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Notacatbutallama Tries Dirt in Damon Runyon

Notacatbutallama, a winner of two turf stakes, will make his first start on the dirt in the $80,000 Damon Runyon, one of two stakes for New York-bred juveniles on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Both the Damon Runyon and East View will be contested at one mile. The East View is restricted to 2-year-old fillies.

After breaking his maiden by 6 ½ lengths against New York-breds at Saratoga Race Course in his second start, Notacatbutallama made the switch to open company, finishing fourth in the Grade 2 With Anticipation at the Spa and second in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont Park.

The Repole Stable representative dropped into overnight stakes for his two most recent starts, a 1 ¼-length victory in the Incurable Optimist on October 28 at Belmont and a 3 ½-length triumph in the Super Mario on November 23 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

With turf season about to end in New York, Notacatbutallama’s connections have determined that now is the best time to try the colt on the dirt.

“He’s always worked better on the turf, but this time of year you want to figure out if they can transfer their form to the dirt,” said Whit Beckman, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “It’s an experiment to see if he can run on the dirt. There is no New York-bred program on the turf in the winter, so we’re giving him a shot on the dirt. If he runs credibly enough, he can have a nice winter campaign. Maybe we’ll look at the Gotham and some of the other [Kentucky Derby] preps down the road. A lot of depends on how he runs [in the Damon Runyon].”

Rajiv Maragh takes over on Notacatabutallama, who drew post 8 and was installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.

In Harm’s Way has placed in three stakes, including the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, and will try to pick up his first black-type score in the Damon Runyon, which will be his first start beyond seven furlongs.

After finishing third in the Saratoga Special, In Harm’s Way showed early speed, dropped back to sixth, and came on again to finish second in the New York Breeders’ Futurity on September 29 at Finger Lakes. He then raced evenly to report home third in the Bertram F. Bongard on October 20 at Belmont Park. 

Hall of Famer Edgar Prado retains the mount aboard In Harm’s Way, a Chester and Mary Broman homebred who was made the 5-2 morning-line second choice. The duo will leave from post 4.

The Damon Runyon attracted the top two finishers from the six-furlong NYSS Great White Way, Meeker Avenue and Laila’s Jazz.

In the Great White Way on November 11 at Aqueduct, Laila’s Jazz led in the stretch but couldn’t hold off Meeker Avenue, who made a late surge along the rail to get up by a nose.

Jose Espinoza picks up the mount aboard 8-1 Meeker Avenue, who drew post 6. Laila’s Jazz, 12-1, will leave from post 7 with Chris DeCarlo aboard.

The Damon Runyon field also includes Reaching Out, Giant Finish, Lucci the Lion, James Jingle, and Smooth Bert.

Kelli Got Frosty is the 1-2 morning-line favorite for the East View off a hard-fought, half-length victory in the NYSS Fifth Avenue on November 11. She already has a win going a route of ground, having aired by 14 lengths in an off-the-turf maiden race on October 4 at Belmont prior to a third-place finish in that venue’s Joseph A. Gimma on October 20.

Trained by Rudy Rodriguez for Andrew Cohen and others, Kelli Got Frosty will leave from post 3 with Cornelio Velasquez aboard.

Agilion also ran in the Gimma, closing from 10th to check in second by three-quarters of a length. She returned to be runner-up in an entry-level allowance on November 9.

Junior Alvarado has gained the assignment aboard Agilion, who drew post 6 at 5-2.

Jerusalem Stone, Flattermewithroses, Star Black, Bit Bustin, and Carameaway complete the East View field.




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