01/12/2011 4:28PM

Martin looks poised for a big day at Aqueduct


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – It would seem that winning three races on one card at Aqueduct would be a relatively unique accomplishment. Yet, in 22 racing programs from Dec. 4 through Sunday, five trainers have scored the hat trick, including two who did it on the same day.

On Friday, Carlos Martin could join the fraternity that, this winter, includes Todd Pletcher, Mike Hushion, Chris Englehart, Rudy Rodriguez, and Gary Contessa.

Martin has runners in five of Friday’s nine races, and most seem to have some chance in a card highlighted by a starter allowance feature.

In the third, Martin wheels First Penny back in seven days in a weak maiden $16,000 claiming race going a mile and 70 yards. Though First Penny was not competitive in her only start beyond six furlongs, Martin explained that First Penny underwent throat surgery following that Nov. 30 race. In two subsequent starts, the New York-bred was second against open company for this price and third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in a statebred maiden $25,000.

“It always seems like she’s closing in her races, so we’ll try to stretch her out again, and she might do a little better gong a little further,” Martin said.

In the fourth, Martin sends out the first-time starter Market Analysis in a $16,000 maiden claimer for New York-bred 3-year-olds. Martin said that Jimmy Jerkens had this horse originally but deemed he was not Florida material, so owner Carl Lizza kept Market Analysis in New York and transferred him to Martin.

“Mr. Lizza wanted to be realistic, and I think he fits in well for $16,000,” Martin said. “I think he’s well spotted.”

Local Legacy and Taconic Knight look like the major players.

La Belle Gabrielle, who has made her last nine starts sprinting, is drawn on the outside in an eight-horse field going a mile and 70 yards in the seventh, a $7,500 claimer. Martin decided to stretch her out because she had been breaking slowly in her most recent races. Martin said that La Belle Gabrielle resented getting dirt in her face in her last start, so being outside and in the clear may be beneficial.

Martin’s best chance on the card may be in the $41,000 feature with Those Lion Eyes, who comes off a 6 1/4-length score for maiden $50,000, her first start since undergoing throat surgery. She missed a first-level allowance race due to a foot bruise and seems to have found a softer spot for her return. Martin said Those Lion Eyes had a solid five-furlong workout Tuesday. Those Lion Eyes is a half-sister to First Commandment, who went 3 for 4 – all on the inner track – in a brief career.

Manchild, who is really a turf horse, could be in tough in a $15,000 claimer that goes as the ninth. He is 0 for 10 on dirt but has twice finished second sprinting over the inner track and does have the services of leading rider Ramon Dominguez.

Arson Squad tops Evening Attire

Arson Squad, beaten as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Queens County Handicap here Dec. 11, seeks to rebound in Saturdays’ $65,000 Evening Attire Stakes at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track. Arson Squad is the co-highweight at 123 pounds and will be ridden by Dominguez.

Arson Squad, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr, won a pair of Grade 3 stakes last year, including the Alysheba Sakes at Churchill Downs at 1 1/16 miles. Arson Squad, an 8-year-old son of Brahms, has earned $1,169,281, which is slightly more than his four rivals combined.

More Than a Reason, who upset Arson Squad in the Queens County, is back again in the Evening Attire, in which he finished fifth last year.

Pletcher, who won this race last year with Understatement, sends out the uncoupled entry of Heart Butte and Alma d’Oro. The former is making his stakes debut after two allowance wins, while the latter won the Forty Niner Stakes over the inner track on Dec. 19.

Goobada Guska, who won the Cosmic Bob Stakes over the inner track on Dec. 15, completes the field.