03/07/2010 12:00AM

Awesome Act takes Gotham

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Awesome Act and jockey Julien Leparoux used a four-wide move turning for home to win the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct on Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The England-based trainer Jeremy Noseda sat down with his owners, Paul and Susan Roy and Tom Ludt, the day after Awesome Act finished fourth in last November's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita and told them he believed the horse may just be good enough to compete in North America's Triple Crown races.

Based on how Awesome Act performed in Saturday's at Aqueduct, Noseda may just be right.

In his first race on natural dirt and first start in four months, Awesome Act made a four-wide sweep approaching the quarter pole and rolled to a 1 1/4-length victory in the Gotham at Aqueduct. Yawanna Twist, the previously undefeated New York-bred, rallied to be second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Nacho Friend.

They were followed in the order of finish by Turf Melody, Shrimp Dancer, Peppi Knows, I've Got the Fever, Wow Wow Wow, Three Day Rush, and Afleet Again.

The win was good enough for Awesome Act to remain in the United States and he will now be pointed to the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial over Aqueduct's main track on April 3.

"It's a good solid race, but there were no graded stakes winners in there so you still got a long way to go, but it's the first hurdle out of the way," Noseda said in the Aqueduct winner's circle. "The dream lives on so we'll live the dream for the moment."

On a day when it was beneficial to be close to the pace, Awesome Act raced in seventh position early - about five lengths off the pace - while in between horses under Julien Leparoux. But the pace was extremely quick, with Wow Wow Wow, under Corey Nakatani, setting fractions of 22.85 seconds for the quarter and 46.60 seconds for the half.

Awesome Act was pulling Leparoux into the race, while still between horses and he was fifth entering the far turn. Midway around the turn, Peppi Knows and Nacho Friend went up alongside Wow Wow Wow while Awesome Act went four-wide while still on hold from Leparoux.

Awesome Act sling-shotted to the front at the three-sixteenths pole and he opened up a three-length lead at the eighth pole. Yawanna Twist, under Edgar Prado, made a run at Awesome Act in the stretch, but never truly threatened.

Awesome Act, a son of Awesome Again, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.85 and returned $7.70 as the favorite.

"He did everything perfect," said Leparoux, who was riding the horse for the first time. "He broke good, was happy to get a good position around the first turn, he relaxed down the backside and it was good. He was behind the dirt and it didn't bother him at all."

Though Awesome Act had never trained on dirt until Friday morning when he jogged on the Belmont Park training track, Noseda was confident the horse would handle the dirt, especially being by Awesome Again.

Noseda said Awesome Act raced much more professional in the Gotham than he had in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

"When he ran in the Breeders' Cup, he always wanted to get out the whole way around," Noseda said. "He raced more professionally today so clearly the work we've done on him through the winter has sort of straightened that out. I thought performance-wise it was all we could ask for first effort on dirt, first start back."

Toboggan: Wall Street Dancer digs deep

Wall Street Wonder passed a stern class test from Custom for Carlos, outfinishing that multiple graded stakes winner in the stretch to record a neck victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Toboggan at Aqueduct.

It was the third consecutive victory for Wall Street Wonder, all coming since being switched to dirt. Wall Street Wonder wasn't as dominant as he had been in the Paumonok Stakes, which he won by 8 1/2 lengths on Jan. 23. But in Custom for Carlos, a multiple Grade 3 stakes winner, Wall Street Wonder was facing the best horse he has met during his streak.

"Custom for Carlos is a very nice horse, he's been battle-tested so this was a really big effort on our horse's part and we're really proud of him," said Tonja Terranova, assistant trainer to her husband John.

Custom for Carlos, on the inside under Julien Leparoux, and Wall Street Wonder, with Channing Hill up, hooked up almost immediately out of the gate, alternating on the lead through a quarter in 22.76 seconds and a half-mile in 45.78. In upper stretch, it looked like Wall Street Wonder was going to pull away, but Custom for Carlos fought back along the rail before Wall Street Wonder countered to get the victory. Wall Street Wonder, a son of City Place owned by John Connelly's Stetson Stables, covered the six furlongs in 1:09.88 and returned $4.70 as the 6-5 favorite.

"What a serious horse he is," Hill said. "He put away a real nice, classy horse. He's a horse that will wait a little bit on somebody, but I tell you what, he just did it the right way. I think he's even better than that."

Leparoux offered no excuses for Custom for Carlos other than to suggest "it would have been a little better" had he been on the outside of Wall Street Wonder.

Custom for Carlos finished five lengths ahead of Driven by Success.

Wall Street Wonder will likely make his next start in the Grade 1, $250,000 Carter Handicap over the main track on April 3.

Capossela: Castaneda goes wire to wire

Asked by the racing office if he had anything that might be able to run in Saturday's $65,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes for 3-year-olds, trainer Gary Contessa agreed to supplement recent New York-bred maiden winner Castaneda to the field.

That decision paid huge dividends when Castaneda jumped out on top and led every step of the way under Jorge Chavez, winning the Capossela by three lengths. Strapping Groom finished second, 5 1/2 lengths ahead of Golden Ghost. Liston, the 7-5 post-time favorite, finished last.

Westover Wildcat, the 2-5 morning-line favorite was scratched due to an issue with his right front foot, trainer Tony Dutrow said.

It took five tries for Castaneda to win a New York-bred maiden race, something he accomplished on Feb. 21. It was not Contessa's plan to run him back 13 days later but Castaneda came out of his maiden win well and Contessa heard that the Capossela field was coming up light.

"We think he's this good; we've always really liked him a lot, but I wasn't heading in this direction," Contessa said.

Castaneda, a son of Yonaguska owned in a partnership headed by John Moirano, Harold Lerner, and Jeffrey Massaro's Team Stallion Corp., covered six furlongs in 1:10.48 and returned $14.20.

Richard Migliore, the rider of Liston, said his horse was "uncharacteristically quiet warming up and didn't run a step," he said.