Michael Dubb and Gandharvi's graded-stakes winner Battle Bling will look to add to her spoils when she headlines a talented field of 11 in the Grade 3, $200,000 Go For Wand Handicap, a one-turn mile for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday, December 3.
The Go for Wand, slated for Race 8, is part of a lucrative 10-race card topped by the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap in Race 9. Also featured are the nine-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen Stakes for juveniles in Race 7 offering 10-4-3-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points; and the nine-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes for juveniles fillies in Race 6 with 10-4-3-2-1 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points on the line. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.
||Love in the Air
||W W Fitzy
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|Robert Reid, Jr.
||Flight to Shanghai
|Horacio De Paz
|John Terranova, II
Battle Bling, trained by Rob Atras, made the grade last out with a gate-to-wire score in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap here on November 4 under returning rider Kendrick Carmouche. The neck victory over graded-stakes winner Nostalgic registered a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
The 4-year-old Vancouver dark bay was claimed for $62,500 from a runner-up effort in December here and has since posted a record of 4-4-0 in nine starts, including scores in the nine-furlong Ladies in January at the Big A and the 1 1/16-mile Twixt in October at Laurel Park. During that stretch, Battle Bling also notched runner-up finishes at Aqueduct in the one-mile Heavenly Prize Invitational and the nine-furlong Top Flight Invitational, as well as in Delaware Park's 1 1/16-mile Obeah, all of which came with a margin of defeat of three-quarter lengths or less.
"She's been remarkable for us. She's just bounced out of every race good and trained forwardly. She's been very nice to have," Atras said. "She's shipped and won. She's run at four or five different tracks for us and the results have pretty much always been the same."
The improving filly, who boasts a record of 5-2-3-0 at Aqueduct, has breezed back twice, including an easy half-mile in 52.39 seconds Saturday over the main track at Belmont Park.
"She came out of the race well," Atras said. "You never know when they run that hard and that frequently, like she has, running in stakes every month since last winter, but she's kind of an iron horse. She's training forwardly. We just gave her a couple of light breezes and she's been real sharp out of it."
Battle Bling, who has raced prominently in her recent starts, closed to finish second in her two previous attempts at Aqueduct one-turn miles, including when claimed in December and a narrow neck defeat to returning rival Bank Sting in the Heavenly Prize Invitational on March 6 in her second start for new connections.
Atras said he will let Carmouche determine the right trip for Battle Bling.
"A mile here can play closer to a sprint, but it depends how the race sets up," Atras said. "We've run a mile with this filly before and they almost got away from her a little too much. We had to use her a little bit to stay in position and she still ran second, but didn't finish up like we thought. Hopefully, she breaks good and then it's up to her and Kendrick where they want to be."
Battle Bling will exit post 3 carrying a field-high 125 pounds.
Hidden Brook Farm, Joseph G. McMahon and Anne McMahon's multiple stakes-winning New York-bred Bank Sting [post 10, Joel Rosario] will look to make the grade for trainer John Terranova.
The 5-year-old Central Banker mare has made her last three starts against fellow state-breds, finishing second in the one-mile Critical Eye in May at Belmont Park ahead of a prominent 5 1/2-length romp in the six-furlong Dancin Renee in June over Big Sandy. She returned from a four-month layoff last out to finish second in the 6 1/2-furlong Iroquois on October 30 at Belmont at the Big A.
Bred in the Empire State by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Bank Sting has won 5-of-6 starts at Aqueduct, including consecutive stakes wins in the December 2021 NYSSS Staten Island traveling seven-eighths ahead of the seven-furlong La Verdad in January and the aforementioned one-mile Heavenly Prize Invitational.
Cash is King and LC Racing's multiple stakes-placed Dr B [post 7, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], trained by Butch Reid, Jr., enters from close runner-up efforts in the 6 1/2-furlong Roamin Rachel over sloppy and sealed going on October 3 at Parx and the seven-furlong Pumpkin Pie last out on October 29 at Belmont at the Big A.
The 4-year-old Liam's Map bay boasts a consistent record of 15-4-5-2 for purse earnings of $238,690, including a runner-up effort last July in an off-the-turf edition of the Blue Sparkler at Monmouth Park.
