After winning multiple group stakes in South America, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Sexy Reasons will look to notch her first stakes win in the United States when she competes against a seven-horse field of fillies and mares 4-years-old and up in the 148th running of the $100,000 Ladies Handicap on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
||Sexy Reasons (ARG)
|James Lawrence, II
The 5-year-old Jump Start mare arrived in North America last year after winning eight of 12 starts, all at Maronas in Uruguay. The Argentinian-bred registered five wins in group stakes, highlighted by the Group 1 Gran Premio Selección in October 2017.
Sexy Reasons won the Group 1 Gran Premio Ciudad de Montevideo in her first start of her 4-year-old campaign and subsequently rattled off three consecutive Group 3 wins before shipping to the U.S. and trainer Todd Pletcher's barn.
In her North American debut, she finished fourth in the Pumpkin Pie on October 28 at Belmont Park. Stretching out to a mile, she ran second behind Bombshell last out in the off-the-turf Forever Together on November 23 at Aqueduct.
"I thought that was an improved effort from her first start and hopefully this next one continues that trend," Pletcher said.
Sexy Reasons has five starts at 1 ¼ miles, with a record of four wins and a runner-up finish, which Pletcher said should bode well for the 1 1/8-mile Ladies.
"I think like a lot of South American horses, the longer she's here and the longer she has to acclimate, the better," Pletcher said. "However, I think the real key is stretching her out to a mile and an eighth. She seems like a filly that's steady, she wants to stay, and we've been looking forward to stretching her out."
Carrying 117 pounds, Sexy Reasons will break from post 3 with Manny Franco aboard.
Kallenberg Farms' Forever Liesl has also fared better at longer distances and the Michelle Nevin trainee will be running at the Ladies distance for the first time since a second-place effort to Teresa in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm on November 3 at the Big A.
The 5-year-old Mineshaft mare has been consistent, finishing in the money in 12 of her 15 career starts, posting a 4-5-3 record and earnings of $234,564. Starting with her debut in November 2016, Forever Liesl, who will carry 118 pounds on Sunday, has finished second in all three of her career starts at Aqueduct.
"She did really well the previous time we ran her at this distance, so we're just looking for the same thing," Nevin said. "She's a nice filly who always gives you an honest effort. She always tries."
Eric Cancel, who was aboard for the Turnback the Alarm, will have the call from post 7.
Godolphin's Sara Street, carrying 118 pounds, will be returning to stakes company for the first time since the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in May. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin gave the Street Sense filly a seven-month layoff after her fourth-place finish at Pimlico the day before the Preakness, and Sara Street responded with a 1 ¾-length win against allowance company in her return on December 21 at one mile on Aqueduct's main track.
Sara Street, who broke her maiden at second asking in February 2018, posted back-to-back second-place finishes in the Busher on March 3 and the Grade 2 Gazelle [contested at the Ladies distance] last April and is 2-2-0 in four Aqueduct starts in her career. Dylan Davis will be in the irons from post 5.
Matty's Magnum made his first stakes appearance in his 13th start but proved the wait was worth it, edging Semper Sententiae by a nose in the Winter Memories on November 22. Trained by David Donk, Matty's Magnum enters the Ladies off three straight wins overall and will make her first appearance as a 4-year-old, drawing the rail carrying 117 pounds. Reylu Gutierrez will ride.
Rounding out the field is Enthrall, a Bernardini filly for trainer James Lawrence, from post 6 carrying 116 pounds; the Brian Lynch-trained Total Control, who ran third in the Lady's Secret on June 30 at Monmouth before coming back off a layoff to also run third in the Thirty Eight Go Go on December 29 at Laurel Park, from post 4 with the 119-pound highweight; and Crimson Frost, conditioned by Linda Rice, from post 2 at 117 pounds.
The Ladies Handicap is slated for Race 7 on Sunday's 8-race card at Aqueduct. First post time is 12:50 p.m.