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Eight Entered in Gazelle

Saturday’s $250,000 Gazelle at Aqueduct Racetrack marks the final Grade 1 opportunity of the year for 3-year-old fillies in New York and the 1 1/8-mile race has drawn a talented field of eight.


Returning to dirt in the Gazelle is Awesome Maria, who was most recently fourth in the Topicount Stakes on the turf at Belmont October 29 at the Gazelle distance. A daughter of Maria’s Mon, she was trained as a juvenile by Stanley Hough to a victory in the Grade 2 Matron and a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Frizette before being transferred to Todd Pletcher.


Off for nearly a year after last October’s Frizette, Awesome Maria won her first start for Pletcher, a division of the one-mile Riskaverse Stakes on the turf at Saratoga Race Course on September 2, then finished third behind top 3-year-old fillies Havre de Grace and Blind Luck in the Grade 2 Fitz Dixon Cotillion on the main oval at Parx.


“We didn’t have her as a 2-year-old, so we didn’t have that perspective to compare to, but when we first got her we felt she wasn’t training quite as well on dirt as we might have anticipated,” said Pletcher, who trains Awesome Maria for E. Paul Robsham Stables. “So we worked her on the turf, and she worked well and ran well. [Her versatility] makes it easier to explore more options, and timing-wise this is a good spot, and our last opportunity this year to run against straight 3-year-old fillies in a race of this significance.”


Tabbed as the 7-2 morning-line second choice, John Velazquez will ride Awesome Maria from the rail.


Shipping in from Delaware Park is Brereton C. Jones’ No Such Word, most recently a 6 ½-length winner of the Remington Park Oaks on October 10.


By Canadian Frontier, the Cindy Jones-trained filly enters the Gazelle with a two-race win streak, having also captured the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks on August 14. Earlier in the year she finished a neck in front of Havre de Grace in the Go For Wand at Delaware Park and second in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.


Installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite, No Such Word will break from post position 8 with regular rider Terry Thompson.


Also looking to extend her winning streak in the Gazelle is Darley Stable’s Dubai Dancer, a daughter of A.P. Indy who has now assembled three consecutive victories.


Though she ran greenly when seventh in her maiden outing in January, jockey Richard Migliore, since retired, told trainer Kiaran McLaughlin that he believed the filly was graded stakes material.


Ramon Dominguez was aboard Dubai Dancer for her next start on August 9 at Saratoga, in which she was an impressive seven-length winner.


“After the race, Ramon came back and said, ‘I hate to tell you, but I think Migliore was wrong about this filly…I don’t think she’s a graded stakes filly, I think she’s a Grade 1 filly,’” McLaughlin said. “We hope he’s right! She wants to run as far as they’ll write the races and she doesn’t need to have the lead or come from behind. She’s easy and she does everything right.”


Dominguez also guided the filly to a 1 ½-length first-level allowance score at Belmont on September 16, and she picked up her first stakes victory in her most recent outing, the Witches Brew Stakes at Monmouth Park on Halloween under Eddie Castro.


Dominguez will be back aboard Dubai Dancer, 4-1 co-third choice on the morning line, from post position 5 on Saturday.


Belle of the Hall will make her first effort beyond seven furlongs in the Gazelle and exits a narrow victory in the 6 ½-furlong Catinca Stakes on October 27 at Belmont following a disappointing ninth-place effort in the Charles Town Oaks on September 18. She finished a late-running third in the Grade 1 Test on August 7 at Saratoga, her first foray into graded company.


“She had a good work yesterday, and we’re optimistic she’ll do well,” said Tom Albertrani, who trains the filly for West Point Thoroughbreds. “She didn’t handle the tight-turning track at Charles Town. It will be interesting to see if she can run to her race in the Test and in her last start.”


Also 4-1 on the morning line, Belle of the Hall will leave from post 2 with David Cohen.


Seeking the Title, winner of the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows on June 26, will attempt to bounce back from a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic; while Quiet Temper will make her first start since a fourth-place effort in the Iowa Oaks.


Joanie’s Catch and Ms Vanezza complete the field.   


The field for the Grade 1, $250,000 Gazelle:








Awesome Maria (KY)

J R Velazquez


T A Pletcher



Belle of the Hall (FL)

D Cohen


T Albertrani



Quiet Temper (KY)

J Castellano


D L Romans



Ms Vanenzza (KY)

C H Velasquez


J C Vazquez



Dubai Dancer (KY)

R A Dominguez


K P McLaughlin



Joanie's Catch (FL)

J Santiago


B R Rose



Seeking the Title (KY)

R Maragh


D Stewart



No Such Word (KY)

T J Thompson


C Jones





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