A half-sister to stakes winners Stand Up Comic and Hi Holiday, Dr B is out of the graded-stakes placed Proud Citizen mare Boleyn, who is a half-sister to stakes winner Magnificent Val and Footlights - winner of the 2007 Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap.
Aveen Campion's Flight to Shanghai [post 9, Manny Franco] was claimed for $40,000 last out from a sixth-place finish traveling one mile on October 20 at Laurel Park.
Now trained by Horacio De Paz, the 4-year-old Shanghai Bobby bay boasts a record of 15-3-3-2 for purse earnings of $142,680, including a third-place finish in the one mile and 70 yard Serena's Song in May at Monmouth.
Flight to Shanghai has breezed back four times at Laurel Park, including a half-mile in 49.40 Monday.
"She's been working well. She's a pretty classy filly and pretty straightforward," De Paz said. "The breezes have been good - nice and easy. She does seem a speedy-type filly. This will be the first time we run her and they had blinkers on for her last race, so we'll play with that a bit.
"We've been working her with them and she's been working well and galloping out well, so maybe we'll cut her back to a little cheater cup," De Paz added. "She had a bigger cup blinker the day she ran."
De Paz said he is hopeful the claim will pay immediate dividends.
"The owners spotted her and asked what I thought of her and we won a six-way shake on her," De Paz said. "If she could get some black type it would be good for her as they plan on selling her in January."
Out of the Quiet American mare World Event, Flight to Shanghai is a half-sister to the graded-stakes placed pair of He's So Fine and Auntjenn.
Main Line Racing Stable's graded-stakes placed Love in the Air [post 1, Paco Lopez] enters on a two-race win streak for trainer John Servis.
The 4-year-old Constitution bay has made her last three starts at Parx, finishing a prominent third in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial over 1 1/16-miles of firm turf in July ahead of frontrunning scores in the 1 1/16-mile off-the-turf Mrs. Penny in August and the one mile and 70 yards Plum Pretty last out on September 24 over the main track.
Servis said returning rider Paco Lopez will likely work out a stalking trip.
"We're cutting back to one turn, so I expect there to be a lot more speed than usual," Servis said. "She's a horse who likes to stalk anyways, and I think she can sit a little off the pace and have something to run at. She's only had a handful of one-turn races and she's run really well in both of them. She's run good for us every time. I have no complaints about her whatsoever."
Love in the Air started her career with Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, making her first two starts in 2020 on Tapeta at Woodbine Racetrack. She graduated in an off-the-turf maiden special weight in July 2021 at Ellis Park before being purchased by Servis for $130,000 later that month at the Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age Sale.
"We bought her out of a racing age sale over a year ago and kicked her out on the farm. She's come back and just got continually better," Servis said. "The filly has really progressed and is training really well going into the race. We're really excited about her."
Although Love in the Air has won 4-of-5 dirt starts, Servis said the filly will eventually get another try on turf.
"She didn't have the opportunity for grass again after the race at Parx and she's run well on the dirt, so we'll stick there for now," Servis said. "We might try her again on the turf one day, but she'll give you her best on any surface."
Bred in Pennsylvania by Blackstone Farm, Love in the Air is out of the undefeated multiple stakes-winning New York-bred Freud mare Lovely Syn.
David Bernsen, Exline-Border Racing, Steve Dorfman and Richard Hausman's Sharapova [post 5, John Velazquez] ships in from California for trainer Peter Eurton to make her first start since an off-the-board effort in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Santa Margarita on April 30 at Santa Anita.
The 4-year-old Outwork bay graduated at third asking in a one-mile maiden claimer in May 2021 at Santa Anita and captured the one-mile Harry Henson two starts back on March 27 at Sunland Park.
Rounding out the field are the graded-stakes placed duo Exotic West [post 2, Dylan Davis] and Tonal Vision [post 11, Junior Alvarado]; stakes winners W W Fitzy [post 4, Javier Castellano] and Betsy Blue [post 8, Jose Lezcano]; and six-time winner Self Isolation [post 6, Jose Ortiz].
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