Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
Gracer will go in search of her third straight stakes victory on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack when she squares off against four others in the $100,000 Dearly Precious for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.
Already a stakes winner at Laurel Park and Penn National, and stakes-placed at Belmont Park in the Grade 2 Matron, the daughter of Exchange Rate has shown incredible adaptability in her nascent career, hitting the board in all five of her starts at five different racetracks. Adding to the filly's versatility, she proved she does not need the lead to win when last seen on the track, capturing the Marshua on January 4 at Laurel Park from just off the pace.
Tony Dutrow, who trains the filly for Team D Stable, could not be more pleased with his filly's condition coming into the race.
"She seems to have come out of her last race in excellent shape," said the trainer, "and she's trained very well since. Every time she runs she matures."
Dutrow also said the addition of blinkers two starts back - which she's donned in both of her stakes wins - has been a catalyst for her progression.
"She's getting better with experience, but the blinkers have definitely helped," he said.
Gracer, the 2-5 morning-line favorite, will break from post position 5 with Alex Cintron in the irons.
The undefeated New York-bred Bridget Moloney, owned and trained by Gary Gullo, will try to extend her win streak to four in the Dearly Precious, a race that will also mark her stakes debut. The filly was most recently a winner of a first-level allowance race for statebreds on December 29 at the Big A, in which a slow break rendered her unable to assume her customary position on the lead. After rallying four-wide around the turn that day, the chestnut daughter of Pollard's Vision took off in the stretch and went on to win by a widening 9 ¼ lengths over a sealed track labeled "good".
C.C. Lopez again has the mount on Bridget Moloney, who is 15-1 on the morning line, and the pair will break from post position 3.
Rounding out the field are Go West Marie, runaway winner of a $50,000 maiden claimer over a muddy track in her last outing; Skye Saratoga, fourth-place finisher in the one-mile, 70-yard East View when last on the track; and Sustainable, a recent maiden graduate for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Go West Marie (CA)
J L. Ortiz
D G. Donk
Skye Saratoga (NY)
I Ortiz, Jr.
Bridget Moloney (NY)
C C. Lopez
G P. Gullo
K P. McLaughlin
A W. Dutrow