12/13/2009 12:00AM

Rodman eyes Donn after romp

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Rodman, with Javier Castellano up, dominates Saturday's Grade 3 Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct, winning by 5 3/4 lengths.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Six months ago, Rodman ran in a $35,000 claiming race. In two months, he may be running in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap.

Rodman possibly punched his ticket to the $500,000 Donn at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 6 with a dominant, front-running 5 3/4-length victory in Saturday's at Aqueduct. Researcher, the defending Queens County champion, was second by a head over longshot More Than a Reason.

It was the fourth victory for Rodman in his last six starts. Rodman, a 4-year-old son of Malibu Moon, is owned by Barry Schwartz and trained by Mike Hushion. According to Schwartz, the horse is named for his son-in-law's grandfather Jerry Rodman, a former bicycle-racer in Chicago.

"These late-developing horses are great, they're fun," Hushion said. "It looks like he's got some more fun in front of him."

Except for the first few yards, when Honour Devil broke so sharp, no one was in front of Rodman for the majority of the 1 3/16 miles of the Queens County. Jockey Javier Castellano hustled Rodman to the front, and he opened up a one-length advantage entering the first turn and was able to set modest fractions of 24.88 seconds and 49.61 for the opening half-mile. After that soft half-mile, John Velazquez moved Researcher from fourth into a stalking second.

But Rodman maintained a clear advantage through six furlongs in 1:14.05 and a mile in 1:38.73 and had plenty left in the stretch. He was timed in 1:57.00 and returned $8 as the 3-1 second choice.

"He came out with so much natural speed and he made the lead so easy," Castellano said. "He enjoyed the trip the whole way, and when I asked him, he really responded at the top of the stretch."

Hushion and Schwartz both said Rodman's performance was enough to strongly consider the Donn.

"Why not? It's time to step up, I think," Hushion said.

* In the $67,000 Snit Stakes for fillies and mares, Life at Ten, under David Cohen, pressed My Dinah through moderate fractions before taking command turning for home and drawing clear to a 1 3/4-length victory over Tidal Dance. Life at Ten, a 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon owned by Cynthia DeBartolo and trained by Todd Pletcher, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.30 and returned $10.20.