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Sunny Desert on a Roll for Parisella

Since John Parisella claimed Sunny Desert 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 giving peppermints!”


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, Sunny 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 streaks!”


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 two-dimensional.” 


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