03/30/2014 9:45AM

Dave Litfin's Aqueduct handicapping notebook for Sunday, March 30


Saturday, March 29, review

It was a tale of three tracks, as showery conditions early gave way to a steadier rain through midafternoon. The main track, which was sealed throughout, was labeled “good” for the first three races, “muddy” for races 4 through 6, and “sloppy” for races 7 through 9.

Whereas the surface was fairly glib Thursday and Friday, times were noticeably slower Saturday, particularly through the first six races. Indeed, Beyer Central split the day’s variant, rating races 1 to 6 slow by 6 to 8 ticks (fifths), while races 7 to 9 were rated only a tick slow.

Off-the-pace types fared considerably better than the previous day. Kiss Cat ($30.40), Signora Sofia ($7.50), Lunar Surge ($4.80), and Velvet Cap ($6.10) all rallied from the rear half of the field.

The muck and mire was made to order for La Verdad ($3.60), a true mud lark who splashed clear immediately under Jose Ortiz and wired the $100,000 Broadway Stakes for trainer Linda Rice. La Verdad was shortening up from a gutsy second in the seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie and has now won her last six starts at six furlongs by better than 29 lengths combined – four of those wins on tracks labeled “good,” “muddy,” or “sloppy.”

Horse to watch

Trainer: Gary Gullo
Last race: March 29, 6th
Finish: 3rd by 1
Beyer: 67

Making his first start off a claim by the high-volume Midwest Thoroughbreds outfit, this 4-year-old gelding was off a step slowly from the rail, recovered to track the leaders while awaiting room approaching the stretch, split horses to vie for the lead, and weakened slightly late at 7 1/2 furlongs. He was claimed again and may appreciate cutting back to a shorter sprint.

Sunday, March 30, preview

The upcoming switch back to the traditional Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule has led to 10 racing days during the 11-day stretch from last Thursday through April 6. When you combine that shortsightedness with a winter-weary local horse population and a turf course that will not be usable until Saturday at the earliest, the result is a menu like Sunday’s, where only 57 runners could be rounded up for the nine races.

Seven of those races are for fillies and mares; the two for males are a New York-bred maiden claimer and a straight $25,000 claimer for 3-year-olds. The likelihood of an off track will reduce those 57 varieties further still.

Points of interest include:

• Mess in a Dress, who, after losing 24 races in a row, tries for her third win in 10 days in the opener.

• In race 8, a one-mile optional claimer for New York-bred fillies and mares that serves as the nominal feature, Familyofroses should relish getting back to a chute race for 20-year-old trainer Robert Falcone Jr. Familyofroses won twice out of Belmont’s long chute last fall and just missed on the main track here in November in a New York Stallion event at seven furlongs.