03/18/2008 11:00PM

Rite Moment going for graded win


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Though Rite Moment showed in the March 6 Limit Stakes that she may be better around two turns, her connections will cut her back to a one-turn sprint in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap.

The defection of Grade 1 winner Dream Rush from the Distaff, combined with the fact that owner Steve Sigler and trainer Gary Contessa already have a contender for the March 29 Next Move Handicap, made the six-furlong Distaff an attractive alternative for Rite Moment.

Contessa, speaking Wednesday from Ocala, Fla., where he was attending the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March auction of 2-year-olds, said that a win or placing in a Grade 2 stakes such as the Distaff would "seriously enhance" Rite Moment's value as a future broodmare. To this point, Rite Moment has yet to run in a graded event.

Sigler, who races under the Winning Move Stable banner, purchased majority interest in Rite Moment from the Russell Reineman Stable late last year. In her first three starts for Winning Move - all sprints - Rite Moment won two allowance races and finished a fast-closing second to Beau Dare in the Correction Handicap.

Unable to find a suitable sprint race to fill, Contessa ran Rite Moment in the Limit Stakes at a mile and 70 yards on March 6 and Rite Moment romped to a 13 1/4-length victory, earning a lifetime-best Beyer Speed Figure of 99. Contessa's first thought was to run her as an entry with Runway Rosie in the Grade 3, $100,000 Next Move Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on March 29.

But after discussing things with Sigler, the decision was made to run in the Distaff, where the likely favorite will be the Mike Trombetta-trained Control System.

"Beyond Trombetta's horse, it's a wide-open affair," Contessa said.

The field for the Distaff lost another player when trainer Mike Stidham said Grade 1 winner Sutra would not ship in from New Orleans. Stidham said he could not find satisfactory shipping arrangements.

In addition to Control System and Rite Moment, those expected to run in the Distaff include Beau Dare, Cowgirls Don't Cry, and Quality Affair. Possible starters include Karakorum Starlet, Scatkey, and Your Flame in Me.

Livermore Valley retired

Livermore Valley was also nominated to the Distaff, but she has been retired after re-aggravating an ankle injury, her trainer, Jim Ryerson, said Wednesday. Livermore Valley had a record of 6-6-2 from 21 career starts and earned $330,202 for owners Robert and Faith Hahn, who race under the name Conover Stable.

Livermore Valley, a 5-year-old daughter of Mt. Livermore out of the dam Secret Prospect, placed in 12 stakes, winning four listed events on the New Jersey circuit: the Seton Hall, Dearly Precious, Colleen, and Mongo Queen.

Livermore Valley had not run since finishing fourth in last October's Seton Hall. She had resumed training in January and was on target for a return this month. Last Friday, Livermore Valley worked five furlongs in 1:02.91, but did not come back from the move in good order.

Sweet Vendetta shines in Andover Way

Sweet Vendetta ($7.70) swept past the pacesetting favorite, Serious Vow, in upper stretch and cruised to a four-length victory in Wednesday's $67,500 Andover Way Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The longshot Love You Not rallied for second, 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Serious Vow.

It was the second victory from three starts for Sweet Vendetta since being equipped with blinkers by trainer Gary Contessa. Overall, Sweet Vendetta, a daughter of Stephen Got Even, has a 2-for-6 record for owner/breeder David Cassidy and Team Penney Racing.

Sweet Vendetta, ridden by Channing Hill, covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:42.02 in the slop and returned $7.70 to win.

Twenty-five hit pick six for $30K each

There were 25 winning tickets sold on Wednesday's pick six, with each returning $30,910. There was a $236,310 carryover entering the day, and an additional $953,774 was wagered into the pool.

There were 1,076 consolation tickets (5 of 6) worth $166 apiece.

The winning sequence of 6-5-3-6-4-8 consisted of Explosive Count ($4), Credit at Tiffany's ($53), Gullible Gal ($4.70), Phil's Blue Way ($17.60), Sweet Vendetta ($7.70), and Count This Senora ($8.40).

There were six live tickets on Queen of Fashion entering the nightcap, each worth $128,794. Queen of Fashion was scratched in the paddock for illegal shoes, meaning those six tickets were moved onto the post-time favorite. Though Count This Senora was listed on the board at the same 3-1 odds as Sweet Slam, Sweet Slam was favored by $1,201.

Elusive Value heads feature

Coming off a huge first-level allowance win, Elusive Value looked poised to enter stakes company for his next start. His connections have resorted to the conservative route, however, running him in a second-level allowance race that serves as Aqueduct's feature on Friday's nine-race card.

On Feb. 9, Elusive Value romped to a 6 1/4-length victory, running six furlongs in 1:09.52 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 109, equaling the fourth-highest figure posted by any horse this year. In his prior start, on Dec. 29, Elusive Value finished seventh as the even-money choice.

Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, said a change of footwear may have contributed to the colt's change of fortune. Magnuson said Elusive Value, a son of Elusive Quality, had always struggled with his feet and benefited from being equipped with glue-on shoes before his last start.

"We were hoping that's what it was, because he's never been sounder, never been better," Magnuson said. "That start in December, we feel like he got a little tired, and he may have needed that race. Then the shoes went on and everything came together."

Contessa sends out the coupled entry of Whistlin' and Wisp - two of 11 horses Contessa has entered on the card. Whistlin defeated Elusive Value by 10 lengths on Dec. 29 and has run second three straight times thereafter. Wisp cuts back to a sprint after running well routing. Contessa adds blinkers to Wisp's equipment and has seen improvement in the morning.

"I think Wisp is finishing stronger and much more focused," Contessa said. "I like the thought of sprinting him with blinkers on. I'm hoping he has an explosive finish."

Wood card purses get $10K increase

The purses of the seven non-stakes races being run on Wood Memorial Day, April 5, will each be raised by $10,000, said Aqueduct's racing secretary, P.J. Campo. The same situation existed last year, Campo said.

"It's $70,000 for the day in extra purse money, and if it draws a couple of more betting interests it more than pays for itself," Campo said. "We did it last year and it worked pretty good. It's enticing to run in an 'a-other-than' for $60,000."

NYRA will run 11 races on the day, topped by the $750,000 Wood Memorial for Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Other stakes include the $300,000 Carter Handicap, the $200,000 Excelsior Handicap, and the $150,000 Bay Shore.