03/04/2010 12:00AM

Aqueduct roundup



Fernando Jara

After winning four races in January, the 22-year-old comeback kid doubled that total with eight wins in February, capped by a front-running score aboard Lights Off Annie ($15.60) in last Sunday's Broadway Stakes, and cracked the top 10 in the standings.

Freud (by default)

Pedigree handicappers can check their egos at the door. Last week's 27 races were all run over sloppy or muddy tracks, and the winners were by 26 different sires. The only sire with two winning mudlarks was Freud, with Freudian Storm ($11.40) in a New York-bred claimer, and Lights Off Annie, who successfully defended her title in the Broadway.

Chalk from Mike Hushion

Need a free bingo square in multirace exotics? Look no further than Hushion-trained favorites, who have compiled a 7-for-9 record (77.7 percent) on the inner dirt in 2010.


The New York Racing Association was fortunate to cram last Thursday's card in, as a storm packing historic snow totals gathered momentum in midafternoon and wiped out racing for the next two days.

Inside speed was good all three racing days during the last week of February, particularly so on Wednesday, Feb. 24, when 5 of 6 sprint winners went wire to wire, and the lone exception pressed the pace from second position.

Indeed, out of the week's 19 sprints, the only winner to make up a deficit greater than three lengths was Idaho Joe ($4.20), who came from last in a short field of four to win first time off a claim by Gary Contessa, and earn $16,800 on an investment of $16,000 eight days earlier.

In routes, the playing field was leveled somewhat. The eight two-turn races produced two front-end winners, and four others who were anywhere from 4 to 10 lengths off the early leader.


Saturday sees the return of graded-stakes action in New York, with the $250,000 Gotham for 3-year-olds and $100,000 Toboggan for older sprinters (both Grade 3's) also the first races of the year to carry six-figure purses.

To recall, I Want Revenge exploded to win last year's Gotham by better than eight lengths in his first start on dirt, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 113 - the fastest Gotham since the figures became available in 1991. He came back to win the Wood Memorial despite an eventful trip, and that turned out to be his last race since then. The morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby, he was scratched just hours before the race.

More typically, Gotham winners run a figure right around 100, a level none of the 3-year-olds in this year's 58th running have attained. The winner will be notching his first victory in a graded stakes - a far cry from 1989, when Easy Goer thundered to victory in 1:32.40 for what was then a one-turn mile on the main track.

Oh well, the Gotham circa 2010 is what it is. Peppi Knows may be a tepid favorite off his two local efforts - a runner-up finish in the Remsen and a win in the Whirlaway - but the Whirlaway performance is a bit "dressed up," since the odds-on favorite, Eightyfiveinafifty, bolted off the course into the backstretch and Peppi Knows had only three rivals to beat in the aftermath.

The 117th running of the Toboggan is easily the strongest sprint run on the circuit this year. After wiping the floor with 3-4 favorite Driven by Success in the Paumonok, and Beyering 109 with apparent reserves, Wall Street Wonder looks to go 3 for 3 on the inner track against the likes of Elusive Warning, Custom for Carlos, and Toulouse Lautrec.

Elusive Warning has won all three of his starts on Lasix by a combined margin of better than 14 lengths, beginning with maiden and first-level allowance wins on the inner dirt here three years ago. A 6-year-old making just his ninth start after numerous setbacks, he comes off a sharp score at Gulfstream Park second time back from an extended layoff.

Custom for Carlos is the only U.S. graded stakes winner in the field, and the well traveled 4-year-old is a nose away from a perfect 5-for-5 record in six-furlong races at Gulfstream, Philadelphia Park, Churchill Downs, and Monmouth Park.

Toulouse Lautrec could not have been more impressive winning a second-level allowance off a layoff in his first start for Bruce Levine. His only losses in sprints have come against multiple stakes winners Quality Road and Pashito the Che.

The Toboggan's Beyer par is 105, beginning with Boom Towner's 115 in 1992, and it looks as though it will take par or better this year.

Also scheduled for Saturday is the 109th running of the Fred "Cappy" Capossela, formerly the Swift, a $65,000 sprint for 3-year-olds.

The 55th running of the Stymie, for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, originally scheduled for last Saturday, will be run on Sunday. The five entered last week were topped by Understatement, who loomed a prohibitive choice off a 3-for-3 record on the inner dirt, capped by a 115 Beyer Figure in the Evening Attire last time out.

Next Saturday, 3-year-old fillies go in the 18th running of the Grade 3 Cicada Stakes, a $100,000 sprint at six furlongs.


Elliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace as governor, and his lame-duck replacement is awash in controversy above and beyond a shaky Aqueduct Entertainment Group selection that looks more like a "vet scratch" with each passing day. And so, the never-ending slots soap opera is odds-on to drag on through yet another administration.

Of course, that means the "official" sign won't light up for a winning bidder until 2011 - at the earliest.

Meanwhile, if the recent proposal for $1 million-a-day purses at Monmouth Park becomes reality, that kind of money makes the mare go right to the Jersey Shore.

In that event, what becomes of Saratoga and an expanded 40-day session offering stagnant or declining purses?

Three words: New York-breds.



Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Last race: Feb. 25, 2nd

Finish: 1st by 2 1/2

Away nearly seven weeks following a fifth-place finish to Eightyfiveinafifty first time out, the half-brother to three multiple winners improved sharply to run down stablemate He's a Scrooge in a $60,000 maiden-claiming sprint through a fast last quarter in 24.49 seconds. The Wildcat Heir colt ran six furlongs in 1:11.97, faster than allowance and overnight stakes sprinters later on the card.

Maid To Win

Trainer: Dominic Galluscio

Last race: Feb. 28, 2nd

Finish: 1st by 12 3/4

Bet to second choice in a weak maiden claimer, this 3oyear-old New York-bred filly was quickly in front and widened her margin steadily while taken in hand through the final furlong. She is a half-sister to four multiple winners, including a pair of six-figure earners.

Mt. Glittermore

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Last race: Feb. 24, 3rd

Finish: 2nd by 1 1/4

Sent off as the favorite against multiple stakes winner Joey P., he was at a tactical disadvantage, and Joey P. splashed clear early and became racing's newest millionaire. A 5-year-old son of champion sprinter Orientate, Mt. Glittermore was claimed out of the race for $75,000.

Pretty Cozzy

Trainer: Bruce Brown

Last race: Feb. 25, 6th

Finish: 6th by 7 3/4

Bet to even money in a first-level allowance for New York-bred fillies and mares, she lost virtually all chance after the saddle slipped in her first try going two turns. The lightly raced 4-year-old will figure prominently in the same condition with better racing luck.