Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Teen Pauline, Centring, and Royal Lahaina, respectively first, second, and third in the Affectionately on New Year's Day, will be reunited in the 142ndedition of the $100,000 Ladies' Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Ladies' Handicap is a 1 1/8th-mile race on the inner track for fillies and mares 4 years old and up.
Todd Pletcher trains both Teen Pauline and Royal Lahaina.
In the 1 1/16-mile Affectionately, Teen Pauline cleared on the lead, set a leisurely pace, and extended her advantage in the stretch to defeat Centring by 4 ¾ lengths. It was an additional half-length back to Royal Lahaina in third.
The Affectionately was the first stakes win in nine starts for Teen Pauline, a 4-year-old Stonestreet Stables homebred who had placed in five black-type events, including three graded stakes.
After making her first four starts on the dirt, Teen Pauline started three times on the turf, winning an allowance and finishing second in the Riskaverse in August at Saratoga Race Course and taking third in the Pebbles in October at Belmont Park. She returned to dirt for the Grade 3 Comely in November at Aqueduct, finishing third prior to her victory in the Ladies' Handicap.
"An ideal scenario will be an easy pace up front," said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher. "
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Teen Pauline, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, from the rail.
Royal Lahaina was transferred to Pletcher and in her first two starts for her new barn she finished fourth in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap in October at Belmont and came from just off the pace to annex the Grade 2 Go for Wand Handicap in November at Aqueduct. The 6-year-old broke a step slowly in the Affectionately, raced in fourth early, and eventually settled for third after failing to gain on Teen Pauline and overtake Centring.
"We're hoping she sits close to the pace, and we'll see what she can do from there," said Hughes. "She's been moving forward and training well, and she's very mature at this point."
Royal Lahaina, the 3-1 third choice on the morning line, will depart from post 5 under Cornelio Velasquez.
Darley Stable homebred Centring will try to pick up an elusive stakes win in the Ladies. The blue-blooded 6-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy and Composure has placed in six stakes including runner-up performances in her three most recent starts, the Turnback the Alarm, Go for Wand, and Affectionately. She lost by just a head in the Turnback the Alarm.
"She'll stay in training for as late as March [before she is retired]," said trainer Tom Albertrani. "Our goal is to make her a stakes winner. Now we're going a mile and an eighth [in the Ladies], which should be to her advantage."
Rajiv Maragh will ride Centring, 5-2, from post 4.
The field also includes Firenze Freezing, who won the Nellie Morse by 4 ¾ lengths on January 4 at Laurel Park, and Flash Forward, who captured a restricted stakes at Saratoga and enters Saturday's race off a sixth in the Comely.
The field for the $100,000 Ladies Handicap:
Teen Pauline (KY)
I Ortiz, Jr.
T A. Pletcher
Firenze Feeling (VA)
R R. Rodriguez
Flash Forward (KY)
Royal Lahaina (KY)
C H. Velasquez
T A. Pletcher