03/19/2013 12:32PM

Aqueduct: Saginaw might be vulnerable in Compelling Word Stakes

Adam Coglianese
Saginaw has won five of his 10 starts on Aqueduct's inner dirt track, including a score last out in the Hollie Hughes Stakes.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Saginaw has lost only five times in his last 16 starts dating back 447 days. Three of those losses, however, were in races run around two turns over Aqueduct’s inner track.

Due to the delayed opening of Aqueduct’s main track, Thursday’s $75,000 Compelling Word Stakes for New York-breds will be contested as a one-mile race around two turns over the inner track instead of a one-turn mile, perhaps opening the door for a mild upset.

Those who will try to beat Saginaw have two legitimate options. There is Johannesburg Smile, a two-time stakes winner who is 3 for 5 in two-turn races over the inner track. Then there is Awesome Vision, a 4-year-old son of Awesome Again who is 3 for 3 in two-turn races over the inner track – including two straight wins – and makes his stakes debut in the Compelling Word.

Awesome Vision went 2 for 3 for trainer Mike Hushion in early 2012 before going to the sidelines with an ankle chip, according to Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, which owns Awesome Vision.

Upon his return, Awesome Vision was sent to trainer Tom Albertrani, and after getting a race under his belt sprinting, he has reeled off two straight wins routing.

“He’s definitely a distance horse,” Albertrani said by phone from southern Florida. “His first race back this year, I actually wanted to run him longer, but I didn’t have enough training in him, so I opted to give him a race going short. It turned out we got outrun and he needed the race.”

Albertrani said he would like to see some pace to set things up for Awesome Vision, who breaks from post 6 under Jose Ortiz. Saginaw, who comes off a hard-fought victory in the Hollie Hughes, could be forwardly placed from the rail. Socialsaul, a pace prompter last out, is getting blinkers, and Johannesburg Smile was forwardly placed when he won his last two-turn race three starts back.

While trainer David Jacobson said he would have preferred this race be run around one turn on the main track, he does not think the two turns will compromise Saginaw’s chances.

“No, I’d just feel more comfortable because we know what he can do with the one-turn mile, but he should be fine,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson also feels Saginaw has had enough time to recover from his Hollie Hughes victory, in which he had to run down the pacesetting Readytodefer.

“We skipped a couple of possible races we could have run him in, let him catch his breath again,” Jacobson said. “He’s going into the race real strong. I’m very confident he’ll run his race.”

Uncle T Seven, winless in his last 20 starts, and Mine Over Matter, compromised by a bad break when finishing last in the Grade 3 Toboggan, complete the field.