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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Darwin Hopes to Break Through in Nashua

A baker’s dozen 2-year-olds will vie for the spotlight at Aqueduct Racetrack on Sunday afternoon as they take the next step in their careers in the Grade 2, $200,000 Nashua and the Grade 3, $150,000 Tempted for fillies.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who swept all four main track graded stakes for juveniles at the recently concluded Belmont Park fall meet, once again will be well-represented with a pair of contenders in each one-mile race.

In the Nashua, Pletcher will saddle promising maiden winners Darwin and Violence against five contenders, while the more seasoned Kimono and Unabashed take on impressive maiden winner Emollient, Grade 1 Frizette runner-up My Happy Face and two others in the Tempted.

Darwin, purchased for $1.3 million in the spring by Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Mrs. John Magnier, was a front-running two-length winner at Belmont on October 6. The Big Brown colt, out of the Silver Ghost mare Cool Ghoul, covered six furlongs under John Velazquez in 1:09.54, for which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

Violence was one of Pletcher’s 21 maiden winners at Saratoga Race Course, rallying to take a seven-furlong event under Velazquez on August 18. The Black Rock Stable color-bearer covered the distance in 1:22.91, receiving an 81 Beyer.

Sunday, Velazquez will be aboard Darwin, who drew post position 1 as the even-money morning-line favorite, while Javier Castellano will ride Violence, 3-1 on the morning line from post position 3.

Lining up against the duo will be the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Irsaal, a 6 ¼-length winner of a 1 1/16-mile off-the-turf maiden race on October 11; Really Sharp, making his conventional dirt debut after finishing second in the Grade 3 Bourbon on October 7 at Keeneland; Stormy Len, victorious in his only outing on September 29 at Belmont;  Vegas No Show, who has won two of four starts including the Dover on October 6 at Delaware Park, and Candy Raider.

The field for the Tempted, returning to the Big A following last year’s stint as a six-furlong race in October at Belmont, features both promising maiden winners and fillies with stakes experience.

Heading the former group is the Bill Mott-trained Emollient and heading the latter is Michael Dubb’s My Happy Face, a rousing second in the Grade 1 Frizette on October 6 at Belmont Park.

In her second start, Juddmonte Farms’ Emollient rallied from just off the pace to win a seven-furlong event by 2 ¾ lengths on September 30 at Belmont. The Empire Maker filly covered the distance in 1:23.83, earning a 98 Beyer, second only to Kauai Katie (100) so far this year among 2-year-old fillies.

Junior Alvarado will ride Emollient, who drew post position 3 as the 7-5 morning-line favorite.

A 21 ¼-length maiden winner on August 31 at Saratoga, My Happy Face gave undefeated Dreaming of Julia – the co-favorite in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – all she could handle in the one-mile Frizette, losing by a head.

With Ramon Dominguez aboard, My Happy Face drew post position 2 as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line.

Both of Pletcher’s fillies also have stakes experience, with Unabashed finishing fourth to the undefeated Kauai Katie in the Grade 2 Matron on September 30 at Belmont in her second start and Kimono, a second-out maiden winner at Saratoga, finishing third in the Blue Hen on September 29 at Delaware Park.

With Javier Castellano aboard, Kimono, 8-1 on the morning line, will leave from the rail while Unabashed (6-1) drew post position 5 under John Velazquez.

Completing the field are maiden winners Cue the Moon, who defeated Emollient by a half-length on September 2, and Ruby Lips, who won at second asking on September 16 at Belmont.


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