Willet makes graded bow in Go for Wand
Five fillies and mares will be shopping for a graded victory on Friday at Aqueduct when they go postward in the Grade 2, $200,000 Go for Wand Handicap.
New York-bred Willet will make her first foray into graded stakes company in the one-mile race. A rousing 9 1/4-length winner of the Iroquois at Belmont Park on New York Showcase Day, the Jump Start four-year-old filly has been no worse than third in seven lifetime starts, including a pair of victories at the Big A last year for trainer and co-owner Jimmy Iselin.
"She really ran great," Iselin said of the Iroquois. "Every once in awhile, things happen on schedule. We wanted to run her once in Saratoga and twice at Belmont and even though we had a few bumps in the road, we were able to do that. So, this will be the fourth race of that cycle.
"She's fit, so we just want her to be happy and healthy. I think she'll be well-suited to the distance."
With Rajiv Maragh aboard, Willet will leave from the rail as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. will send out 7-5 morning-line favorite Fantasy of Flight off a romping 9 3/4-length optional claiming score on October 18 at Belmont. That was the Tiznow four-year-old's first start for Dutrow after having been previously trained by John Terranova. Fantasy of Flight owns a 3-3-1 record from eight starts, including a runner-up finish in last year's Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs.
New York's leading rider Ramon Dominguez has the call aboard Fantasy of Flight from post position 3, just two inside of fellow Dutrow trainee Hard Life, who gets the services of Joel Rosario as she returns to the main track after a sixth-place finish on the turf at Belmont.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will be represented by R Gypsy Gold, who was fifth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap on October 27 at Belmont. The four-year-old Bernardini filly will be making her first start at a mile since posting a 4 3/4-length allowance win at the distance last September at Big Sandy.
"On occasion she's run well enough to be competitive in a race like this, and it's a small field," Pletcher said of R Gypsy Gold, whose most recent victory was in the Endear overnight stakes on July 4 at Belmont. "She breezed well (Saturday when going four furlongs in :48 4/5). She's puzzled me the last couple of races because she's breezed very well and not run as well as she's breezed. I'm hoping that she's touting us properly this time."
R Gypsy Gold, 7-2 on the morning line, drew post position 4 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard.
Also returning from the Turnback the Alarm is third-place finisher Nefertini, whose only off-the-board outing in six starts this year was a fourth in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park. The Empire Maker filly has made one appearance at Aqueduct, defeating Fantasy of Flight by a half-length in an optional claimer over the inner track in March.
Alan Garcia will ride Nefertini, 4-1 on the morning line, from post position 2.
Also on Friday at Aqueduct, nine juveniles, including one main-track only entrant, has been entered for the $80,000 Super Mario at 1 1/16 grassy miles. Notacatbutallama was second at the distance two back in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont Park and enters this contest off a 1 1/4-length score in the one-mile Incurable Optimist on October 28.
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