03/30/2015 1:36PM

Sign of spring: Main track opens

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Barbara D. Livingston
Kid Cruz will try to rebound from a sixth in the Evening Attire when he drops into the allowance ranks Wednesday.

It still didn’t have the look or feel of spring in New York on Monday, with some waking up to snow showers and temperatures still below where they should be.

But horseplayers will see a sign of spring Wednesday at Aqueduct when the main track opens for a four-week run that will consist of 19 racing days through April 26. Racing will be conducted on a Wednesday-through-Sunday basis, except this week, when Aqueduct will be dark Easter Sunday.

Post time daily is 1:20 p.m. Eastern, with the exception of Saturday, when first post will be 12:50 p.m. for a 12-race card highlighted by the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial for 3-year-olds with Kentucky Derby aspirations. The card will include three other graded stakes.

A fifth stakes, the $100,000 Danger’s Hour scheduled for the turf, has been pushed back at least a week. The harsh winter weather – which forced 16 full-card cancellations during the inner-track meet – has not allowed for any growth of Aqueduct’s turf, thus grass racing won’t be conducted until the second weekend of April at the earliest.

Though the first few cards of racing seem light on numbers, reinforcements will be trickling in over the course of April, with New York trainers who winter in south Florida preparing to ship horses back home.

Returning home from south Florida in time to ride Wednesday’s card are jockeys Javier Castellano and John Velazquez, who will be splitting their time between Aqueduct and Keeneland over the next three weeks.

Wednesday’s feature is an $81,000, third-level allowance race scheduled for one mile over the main track. Kid Cruz, fourth in last year’s Travers, will try to bounce back from a sixth-place finish in the Evening Attire on Feb. 22.

Trainer Tom Albertrani, whose barn began to heat up in south Florida after an awful start, sends out the coupled entry of Three Alarm Fire and Awesome Vision, both owned by West Point Thoroughbreds.

KEY CONTENDERS

Kid Cruz (Last 3 Beyers: 83-93-90)

◗ After competing in eight consecutive stakes, Kid Cruz is taking a step back into allowance company.

◗ Kid Cruz is cutting back to a one-turn mile for the first time since he won a $50,000 maiden claimer over Aqueduct’s main track Nov. 22, 2013.

◗ Trainer Linda Rice said Kid Cruz bled when running sixth in the Evening Attire, his first start since the Travers, a race from which he emerged with a knee chip.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: Trainer Linda Rice is 53-7-9-10 with a $0.94 ROI over the past five years in dirt routes at Aqueduct in the second start following a layoff. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

:: Learn more about Formulator | Follow the @DRFFormulator Twitter feed and get free Formulator facts


Three Alarm Fire (Last 3 Beyers: 78-89-56)

◗ He looked like a potential stakes horse after his first three starts in 2014 but has not looked nearly as good since. In two starts at Gulfstream this winter, he has a second and a fourth at the second-level allowance condition.

“In his first race when he ran, [Joel] Rosario mentioned he resented the kickback,” Albertrani said. “He managed to run well enough to be second. Then, when we ran him back again, he got in behind horses and never looked like he picked his feet up. I hope we can draw a line through it. I just don’t think he cared for that track.”

◗ Velazquez will ride Three Alarm Fire for the first time.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: Trainer Tom Albertrani is 4-2-0-2 with a $3.12 ROI over the past two years going sprint to route on dirt in the third start following a layoff. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

:: Learn more about Formulator | Follow the @DRFFormulator Twitter feed and get free Formulator facts


Awesome Vision (Last 3 Beyers: 82-84-96)

◗ Coupled in the wagering with Three Alarm Fire, Awesome Vision has won both of his starts over Aqueduct’s main track, both at the one-turn mile.

◗ He is coming off a pair of sixth-place finishes in New York-bred company over the inner track.

“I was going to try and separate them,” Albertrani said. “There was a seven-furlong allowance race the following day, but that one came up like a stake. I thought both horses might look appealing in this race.”

Mail (Last 3 Beyers: 88-87-97)

◗ He is 3 for 3 at a mile, including an off the-turf win over Aqueduct’s main track last November.

◗ He is making his first start since Feb. 10, when he won a two-turn, one-mile race at Parx.