04/01/2014 7:52PM

Dave Litfin's Aqueduct handicapping notebook April 2


Monday, March 31, review

When horses with limited ability run over a deep surface into a stiff headwind, the early fractions can be off-the-charts slow. That was the case on the circuit’s final Monday program until Memorial Day.

After some snow showers in the morning, the sun peeked through by noon or so. The main track, drying out from weekend rain, was labeled muddy throughout, with the important distinction that it was sealed for races 1-5 and harrowed for races 6-8.

The traditional track variant for races up to and including 7 1/2 furlongs was 27. For four one-mile races, where the fields were against the wind longest, the variant was 38, meaning times were slower than the current 3-year-best (1:33.89 by To Honor and Serve in the 2011 Cigar Mile) by 7.60 seconds.

For some additional perspective, consider the 9-year-old gelding Groomedforvictory ($2.40), one of the most reliable runners on the card, who was claimed by David Jacobson for $35,000 on Feb. 22 and won back $30,000 beating three opponents in 1:39.24 for a mile.

Granted, Groomeforvictory may have lost a step or two with age, but compare that time with his four previous wins over the same real estate:

1:35.73 (November 2011)
1:35.49 (November 2010)
1:36.74 (November 2009)
1:35.18 (October 2009)

You get the picture.

In a concession to turf racing being delayed until Wood Memorial Day at the earliest and a local horse population worn to a frazzle, management carded just eight races. It was the first eight-race program at the Big A since Breeders’ Cup Saturday, Nov. 2.

After scratches, 41 winter-weary warriors answered the bell, and by the time Keen On Green wired a basement maiden claimer (the mile in 1:44.44) and capped a $104 pick six as the day’s seventh winner at 8-5 or lower, everyone was ready for a day off.

The only dark day during the 11-day stretch from March 27 to April 6, naturally, was April Fools.

Wednesday, April 2, preview

After some tinkering around with dark days to try and drum up interest (simulcast dollars) during a winter without end, the traditional Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule resumes. This is New York’s first live Wednesday racing since New Year’s Day.

The richest event is race 4, a $60,000 maiden special weight at six furlongs, where four of five experienced runners come off losses at 5-2, 2-1, 4-5, and 3-2. Among that quartet that owe chalk players some money is All My Memories, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time in both on the inner dirt: He raced wide around both turns on a gold rail day (Jan. 10) and inside (we think) on a deep, muddy rail through dense fog (Feb. 21) after that. He rates one more chance, but only one.

David Jacobson, a racing secretary’s best friend, has horses in six races, all of which are either favored or second choice on Eric Donovan’s official morning line.

In race 8, a first-level allowance for New York-bred fillies and mares, and ostensibly the feature, In Her Day, the lone 3-year-old, tries to win right back for Linda Rice after a decisive-but-slow maiden win second out. She has little margin for error as the tepid 2-1 choice over Kilnockagain. The latter has been beaten twice at odds-on in the same condition since claimed by (whom else?) Jacobson.