"He was a welcome addition last winter and made everyone look good," said Pletcher's assistant, Michael McCarthy. "It was nice to see him progress through the spring and see him run in a few of the bigger races. He was unlucky in a few, like the Brooklyn Handicap, but hopefully he gets back here and shows the same type of form he showed last winter."
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Percussion from post position 2. Owned by Gary Barber, he is the 2-1 favorite on the morning line for the 1 1/8-mile race.
Making his stakes debut is DMZ Racing Stable's Sliver and Onions, a two-length winner of a first-level optional claimer on November 14 in his Big A debut. The gray 3-year-old was gelded following a fifth-place finish in an optional claimer at Saratoga in August and returned on October 25 to finish third going 1 1/16 miles at Belmont.
Trainer Mike Hushion is hopeful the son of Tiz Wonderful is on the cusp of proving himself a serious racehorse.
"He had some bad habits; since we gelded him he's been a more focused individual both in his training and in the afternoons," said Hushion of Sliver and Onions, who ran the mile in 1:35.02 last time out. "We could have run him in a two-other-than [allowance] rather than a stakes, but this is an opportunity to find out how good a horse he is and see where he will take us."
Jose Ortiz has the mount on Sliver and Onions, the 3-1 third choice on the morning line. The pair will leave from post position 1.
Trainer David Jacobson has entered veteran Spa City Fever, winner of an optional claimer last time out, and Don Dulce, who was claimed for $100,000 in September and finished second in the I'm A Banker overnight stakes on September 12 at Belmont in his first start for his new connections.
The well-traveled Don Dulce, a 5-year-old gelded son of Maria's Mon who began his career in Canada, is 5-2 on the morning line. Ridden by David Cohen, he will leave from post position 3.
Spa City Fever, 9-2, drew post position 4 under Junior Alvarado.
Rounding out the field is mid-Atlantic shipper Jonesy Boy, a supplemental entry who is 3-2-0 in five starts for owners George and Lori Hall and trainer Kelly Breen.