New York-homebred Sharp Starr will look to defend her title in the Grade 3, $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap, a one-turn mile race for fillies and mares at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday, December 4.
The Go for Wand, which is slated as Race 7 on Saturday's 10-race program, is part of a stakes-laden card headlined by the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap and also includes the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen, which offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, and the Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes, which offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
||So Darn Hot
Trained by Horacio DePaz, Sharp Starr boasts a perfect in-the-money record of 6-2-2-2 at the Big A, including an impressive 15 3/4-length romp last November that registered a career-best 101 Beyer ahead of her Go for Wand coup.
A 4-year-old daughter of Munnings out of the A.P. Indy mare Mindy Gold, DePaz piloted Sharp Starr through a half-mile breeze in 48.68 seconds Saturday over a fast Belmont Park training track.
DePaz said Sharp Starr, who boasts a ledger of 14-4-3-3 for purse earnings of $348,295, has matured over the past year.
"She's always had good form and it looks like she's stepping up. She's matured much more physically, so I'm very happy with her," DePaz said.
Sharp Starr captured the $250,000 Empire Distaff last month at Belmont, off a two-month layoff, where she notched a 16-1 upset coming from last-of-10 under jockey Jose Ortiz, who will retain the mount from post 7 carrying 119 pounds. She earned a 92 Beyer for the win, her first of the 2021 season in five starts.
Frank Fletcher Racing Operations and Ten Strike Racing's Lady Rocket notched a game head score last out over Glass Ceiling in the seven-furlong Pumpkin Pie, which was contested in two divisions over a sloppy and sealed main track on October 31 at Belmont.
Trainer Brad Cox said the one-turn mile should suit Lady Rocket, who sports a consistent record of 10-5-3-1 with purse earnings of $393,008.
"She was very prominent on the pace last time out. She dug in pretty gamely to fight off the challenges," Cox said. "She's a nice filly and this is a good spot for her."
Lady Rocket, a $420,000 purchase at the 2019 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, returned from a freshening in August to smoke a field of eight in the seven-furlong Pink Ribbon at Charles Town. She followed with a prominent second to Grade 1-winner Bella Sofia in the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap in September at Belmont ahead of her Pumpkin Pie coup.
The 4-year-old Tale of the Cat bay worked five-eighths in 1:01.40 Saturday over the Churchill Downs main track. Lady Rocket, assigned a field high 122 pounds, will emerge from post 2 under Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Kaleem Shah's Bella Vita, a 4-year-old daughter of Bayern, enters from a 1 1/2-length score in the seven-furlong Betty Grable against fellow California-breds on November 7 at Del Mar.
Trained by Simon Callaghan, Bella Vita will be making her first start outside of her home state and just her second attempt in graded company, having completed the exacta behind Gamine in the Grade 2 Great Lady M in July at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Joel Rosario will pilot Bella Vita [118 pounds] from post 3.
Truth Hurts, trained and co-owned by Chad Summers with J Stables, drew off to a two-length score last out in her division of the Pumpkin Pie.
The 4-year-old Ontario-bred daughter of Tonalist captured an off-the-turf edition of the Perfect Sting travelling a one-turn mile in July at Belmont over a sloppy and sealed surface ahead of a good fourth in the six-furlong Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap in July at the Spa.
Truth Hurts boasts a record of two wins from three starts at the Big A, including a debut maiden score sprint at 6 1/2-furlongs in December 2019 ahead of a two-length optional claiming win one month later at a one-turn mile.
Tyler Gaffalione will have the call aboard Truth Hurts [120 pounds] from post 6.
Cammarota Racing's Miss Marissa [post 1, Jose Lezcano, 120 pounds] finished a distant fourth as the mutuel favorite last out in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap on November 6 at Belmont.
Trained by James Ryerson, the 4-year-old daughter of He's Had Enough captured the nine-furlong Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan last October at Pimlico and added the 10-furlong Grade 2 Delaware Handicap to her ledger in July.
Miss Marissa, who has a record of 4-0-1-1 at the Big A, will shorten up to less than 1 1/16-miles for the first time since February 2020 when fourth in the seven-furlong Wide Country at Laurel Park.
Stetson Racing, Donato Lanni and Rita Riccelli's So Darn Hot [post 4, Manny Franco, 118 pounds], enters from a game second last out in the Turnback the Alarm.
Trained by George Weaver, the Ghostzapper bay, out of the Tiznow mare Tizahit, is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Come Dancing.
Sporting a record of 11-2-2-3, the consistent bay was purchased for $600,000 at the 2019 OBS June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale.
Rounding out the field is Saul Kupferberg's Honor Way [post 5, Eric Cancel, 119 pounds], a 7-year-old multiple graded stakes-placed daughter of Caleb's Posse supplemented by trainer Charlton Baker. Honor Way is a three-time winner at the Big A, including a score in last December's six-furlong Garland of Roses.
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