Royal Lahaina, Centring Renew Rivalry at Big A

Aqueduct Gate 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Royal Lahaina and Centring, first and second in the Grade 2 Go for Wand Handicap last time out, will renew their rivalry on Wednesday in the $100,000 Affectionately, the New Year's Day co-feature at Aqueduct Racetrack.


The 1 1/16-mile Affectionately will be run as race 3 on the holiday card, which also features the $100,000 Interborough (race 8) for filly and mare sprinters. The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will offer 2014 calendars for $2 on New Year's Day at Aqueduct and the Belmont Café. First race post time is 12:25 p.m.


The one-mile Go for Wand was the first graded stakes win for Royal Lahaina, who joined trainer Todd Pletcher's barn in the fall. In her first start for Pletcher, the Chapel Royal mare finished fourth in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm at Belmont Park behind winner Stanwyck and runner-up Centring.


"Royal Lahaina has been training great and she's doing very well as she gets older," said Pletcher assistant Byron Hughes, who also will saddle Teen Pauline in the Affectionately. "She's won at this distance before and I don't think she'll have any problem with it.""


Royal Lahaina, no worse than third in seven starts at the Big A, is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line. Jose Ortiz will ride from post position 2.


Teen Pauline, most recently third in the Grade 3 Comely in her return to dirt, drew post position 5 under Irad Ortiz, Jr. She is listed at 7-2 on the morning line.


"She's been training well over the dirt here at Belmont, so we'll see how she likes the inner track," said Hughes of the Stonestreet Stable color-bearer.


Centring will attempt to ring in the New Year on a winning note and gain her first stakes victory as she prepares for retirement. The daughter of A. P. Indy will get some significant class relief in the Affectionately, having made six straight starts in graded stakes, including four Grade 1s.


In 2013, she held her own against some of the most formidable fillies on the East coast, finishing third to Princess of Sylmar in the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational, third to Royal Delta in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap and third to Tiz Miz Sue in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap.


"She's been running well and we hopefully we will win a black-type race with her before we retire her, probably sometime early in 2014," said Tom Albertrani, who trains Centring for Darley Stable.  "She's been placed in a few Grade 1s, which has been great for her pedigree; we'll see if we can get her to win a stakes.


"She's been running against the top fillies and mares on this side of the coast," he added. "I think with a little extra distance we can turn the tables on the filly that beat her last time out."


Rajiv Maragh is back aboard Centring, who drew the rail as the 8-5 favorite on the morning line.


Rounding out the field are the Chad Brown-trained Street Secret, who began her career in Germany and most recently finished seventh in the Turnback the Alarm, and Welcome Guest, first or second in four 2013 starts for trainer Tony Dutrow.




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