01/16/2010 12:00AM

Understatement still perfect on inner


Trainer Todd Pletcher may have lost his two top Aqueduct inner-track loving mares to retirement, but at least he still has the inner-track specialist Understatement in the barn.

Understatement made it 3 for 3 over the inner track, with a ridiculously easy 4 1/2-length front-running victory in Saturday's . His entrymate, Well Positioned - both are owned by Paul Pompa Jr. - finished second, 13 1/2 lengths clear of Storm Play, also trained by Pletcher. Ah Day, More Than a Reason, and Bunker Hill completed the order of finish.

Understatement, a 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor, won two allowance races over the inner track last winter but faltered thereafter, losing his next five starts. He was coming off a decent second-place finish in an allowance race at Laurel, indicating he was perhaps back to form.

On Saturday, Understatment confirmed that he was, striking the front soon after the start under David Cohen and then sailing through fractions of 23.53 seconds, 47.19, 1:11.44, 1:36.24 while completing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.94. Sent off as the 1-4 favorite with Well Positioned, Understatement returned $2.70 to win.

"His training had suggested he should run like that," said Jonathan Thomas, an assistant for Pletcher, who earlier this winter won stakes with the mares Awesome Ashley and Distorted Passion.

The only anxious moment came heading into the first turn, when it appeared that Bunker Hill, under Chuck Lopez, would challenge Understatement on the front end. Following a glance from Cohen, Lopez backed off.

"I gave him a look like 'Come on man, don't do that to me,' " Cohen said. "Save that for the next race."

* The New York Racing Association will donate $5,000 to the American Red Cross toward the Haitian relief effort.