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It's Tricky Turns Back in Distaff Handicap

It's Tricky takes the 2011 Coaching Club American Oaks over Plum Pretty.

Dual Grade 1 winner It's Tricky will cut back to seven furlongs as she heads a field of seven fillies and mares entered in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Godolphin Racing's star filly marked herself as one of 2011's top sophomores when she defeated multiple graded stakes winner Turbulent Descent in the Grade 1 TVG Acorn at Belmont Park last June. The daughter of Mineshaft won the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga Race Course on July 23 and then finished second to eventual champion 3-year-old filly Royal Delta a month later in the Grade 1 TVG Alabama. The Alabama was the first of a trio of runner-up finishes for It's Tricky, who also was second in the Grade 2 Cotillion at Parx Racing to Plum Pretty and the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, again to Royal Delta.

Last year, all of It's Tricky's races were contested at a mile or more and she started 2012 with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct on March 3. While routes are likely to be her focus going forward, her connections are comfortable with the reduction in distance.

"The seven-eighths [of the Distaff] is a turn back from the 1 1/16 miles of the Top Flight, but she ran a huge race at a mile around one turn at Belmont in the Acorn, and we're pointing for the Ogden Phipps [Grade 1, $400,000 1 1/16 miles] at Belmont on May 28, which is also run around one turn," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

It's Tricky earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 104 for her victory over a muddy track in the Acorn, and broke her maiden going six furlongs over the main track at Aqueduct in November 2010.

Eddie Castro, regular rider of It's Tricky in 2011 until he was sidelined with an injury, will be back aboard the 6-5 favorite and 123-pound highweight in the Distaff from the outside in post position 7.

Last year's Distaff winner, Nicole H, will attempt to defend her title Saturday following a neck loss in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park nearly two months ago. Like the Distaff, the Barbara Fritchie is contested at seven furlongs, and Nicole H won a pair of six-furlong stakes over Aqueduct's inner track this winter, repeating in the Interborough on New Year's Day and taking the Correction on February 4.

"We ran her back a little quick in the Barbara Fritchie, so we gave her some time and this worked out well," said Mike Hushion, who trains the 5-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley for Gem, Inc. "She's doing well - everything's pretty straightforward with her, she's not a quirky filly, very simple to train. I might prefer it to be six furlongs, but she's run terrific going seven-eighths, too."

Cornelio Velasquez will ride Nicole H, 3-1, from post 3.

Also exiting the Barbara Fritchie is Eric Fein's consistent and versatile C C's Pal, who closed out her 2011 campaign with a victory in the six-furlong Garland of Roses stakes at Aqueduct on December 3, and rung in the New Year with a win in the 1 1/8-mile Ladies Handicap a month later.

Rick Dutrow trains the 5-year-old daughter of Alex's Pal, who on Saturday will be ridden by Junior Alvarado from the rail as the 4-1 third choice.

Stronach Stables' Her Smile, 5-1, is the third graded stakes winner in the Distaff field, having taken last summer's Grade 1 Prioress at Belmont Park when owned by Bobby Flay and trained by Todd Pletcher. Sold to Frank Stronach for $1 million at the Keeneland November Sale after a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs on November 4, Her Smile was then transferred to trainer Chad Brown.

Third in her 2012 debut, Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie at 6½ furlongs, Her Smile was most recently sixth in the Grade 2, seven-furlong Inside Information at Gulfstream on March 17. On Saturday, she will carry 118 pounds including Rosie Napravnik as she leaves from post position 6.

Completing the field in the Distaff are Don'tbeshy I'll Buy, neck winner of Aqueduct's Bold Brat overnight stakes on March 2; White Merlot, winner of a handicap race at Tampa Bay Downs on February 25; and Aquitania, winner of the Lynclar overnight stakes at Aqueduct on March 21.

 

The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

C C's Pal (FL)

J Alvarado

117

R E Dutrow, Jr.

4-1

2

Dontbeshy I'll Buy (KY)

A Garcia

114

E R Reed

20-1

3

Nicole H (KY)

C H Velasquez

118

M E Hushion

3-1

4

White Merlot (FL)

P Morales

114

R G Smith

20-1

5

Aquitania (KY)

R Maragh

114

H A Smith

12-1

6

Her Smile (VA)

R Napravnik

118

C C Brown

5-1

7

It's Tricky (KY)

E Castro

123

K P McLaughlin

6-5

 

 

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And she wins...carrying 123 pounds!

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