• Miss Narcissist to face stablemate Champagne Ruby in NYSS Fifth Avenue; Palace set for G3 Fall Highweight Handicap on Thanksgiving
• Quartet of NYSS events highlight Saturday's card
• Caixa Eletronica breezes for G3 Fall Highweight as fields come together for HolidayFest stakes
Both races are six furlongs, with the Fifth Avenue restricted to fillies. Aqueduct also will present the $125,000 NYSS Thunder Rumble for 3-year-olds and up and the NYSS $125,000 Staten Island for fillies and mares on the card.
Empire Dreams looks to go one better after finishing second by three lengths to Grade 2 Sanford winner Wired Bryan in Belmont Park's seven-furlong Bertram F. Bongard on October 19, Empire Showcase Day presented by The Fund. The son of Patriot Act entered the Bongard off a 1 ¾-length victory in his third start, a six-furlong maiden race on September 29 at Belmont.
"He's been very consistent in all of his races," said Albertrani of Empire Dreams. "We drew on the rail, and he's got a little speed, so it doesn't look like a bad position to be in. He's coming off a nice second in his last start. This looks like a very competitive spot, and he's prepared to run."
Empire Dreams, the 6-5 morning line favorite for the Great White Way, will depart from the rail with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.
Skye Saratoga, by Golden Missile, brings less experience into the Fifth Avenue, having made two starts in her career. After finishing fourth on September 29 at Belmont, she stalked the pace before kicking clear in the stretch to graduate by nine lengths on November 1 at Aqueduct.
"She's coming off a huge win," said Albertrani. "She really moved forward off her first race. This looks like a very good opportunity for her to come back and hopefully run back to her maiden win."
Irad Ortiz also will ride Skye Saratoga, the 5-2 morning-line second choice who drew post 3.
Albetrani said Ultimate Empire will be scratched out of the $125,000 NYSS Thunder Rumble Division for 3-year-olds and up.
Next Saturday, Albertrani is likely to run Toasting, also owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, in the Grade 3, $400,000 Comely, one of four graded stakes on the November 30 card. In her most recent start, Toasting picked up her first stakes win when she took the restricted Dream Rush on October 20 at Belmont. She'll be stretching out from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles in the Comely. She has placed in four stakes at one mile or longer, having finished second in this year's restricted My Flag at Saratoga and third in the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont in 2012 and in the restricted OBS Championship Filly Division at the Ocala Training Center and the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico in 2013.
"Toasting is coming in off a really good win," said Albertrani. "We cut her back in distance, and it worked out very well. She broke a little slowly and closed really well off a fast pace. We're going to stretch her back out again; some of her best races have been going longer distances. She's been pressured on the front end in her races going long, so we're going to try and use a little bit of strategy as we did last time, and try to take back and make one run and hopefully she can come back and run as well as she did last time. She got off a little slow last time, going into a strong wind, so it worked out in our favor."
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Miss Narcissist got all the attention when she won the Joseph A. Gimma on October 19 at Belmont Park, and the 2-year-old filly will try to remain in the spotlight when she competes in the $125,000 New York Stallion Series Fifth Avenue division on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Linda Rice has handled Miss Narcissist with patience, and the trainer's work paid off when the filly set the pace en route to a 5 ¼-length win in the Joseph A. Gimma. Previously, she had made two starts at Saratoga, finishing fifth on August 8 after acting fractiously in the paddock and behind the starting gate, then prevailing by 2 1/2 lengths on August 28. She has worn blinkers in both of her wins.
"She's continued to just settle down," said Rice, who owns Miss Narcissist in partnership with Acqua Nova Stable and Winter Park Partners. "When we first got her, she was pretty high strung. She's blossomed all fall. Her antics in Saratoga in the paddock and on the racetrack were typical of her at the time. The blinkers helped a lot, as did time and maturity."
Miss Narcissist, the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Fifth Avenue, drew post position 6 in the field of eight and will be ridden once again by Junior Alvarado.
"I see maybe three horses with speed, one of them being her," said Rice. "She's on the outside, so I'll leave it up to Junior Alvarado."
One of the two horses drawn outside of Miss Narcissist is her stablemate Champagne Ruby, who was fifth in the Gimma after being bumped at the start. Champagne Ruby has a pair of wins, including a score in the Shesastonecoldfox Stakes in September at Finger Lakes, in five starts. Rice trains Champagne Ruby on behalf of her father, Clyde.
"[The Gimma] was a sub-par race for her," said Rice. "She'd run so well at Finger Lakes and I was quite surprised at how poorly she ran in the Gimma. I'm hoping she'll rebound into a good race. She was bumped at the start in the Gimma; I think she was intimidated. There's bound to be an improvement, I hope it's enough for her to get a good piece of it."
Palace, who won the Hudson Handicap on October 19 at Belmont, isn't eligible for the New York Stallion Series, so the 4-year-old colt will make his graded stakes debut in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap next Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. The Fall Highweight is a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up. Prior the Hudson, Palace captured the Chowder's First overnight stakes on August 23 at Saratoga.
