Since John Parisella claimed
for $35,000, the filly has gone from a sulking maiden to a four-time
stakes winner. So, what does the trainer credit for the turnaround?
“When I claimed her she was in the back of her stall,” said
Parisella. “With fillies, outside of maintenance, it’s mental, to get
them in the game. I ordered a case
of peppermints. It changed her around. She hears my voice. If I’m
walking, she’ll stop and wait. I don’t know, but I’m not going to stop
On March 2, the 4-year-old peppermint-powered filly will attempt
to become a graded stakes winner when she competes in Aqueduct’s Grade
2, $200,000 Top Flight Handicap,
a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares.
Owned by Saul and Max Kupferberg,
Desert is riding a six-race winning streak
that goes back to her 15 ¼-length maiden win on Aqueduct’s main track in
March. Her streak also includes a pair of New York Stallion Stakes
series victories, Belmont’s Judy Soda overnight
stakes for New York-breds, and Aqueduct’s Cat Cay open overnight stakes
on January 6 in her most recent start.
“You hope you can improve her enough where she can compete in
New York-bred stakes, but I never thought – and I’m pretty conservative –
that I’d be running in a Grade
2 and really thought I had a legitimate chance,” said Parisella. “The
only thing going against her is that she has won six in a row; I hate
The Cat Cay at one mile, 70 yards was her first start around two turns and beyond one mile.
“I always felt she could go long,” said Parisella. “A couple of
races back she was totally relaxed. When I put her in the race going
long, the open stakes, she didn’t
break sharply because she was so relaxed. The geniuses trainers are, I
thought with her speed she’d go wire-to-wire, but she didn’t break and
came from off the pace. She really made me feel confident in her, to be