New York-bred Willet will make her first foray into graded stakes company in the one-mile race. A rousing 9 ¼-length winner of the Iroquois at Belmont Park on New York Showcase Day, the 4-year-old Jump Start filly has been no worse than third in seven lifetime starts, including a pair of victories at the Big A last year for trainer and co-owner Jimmy Iselin.
With Rajiv Maragh aboard, Willet will leave from the rail as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
Trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. will send out the 7-5 morning-line favorite in IEAH Stables’ Fantasy of Flight. A 4-year-old daughter of Tiznow, Fantasy of Flight romped by 9 ¾-lengths in an optional claimer on October 18 at Belmont, her first start for Dutrow. Previously trained by John Terranova, she owns a 3-3-1 record from eight starts, including a runner-up finish in last year’s Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs.
New York’s leading rider Ramon Dominguez has the call aboard Fantasy of Flight from post position 3. Dutrow will also saddle Vincent Scuderi’s Hard Life, who gets the services of Joel Rosario as she returns to the main track after a sixth-place finish on the turf at Belmont.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will be represented by E. Paul Robsham Stables’ R Gypsy Gold, fifth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap on October 27 at Belmont. The 4-year-old Bernardini filly will be making her first start at a flat mile since
posting a 4 ¾-length allowance win at the distance last September.
“On occasion she’s run well enough to be competitive in a race like this, and it’s a small field,” said Pletcher of R Gypsy Gold, whose most recent victory was in the Endear overnight stakes on July 4 at Belmont. “She breezed well yesterday. She’s puzzled me the last couple of races because she’s breezed very well and not run as well as she’s breezed. I’m hoping that she’s touting us properly this time.”
R Gypsy Gold, 7-2 on the morning line, drew post position 4 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard.
Also returning from the Turnback the Alarm is third-place finisher Nefertini, whose only off-the-board outing in six starts this year was a fourth in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park. The Empire Maker filly has made one appearance at Aqueduct, defeating Fantasy of Flight by a half-length in an optional claimer over the inner track in March.
Alan Garcia will ride Nefertini, 4-1 on the morning line, from post position 2.