02/28/2011 4:55PM

Gotham draw on Wednesday gives Aqueduct a breath of spring

Barbara D. Livingston
Uncle Mo (outside) and Stay Thirsty work out together at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Though it doesn’t officially arrive for more than two weeks, it will feel a lot like spring in New York this week. Post time at Aqueduct reverts back to 1 p.m. as racing resumes Wednesday, when fields will be drawn for Saturday’s four stakes, highlighted by the Grade 3 Gotham, at $250,000 the richest and most significant race of the year so far.

The 1 1/16-mile Gotham will be the focal point of a card also featuring a trio of six-furlong stakes – the Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool, the $65,000 Fred “Cappy” Capossela, and the $65,000 Broadway.

In the Gotham, a stepping-stone to the April 9 Wood Memorial, Stay Thirsty, last year’s Hopeful runner-up who on Sunday held his own working in company with Uncle Mo, is expected to make his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

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Crossbow, a maiden winner on the inner track Jan. 2 before going to Florida to win a first-level allowance for Kiaran McLaughlin, scratched from last Saturday’s Hutcheson after drawing the rail, and remains under consideration for the Gotham.

“It’s not a lot of difference,” said McLaughlin of the potential audible in terms of distance and scheduling. “I worked many years for D. Wayne Lukas, and he used to preach to us that once they’re fit, try and keep them happy and healthy. You don’t have to work them six furlongs to run a mile. He’s a fit racehorse that’s doing well.”

Toby’s Corner and Monzon, who shipped in from Maryland to capture the Whirlaway and Count Fleet earlier this winter, are also potential contenders. Toby’s Corner, a son of 2005 Wood winner Bellamy Road, breezed five furlongs at Fair Hill last Thursday for Graham Motion.

“I actually moved it up a bit because of the bad weather,” said Motion, who is 3 for 3 at the meet, all in stakes, “but I had only planned on giving him one work between races and everything has gone smoothly. He’s doing super.”

Monzon was fifth in the Sam F. Davis following a last-to-first victory in the Count Fleet for trainer Ignacio Correas IV. A Thunder Gulch gelding, he breezed a half-mile Sunday at owner Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Farm.

Dawly, Nacho Saint, Norman Asbjornson, Preachintothedevil and Rescind the Trade are also possible Gotham starters.

Repole loaded for Tom Fool

Mike Repole, owner of Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, could have as many as four runners in the Tom Fool, which this year replaces the Tobbogan on the Gotham undercard.

“A race like this is wide-open and I have a lot of bullets,” said Repole, who has nominated Calibrachoa, winner of the Gravesend and Toboggan earlier at the meet; Have You Ever; Driven by Success; and Driven by Solar.

The probable Tom Fool favorite will be Custom for Carlos, who earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure (109) running second to Eclipse champion sprinter Big Drama in the recent Mr. Prospector. That was the first start in more than nine months for the 5-year-old horse, who was scratched from the True North last June 5 after injuring a hoof in his stall the night before.

“He’s doing really well since that race, and has the advantage of having a race over the inner track last year,” said trainer Eddie Kenneally, referring to a neck loss in the 2010 Toboggan.

In the Broadway, Mineralogist, the champion juvenile New York-bred filly of 2009, is scheduled to make her first start in 17 months. Sidelined by knee surgery and a subsequent infection in the same knee, she has not run since winning the Maid of the Mist on Showcase Day that fall.

Also likely for the Broadway are Big Brownie, Devilish Spirit, Laylaben and Lots of Stones, who makes her stakes debut on the heels of six straight wins.

Feature given third chance

A field of six hopes the third time’s the charm for Wednesday’s featured eighth race, a $47,000 optional claimer at a mile and 70 yards that was canceled a week ago Saturday and again last Friday.

Marilyn’s Guy, coming off a triple-digit Beyer (101) to win under the same conditions at even money last time out, figures to be favored over Writingonthewall, a last-out $35,000 claim by Repole and Todd Pletcher; and Dominant Jeannes, idle since wiring a first-level allowance on Jan. 1 for Tom Albertrani.

Indy Scent, No Shenanigans and Red Leader are back for another try as well.