04/06/2014 10:56AM

Dave Litfin's Aqueduct handicapping notebook April 6


Saturday, April 5, review

There was still some moisture in the track after overnight rain, but early-morning sun, warming temperatures and gusty winds (headwind far turn) had it labeled fast by first post. There’s nothing like some help from head track superintendent Mother Nature.

While it was possible to win on the front end, as Dads Caps ($23.60) showed stealing the Carter Handicap in what was left of the daylight, wide-rallying closers fared exceptionally well.

The highlight in that department, of course, was Wicked Strong ($20.40), who circled widest into the lane to win the Wood Memorial going away under Rajiv Maragh.

“I said to Rajiv, ‘It’s great to save ground all the way, but if you can get him to that crown on the stretch, go ahead,’ ” said winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens. “They were taking off out there all day.”

In a place photo with Kentucky Derby ramifications, the previously unbeaten Samraat nosed out 8-5 favorite Social Inclusion for second in the Wood, thereby picking up 40 qualifying points, while Social Inclusion received only 20. That may not be enough to get in.

In addition to Wicked Strong, supporting stakes winners Coup de Grace (Bay Shore, $16.20) and My Miss Sophia (Gazelle, $3.60) also wintered in Florida; both were ridden by Javier Castellano.

Jose Ortiz capped a four-win afternoon (and early evening) winning the 12th and final race on Captain Serious ($9.40), who out-dueled fellow new shooter Station Chief in a maiden special-weight that bears watching down the road.


Golden Itiz

Trainer: David Jacobson

Last race: April  5, 6th

Finish: 2nd by neck

Beyer: 91

This 7-year-old has only won on synthetics, yet was claimed at Santa Anita for $40,000 anyway, and shipped to New York to run on dirt by a sharp outfit (think about that); ran a winning race from the far outside post in a salty optional $50,000 claimer, but was nipped by a 74-1 shot.


Sunday, April 6, preview

We’re looking at a large handful of short-priced favorites today, notably two fillies making their seasonal debuts for Todd Pletcher: Ari the Adventurer (race 5, 4-5); and Princes of Sylmar (race 8, 1-1).

It might not be a bad idea to take a little swing in the pick six, which features a $126,183 carryover, and offers some potentially free bingo squares that could allow small-budget tickets to go pretty far.

Ari the Adventurer sold for $350,000 a year ago, and won her only start at Belmont on July 11 against three opponents at a miserly $2.30. She has found a relatively soft first-level allowance where Sustainable, her most obvious threat, comes off second-place finishes in the Dearly Precious and Cicada with modest Beyer Figures of 69 and 70.

Princess of Sylmar needs no introduction as a four-time Grade 1 winner and Eclipse Award finalist at 3. First time back since stumbling at the start of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on a speed-favoring track, she gets a test right away from Wedding Toast, who makes her first start since four wins through the second half of last year, capped by the Grade 3 Comely Stakes on this track for Kiaran McLaughlin.

Multi-race exotic bettors looking for stand-alones may also mix and match with Taylor Jagger (race 1, 4-5); the Darley Stable entry of Long Water and Sublime (third, 9-5); Lion Keen (race 4, 6-5); Samurai Assault (race 6, 2-5); and Princess Violet (race 9, 1-1).

At the bottom line, it looks like a pad-the-stats type of day for public handicappers, but sometimes these things, as we have learned, don’t go exactly as planned.