Maryland-based trainer Michael Trombetta will start a pair of 4-year-old fillies in the $150,000 Distaff Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) March 22 at Aqueduct, including probable favorite Control System, the only graded stakes winner in the field of six.
Trombetta will also send out four-time winner Your Flame in Me, a Maryland-bred who had good success at Aqueduct last year. The Distaff Handicap is a six-furlong event for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up on the inner track.
Thomas McClay's and Harry Nye’s Control System has been remarkably consistent in her short career, never finishing out of the money in eight lifetime starts while winning five of them. The daughter of Lion Hearted won the first three starts of her career, the third one coming in the Cicada Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct, a 3 1/2-length score March 24 of last year.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Horse Shoe Valley Equine, Control System has won all three of her starts at Aqueduct, including the Interborough Handicap, which came in the mud Jan. 1 in her 4-year-old debut. Like Control System's previous two victories, it came after she stalked the early pace and drew away in the stretch.
Most recently, Control System was second, six lengths back, in the Feb. 16 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel Park. Her last work — four furlongs breezing in :47.80 — came March 18 at Laurel.
Out of the Grindstone mare Risk Aversion, Control System will carry a race-high 118 pounds in the Distaff Handicap. Ramon Dominguez will be in the irons for the first time.
Robert Goldsmith’s Your Flame in Me enters off a one-length defeat in allowance competition Feb. 18 at Laurel. It came a month after she finished sixth in the Jan. 12 What a Summer Stakes, in which she faltered badly in the stretch at Laurel.
A daughter of Boundary–Icy Demeanor, by Allen’s Prospect, Your Flame in Me won three of four starts as 3-year-old. Perhaps a trek back to New York will do her good, as she went wire-to-wire in the Lady Tak Stakes Jan. 10, and then missed by a nose in the Raise Heck Stakes the following month. Both races were at Aqueduct.
Mario Pino will ride Your Flame in Me for the first time.
Winning Move Stable and partners’ Rite Moment is also one to consider. Last out, the 4-year-old Vicar filly showed her talent by taking the one-mile, 70-yard Limit Stakes by a whopping 13 1/4 lengths March 6 at Aqueduct. It was her first career stakes win but fourth triumph in 10 career efforts. Gary Contessa took over training duties last winter and has guided her to wins in three of four starts.
“We bought her relatively cheap hoping she’d turn out to be a solid $50,000 claimer,” Contessa said. “When she came across the fax machine ‘For Sale’ we were very excited because she’s the kind of horse that fits well here in the winter. This filly has exceeded every expectation we’ve had of her.”
Also a winner in stakes company last time out was Beau Dare, a 5-year-old mare trained by Bruce Levine. The Kentucky-bred led from start to finish in the Feb. 9 Correction Handicap at Aqueduct, winning by a half-length over Rite Moment, who broke very slowly.
Allowance winners Scatkey and Quality Affair complete the field.
$150,000 Distaff Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 4:50 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, Six Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Your Flame in Me, 115 Mario G. Pino
2. Rite Moment, 115 Rajiv Maragh
3. Scatkey, 112 Michael J. Luzzi
4. Beau Dare, 116 Charles C. Lopez
5. Control System, 118 Ramon A. Dominguez
6. Quality Affair, 113 Jean-Luc Samyn