gets him excited still. Repole was rewarded with another good effort in the opener Sunday, when Cool N Collective set the pace and stayed on smartly for second.

Sunday marked the 80th start for Cool n Collective, who has won 15 races and finished second or third 40 times, with earnings of $678,000. He runs for Bruce Brown, his 11th conditioner. Repole has claimed him back and purchased him privately many times.

Repole said he plans to find Cool n Collective a good home when the horse retires.

Jockey Richard Migliore was to resume riding this week and was listed on one horse on the Feb. 5 card. He suffered a concussion in a spill here Jan. 23.

"They like to wait two weeks generally from when it happens," said Migliore. "I'm a little disappointed because I feel pretty good."

Migliore was aboard Honest Wildcat, who was in contention in midstretch before breaking down in his right foreleg, dumping Migliore. Honest Wildcat had to be euthanized.

Migliore, 45, has a chance to reach the 5,000-win mark - he has 4,439 wins in his career.

"I still have a lot of riding in me," he said.

LOOKING AHEAD

One of the reasons Migliore is eager to return is the filly Indian Burn, whom Migliore rode to a 7-1 upset in the . She is being pointed to the $65,000 Dearly Precious at six furlongs Feb. 14. Trainer John Hertler said he toyed with the idea of going in the $65,000 Busher on Feb. 13 at 1 1/16 miles but said he prefers to keep her sprinting for now since she's thriving at it.

The Busher may see a Repole influence. While he may be best known for Cool N Collective, Repole also has a nice 3-year-old filly with potential in Embrace Change, who is set to make her next start in the Busher.

A New York-bred daughter of Hook and Ladder, Embrace Change has won her last two, both over statebreds. She won her maiden by eight lengths and won a first-level allowance by three. Both races were around two turns on the inner track. Like Cool N Collective, she is trained by Brown.

After scoring a 3 1/4-length win in a second-level allowance race here last week, Hour Glass may target the Grade 2, $150,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel on Feb. 13. In her first start for Pletcher, she hugged the rail under Cohen to win for the third time in five starts. She ran six furlongs in 1:10.58 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 93.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Hold That Prospect continued her ascent with a smashing win in Saturday's $65,000 Correction Handicap. A 5-year-old daughter of Hold That Tiger, she didn't just win, she dominated. Sent off the 4-5 favorite in the field of five going six furlongs, she bounced right out to the lead and just kept going under Jorge Chavez, getting to the wire 7 1/2 lengths clear without really breaking a sweat; she won geared down. Chavez had to do little more than break her alertly, steer left when they got to the far turn, and then hold on.

Hold That Prospect was claimed by Funky Munky Stables for $30,000 in March. She has won five of her six starts since, including the Correction, which marked her first stakes win.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would win a stakes with a horse we claimed for $30,000," said Richard Munk, managing partner of the stable. "I'm speechless."

The next filly-and-mare sprint is the Grade 2 Distaff, on the main track here April 17. After the Correction, there's no reason Hold That Prospect shouldn't point for that.

HORSES TO WATCH

My Alexis

Trainer: Ramon Preciado

Last race: Jan. 29, 2nd

Finish: 1st, by 3 1/4

It wasn't so much that she won, it was how she won. The daughter of classic winner Afleet Alex had flashed talent at Calder in Florida, and in fact when running second for $12,500 there Dec. 4 was claimed. She was moved up in price, despite being out of jail, and looked as though she'd turned the corner. Under top rider Ramon Dominguez, she dominated this $16K maiden claimer, biding her time early, bulling her way through between horses into the lane, taking over, and drawing off to win geared down. Surely next time will be harder vs. winners but the way she won hints she's got things figured out and surely you won't see her risked for a tag again. Up the ladder.

Tomorrows Roses

Trainer: Richard Violette Jr.

Last race: Jan. 30, 1st

Finish: 3rd, by 3/4

Came back with a most-encouraging finish in the day's opener. The 4-year-old filly hadn't been seen since May 10 when fifth in a similar spot. Off a series of good works, she bided her time under Gabriel Saez and finished with good energy to get the show. That run should set her up nicely, and while she rallied on this occasion she's shown ample speed in the past, so if the track goes back to being tilted more toward speed, she should have no trouble adjusting.

Wollaston Bay

Trainer: Gary Sciacca

Last race: Jan. 31, 7th

Finish: 2nd, by 1 3/4

He did everything right, but the situation worked against him in this sprint. The veteran was coming off a couple of dull eighth-place finishes vs. more expensive. He dropped a bit but still had his speed and he utilized it well. He dogged pacesetting favorite Neverbeendancin' from the start along with Henry Street. Those three moved in tandem into the lane, but Wollaston Bay got the better of each in the final furlong - trouble is, that early battle set things up perfectly for closer Nkosi Reigns who came storming past late. Still, it was a nice bounce-back effort, and this guy may have found his proper level.