Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey looks to have a strong hand in Aqueduct's early turf stakes, with Boisterous aiming to defend his title in the Grade 2, 1 3/8-mile Red Smith Handicap on opening Saturday and Hit It Rich looking to repeat in the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap a week later.
Both horses worked Sunday morning, with Boisterous covering a half-mile over the firm inner turf at Belmont Park in :48 and Hit It Rich clocked in :51 for the same distance. Boisterous was sent in company with Breeders' Cup Turf hopeful Point of Entry, who was timed in :47 3/5.
"Boisterous is doing really, really good," McGaughey said of the Distorted Humor five-year-old. "He came out of his last race really good and he was dying to work."
Boisterous picked up a repeat victory in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker at Belmont Park on October 13, which followed a ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Arlington Million in August.
"I didn't want to do too much with him in between races, so I waited until today," McGaughey said. "He worked really well and he ran so good in there last year, I'm hoping he can do it again."
Hit It Rich, a multiple Grade 3-winning daughter of Smart Strike, will attempt to cap her career with a second victory in the 1 1/2-mile Long Island on November 10. She most recently finished seventh in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational on September 29 at Belmont.
"She'll run in the Long Island and that will be it for her," McGaughey said. "She's got a date with War Front."
According to NYRA Stakes Coordinator Andrew Byrnes, Bombaguia, Hailstone, Queens'splatekitten and Westside Corral are also targeting the Red Smith. Queensplatekitten is part of Todd Pletcher's upcoming busy bi-coastal weekend as the trainer has a handful of horses targeting the opening weekend stakes at Aqueduct as well as a full contingent for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park.
The Kitten's Joy four-year-old, a 2 3/4-length optional claiming winner on October 11, is scheduled to return to stakes company in the Red Smith. The optional claimer was the first win of the year for the dark bay, who this summer placed in the Oceanport and Red Bank stakes, both Grade 3 events at Monmouth Park.
Next Sunday, Pletcher likely will have two-year-old fillies Kimono, most recently third in the Blue Hen at Delaware Park, and Unabashed, fourth in the Grade 2 Matron, going a mile in the Grade 3, $150,000 Tempted.
Likely to meet Kimono, who worked a half-mile in :49 4/5 on Saturday, and Unabashed, who went the same distance in :48 1/5, are recent maiden winners Cue the Moon and Emollient as well as My Happy Face and Toasting, the respective second- and third-place finishers in the Grade 1 Frizette. The Tony Dutrow-trained Swinger's Party is questionable, according to Byrnes.
The Pletcher-trained juveniles Darwin, a wire-to-wire winner of his debut on October 6, and Violence, also victorious in his only start, are targeting the Grade 2, $200,000 Nashua at a mile on the same card as the Tempted.
"Both Nashua candidates worked very well on Saturday," said Pletcher's assistant, Whit Beckman, referring to Violence's bullet five-furlong move in 1:00.68 on the training track, over which Darwin traveled the same distance in 1:00.69. "They're both on track for the fourth of November."
According to trainer David Donk, Darwin and Violence could be joined in the Nashua by Stormy Len, a front-running winner of his debut on September 29 at Belmont.
"The intention is to run in the Nashua," Donk said of the Harlan's Holiday juvenile. "I'm not used to winning first time out and then having to jump in a stakes."
In his debut, Stormy Len quickly gained the lead and set fractions of :23 1/5, :46 4/5 and 1:11 2/5 en route to a half-length victory in 1:24 2/5 for the seven furlongs.
"He's a horse with a lot of ability -- how good is he? And on the dirt?" added the trainer, noting the colt, who is out of a Dynaformer mare, is bred for the turf. "But he's trained really well, and we're going to find out how he stacks up with everyone."
Trainer Christophe Clement likely will point a pair of fillies for the Long Island one week later. British-bred Aigue Marine is set to join his string after starting her career in France in the care of his brother, Nicholas, and Grade 2 New York winner Mystical Star will be returning to turf following a runner-up effort on the Polytrack at Keeneland in the Grade 1 Spinster earlier this month.
"Mystical Star most probably will go here, though I might run her in a 1 1/4-mile race at Woodbine next weekend on the Polytrack," Clement said, referring to the Maple Leaf Stakes on Saturday. "I'll speak to the owner. She's doing very well and she came back from the Spinster very well.
"Aigue Marine is coming -- she's trained by my older brother Nicolas and she will stay with me after the race. She's an improving three-year-old filly. The dam, Aiglonne, came to the states and I trained her. She was a useful 1 1/2-mile type horse."
In August, Aigue Marine won the Grand Prix de Clairefontaine at Clairefontaine-Deauville, a race run at the 1 1/2-mile Long Island distance.
Byrnes said that Kissable and Starformer, the 1-2 finishers from the Waya Stakes in August at Saratoga, were also probable for the Long Island. Clarinet, Senada and Tannery were listed as possible.