Hit It Rich ended her 2011 campaign with her first graded stakes win in the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct. The gray mare will try and end 2012 on a similar note when the $150,000 fixture over 1 1/2 miles on turf is renewed Saturday.
After last year's Long Island triumph, Hit It Rich continued to show consistent form in many of the top long-distance turf races in her division. In addition to scores in the Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream and Grade 3 Glens Falls at Saratoga this term, the five-year-old also placed in the Grade 3 Suwannee River, Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay, and Grade 2 New York.
However, Hit It Rich hit a bump last time in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational, contested on a yielding turf she might not have handled well. The leader to the quarter pole in that 1 1/4-mile heat, Hit It Rich gave way readily in the stretch and finished more than 18 lengths behind the winning Nahrain.
Likely to vie for favoritism is Mystical Star, who finished a half-length behind Hit It Rich in the Sheepshead Bay, and then beat that rival a length in the New York. The Ghostzapper filly has raced sporadically during the second half of the year, finishing a dull eighth in the Grade 1 Beverly D. before rebounding with a solid second in the Grade 1 Spinster over Polytrack.
Kissable, who won over returning rival Starformer in the August 6 Waya at Saratoga, finished third behind a loose-on-the-lead Hit It Rich in the Glens Falls two back, and fared well when fourth against an international field in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine last out. The Roger Attfield charge, who was Group 1-placed in Ireland prior to her importation, is seeking her first graded triumph.
Juddmonte homebred Starformer, whose biggest win stateside came in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park, should be on the pace along with Hit It Rich as they break from the two inside posts. Starformer exits a fourth in the Spinster.
Group 3 winner Tanner, third in the Grade 1 Garden City in her U.S. bow, adds Lasix after trailing throughout in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. French import Aigue Marine has mostly completed at the provincial courses, but did register a listed stakes win against males in late August over soft ground. Clarinet goes here off a 10-1 upset of the Flaming Page at Woodbine, while Senada enters off a modest fourth in her title defense of the October 21 Dowager at Keeneland.