03/30/2010 11:00PM

Class, distance test for Digger

Email
Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Digger will try Grade 1 company and an extra furlong than usual in Saturday's seven-furlong Carter.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Digger has gotten very good in this, his 6-year-old season. Just how good he has gotten will be determined Saturday when he takes on a solid field in the Grade 1, $250,000 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.

The Carter is one of three supporting stakes on the 11-race program highlighted by the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial for 3-year-olds. Those two races, plus the $200,000 Bay Shore and $200,000 Excelsior Breeders' Cup will comprise an all-stakes pick four with a guaranteed pool of $500,000.

Digger, a son of Yonaguska, has finished first or second in 21 of 33 career starts. In three starts this winter, he won the Gravesend at Aqueduct, the Fire Plug at Laurel, and finished second in the Grade 2 General George Handicap at Laurel, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by the talented Greenspring.

His connections are using the Carter to determine in what direction to point Digger the remainder of the year. The competition for the Carter includes the multiple graded stakes winner Munnings; Musket Man, who is unbeaten in one-turn races; Warrior's Reward, who beat Munnings in a seven-furlong allowance race at Churchill, and Elusive Warning. Digger will be coupled in the wagering with Driven by Success, who finished third in this race last year.

Most of Digger's success has come in six-furlong races, but trainer Bruce Brown said he feels that seven furlongs may actually be better for the gelding.

"I almost think seven might be a little better, where he might be able to get the lead and not have to run hard to get it,'' Brown said. "I mean he's going to have to run hard this race, but I like seven a little bit better. Six furlongs there are going to be horses that are just faster, but seven he's gong to be right there.''

Digger drew post 2 and will be ridden by Mike Luzzi at 114 pounds.

Wall Street Wonder skips Carter

Wall Street Wonder, who emerged as a potential sprint star during the winter, will skip the Carter because his connections feel he needs more time. Wall Street Wonder could make his next start in the Churchill Downs Handicap on May 1.

Wall Street Wonder reeled off three consecutive victories over the inner track, including an 8 1/2-length score in the Paumonok and a neck victory over Custom for Carlos in the Grade 3 Toboggan.

"After the last race he lightened up on us,'' said Tonja Terranova, wife of and assistant to trainer John Terranova. "We decided to give a little more time. He ran hard all last year and through the winter and we wanted to have a nice long year with him.''