01/18/2010 12:00AM

Understatement staying on inner

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Understatement earned a 115 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the Evening Attire Stakes.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - If Rachel Alexandra and the now unretired Zenyatta ever want to show up for a race against the boys on Aqueduct's inner track, Todd Pletcher wants in.

Pletcher is the trainer of Understatement, who earned a 115 Beyer Speed Figure winning last Saturday's Evening Attire Stakes. It was the third victory in as many inner-track starts for Understatement, a 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor owned by Paul Pompa Jr.

It might be tempting for the connections of Understatement to look out of town for the colt's next race. But Pletcher said he's perfectly fine leaving Understatement in New York for the $65,000 Stymie here Feb. 27.

"He's obviously an inner-track specialist, so we'll stay put and point for the Stymie," Pletcher said Monday from south Florida. "If Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta want to show up, maybe they'll bump the purse."

Of course, Pletcher was joking. However, he had always thought that Understatement could be a serious racehorse from the day he won his debut at Gulfstream in February of his 3-year-old year. Things didn't quite work out that way as Understatement lost his next five starts before clearing the first-level allowance hurdle over the inner track on New Year's Day 2009. He followed with a second-level allowance victory over the inner on Feb. 14.

"The horse has always trained like he was capable of something above the ordinary," Pletcher said. "We really thought we had a classic-type 3-year-old horse on our hands, but he never fulfilled our expectations. He showed hints of it on the inner track last year and then went off form."

Options open for Tidal Dance

The connections of Affectionately Stakes winner Tidal Dance have not yet determined whether to keep their 5-year-old mare in New York or seek stakes out of town. Tidal Dance was a relatively easy 2 1/2-length winner of Sunday's Affectionately, making a quick move around the far turn to make the lead outside the quarter pole before being taken in hand by Ramon Dominguez in the final sixteenth.

Tidal Dance, a daughter of Pleasant Tap owned by Marc Ferrell and trained by Mike Hushion, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.64 over a muddy inner track and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 91.

"I thought it was pretty impressive," Hushion said Monday morning. "It set up nicely for her."

The local option for Tidal Dance would be the Rare Treat on Feb. 20. As a Florida-bred, Tidal Dance is eligible for the $75,000 Ocala Stakes for Florida-breds at a mile on March 13 at Gulfstream Park.

"We'll see what's around," said Hushion, who added that Ferrell works for Jerry Brown, who produces his own set of speed figures.

Weathered may wheel back quickly

Weathered, who returned to the winner's circle Friday with a victory in a New York-bred stakes here, is targeting the $65,000 Rare Treat on Feb. 20, but she may get one start in between, according to trainer Karl Grusmark.

Grusmark said Monday he is considering running Weathered in Saturday's $70,000 Nellie Morse Stakes at Laurel Park. The Nellie Morse is a mile race run around one turn.

"Very happy with the way she came out of it," Grusmark said. "She'll run in the Rare Treat, and we may catch a race before that."

Dominguez watches Eclipse Awards from home

Though he was among the three finalists for an Eclipse Award as the nation's leading rider, Ramon Dominguez was at Aqueduct on Monday rather than at the ceremony in Southern California. While hopeful that he could win the award, Dominguez figured that it would go to Julien Leparoux. Dominguez said that he might have gone to the awards if it was on a dark-day in New York. Instead, he opted to ride and watch the ceremony from home.

Dominguez finished second in the nation in wins with 391 and third in earnings with $18,348,422.

"I know a lot of people think that Leparoux should get it," Dominguez said. "In my mind, I would be very excited to watch it. I still have hope that they will mention my name, that would be awesome, but if it doesn't happen I feel very honored to have been among the finalists. I feel like not winning it would not take away from my good year."

While Dominguez won 62 stakes, only 14 came in graded events. Leparoux and Gomez each won 34 graded stakes.

Guaranteed pick four returns Saturday

The NYRA will guarantee a minimum of $250,000 in the late pick-four pool on Saturdays beginning this weekend. The late pick four is offered on races 6 through 9.

The late pick-four pool has surpassed $250,000 on Saturdays only once in the first six weekends since the inner-track meet opened in December. On Dec. 12, the pick-four pool was $252,532. Last Saturday, the late pick-four pool was $225,789.

On days when the pick-four pool fails to reach $250,000, the NYRA must make up the difference. Last winter, NYRA failed to reach $250,000 on six of the first eight Saturday of the inner-track meet before introducing the guarantee on Feb. 14. Thereafter, NYRA missed the $250,000 guarantee only once the remainder of the winter and spring meet.

On April 3, the day the Wood Memorial is run, NYRA will guarantee a late pick-four pool of $500,000. There are three other stakes races scheduled for that day.