Trainer Gary Contessa sends out Sleeping in Sunday's $100,000-added Valley Stream at Aqueduct expecting his 2-year-old filly to bounce back from her last-place finish in Belmont Park's Astarita (gr. III) last month. "She came out of the race pretty sick," Contessa said of the Oct. 2 Astarita, which was won by Sensation. "She didn't scope well. We treated her and she's doing much better now. Looking at her first two races it's clear she didn't run her race. "She's trained really good, We don't have many spots to run in so we'll take a shot and see what happens."The six-furlong Valley Stream attracted six juvenile fillies. Sleeping is a daughter of Forest Camp, a freshman stallion who had eight first-time starters win earlier this season. Sleeping was one of those first out winners; she took her debut late in the Saratoga meet, going wire to wire in a five-furlong maiden dash. After that, Sleeping traveled to Monmouth Park where she promptly won her second race comfortably, a first-level allowance race at 5 ½ furlongs. She tasted her first and only defeat in the Astarita. Sleeping, owned in part by singer/actor David Cassidy, should play part of the pace from post 5 with jockey Eibar Coa.India, one of the more promising 2-year-old fillies in New York this summer, is attempting to put a nightmarish journey in Belmont's Matron (gr. I) behind her Sunday.
Seconds before the race, India broke through the gate, slamming her head against the iron door. Although the track veterinarian deemed her fit to race after the incident, jockey John Velazquez felt the filly she should have been scratched. "My filly got all shook up there," he said. "I knew we should have scratched right then. She was so nervous and she has never been like that."Velazquez, as of Nov. 17, had earned $23,226,428 in purses this year, putting him $128,532 behind Jerry Bailey's single-season earnings record of $23,354,960 set in 2003. India vied for the lead for a little over a quarter mile once the race started, but stopped to a walk on the far turn. She was beaten almost 50 lengths by the winner Folklore, the likely 2-year-old filly champion for 2005. India exited the Matron with a bruised psych, a few missing teeth and a body that was deprived of oxygen after she displaced her soft palate.Trainer Todd Pletcher has given India plenty of time to get over the Matron. After spending most of October in Saratoga, the filly arrived at Belmont Park and has prepared for the Valley Stream across town. She is the likely favorite off her race two back, a huge 12-length maiden victory at Saratoga.Pletcher, meanwhile, is approaching the North American single-season record for earnings set in 2003 by Bobby Frankel of $19,147,129. Through racing November 17, Pletcher's total purse earnings were $18,571,492.Celestial Legend is undefeated in three out-of-town races, but steps up in class for her Aqueduct debut. A filly by City Zip, Celestial Legend owns victories at Delaware Park, Laurel Park and the Meadowlands. This Maryland-bred notched her first stakes victory late last month, taking the Big M's six-furlong Holly as the heavy favorite.Celestial Legend, who has a quick first gear, drew post 6 beneath jockey Edgar Prado. $100,000 Valley Stream (gr. III), 2-year-old fillies, 6 furlongs
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Diamond Spirit, Allen Jerkens, Jose Santos, 116
2. India, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 116
3. Miraculous Miss, Steve Klesaris, Ramon Dominguez, 118
4. Princess Sweet, Linda Rice, Cornelio Velasquez, 118
5. Sleeping, Gary Contessa, Eibar Coa, 118
6. Celestial Legend, Dale Capuano, Edgar Prado, 120