Race of the Week 2017

Pumpkin Shell Tops Rare Treat

December Hill Farm’s Pumpkin Shell resides on a day-in, day-out basis in the Belmont Park barn of trainer David Donk. 


But so far in her ten-race career, the 4-year-old daughter of Lion Heart has made Aqueduct’s inner track her second home.


Both of Pumpkin Shell’s wins have come at the Big A – including a stakes win in last year’s Busanda – and the filly has never been off the board in five starts over the inner track.


Saturday, Pumpkin Shell will take that familiar van ride from Belmont to Aqueduct as she faces five other fillies in the $65,000 Rare Treat to be run at 1-1/8 miles.

“Obviously, she likes the inner track a lot,” Donk said.  “But I hope it’s not her favorite surface.  I’m hoping she can be a pretty decent filly this year and that would mean running on other surfaces.  We know she prefers two turns – and at Belmont that’s not an option – so we might have to ship her out of town for some races.”


After sprinting in her first two career starts and trying the turf for two races in the fall of 2008, Pumpkin Shell’s first race over the inner track came on December 4, 2008.  She rallied from far back to break her maiden that day, and returned a month later to capture the Busanda in similar come-from-behind fashion.


After a third-place finish in the Busher in her next start, Pumpkin Shell was given eight months off before returning to the races in October 2009 at Belmont Park.  In two races over the inner track this season, Pumpkin Shell has finished third in an allowance optional claimer and then second in the Affectionately last month.


“She wasn’t injured, she just wasn’t doing as well.  We just let her grow up a little bit,” said Donk regarding the layoff, adding that he hoped her one-run style wouldn’t compromise Pumpkin Shell on Saturday.  “I think with her running style, a small field is always a concern.”


Donk said that with Pumpkin Shell’s pedigree, a return to the grass might not be out of the question.


“Her half brother is Pays to Dream, who was a very good turf horse,” he said.  “I may try her on turf again sometime in the future.”


Jockey C.C. Lopez will pilot Pumpkin Shell, the 9-2 third choice on the morning line, from post position No. 1.


Cynthia DeBartolo’s Life At Ten enters the Rare Treat off back-to-back wins at Aqueduct – a first-level allowance at six furlongs and the 1-1/16th mile Snit on December 9.


Richard Migliore will ride for trainer Todd Pletcher from post position No. 2.


Miss Singhsix (IRE), the 6-5 morning line favorite, was a late supplement to the field for Calder-based trainer Martin Wolfson and will break from post No. 6.


Completing the field are NYKY Thoroughbred Stable’s Starship Angel, Seahorse Stable’s Yet Again, and Daddie’s Girl’s Stable LLC’s Borrowing Base.


The field for the $65,000 Rare Treat:






Pumpkin Shell (KY)

C C Lopez


D G Donk



Life At Ten (KY)

R Migliore


T A Pletcher



Starship Angel (FL)

A R Napravnik


K P McLaughlin



Yet Again (NY)

O Bocachica


K M Grusmark



Borrowing Base (NY)

C Hill


P J Quick



Miss Singhsix (IRE)

M J Luzzi


M D Wolfson



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