Damon Runyon, East View on tap at Aqueduct
Notacatbutallama, a winner of two turf stakes, will make his first start on dirt in the Damon Runyon, one of two $80,000 stakes for New York-bred juveniles on Sunday at Aqueduct.
Both the Damon Runyon and East View, which is restricted to two-year-old fillies, will be contested at one mile.
After breaking his maiden by 6 1/2 lengths against New York-breds at Saratoga Race Course in his second start, Notacatbutallama made the switch to open company, finishing fourth in the Grade 2 With Anticipation at the Spa and second in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont Park.
The son of Harlan's Holiday dropped into overnight stakes for his two most recent starts, a 1 1/4-length victory in the Incurable Optimist on October 28 at Belmont and a 3 1/2-length triumph in the Super Mario on November 23 at Aqueduct.
With turf season about to end in New York, Notacatbutallama's connections have determined that now is the best time to try the colt on the dirt.
"He's always worked better on the turf, but this time of year you want to figure out if they can transfer their form to the dirt," said Whit Beckman, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "It's an experiment to see if he can run on the dirt. There is no New York-bred program on the turf in the winter, so we're giving him a shot on the dirt.
"If he runs credibly enough, he can have a nice winter campaign. Maybe we'll look at the (Grade 3) Gotham and some of the other (Kentucky Derby) preps down the road. A lot of depends on how he runs (in the Damon Runyon)."
Rajiv Maragh takes over from John Velazquez on Notacatabutallama, who drew post 8 and was installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.
In Harm's Way has placed in three stakes, including the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, and will try to pick up his first black-type score in the Damon Runyon, which will be his first start beyond seven furlongs.
After finishing third in the Saratoga Special, the Hook and Ladder bay colt showed early speed, dropped back to sixth and came on again to finish second in the New York Breeders' Futurity on September 29 at Finger Lakes. He then raced evenly to report home third in the Bertram F. Bongard on October 20 at Belmont Park.
Hall of Famer Edgar Prado retains the mount aboard In Harm's Way, who was made the 5-2 morning-line second choice from post 4.
Kelli Got Frosty is the 1-2 morning-line favorite for the East View off a hard-fought, half-length victory in the Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes (NYSS) on November 11. The Frost Giant lass already has a win going a route of ground, having romped by 14 lengths in an off-the-turf maiden race on October 4 at Belmont prior to a third-place finish in that venue's Joseph A. Gimma on October 20.
Trained by Rudy Rodriguez, Kelli Got Frosty will leave from post 3 with Cornelio Velasquez aboard.
Agilion also ran in the Gimma, closing from 10th to check in second by three-quarters of a length. The dark bay daughter of Lion Heart returned to be runner-up in an entry-level allowance on November 9, and will have Junior Alvarado aboard as she breaks from post 6 as the East View second choice at 5-2 on the morning-line.
The Raymond Earl drew five runners, including Saturday's Charm and Last Gunfighter. The duo each broke his maiden at Belmont prior to an optional claiming victory at Aqueduct in their past two. Pretension, who is cross-entered to Saturday's City of Laurel Stakes at Laurel Park, is also entered. The chestnut just missed by a head in last season's Damon Runyon on Aqueduct's inner dirt.
Completing the Raymond Earl field are Guyana Star Dweej, who was eased when making his stakes bow in the Belmont Stakes in June and recently ran a nice third against optional claiming rivals on November 29, and Speightscity, second in last year's Grade 3 Withers on Aqueduct's inner and a well-beaten fourth last out in the Temperence Hill.
The Traskwood will see five juveniles take to the track, including Keep the Canoli, who just missed by a nose in the Dover at Delaware Park prior to a well-beaten sixth in the Grade 2 Remsen most recently.
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