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Consistent Arena Elvira Tops Go For Wand

Three weeks after posting her first graded success in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap on November 4, Arena Elvira will look to close out her 4-year-old campaign with a victory in the Grade 2, $150,000 Go for Wand Handicap for fillies and mares, a one-turn mile race scheduled for Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

 

Owned by Carolyn Wilson, Arena Elvira has won three straight, beginning with a 1 ¼-length score in the Madame Jumel on August 5 at Saratoga Race Course, continuing with a 1 ½-length victory in the restricted Sightseek on September 4 at the Spa, and ending with a 6 ¾-length romp in the Turnback the Alarm. All three races were conducted around two turns at 1 1/8 miles.

 

“[Arena Elvira is] coming back quickly, shortening up and this is probably the last race of the season for her as well,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “She’s doing well and we’ll give it a try. She’s really been a gem of consistency.”

 

To illustrate that consistency, Arena Elvira has never finished outside the top three in 2011, posting a record of 5-0-2 in seven starts. She has been cross-entered in Thursday’s Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs.

 

Jose Lezcano will ride Arena Elvira, the 5-2 morning-line favorite and 120-pound highweight, from post position 6.

 

The Go for Wand has also attracted Risky Rachel and Lovely Lil, the top two finishers in the seven-furlong Friendly Island Iroquois on October 22, New York Showcase Day, at Belmont Park.

 

Risky Rachel has won three of her last four, with a 10-length romp in an optional claimer for New York-breds two starts back. In the Friendly Island Iroquois, she tracked the pacesetters and edged away to prevail by 2 ¼ lengths. Risky Rachel, who will be making her first start in a graded stakes, hasn’t raced at the one-mile distance since finishing fourth in the 2010 Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream Park.

 

“We’d be kind of testing the waters in both distance and stepping up to a Grade 2 coming from a race against statebreds, but she’s a lightly raced horse and she's doing very good physically,” said H. James Bond, who trains Risky Rachel for owner/breeder Sanford Bacon.

 

Paco Lopez has been named to ride Risky Rachel, 12-1 on the morning line, from post 2. She’ll carry 114 pounds.

 

Lovely Lil will look to turn the tables on Risky Rachel, having dueled for the lead in the Friendly Island Iroquois from post position 3 and yielding in upper stretch to the winner. Previously, the Barry Schwartz color-bearer had won the six-furlong Union Avenue for New York-breds in August at Saratoga and was third in the Grade 2, 6 ½-furlong Foxwoods Gallant Bloom Handicap in September at Belmont.

 

“I don’t know if a mile is her best distance or not; you have to go back to the race in Philadelphia [a second at Parx Racing in September 2010 to Check Point, who went on to win two stakes and finish second to Arena Elvira in the Turnback the Alarm],” said trainer Michael Hushion. “In her last race [Iroquois] we had a little bit of a duel with [Risky Rachel]. We gave her seven pounds. I would have been more comfortable if she had been able to place herself a little better. But, she was second-best.”

 

Lovely Lil, 15-1 on the morning line, will carry 115 pounds, including Cornelio Velasquez, from the rail.

 

Rick Dutrow, Jr., currently the leading trainer during the Aqueduct fall meet, will send out a pair of stakes winners in Paul Pompa, Jr. and Taylor Brothers Properties’ All Due Respect and Eric Fein’s C C’s Pal. The former won the Ocala against state-breds in March at Gulfstream Park and will enter the Go for Wand off a third behind Blind Luck and Unrivaled Belle in the Grade 2 La Troienne in May at Churchill Downs, while the latter was last seen taking the Miss Golden Circle overnight stakes on October 23 at Belmont.

 

All Due Respect, assigned 118 pounds and made the 3-1 morning-line second choice, will leave from post 3 with Junior Alvarado aboard, while C C’s Pal, weighted at 115 pounds, will depart from post 9 with Ryan Curatolo in the irons at 6-1 on the morning line.

 

Mill House’s Katy Now is already proven at the one-mile distance, earning her first stakes victory when she defeated three opponents in the Dispute overnight stakes on September 30 at Belmont. The Go for Wand will be her first start in a graded stakes since 2010, the year she finished fourth on dirt in both the Grade 1 Mother Goose and Grade 3 Victory Ride and 12th over a synthetic surface in the Grade 2 Raven Run.

 

Katy Now will carry 116 pounds from post 4. Corey Nakatani will ride.

 

The field also includes Indian Legend, Spa City Princess, and Persuading.

 

The field for the Grade 2, $150,000 Go for Wand Handicap:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Lovely Lil (NY)

C H Velasquez

115

M E Hushion

15-1

2

Risky Rachel (NY)

P Lopez

114

H J Bond

12-1

3

All Due Respect (FL)

J Alvarado

118

R E Dutrow, Jr.

3-1

4

Katy Now (KY)

C S Nakatani

116

T A Pletcher

4-1

5

Indian Legend (KY)

A Garcia

114

C G Reese

20-1

6

Arena Elvira (KY)

J Lezcano

120

W I Mott

5-2

7

Spa City Princess (NY)

J F Chavez

113

P J Kelly

20-1

8

Persuading (KY)

D Cohen

116

D L Romans

8-1

9

C C's Pal (FL)

R Curatolo

115

R E Dutrow, Jr.

6-1



 

 

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