03/06/2013 3:41PM

Aqueduct: Sacred Ground deserves a second look in Friday's starter handicap

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Tom Keyser
Point Taken, claimed in three of his last five races, faces familiar foes in Friday's starter handicap.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Given the trouble he encountered the last time he ran, Sacred Ground deserves another chance when he runs in a $50,000 starter handicap Friday at Aqueduct.

Though he finished behind four of the same horses he faces in Friday’s mile-and-70-yard race, Sacred Ground took the worst of it from start to finish in that Feb. 10 heat.

Several strides out of the gate, Sacred Ground took a hard bump from the horse to his outside, and he was last and stuck on the inside for the first half-mile.

After advancing along the rail, he was guided off the fence by Irad Ortiz Jr. in upper stretch and attempted to split horses at the eighth pole. But the hole closed on him, forcing Ortiz to steady and take Sacred Ground to the outside. He eventually wound up in the six path and finished with some interest, 3 3/4 lengths behind Chairman Now.

“He got bothered early in the race, but the key to the race was when he checked full of run in the middle of the stretch,” said trainer Ralph D’Alessandro. “I’m hoping for a little cleaner trip, closer to the pace than he was last time.”

D’Alessandro said Sacred Ground, who won a $14,000 claimer over the inner track in January, is “coming into this race as good as he was the last time. I’m hoping he can get the job done.”

The horses to beat are Chairman Now and Point Taken.

Trainer Jeremiah Englehart claimed Chairman Now for $25,000 out of a third-place finish Jan. 6. The 6-year-old gelding came back in a spot similar to this to win from just off the pace. He has a record of 3-4-1 from eight starts on the inner track.

“He’s maintained his training where he was before his last race,” Englehart said. “I’m fairly confident he should run a similar race to his last effort. It’s going to be about who gets the best trip.”

Point Taken has been claimed in three of his last five races. Two of those claims were by David Jacobson, who took him for $15,000 on Dec. 2, lost him for $20,000 on Jan. 31, and reclaimed him for $30,000 on Feb. 18. Point Taken, a son of Point Given, won his last two starts, one at a mile and 70 yards and one at six furlongs.

Jacobson said he reclaimed Point Given because of his versatility to go short or long.

“I like him either way,” Jacobson said. “With the starter [races], I had other horses for the short one; he goes long. He’s doing great. He’s going to run big.”

Junior Alvarado rides from the rail.

Metaurus, Itsagoodtendollars, Anaphylaxis, Best Actor and Festive Spirit complete the field.