Trained by Claudio Gonzalez, the Paynter 4-year-old launched her current streak on October 21 in an optional-claimer at Delaware Park and followed with a pair of stakes scores at Laurel Park, capturing the 1 1/16-mile Thirty Eight Go Go in November and the nine-furlong Carousel on December 26.
Miss Leslie worked five-eighths in 1:01.20 January 9 at Pimlico in her first breeze back since the Carousel.
“She came back good from the race,” Gonzalez said. “She breezed good last Sunday and came out of that good, too, so we decided to give her a chance there in New York. I believe the distance is going to be good for her.”
Miss Leslie has posted a record of 13-6-1-0 since being claimed for $25,000 out of a maiden win in November 2020 at Laurel, led by scores in the Anne Arundel County in December 2020 at Laurel and the Weber City Miss in April at Pimlico Race Course.
The versatile filly boasts wins at distances ranging from 5 1/2-furlongs to nine furlongs.
“She’s a good filly. The good horses can do that, but I believe she has more talent when she goes long,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said he is expecting a good effort from Miss Leslie, who will make her Aqueduct debut Sunday and will race without Lasix, which was administered in each of her last three starts.
“The Aqueduct track is more deep but the good horses can run everywhere – they don’t look for excuses. The only question mark is no Lasix,” Gonzalez said.
Bred in Kentucky by Maxis Stable, Miss Leslie is out of the Mingun mare Zeenut. Angel Cruz, aboard for the past three wins, has the call from post 5.
“She likes to make one good move at the end,” Gonzalez said. “The last few races she’s done well and won. She’s a good filly and has run well in tough races.”
A pair of contenders – Battle Bling and Its Cold in Dehere – will make their stakes debut in their first start for new connections after being claimed for $62,500.
Michael Dubb’s Battle Bling, a dark bay daughter of Vancouver, was haltered from a narrow neck defeat in a one-turn mile on December 19 at the Big A won by Maiden Beauty, who exited that effort to win the Bay Ridge.
“She ran really well the day we claimed her and came out of the race good,” trainer Rob Atras said. “We nominated as another option, but after watching Maiden Beauty run back and win and after looking at the nominations, I thought we might be competitive.”
The 4-year-old launched her career with Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, graduating at one-mile in November 2020 at Indiana Grand and adding an optional-claiming score traveling 1 1/16-miles in April at Oaklawn Park.
Battle Bling was claimed by trainer Danny Gargan for $75,000 in May at Churchill Downs and was a game second in August at Saratoga in a nine-furlong event won by Vegas Weekend, who was in the midst of a four-race win streak and claimed from that win by Atras for $50,000.
Atras said Battle Bling, who worked a half-mile in 52.44 January 9 over the Belmont dirt training track, should appreciate the added ground.
“She ran pretty decent at the mile and an eighth [in Saratoga] and she ran good at Aqueduct which is good – sometimes horses will take to the Aqueduct track, so that’s always something to consider,” Atras said.
Trevor McCarthy will pilot Battle Bling from post 4.
Winning Move Stable’s Its Cold in Dehere was claimed by trainer Linda Rice from an impressive 3 1/4-length score in a nine-furlong optional-claimer on November 24 at Churchill Downs.
A 6-year-old Ice Box chestnut, the Kentucky-bred boasts a record of 32-10-8-5 with purse earnings of $377,600. A winner at five different tracks at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/8-miles, Its Cold in Dehere will make her New York debut from post 6 under Jose Lezcano.
Returning to face Miss Leslie is Three Diamonds Farm’s graded-stakes placed Kiss the Girl, the third-place finisher from the Carousel.
The 5-year-old Into Mischief bay launched her career with Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. She made a winning debut in June 2019 at Belmont and followed one month later with a narrow neck defeat to Comical in the Grade 3 Schuylerville to complete her juvenile campaign.
Kiss the Girl spent the first five starts of her sophomore season with Asmussen – winning once – before the Maryland-bred was transferred to the care of her current conditioner Michael Trombetta.
A productive 2021 campaign saw Kiss the Girl capture the seven-furlong Conniver in March at Laurel and the All Brandy in August traveling 1 1/16-miles over the Pimlico turf.
The versatile mare won a nine-furlong off-the-turf optional claimer in November at Laurel ahead of her Carousel effort and will look to demonstrate her stamina once more from post 2 under Manny Franco.
Rounding out the field are last-out allowance winner Exotic West [post 1, Dylan Davis]; and stakes-placed Vienna Code [post 3, Eric Cancel].
The Ladies is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: Claudio Gonzalez (NYRA Photo)