An evenly-matched field of fillies and mares are set to clash on the Aqueduct Racetrack turf in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Long Island at 1 ⅜ miles on the inner course, led by graded stakes winner Theodora B. from the barn of trainer Michael Dickinson.
A versatile 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper, Theodora B. had been knocking on the door at the stakes level for much of her career before breaking through in a big way in 2020. The Augustin Stable homebred began her year with an encouraging optional claiming win at Laurel Park, and after a hiccup on the synthetic main track at Woodbine in the Grade 3 Trillium, finally notched her first stakes victory with a wire-to-wire score in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly on turf.
That same frontrunning tactic earned her another stakes win one start later in the TVG at Kentucky Downs, but she failed to get the job done in her most recent start, the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor at Woodbine, fading to fifth after setting the early pace.
“She’s doing very well, fresh and sound.” said Dickinson, who attributes her improvement this year to mental and physical maturation. “She’s stayed very sound, and we’ve discovered she’s happiest on the front end, which is where she’ll be again on Saturday. It’s not anything we planned for, it just happened that nobody wanted the lead [in the Dance Smartly], and she’s been in great form.”
In search of her third stakes win of the year, Theodora B. will enlist the services of top turf rider Jose Lezcano from post 9.
Never a stranger to turf stakes races on the NYRA circuit, trainer Christophe Clement has a trio of runners entered in Wegetsdamunnys, Mutamakina, and Traipsing.
Bred in New York by Wellspring Stables, the daughter of D’Funnybone will be making her swan song in the Long Island before she heads to the breeding shed in 2021. The 5-year-old mare has accumulated over $300,000 in career earnings with five wins from 23 starts, and recently finished second in the Yaddo on September 4 at Saratoga Race Course.
“She’s always been consistent for us,” Clement said of Wegetsdamunnys. “It’s a bit ambitious, but this will be her last race before she goes off to become a broodmare.”
Conversely, Mutamakina’s U.S. career appears to just be taking flight after the French import finished third in the Zagora on October 31 at Belmont Park in her stateside debut. The 4-year-old filly encountered significant trouble in the Zagora, run over a yielding turf course at Belmont, having been shuffled badly in upper stretch before mounting a strong rally to get within a half-length of the winner at the finish.
“She ran a very good race last out,” said Clement. “She’s been training forwardly and we’ll take her to Florida after this race.”
A Stone Farm homebred, Traipsing will take a hefty step up in class after beating a second-level optional claiming field in late September on the Belmont lawn in wire-to-wire fashion. She will also stretch out in distance significantly having won that race at 1 1/16 miles, and she has yet to go beyond 1 ⅛ miles in her career.
Wegetsdamunnys will be ridden by Dylan Davis from post 2, Mutamakina will have the services of Eric Cancel out of post 4, and Kendrick Carmouche will be aboard Traipsing from post 3.
Local horseman Tom Albertrani also has a formidable duo lined up for the Long Island with turf marathon aficionados Beau Belle and Lovely Lucky. Though winless on the year, Beau Belle has acquitted herself nicely in a few such stakes races, with a couple of third-place finishes in the Grade 2 Glens Falls and the River Memories on her 2020 resume. In her most recent outing, however, she finished a distant eighth in the Zagora.
“She did too much on the front end that day [in the Zagora] and the soft turf just got to her,” said Albertrani, who trains Beau Belle for Mark Anderson. “It’s the only race she really ran poorly in. Hopefully, with a different scenario it works out next trip. She’s run well in most of her starts. We’ll see if she can come back.”
Luis Rodriguez Castro will ride Beau Belle from post 7.
A 4-year-old daughter of Lookin At Lucky owned by Elizabeth Mateo, Lovely Lucky looked like a star in the making when she got to go 1 ⅜ miles for the first time on July 24 at Saratoga, however that hasn’t really panned out in subsequent starts. She entered her breakthrough victory off a meager maiden claiming score, but exploded to a surprising 6 ¾-length romp at the Spa at odds of 19-1. Since then, she’s finished fourth in the Glens Falls and seventh in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational in her latest outing.
“She’s a filly that’s been improving with the distance that we ran her,” said Albertrani. “In the race at Saratoga [the Grade 2 Glens Falls], Lezcano was fighting her a little too much and she ended up running fourth. We were thinking Beau Belle would set the pace but actually she had more speed and I think he may have held her back a little more than she needed him to. She still ran well. Hopefully, she steps up.”
An also eligible in post 13, Lovely Lucky will hope to draw into the race for rider Harry Hernandez.
New York mainstays Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and renowned turf conditioner Chad Brown will also be well represented. McGaughey’s Hungry Kitten nearly won her third race in a row last out in the Zagora, in which she finished a fast-closing second behind Luck Money. The rapidly improving 4-year-old will be ridden by Nik Juarez from post 11.
Brown, meanwhile, will send out French product Eliade, who is coming off an impressive allowance win on October 8 at Keeneland. Prior to that, the Teofilo filly finished an even fifth in the Glens Falls on this circuit. Jose Ortiz, regular rider of Hungry Kitten, will take the call from the inside post.
Rounding out the field are Siberian Iris [post 5, Mike Luzzi), English Affair (post 6, Jorge Vargas, Jr.), With Dignity (post 8, Sebastian Saez), Pretty Point (post 10, Christopher DeCarlo) and Delta’s Kingdom (post 12, Junior Alvarado).
The Long Island is slated as the finale on Aqueduct’s 10-race program, which offers a first post of 11:50 a.m. Eastern. America’s Day at the Races will present daily television coverage of the Aqueduct fall meet with coverage to air on FOX Sports and MSG Networks.
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NYRA Press release and Photo