Updated on 09/17/2011 10:00AM

Say Florida Sandy back off three-day rest


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Will the third time be the charm for the $75,000-added Hollie Hughes Handicap on Sunday at Aqueduct?

The Hollie Hughes for New York-breds has been postponed twice because of weather-related cancellations. First scheduled for Feb. 16, the six-furlong Hollie Hughes was delayed and brought back a week later. It again was canceled when racing was scrapped after last Sunday's fifth race because of poor track conditions due to rain.

Rain is again in the forecast.

Seven horses were entered in the Hollie Hughes when it was redrawn Friday. A surprise entry was Say Florida Sandy, who ran on Wednesday in an allowance race and finished fifth behind Captain Red, who shattered the track record for six furlongs.

Say Florida Sandy, the 122-pound Hollie Hughes highweight, was entered the first two times entries were taken for the race. The day the Hollie Hughes was canceled for a second time, Say Florida Sandy was scratched the morning of the race because of a wet track.

Say Florida Sandy, a 9-year-old, is 0 for 10 over wet tracks and his owner, John Rotella, said he would scratch if the track was off on Sunday.

Rotella said Wednesday's race didn't take anything out of Say Florida Sandy, who finished 10 1/2 lengths behind Captain Red.

"The way the track was favoring speed, Sandy was out-sprinted early," Rotella said.

Mike Luzzi rides Say Florida Sandy, who drew post 4.

Pat Reynolds, who entered Tom's Thunder, the winner of the Alex M. Robb, said, "I guess everyone has to adjust their plans in the winter, but after you have a horse who is [fit], you just want to blow them out a little bit, rather than train them on a hard, cuppy racetrack."

A wet track is a bonus for Papua and Impeachthepro. Papua is in the best form of his career, with three consecutive wins in open company allowance races.

Last year's winner, Vodka, is equipped with blinkers to control a bearing out problem. Conman Cunningham and Mr. Determined complete the field.

Gotham at mercy of weather

If weather delays the opening of the main track on March 12 for more than a few days, the $200,000 Gotham on March 16 may be run around two turns on the inner track at a mile, the intended distance, or at a mile and 70 yards.

Another option would be to postpone the Gotham, which has been done before because of bad weather, but Mike Lakow, the New York Racing Association's racing secretary, said he would rather not do that because it could make it difficult for a trainer making plans to run.

"It wouldn't be my first choice," Lakow said.

The last time the Gotham was run on the inner track was in 1984, when Bear Hunt won the race at a mile and 70 yards. Devil's Bag, the 1983 juvenile champion, was supposed to run, but trainer Woody Stephens changed his mind when bad weather made it necessary to run the Gotham on the inner track.

A delay in the opening of the main track could change the minds of a few of the horsemen who are considering the Gotham, including the Team Valor syndicate, which owns controlling interest in the California-based sprinter Omega Code, the San Miguel winner.

Nominations to the Grade 3 Gotham, a prep for the $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 12, closed on Saturday. The Gotham isn't the only race that would be affected by a delayed opening. The Toboggan and Broadway, seven-furlong races on March 15, would have to be run at six furlongs on the inner track.

Jerry Porcelli, NYRA's track superintendent, said a spell of warm and dry weather is needed to get the main track in working order. In the short term, it doesn't look like the weather will cooperate because up to a half-inch of rain is expected Sunday, followed by cold weather.

"We need a little help from the weather and we could catch up," Porcelli said. "I feel like I'm a week behind because the last several years we already had been able to harrow the track a few times to massage the cushion."

o Snake Mountain, the probable favorite for Saturday's $75,000-added Stymie Handicap, worked five furlongs in 1:01.13 at Belmont. Others pointing to the ungraded Stymie are Ground Storm, Classic Endeavor, Country Only, and My Request.

o Tommy Pascuma, who worked on the backstretch of New York tracks for 50 years as an exercise rider, trainer, and an assistant trainer, died Thursday after a long illness. He was 67. Pascuma galloped 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew early in the horse's career.

Viewing is on Sunday at the Krauss Funeral Home in Franklin Square, N.Y.

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