04/02/2014 7:25PM

Dave Litfin's Aqueduct handicapping notebook April 3


Wednesday, April 2 review

Although the return of Tom Durkin to the announcer’s booth was a welcome sign of spring as racing resumed, turf racing has been delayed by the weather and will begin no sooner than next Wednesday, April 9.

According to the charts, the run-up distance for races at 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct is 18 feet, which is 30 feet shorter than at six furlongs. The shorter head-start goes a long way toward explaining slow early fractions like 23.91 and 48.17 seconds, which were the splits posted by Golden Annie ($6.20) en route to a front-end win in the opener with Jose Lezcano, who wasted no time getting into the win column in his return from Florida.

Strange effort by Jilly Mac, the 1-2 favorite in race 3, who was within one length of the lead after the first quarter, and lost six lengths around the turn before finding her best stride very belatedly to just miss second. Meanwhile, Rumble Doll ($17.80) got a nice inside-out trip with Manny Franco to graduate off a claim by Robert Falcone Jr.

Sometimes the toteboard speaks volumes, and sometimes it doesn’t. Apparently, no one told first-time starter J to the Croft ($35.20) he wasn’t live, because the Steve Klesaris-trained colt held on for a head victory over Cost Affective as the longest price in a maiden special weight sprint.

Hard-to-figure winners peppered the second half of the card as well:

Matt and Jesse ($20.60) trailed to the top of the stretch before rallying past the leaders in race 5.

Beeliner ($19.80) quickly grabbed the lead on what appeared to be a very live rail, and turned back all comers in race 6.

In the nominal allowance feature for New York-bred fillies, Little Miss Lupe ($121.50) sped to the front from the inside post, and held off Bileaps and Bounds for a stunning upset, capping a pick three sequence where two winners was good enough to cash.

Needless to say, the pick six had already carried over ($29,263) to Thursday before the nightcap was won from off the pace by 3-2 favorite Rettalfa.

Thursday, April 3 preview

The presence of Dominic Galluscio, who recently passed away at 55 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, will be felt when three horses he formerly trained run today. Gary Gullo, who was among the colorful conditioner’s closest friends, has taken over two of them, including hunch play Spirited Touch in race 2, and Awake At T Wire (5th), Galluscio's last official starter.

In race 8, one of two first-level allowance races on the program that share top billing, Marriedtothemusic, who won five races for Galluscio by open lengths, makes his first start since a runner-up finish in the Hollie Hughes and first for Linda Rice. Two starts back, Marriedtothemusic earned a 99 Beyer Figure winning in 1:03.53 for 5 1/2 furlongs, just .03 of a second off the inner-track record.

Among those who will try to run down Marriedtothemusic are Chapman (another New York-bred), who exits a sharp score over starter allowance foes, and Mr. O’Leary, who comes off his best effort and is the first starter of the year in New York for Christophe Clement.

In race 6, a one-mile allowance for 3-year-olds, Shug McGaughey will also send out his first starter on this circuit in 2014, when Peter Island, who rallied from next-to-last to win his recent debut at Gulfstream Park, tries to catch the Rice-trained Oltre’ Oro.