Top Candidates Line Up for Tempted Stakes

(from Aqueduct report)
Regardless of your opinion on Baba Gonzo's chances in Tuesday's $100,000 Tempted (gr. III) at Aqueduct, most will agree on one thing.

That filly sports one wacky name.

"That's all (owner and breeder) Edward Marshall," trainer Alan Sobol said. "He loves coming up with unique names for his horses."

One of those uniquely named horses was Big Bambu, who is Baba Gonzo's half-sister. A few years back, Sobol and Marshall campaigned Big Bambu to wins in the Floral Park and Honorable Miss handicaps. She also finished second to Dream Supreme in the 2000 Test at Saratoga.

Time will tell if Baba Gonzo will accomplish as much as her sister did, but she can start the task Tuesday afternoon when she makes her New York debut in the one-mile Tempted. Aqueduct's Election Day feature drew a field of eight 2-year-old fillies.

A daughter of Elusive Quality-Meadowlake Mist, by Meadowlake, Baba Gonzo is 1-2-0 from four starts. She broke her maiden in her third start, winning a restricted Oho-bred stakes at Thistledown on Aug. 23.

Baba Gonzo enters the Tempted off the biggest effort of her career, a second-place finish behind Smokey Glacken in Monmouth Park's Forward Gal in September. Thanks to the hot pace of :21 2/5 and :44 1/5, Baba Gonzo raced farther off the lead than she ever had, but still put in a good late run while finishing four lengths clear of the third-place horse, Amazer. Smokey Glacken returned from the Forward Gal to finish a close third in Belmont's Astarita (gr. II).

"This filly is big and leggy and I don't think she wants to be rushed," Sobol said. "No one was making up ground the whole day. She probably made up about seven lengths. I'm looking forward to running her at a mile."

Baba Gonzo, who makes her first start beyond six furlongs in the Tempted, drew post 4 under jockey Alfredo Clemente.

Lee Lewis' Eye Dazzler was consistently good throughout the summer and early fall, winning her maiden and finishing third in the Adirondack (gr. II) and Matron (gr. I). A daughter of Boundary, Eye Dazzler should appreciate the drop in class as she exits a sixth-place finish behind Society Selection in Belmont's Frizette (gr. I). The Frizette's second and third-place finishers, Victory U.S.A. and Ashado, returned to run third and second, respectively, in last Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Eye Dazzler, who figures near the lead in the early stages of the Tempted, drew outside in post 8 under jockey Pablo Fragoso.

Emory Hamilton's La Reina is bred to go long, being a daughter of Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year A.P. Indy. She also goes out for trainer Shug McGaughey, who won the Tempted in 1991 with Deputation and in 1998 with Oh What a Windfall. Her jockey, John Velazquez, is aiming for his third consecutive Tempted victory.

La Reina looked awesome in a pair of starts – one at Saratoga and one at Belmont Park – but has been patiently handled this fall. This will be her first start since breaking her maiden comfortably on Sept. 6 at odds of 3-5.

"Stretching out is really going to help her," Velazquez said. "I had to really ride her in her first two races and now she'll be able to settle. When she gets going she can really finish."

La Reina drew the rail under 115 pounds.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has already won five 2-year-old stakes in New York this year, is also aiming for his third consecutive Tempted victory with Sisti's Pride, to be ridden by Edgar Prado.

Sisti's Pride, a daughter of Forestry, broke her maiden in August at Saratoga. Since then, she has finished fifth in the Matron and second in a minor stake at Delaware Park. Sisti's Pride carries 115 pounds, four less than 119-pound high weight Ellieonthemarch.

$100,000 Tempted Stakes, 2-year-old fillies, 1 mile
1. La Reina, Shug McGaughey, John Velazquez, 115
2. Sisti's Pride, Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado, 115
3. Main Stream, Randy Schulhofer, Richard Migliore, 115
4. Baba Gonzo, Alan Sobol, Alfredo Clemente, 117
5. Fait Accompli, Tom Bush, Aaron Gryder, 115
6. Ellieonthemarch, Richard Violette Jr., Shaun Bridgmohan, 119
7. Fond, George Weaver, Victor Carrero, 115
8. Eye Dazzler, Mark Hennig, Pablo Fragoso, 115