11/19/2010 1:13PM

Bank Heist, Rule by Night ensure hot pace for Groovy

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Barbara Weidl/EQUI-PHOTO
Rule by Night, narrowly beaten by Bank Merger in the Gallant Bob Handicap, is one of the prime contenders in Sunday's Groovy for 3-year-old sprinters.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – A pair of $60,000 overnight stakes for 3-year-olds, one on dirt, one scheduled for turf, highlight Sunday’s program at Aqueduct.

The seven-furlong Groovy drew a field of seven, all but one of whom recorded a Beyer Figure of 90 or better in one of his last two starts.

The pace should be hotly contested by Bank Heist, a $900,000 colt trained by Todd Pletcher, who ran a half-mile in 44.61 seconds wiring maidens at Saratoga; and Rule by Night, an allowance winner at Aqueduct’s spring meet who comes off a runner-up finish in the $250,000 Gallant Bob Stakes for Steve Asmussen.

Remand, sidelined since a trio of third-place finishes in the Bay Shore, Dwyer, and Woody Stephens, has trained well for John Terranova.

Close to the Edge and Dixie Notion, recent out-of-town allowance winners, ship in for Mike Trombetta and Juan Ortiz, respectively.

Mad for Smarty and Sunrise Smarty, a couple of Smarty Jones colts who won sprints at Belmont’s fall meet, drew the two outside posts.

The one-mile Monarch’s Maze drew a competitive group of nine turf-meant 3-year-olds, headed by Lethal Combination, winner of the Grade 3 Saranac two starts back; Lubash, a two-time stakes winner this year; and Little Mike, who has never been headed in three starts on grass.

The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Lethal Combination failed to fire in the Jamaica last out, but came from dead last to win the 1 3/16-mile Saranac at Saratoga after a suicidal pace developed with fractions of 46.49 seconds and 1:10.79.

“They went fast and set it up for us,” said McLaughin of Lethal Combination’s Saranac score. “He’s a nice little horse, does everything right.”

Little Mike won his maiden and a first-level allowance at Monmouth, before romping over second-level milers at Belmont for Allen Iwinski. He may hook up early with Lubash, who handled pace pressure to win the Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion at Saratoga, and then posted a 35-1 upset against open overnight stakes foes at Belmont for Jim Ryerson.

“He had a little pressure in the Saratoga race, that gave me some encouragement that it was better than it looked,” said Ryerson, who has won with three of his first five Aqueduct starters. “He’s really been on the improve.”

Barrel of Love, Center Divider, Cure the Fever, Flamin Hot, More Than Steady, and They Call Me Giant also entered.