04/12/2013 3:26PM

Aqueduct: Seal Cove, Hymn Book cover both surfaces for McGaughey in Dave Stakes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
If Sunday's Dave Stakes gets shifted to the main track, Hymn Book would be a major threat making his 7-year-old debut.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Regardless of which surface Sunday’s $75,000 Dave Stakes is run, a horse trained by Shug McGaughey stands a good chance to be in the Aqueduct winner’s circle afterward.

If the race remains at 1 1/16 miles on the turf course, McGaughey will be represented by Seal Cove, a 5-year-old gelding who is a two-time overnight stakes winner. Should the race be transferred to dirt, and run at a mile, Grade 1 winner Hymn Book would make his 7-year-old debut in this cozy spot.

Seal Cove cracked a cannon bone in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap in 2011. He was sidelined for a year before returning to the races last October where he won a third-level allowance race at Keeneland and then the If Winter Comes, an overnight stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 17.

McGaughey ran Seal Cove in the Grade 3 John Connally Cup at Sam Houston, where he finished fourth, 4 3/4 lengths behind Swift Warrior, who came back to win the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes.

“He had a wide trip and maybe got a little tired,” McGaughey said of Seal Cove’s race in the Connally. “He’s run good at Aqueduct before and he’s training good.”

Due to Friday’s rains, the turf course is likely to be less than firm on Sunday. Seal Cove won an overnight stakes at Saratoga in Aug. 2011 over yielding ground.

The competition figures to come from Hyper and Lubash.

Hyper, trained by Chad Brown, has won five of his last six races run in North America. He did run twice last summer in England and did not fare well. He is coming off a third-level allowance win at Gulfstream on March 9. Brown said he would prefer a firm turf course for Hyper,

“He’s doing great. He’s ready to take a step up in class,” Brown said. “I think this horse prefers firm ground. It’ll be a decision on race day. We’ll see how the condition of the turf is and see if we want to run.”

Lubash won the West Point and Ashley T. Cole stakes, both restricted to New York-breds, last year before tailing off in the fall finishing fourth in the Mohawk and fourth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by Seal Cove in the If Winter Comes.

He wintered at Payson Park and trainer Christophe Clement is exceptional bringing horses back off a layoff.

Abilio finished second to Seal Cove last fall in New York. Street Game showed as a 3-year-old that he could handle an off turf course, winning the Hill Prince by 7 1/2 lengths over yielding Belmont turf.