04/04/2015 7:27PM

Dads Caps returns to winner's circle in Carter

Barbara D. Livingston
Dads Caps wins the Carter Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths Saturday at Aqueduct.

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez won two of the four stakes at Aqueduct on Wood Memorial Day, sending out Condo Commando to take the Grade 2 Gazelle and Dads Caps for a repeat victory in the Grade 1 Carter.

Dads Caps had gone winless in eight starts since winning the 2014 Carter but had rarely run a bad race. In his last three starts, he finished second to Salutos Amigos twice and third once.

Dads Caps has good speed and had been going to the lead in his recent races, but on Saturday, Rodriguez instructed jockey Jose Ortiz to take him back. Ortiz followed those directions to a tee, saving ground with Dads Caps in the second flight, while tracking the pacesetter Green Gratto and Palace, who pressed the pace from the outside.

Ortiz had to await room behind the leaders on the far turn, but a hole opened up entering the stretch, and Dads Caps challenged outside Green Gratto. Dads Caps took the lead leaving the furlong pole and drew off to a 1 1/2-length score.

"Rudy wanted me to come from off the pace today, and it worked out great," Ortiz said. "I had to wait a little bit on the turn, but I had a lot of horse. When the hole opened, I went through."

Green Gratto, 53-1, held second by three-quarters of a length over the 31-1 Dream Saturday, who raced wide throughout. The Big Beast, who raced in tight quarters early in the race and then was taken very wide into the stretch, was fourth as the 9-5 favorite, a neck behind Dream Saturday.

Dads Caps paid $13.40 as the fourth choice in the eight-horse field. The exacta paid $239.50, and the trifecta returned $6,688.
Dads Caps was timed in 1:23.64 after Green Gratto set fractions of 22.73 seconds, 46.41, and 1:10.87.

"We know he loves the main track, and this is a good horse to be around," Rodriguez aid. "We've had him since he was a baby, so that makes this very special."

Palace weakened to finish fifth, while making his first start since the Breeders' Cup Sprint. The California shipper Wild Dude, who raced wide, was sixth at 9-2. Clearly Now, making his first start since Saratoga, finished seventh at 4-1.