"He's coming off two consecutive wins in New York-bred company at six furlongs, so it's the right surface, the right distance, and if we were going to go for a graded stakes, the time is right," said Rice. "He's obviously back into good form, and it's time to give it a try."
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Four stakes race featuring the eligible sons and daughters of New York stallions highlight Saturday's card at Aqueduct, anchored by the $125,000 Thunder Rumble division for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs, which will be run as race 8 on the nine-race card.
Favored at 7-2 on the morning line is Chapman, no worse than third in eight starts. Trained by Chris Englehart, the 3-year-old son of Stanislavky is in search of his first stakes win, and enters off a 5 3/4-length optional claiming victory last time out at Belmont Park. Also expected to attract support are West Hills Giant, most recently fifth in the Basket Weave stakes, and Comandante, winner of an optional claimer last time out.
Ten fillies and mares were entered in the $125,000 Staten Island division, with Kelli Got Frosty the narrow choice at 3-1 on the morning line over Keep Bustin (7-2) in the seven-furlong race. Winner of the 2012 East View but winless in six starts this year, Kelli Got Frosty most recently was third in an optional claimer behind Keep Bustin and Haldane on October 11 at Belmont. Keep Bustin, a 3-year-old daughter of Bustin Stones, is 4-4-1 from 10 starts this year.
Empire Dreams, second to multiple stakes winner Wired Bryan in the Bertram F. Bongard most recently, heads a field of six 2-year-olds for the Great White Way division at six furlongs. Heading the challengers at 5-2 and 3-1, respectively, are Sol the Freud, fourth in the Bongard, and Free Mugatu, fourth in the New York Breeders' Futurity at Finger Lakes last time out.
Joseph A. Gimma victress Miss Narcissist is the 2-1 morning-line favorite over seven other juvenile fillies, including Skye Saratoga, in the $150,000 Fifth Avenue division, also at six furlongs. Trained by Linda Rice, the Freud filly has won two of three starts, including a maiden victory on August 28 at Saratoga. The second choice at 5-2 on the morning line, Skye Saratoga enters off a nine-length maiden win on November 1 at the Big A.
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Caixa Eletronica breezed a half-mile Friday morning over Belmont Park's training track in preparation for a title defense in Thanksgiving Day's Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap.
"All indications are he's ready to go," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Caixa Eletronica for Mike Repole.
Likely to join Caixa Eletronica in the starting gate for the six-furlong Fall Highweight, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, are Hudson Handicap winner Palace; Grade 3 James Marvin winner Sage Valley; Saturday's Charm, third in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler last time out, and Jake N Elwood.
The 100th edition of the Fall Highweight Handicap is the first of six graded stakes over the HolidayFest weekend at Aqueduct, the centerpiece of which is the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap on November 30.
Probable starters for the Cigar Mile include reigning female sprint champion Groupie Doll, Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents and his stablemate, Private Zone, who won the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational on September 28 at Belmont Park; Grade 1 Foxwoods King's Bishop hero Capo Bastone, dual Grade 1 winner Verrazano, and graded stakes winner Forty Tales, all from trainer Todd Pletcher; Grade 1 Woodward winner Alpha; Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap victor Clearly Now; and Flat Out, winner of the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap. Saratoga Snacks, winner of the Empire Classic, is possible.
Supporting the Cigar Mile will be the Grade 3, $400,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies and a pair of prestigious stakes for juveniles: the Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen and the Grade 2, $400,000 Demoiselle for fillies.
Likely for the Comely are graded stakes winner Fiftyshadesofhay, runner-up in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga in her lone New York appearance; Flash Forward, winner of the restricted My Flag stakes in August; Galloping Giraffe, who took the restricted Punkin Pie stakes last time out; My Happy Face, most recently fourth in the Grade 1 Cotillion; Sheer Drama, second in the Belle Cherie overnight stakes; Grade 3 Dogwood winner Ski Girl; Teen Pauline, returning to dirt after three turf starts; Toasting, winner of the Dream Rush overnight stakes, and Wedding Toast, winner of three in a row, including the Belle Cherie. Ol Donyo and Street Girl are possible.
The 1 1/8-mile Remsen is expected to attract Grade 2 Nashua winner Cairo Prince; maiden winners Dobra Historia, Mental Iceberg and Noble Moon; Honor Code, runner up in the Grade 1 Foxwoods Champagne last time out, and Intense Holiday, fourth in the Nashua. Matterhorn and Wicked Strong are possible.
Among the anticipated starters for the Demoiselle are recent maiden winners America and Penwith along with Grade 3 Tempted winner Stopchargingmaria.
The featured race on Black Friday is the Grade 2, $300,000 Go for Wand Handicap, which is expected to feature Centring, Executiveprivelege, Fantasy of Flight, My Pal Chrissy, Royal Lahaina, and Willet. Street Girl is possible.