Joseph Allen's Teammate returns to New York from a solid Florida campaign this winter as the likely favorite in the $150,000 Comely (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies going one mile at Aqueduct Saturday.
Before posting a break-through six-length win in the Bonnie Miss (gr. II) March 5 at Gulfstream Park -- her first start with Salix -- Teammate managed runner-up finishes in an entry-level allowance and a sloppy Davona Dale (gr. II) at Gulfstream.
"She really flourished over the winter in Florida," said trainer H. Allen Jerkens. "We knew she would get better with more distance."
Teammate was actually sent off the favorite in the Davona Dale, despite her only win being a hard-to-gauge Calder victory at five furlongs. She raced close to the pace as the 9-5 choice but tired in the slop and was beaten 14 lengths by Wait a While.
Teammate's win in the Bonnie Miss was a result of several factors coming together: the nine-furlong distance, a fast track, the lone speed, and first-time Lasix. Jerkens is known for not running a horse on Salix until he feels he or she absolutely needs it.
"Actually, she didn't bleed very much in the Davona Dale," Jerkens said. "But we thought that, if she did it next time, it could be worse -- so we went ahead and treated her with Lasix."
Cornelio Velasquez has been aboard Teammate for her last four starts and has the assignment in the Comely.
The second choice in the Comely could be fellow Florida invader Miraculous Miss, a multiple graded stakes winner. She scored a 9-1 upset in the Valley Stream (gr. III) over the Aqueduct track going six furlongs last fall.
In her most recent race, Miraculous Miss charged home from last in the Forward Gal (gr. II) to win by 1 ¾ lengths at 18-1. Puglisi Stables owns the daughter of Mr. Greeley, who is trained by Steve Klesaris.
Gary Contessa, the trainer of Busanda winner Daytime Promise, thinks that the filly would like the wider turns of the main track much better than the tight inner track. After running five times on the inner over the winter, Daytime Promise makes her first start on another surface in the Comely.
Better Now will be making her second start of the year. The winner of last year's Tempted (gr. III) at Belmont, Better Now disappointed with a distant fifth-place finish as the 9-5 favorite in the Demoiselle (gr. II) over the track. She never got involved in her 2006 comeback race, a 14 ½-length loss to Teammate in the Bonnie Miss.$150,000 Comely Stakes (gr. II), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 Mile
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Daytime Promise, Gary Contessa, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 120
2. Miraculous Miss, Steve Klesaris, Kent Desormeaux, 122
3. Mama Nadine, Todd Pletcher, Mike Luzzi, 116
4. Regal Engagement, Tom Bush, Eibar Coa, 120
5. Win McCool, Bob Barbara, Kyle Kaenel, 116
6. Better Now, Mark Hennig, Mike Smith, 122
7. Teammate, H. Allen Jerkens, Cornelio Velasquez, 122