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Aqueduct - William Wilmot and Joan Taylor's Midnight Disguise will go for her third straight stakes win and first graded stakes victory in headlining a field of six 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle on Saturday, Wood Memorial Day, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
One of five graded stakes on the blockbuster card, headlined by the Grade 2 Wood Memorial and the Grade 1 Carter Handicap, the 123rd running of the Gazelle is New York's final Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifier, offering 100 points to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 to fourth for the Grade 1, $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
Race 6 on Aqueduct's Saturday card with a Post Time of 3:38 PM
|1||Mo Shopping||9-2||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|2||Virginia Key||15-1||Flavien Prat||Todd Pletcher|
|3||Midnight Disguise||8-5||Trevor McCarthy||Linda Rice|
|4||Smokinpaddylassie||3-1||John Bisono||Edward Coletti, Jr.|
|5||Sara Street||7-2||Dylan Davis||Kiaran McLaughlin|
|6||My Miss Lilly||5-1||Joe Bravo||Mark Hennig|
Midnight Disguise has won four times in five career starts, all at the Big A, including a 4 ¼-length score in the Busanda, contested at the Gazelle distance of 1 1/8 miles, on January 25. The Midnight Lute filly followed that effort with a 1 ¾-length win in the Busher last out on March 3, earning a personal-best 77 Beyer Speed Figure.
"She's been doing well and I was very pleased with her coming out of the Busher," trainer Linda Rice said. "She's had a nice workout since then, so we're on target.
"I'm sure the competition will be much tougher in this race, but she's proven at the distance and she's gaining experience with every race," she added. "She's becoming more professional; switching her leads better and things like that, so we're really excited for it."
Midnight Disguise has won at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, with her only trip out of the winner's circle coming in the East View when she ran second to English Soul on January 14.
Trevor McCarthy, who has been aboard for her last three starts, will have the return call from post 3.
"Trevor will be staying on for the Gazelle. He's done so well, so why change things?" Rice said.
Sara Street, who challenged Midnight Disguise before settling for second in the Busher in her first stakes effort, will stretch out in distance in her graded stakes debut for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The Street Sense filly broke her maiden at second asking on February 4 at Aqueduct before her runner-up effort at a mile.
"We think we're ready; she's nice and developing really well. It looks like she wants the distance and is doing well," McLaughlin said.
Dylan Davis, who piloted Sara Street to her victory, will be in the irons from post 5.
Blue Heaven Farm's Virginia Key will make her first New York appearance after winning her debut on February 9 and running third against allowance company on March 9 at Gulfstream Park. One of two entrants for trainer Todd Pletcher, Virginia Key ships to the Big Apple having won her only start at longer than a mile when she finished 1 ½ lengths ahead of Ipanema Beach in her first start. The Kentucky homebred and Distored Humor filly will have the services of jockey Flavien Pratt from post 2.
"We like her. We think she wants two turns," said Pletcher, who won the 2014 Gazelle with My Miss Sophia. "That's why we ran her long the first time and then we couldn't get a long allowance race to fill so we ended up running her at a distance that's probably short of her best, but we felt like we needed another race that would hopefully move us forward to a stakes and I think the mile and an eighth suits her well."
Her stablemate, Mo Shopping, has Aqueduct experience, winning against allowance company by two lengths on February 19. After earning a personal-best 78 Beyer Speed Figure for that win at one mile, by Uncle Mo and Stopchargingmaria, made her first stakes appearance, running third in the Beyond The Wire on March 17 at Laurel Park.
"We also felt like she'd improve with more distance," Pletcher said. "That it's back a little quick is my concern, but the mile and an eighth is attractive, and we'll hope that she can come back with an effort like she did at Laurel and maybe even improve a little bit with the extra distance. We'll see what she can do. She's a very honest filly. She shows up every time."
Mo Shopping, owned by Repole Stable, will have Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons from the rail. Velazquez will be looking for his first career Gazelle win.
My Miss Lilly is the field's only entrant with graded stakes experience, finishing third in the Grade 3 Forward Gal on February 3 after winning her debut at Aqueduct on December 23.
The Mark Hennig trainee ran third behind Sara Street and Midnight Disguise in the Busher and will have the opportunity to square off against those competitors again, drawing the outside post with Joe Bravo aboard Smikinpaddylassie enters the Gazelle undefeated in three starts, posting an 81 Beyer in a 2 ¼-length win in the Beyond The Wire after impressive victories to start her career at Parx.
Trained by Edward Coletti, Jr., Smokinpaddylassie will be ridden by John Bisono from post 4.
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