03/15/2011 4:07PM

Aqueduct: St. Patrick's Day hunch players can use Ricoriatoa in feature

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The luck of the Irish will be put to the test in race 7, a second-level optional claimer that serves as the St. Patrick’s Day feature at Aqueduct, when Ricoriatoa heads a short but salty field of six older sprinters, all but one of whom are eligible to be claimed for $50,000.

Ricoriatoa came up a neck short at 4-5 after a race-long duel last Friday, and has been entered right back by Gary Contessa, who claimed the gray gelding for $35,000 on behalf of new owner Sean Shay – whose silks are dotted with green shamrocks.

Ricoriatora, who has paired up 92 Beyers in two starts on the inner track this winter, looms a strong part of the early pace along with Digger, who ran second in last year’s Grade 2 General George Handicap after leading to deep stretch.

Digger, a 13-time winner of more than $500,000, showed big improvement second time back from a layoff for Bruce Brown when second in this condition three weeks ago.

Also likely to have a say in the early fractions are Hewitts and Sin and the City.

Hewitts went wire to wire in a richer optional claimer in his first start off a claim by Charlie Baker, but got away with very easy fractions en route to the first dirt victory of his career at age 7.

Sin and the City, based in Maryland with Mike Trombetta, wired maidens with blinkers added last winter. The lightly raced 5-year-old Sin and the City returned from a layoff of nearly 11 months to win back-to-back races at the turn of the year, including a first-level allowance on the inner track under Ramon Dominguez.

Sin and the City gets a switch back to Dominguez, and gets some class relief after racing close-up through the early going of this year’s General George. He is the lone entrant not in for the optional $50,000 claim price.

Sun Dance Moon was claimed out of a win against $25,000 routers last out, and turns back to a sprint in his first start for David Jacobson. Sun Dance Moon won off a similar distance switch at Belmont last year.

Drift King, far back in his last three starts, but coming off a bullet work Saturday for Billy Turner, completes the lineup.

The hunch play on the card is Mighty Irish, who breaks from the rail in race 3. The 6-year-old Mighty Irish has finished out of the money in 10 straight starts, however, and is 30-1 on the morning line.