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Arena Elvira Seeks Form Reversal in Ladies'

In Tuesday's Ladies’ Handicap at Aqueduct, Carolyn Wilson’s Arena Elvira will attempt to regain the winning form she maintained from August 2011 through March 2012. During that span, she captured straight stakes, including a pair graded victories.

 

After finishing third, beaten 11 lengths, in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap in April at Hawthorne, Arena Elvira went to the sidelines for six months. She was sixth in her return, the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm in October at Belmont, then was fourth in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap on November 22 at Churchill.

 

“In that first race back off the long layoff, I imagine she needed it,” said Neil Poznansky, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “Judging off the way she has been training going into this one, I’m looking forward to a big effort. I get on her myself and I’ve been getting on her for a long time, and she’s as good as I’ve ever seen her. I’d be surprised if she doesn’t run well.”

 

Arena Elvira, the 7-5 morning-line favorite, will depart from post 4 with Junior Alvarado aboard.

 

Villanesca, a daughter of 2004 Grade 1 Frizette heroine Balletto, will make her first stakes foray when she competes in the Ladies.

 

A Darley homedbred, Villanesca broke her maiden in her second start, a six-furlong sprint in September at Belmont, then was fourth in an optional claimer going one mile over the Big Sandy in October. In her most recent outing, she won a 6 ½-furlong optional claimer by 2 ½ lengths on December 5 at Aqueduct.

 

“We think she is this kind of filly,” said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “The timing is not what we envisioned, but we’re going to play what’s dealt to us. She’s training very well, so we’re going to run. To go from 6 ½ [furlongs] to a mile and an eighth isn’t ideal, but we’re not going to worry too much about it. She ran a mile one time before, and she was a little speedy, ran into a good one, the timing wasn’t all that great, and she didn’t run as well as we hoped, but we think longer will be better for her.”

 

Eddie Castro has the assignment aboard Villanesca, 5-2, from post 2.

 

The Ladies field also includes Silver Prize and Dial Direct, who are riding two-race winning streaks; R Gypsy Gold, a dual stakes winner; and Dial Direct, third in an allowance on December 17 at Parx Racing. Smart Cash and Dial Direct will be coupled in the wagering. 

 

 

 

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