Gary Contessa won four consecutive races at Aqueduct on Friday to shoot into the top position in the trainer standings.
Contessa runners swept the early pick four, comprising races two through five, which paid $110.50.
Contessa, a former inner track training champion at Aqueduct who slumped to a tie for fourth last winter, had some early intervention from the stewards after Unknown Variable ($4.30) was shut off by Sunset Glitter while attempting to move through on the rail inside the eighth pole. The next three winners -- Bizzy Trick (3rd, $6.20), Simply Dana (4th, $5.40), and Prize Rose (5th, $5.90) -- were more routine and were all ridden by the meet's leading jockey, Rafael Bejarano. Apprentice Tim Thornton rode Unknown Variable in the second.
Meanwhile, Aqueduct officials were preparing for the possibility of having their entire weekend of racing wiped out by a major snowstorm forecast for the area. As of late Friday, racing for Saturday was scheduled to proceed as scheduled with hope of slipping the full card in before the brunt of the storm arrives. Sunday's overnight arrived with the stipulation that in the event of a weather cancellation, the card would be run as drawn on Jan. 27.
If Saturday's featured Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III) can't go, it would likely be rescheduled for Jan. 29. There is no stakes race on Sunday at Aqueduct.
Contessa had one chance to win a fifth race when My Request was favored to win the featured eighth race. But he tired on the far turn and finished a non-threatening fifth.
Contessa now owns 16 wins since racing on the inner track began on Dec. 2. Richard Dutrow Jr, last winter's training champ, is next with 15, while Scott Lake has saddled 14 winners.