OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Graded stakes-winner Si Que Es Buena comprises one of three contenders for trainer Graham Motion who will compete as part of a full field of Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Long Island for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Continuing the Thanksgiving Racing Festival, the 63rd running of the Long Island, at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf, will highlight three stakes on the 10-race card, including the Grade 3, $200,000 Discovery for sophomores at 1 1/8 miles and the $125,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship at six furlongs on the outer turf.
Takaya Shimakawa’s Si Que Es Buena made her North American debut last year at the Big A, where she ran fourth in the 2018 edition of the Long Island before winning the Via Borghese in December at Gulfstream Park. She followed with a one-length score in the Grade 3 La Prevoyante at the same track in January before Motion gave her nearly eight months off before returning to run sixth in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor on October 12 at Woodbine.
The 6-year-old daughter of Equal Stripes, who was a group stakes-winner in Peru before shipping north, is credited wit ha 7-3-1 record in 16 career starts. Her name, Spanish for “yes, that is good,” has reflected the Argentinian-bred’s performances, where she was registered Beyer Speed Figures in excess of 90 in her last three starts.
“She ran great in Florida last winter. We brought her back off the layoff in Canada which was tough, but she still ran pretty well,” Motion said.
Jockey Joel Rosario will pick up the mount from the inside post.
Her stablemate, Empressof the Nile, is coming off a stakes win at Aqueduct earlier this month, rallying from eighth to capture the Zagora at 1 ½ miles on the turf on November 3.
Her 5-year-old campaign included a win against optional claimers on August 1 at Saratoga Race Course and followed wit ha strong second, three-quarters of a length back to Mrs. Sippy, in the Grade 2 Glens Falls on August 31 at the Spa. She ran last of seven in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl on October 6 at Belmont before rebounding in the Zagora.
Owned by Madaket Stables, Manganaro Bloodstock and Robert Masiello, Empressof the Nile has been training at Motion’s base in Fair Hill, working in company with Si Que Es Buena.
“The Flower Bowl was a bit of a head scratcher, I don’t know what happened that day,” Motion said. “She’s been a great, lovely mare. Her and Si Que Es Buena work together and make good workmates.”
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be in the irons from post 11.
Mercilla, sixth in the Zagora last out, started her career 2-for-2, including a debut victory in France in her lone race as a juvenile. The Arch sophomore bested allowance company in her second start and her first on U.S. soil in May at Pimlico and will be making her graded stakes debut, with her best previous stakes finish a runner-up effort in the Fasig-Tipton Virginia Oaks on August 31 at Colonial Downs.
“I thought she ran a great race [in the Zagora]. I thought we were reaching a bit, but her start that day was very encouraging,” Motion said.
Eric Cancel will have the call from post 2.
Moyglare Stud Farm’s Homeland Security, second to Empress of the Nile in the Zagora, will get another chance to best her rival as one of two entrants for trainer Christophe Clement, also has Wegetsdamunnys, the eighth-place finisher in that contest, in as an also-eligible.
“They are each coming into this start coming out of the Zagora where I thought they both ran good races,” Clement said. “Homeland Security was able to make a good run and finish strong where Wegetsdamunnys encountered a little traffic and was further back, but I thought also ran well despite the circumstances.
“I think they each have put forth solid campaigns this year,” he added. “Heading into the Long Island, the weather hasn’t really cooperated but expect both to race and compete on Saturday. They both appreciate distance, so hopefully they’ll work out good trips.”
Wegetsdamunnys earned blacktype in the John Hettinger, finishing third on September 22 at Belmont. The 4-year-old will look for her first win in five starts overall at Aqueduct should she run.
Homeland Security has finished in the money in three of her last four starts, winning the Unbridled Essence on August 24 at Monmouth Park before her solid performance in the Zagora. The 5-year-old Smart Strike mare drew post 10 with Junior Alvarado set to ride.
Romantic Pursuit made a big step up in class when fourth in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational on September 7 at Belmont in the final leg of NYRA’s inaugural Turf Triple series, earning a personal-best 85 Beyer in the process for the 1 3/8-mile route. She followed with a third-place showing in the Grade 2 Sands Point that garnered an 84 on October 12 at 1 1/8 miles. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee will again stretch out to the Long Island distance, drawing post 8 with Dylan Davis set to ride.
Lift Up, conditioned by Michael Dickinson, became a graded stakes winner with a 1 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Maple Leaf on November 2 at Woodbine. She will go for her second straight graded stakes win, exiting from post 9 in tandem with Joe Bravo.
Trainer Tom Proctor has two entries: Decorating, off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Dowager on October 20 at Keeneland, will make her first Aqueduct appearance, drawing post 5 with Jose Lezcano set to ride.
More Fun Again, third in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial on July 2 at Parx, will be seeking her first win. Jockey Julio Correa will depart from post 7.
Rounding out the field is a pair from Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in Pivotal Connection, an English-bred making her first graded stakes appearance and Argentian-bred Entropia, who will be racing for the first time outsie of her native country [post 3, Kendrick Carmouche]; Beau Belle, seventh in the Zagora and fifth in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl in her last two starts, for trainer Tom Albertrani [post 6, Castro Rodriguez]; and My Sister Nat, looking for her first North American win in her fourth start since arriving from her native France, for conditioner Chad Brown [ post 4, Jose Ortiz].
Another Broad and Team Win, both trained by Todd Pletcher, were entered for the main-track only.