OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Aqueduct Racetrack's Road to the Kentucky Derby officially gets underway on Saturday when New York's top juveniles square off in the 101st running of the Grade 2, $300,000 Remsen and the 94th edition of the Grade 2, $300,000 Demoiselle for fillies, an official Kentucky Oaks prep race.
The Remsen and Demoiselle kick off the stakes action on an exciting, 10-race holiday weekend card, joined by the Grade 3, $300,000 Comely and anchored by the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile.
The Remsen and Demoiselle, both contested over two turns at 1 1/8 miles, are the first points-bearing prep races on the Kentucky Derby and Oaks trails at Aqueduct, each worth a total of 17 points to the top four finishers, with 10 points awarded to the victor en route to securing a berth in the starting gate on the first weekend in May at Churchill Downs.
Led by the undefeated Mohaymen, the Remsen will feature a rematch of the top three finishers of the Grade 2 Nashua on November 4 at Aqueduct. Joined by runner-up Flexibility and third-place finisher Sail Ahoy, Mohaymen will attempt to add another graded stakes to his budding resume as he and his fellow classmates try to stretch out in the two-turn route.
A $2.2 million yearling purchase for Shadwell Stable, Mohaymen's raw talent was on full exhibition in the Nashua when the gray son of Tapit refused to let youth and inexperience stymie his chances for victory, overcoming more than a few fractious displays in the paddock and starting gate to win by 1 ¾ lengths over Flexibility in his stakes debut. Mohaymen, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, will carry a field-high weight of 122 pounds while racing with Lasix for the first time.
Favored on the morning line at 8-5, Mohaymen will leave from post 3 with Junior Alvarado.
Flexibility, one of two entrants from the barn of Chad Brown, who will also saddle impressive maiden winner Gift Box, joined open stakes ranks in the Nashua after defeating New York-breds to break his maiden on October 10 at Belmont.
NYRA leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. picks up the mount aboard Flexibility. The pair will exit from post 4 as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
The late-running Sail Ahoy will look to turn the tables on his rivals as he dons blinkers for the first time for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. The bay son of Bernardini closed into a tepid pace in his first two stakes tries, finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Champagne in October at Belmont before coming up two lengths short of the highly-touted Mohaymen in the Nashua.
A half-brother to multiple graded stakes winner Point of Entry, Sail Ahoy, 6-1, will leave from post 2 with regular jockey Joel Rosario.
Rounding out the field for the Remsen are Todd Pletcher-trained Donegal Moon, Ravenheart, Hunter O'Riley, Runaway King and Marengo Road.
Pletcher will send a trio of contenders in the Demoiselle with Thrilled, Mo d'Amour and Lost Raven, all sired by top stallion Uncle Mo and each looking to break through with their first graded stakes win.
After racing exclusively on grass in her first four starts, Grade 3 Miss Grillo runner-up Thrilled will look to make an impression on the dirt after breaking poorly and fading to 11th in her last start in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Michael Tabor's Thrilled, 4-1 on the morning line, will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez from post 3.
Thrilled will be joined by stablemates Mo d'Amour, a front-running maiden winner on November 15 at Aqueduct, and Lost Raven, who took the Smart Halo by three lengths on November 14 at Laurel Park.
Javier Castellano has the mount aboard Mo d'Amour. At 8-1 on the morning line, the duo will leave from post 4. Lost Raven, 6-1, will break from post 5 with Manny Franco in the irons.
The Pletcher triumvirate will face a formidable challenge from 8-5 morning line favorite Lewis Bay. Trained by Chad Brown, the daughter of Bernardini turned heads in October, besting an 11-horse maiden special weight field by six lengths at Belmont.
Rounding out the field for the Demoiselle are Grade 3 Tempted runner-up Flora Dora, maiden winner Invite and fourth-place Tempted runner Disco Rose.
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