The seven-furlong Bay Shore is the second of four graded stakes on an Aqueduct program highlighted by the $1 million Wood Memorial (gr. I).
Fresh Start Stable’s J J’s Lucky Train, second in both the Count Fleet and the Whirlaway over Aqueduct’s inner track, returns off a resilient score in the seven-furlong Miracle Wood at Laurel on Feb. 26. The Silver Train colt has won four of seven starts in his career.
“I always thought he’d be a bit better at seven-eighths to a mile, but we wanted to run him long to see if he could run in the bigger races,” said J J’s Lucky Train’s trainer, William Anderson. “I came to the reality pretty quickly that a mile and a sixteenth is a little too far.”
In the Miracle Wood, J J’s Lucky Train prevailed by a neck over pacesetter Bandbox, who returned to take the Private Terms at Laurel on March 19.
“I thought it was a very good race as Bandbox came back to win a stakes at Laurel a couple of weeks later,” said Anderson. “Bandbox was very sharp (in the Miracle Wood), and (J J’s Lucky Train) sat right off him. According to the sheet numbers, that was his best effort yet.”
J J’s Lucky Train, who drew post 3 and was made the 3-1 morning-line second choice, will once again be ridden by Jose Ferrer.
Oaklawn Park-based Smoke It Right is unbeaten in four starts and seeks his third stakes victory. After closing his 2-year-old season with an eight-length score in the Lafayette at Evangeline Downs on Sept. 6, the son of Smoke Glacken took a Delta Downs allowance by 3 3/4 lengths Feb. 11 and captured the Mountain Valley by 1 1/4 lengths at Oaklawn March 5 in his two most recent starts.
“We want to see if he can long go long, and seven-eighths seems like a logical distance,” said trainer Bernard Chatters, who owns Smoke It Right in partnership with Rand Metoyer. “He’s a speedy horse. He’s so relaxed, like a pony. Hopefully he’ll go long. We liked him from the beginning. That year we bought four yearlings, but he was my favorite. We know he’s fast, and we want to see if he can if he can handle the good ones.”
Cornelio Velasquez will ride Smoke It Right, 6-1 on the morning line, from post 6.
The Bay Shore is a homecoming for Godolphin’s Buffum, who finished fifth in the group III UAE 2000 Guineas over Meydan’s all-weather track Feb. 10 in his lone start as a sophomore. In his two previous efforts, the $1.2-million yearling purchase was fifth and last in the Remsen (gr. II) at Aqueduct in November following a narrow maiden score at Belmont Park in October.
“He’s been at Belmont with Henry Spiller the past three days after coming out of quarantine in Newburgh, (N.Y.]),” said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “He trotted the first two days and galloped this morning. He was first on the also-eligible list for the UAE Derby, and he was fit and ready to run. You might think a mile might be a bit better for him, but seven furlongs is good for his first start back.”
David Cohen gets back aboard Buffum, who drew post 2 and was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
Also on the card is the $150,000 Comely (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies going one mile. It features a pair of local runners looking to transfer stakes-winning form from the inner track to the main track.
R Holiday Mood broke her maiden by a neck in her second start when stretched out to a mile on Feb. 12, and the E. Paul Robsham Stables homebred posted another front-running victory when she prevailed by that margin once again in the Out Ruled overnight stakes on March 13.
“She’s a filly we’ve always liked,” said R Holiday Mood’s trainer, Todd Pletcher. “Obviously, it’s stepping up in class, but we are optimistic she’s that kind of filly.”
John Velazquez has the call aboard R Holiday Mood, listed at 7-2 on the morning line.
Ava K. is unbeaten in three starts, having romped by 10 1/4 lengths in her debut on Jan. 9, kicked clear to a 2 1/2-length allowance score on Feb. 16, and wired the field to take the Proud Puppy overnight stakes on March 11. The Comely will be the New York-bred’s first start against open competition.
“After the (Proud Puppy) we decided this would be the obvious next step,” said Mike Hushion, who trains the daughter of Dixie Union for Lewis H. Rapaport and Sugar Maple Farm. “She just places where she’s comfortable. There’s not much to say about her, she’s pretty straightforward.”
Ava K., the 5-2 morning-line favorite, will break from post 5 under Ramon Dominguez.
Also in the mix is Arkansas shipper Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman’s Mysterious Chimes, who is 1-1-1 from three starts at Oaklawn.
Third in her debut on Feb. 17, Mysterious Chimes dug in to earn her diploma by a head Feb. 25, and led in deep stretch before yielding late to finish second in an allowance March 11.
“She’s has three good, sharp six-furlong races in her,” said Chatters, her trainer. “The one thing that scares me is how they sometimes build a lot of speed racing down these long straight-aways.”
Cornelio Velasquez has the call aboard Mysterious Chimes.
$150,000 Comely (gr. III, Race 7, 4:09 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 Mile (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Hot Summer (VA), L Saez, 116, D Fawkes
2. R Holiday Mood (FL), J R Velazquez, 120, T A Pletcher
3. Her Smile (VA), D Cohen, 118, L Delacour
4. Mysterious Chimes (KY), C H Velasquez, 116, B Chatters
5. Ava K. (NY), R A Dominguez, 120, M E Hushion
6. Vixen's Roar (KY), E Castro, 116, G C Contessa
7. Royal Sighting (KY), E S Prado, 116, P J Kelly
$200,000 Bay Shore Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 4:42 p.m.), 3YO, 7 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Justin Phillip (KY), R A Dominguez, 116, S M Asmussen
2. Buffum (PA), D Cohen, 116, S bin Suroor
3. J J's Lucky Train (KY), J C Ferrer, 118, W D Anderson
4. Dr Disco (NY), M J Luzzi, 116, B R Brown
5. Harlan's Hello (KY), C Hill, 116, D Shivmangal
6. Smoke It Right (KY), C H Velasquez, 120, B Chatters
7. Vengeful Wildcat (KY), C H Marquez Jr., 118, B W Perkins Jr.
8. Royal Currier (FL), E Castro, 118, P Farro