04/08/2014 6:28PM

Dave Litfin's Aqueduct handicapping notebook April 9


Sunday, April 6, review

The main track was quick to close out the week, rated 15 Beyer points (about seven-fifths of a second) fast in the day’s five one-mile races, highlighted, of course, by the return of Princess of Sylmar (8th, $3.20) in the $100,000 Cat Cay Stakes.

The only wire-to-wire winner, oddly enough, was Blue Ballerina (2nd, $5.30), who had squandered clear leads twice recently, but forgot to stop while upping her career slate to 2-10-3 from 25 starts.

More than running style, the trait most winners shared was staying well out in the track.

With a pick-six carryover of $126,183 from Wood Memorial Day, $483,905 in fresh money was poured into a manageable sequence numbering a mere 39 horses (7x4x7x7x5x9).

Just about everyone remained alive after Lion Keen (4th, $3.50) prevailed in the opening leg, but things grew more interesting when Ari the Adventurer (5th) and Samurai Assault (6th) were promptly knocked off at identical odds of 3.5-10. Both may have been done in by setting the pace toward the rail on what may have been the deeper going.

Making her third start of the year, Florida shipper Risque Reality (5th, $21.20) turned in the best race of her career to surge past Ari the Adventurer and second choice Sustainable, earning a 76 Beyer Figure; 20-20 hindsight brings into focus her second-out maiden win at 29-1 on the same track last fall. Looking ahead, Elena Strikes, the filly that beat Risque Reality by better than seven lengths at Gulfstream last month, is entered back in Thursday’s featured eighth race.

Along with Princess of Sylmar, the Cat Cay marked the seasonal debut of Wedding Toast, a Godolphin filly who closed out 2013 with four straight wins capped by the Comely. Princess of Sylmar made short work of her, splitting horses three wide at the quarter pole and drawing away with something left. Her time of 1:34.79 for the mile equated to a raw figure of 115, and she was assigned a 100 Beyer.

“She has become a little more prominent early in her races than she was,” observed Todd Pletcher. “We saw that for the first time in the Beldame. She’s so adaptable. If they go slow, she can be closer now, and if they go fast, she can settle. It was ideal, what we were hoping for. Good to see her back.”

The immediate goal for Princess of Sylmar is the Ogden Phipps at Belmont on June 7, and a possible rematch with Beholder.

Those who needed Princess Violet (9th, $2.70) to cash out a pick six worth $6,048 never had an anxious moment. Favorites closed out the first 10 days at 35 for 92 (38%).


Trainer: Lisa Lewis
Last race: April 6, 3rd
Finish: 3rd by 2 1/2
Beyer: 77

Took some early money before drifting up to 15-1 for his second career start, and after racing inside and trailing, found his best stride after angling outside in the stretch to miss the runner-up spot in a photo. 

Wednesday, April 9, preview

Rain on Monday may put race 6 - a one-mile maiden special for New York-breds that is the first scheduled turf race of the season - in jeopardy of being taken off. Of the dozen in the main body, only Sugar Gold, off the board at 85-1 and 79-1 in two attempts last fall, has experience on grass. The horse to beat provided the race stays on turf and he gets in from the also-eligible list, is Dreamin of Betty. He was most recently an improved sixth, beaten two necks and a nose for third, behind Woodfield Springs who ran a close third in the (off the turf) Transylvania Stakes opening day at Keeneland.

Race 7 marks the first race back for Oghma, a “horse to watch” out of a tough trip in the mud March 29 when off slow from the rail and lacking a clear path into the lane. While the newly-claimed gelding benefits by shortening up to six furlongs, this is a tougher spot due to the presence of his new (uncoupled) stablemate Tempered Threat and the returning Kid Blast. The latter has not run for two months since chasing allowance repeater Lawyer Dave at Parx Racing, which is taken as a plus because his two fastest figures have come on this track when fresh for Bruce Levine.

IIn race 8, Call for the Clock is second back from a layoff after chasing odds-on Prohibition, who has been in raging form since claimed a while back. Call for the Clock lit up the board at 24-1 going from the inner to the main last spring for Mark Hennig, but will be a considerably shorter price in this spot. Go Get the Basil and Indy Tune also have back form over the track and rate consideration.