03/22/2010 11:00PM

Rodriguez poised for breakthrough


So, you want to be a trainer?

Erstwhile jockey and exercise rider extraordinaire Rudy Rodriguez made a career change recently, and so far it's been a frustrating endeavor. Though his horses have been running lights out, the 37-year-old Rodriguez does not yet have an official victory to show for it.

Wicked Climb ran the race of his life to cross the line first by many lengths last Saturday but was disqualified for bumping a rival into the rail in the vicinity of the half-mile pole.

Theartofcompromise ran back 12 days off a claim and had a clear lead in midstretch before coming up a head short.

Sneaky Girl also came tantalizingly close in her first start off a claim by Rodriguez three weeks ago. The 6-year-old mare will try to get the stable on the board in Thursday's third race, a $45,000 optional claimer at one mile.

"There's nothing I can do about it," Rodriguez said about his recent tough luck. "Whatever happens over there, it happens - that's racing. We're going to keep working hard."

After being claimed and freshened for nearly seven weeks, Sneaky Girl was beaten less than a length by odds-on La Concerto on March 5.

"We did a lot of work on her, and she ran very good," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez doesn't see two turns as an obstacle for Sneaky Girl, who has primarily been a sprinter through a 43-race career.

"The last time she won, it was going two turns at Laurel," he said.

Ampart Ridge and Zaphyra come off first-level allowance wins for trainers Gary Contessa and Rick Dutrow, respectively, and figure to vie for favoritism.

Ampart Ridge was never headed March 10, but may get some early opposition from the Rick Violette-trained Miss Dartmouth.

"She absolutely does not have to go," Contessa said.

McVictory, second in both starts this winter for Bobby Barbara, also entered.

* In race 7, a $41,000 first-level allowance for New York-bred fillies and mares, Queenameina will try to stretch her win streak to four.

"She has well outrun my expectations and she's turning into a pretty decent little filly," Contessa said. "She's not much to look at, but she has a lot of guts."

Simmy may go favored off a last-out maiden win for Violette, but she breaks from the far outside in the two-turn mile.