02/26/2010 12:00AM

Stymie has an obvious favorite


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - At some point, Understatement will get to prove himself as something more than an Aqueduct inner-track specialist. But since he's proved to be so proficient over the winterized surface, it makes perfect sense that he'll get one more run over it Saturday, when he starts as an overwhelming favorite in the $65,000 Stymie Stakes.

Understatement is 3 for 3 over the inner track, including a monster win in the Evening Attire on Jan. 16. He drew the rail and will face just four rivals in the Stymie, a 1 1/8-mile race carded as race 4 on a 10-race Aqueduct card. It will not be part of the late pick four (races 7 thru 10), which has a guaranteed pool of $250,000.

There have always been high hopes for Understatement, a 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor, and his last race was his best to date. He took control of the Evening Attire from the outset, cruised around the inner track under David Cohen, and won by 4 1/2 lengths. He earned a 115 Beyer Speed Figure, surpassed this year only by his more heralded stablemate Quality Road.

"He's definitely threatened to be more than an inner-track specialist," said Jonathan Thomas, who will be the trainer of record for Todd Pletcher, who is serving a medication suspension. "But he has shown an affinity to carry his speed."

This will be Understatement's first try at 1 1/8 miles, but Thomas said he doesn't think the distance will be a problem.

Understatement has the rail and is the main speed in the field. National Pride, who is in post 6, appears to be the only horse who can apply early pressure. National Pride won a one-mile allowance race gate to wire Jan. 6. On Feb. 7, he dumped jockey Richard Migliore coming out of the gate and ran around the track.

If there's an upset to be had, perhaps Seniors Pride can pull it off. Seniors Pride is the only horse in the field to have won at the distance, and he has won two of his last three starts overall.

"All his two-turn races are good," said trainer Michael Tannuzzo. "If he's good enough, he'll be right there. I feel he's doing good. I could have run him in a starter [handicap], but he's doing so good and the field is short. I thought I'd take a shot."

Completing the field are Reflect Times and More Than a Reason, both of whom have won allowance races over the inner track this winter.