Winner of three straight, Corms Racing Stable's Divine Miss Grey will make her first graded start since a seventh-place finish in the Aug. 5 Longines Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course when she headlines a field of eight April 6 in the $150,000 Distaff Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Claimed for $16,000 in March of last year, the 4-year-old daughter of Divine Park has won six of her last nine races for trainer Danny Gargan—including a pair of stakes—and finished second twice.
Divine Miss Grey turned in an impressive effort last out when she won the March 10 Heavenly Prize Invitational Stakes at Aqueduct by 6 3/4 lengths. She was forced to miss the Feb. 23 Barbara Fritchie Stakes (G2) at Laurel Park due to a quarantine at Belmont Park, but Gargan said he is confident Divine Miss Grey is ready to compete on the graded stakes level and particularly at Aqueduct, where she has amassed three wins from five starts.
"Obviously, we would have loved to have made the Barbara Fritchie," Gargan said. "I really think she would have run a great race and competed for top honors. But she's doing great, we've re-grouped, and we'll take another stakes shot here. She's training excellent, and the best thing about her is that she brings her 'A' effort every time. It's a little quicker back than what we'd normally like, but she's doing well so we'll take a shot."
Divine Miss Grey will leave post 4 with Kendrick Carmouche aboard in the seven-furlong test for fillies and mares.
Trainer Linda Rice, who finished second in wins and first in earnings during the Aqueduct winter meet, will enter a pair of formidable contenders in Holiday Disguise for Lady Sheila Stable and Sounds Delicious for Stud El Aguila.
Holiday Disguise, a 4-year-old by Harlan's Holiday, broke her maiden April 9 at Aqueduct and went on to win four straight races, including the Bouwerie Stakes and Biogio's Rose Stakes, before finishing second last out to Divine Miss Grey in the Heavenly Prize.
Sounds Delicious, a 4-year-old daughter of Yes It's True, has an impressive five wins from six starts, including a March 17 Correction Stakes score at the Big A.
"I think they are a good entry in that Sounds Delicious lays close to the pace and goes to the front end, and Holiday Disguise is a closer," Rice said. "(Holiday Disguise) was a little pace-compromised last time in the Heavenly Prize. I think they are the perfect entry, and they both have run well enough to have a chance in this race, so we're planning to go forward with both horses."
Looking to rebound from a fifth-place finish in the Heavenly Prize is Highway Star for owners Chester and Mary Broman and trainer Rodrigo Ubillo. The 5-year-old Girolamo mare won the 2017 edition of the Distaff and will make her second start of the year. She has three wins from six starts at the Big A and three wins from five starts at the distance.
Rounding out the field is Joseph Lowe's Anydayismyday for trainer Edmund Pringle; West Point Thoroughbreds, Robert Masiello, and Chris Larsen's Berned for trainer Graham Motion; Kennesaw Mountain Racing's Picco Uno for trainer Jason Servis; and Torrent for Westrock Stables and trainer Ron Moquett. Aqueduct Racetrack, Friday, April 06, 2018, Race 8
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Anydayismyday (KY) Christopher P. DeCarlo 112 Edmund Pringle 30/1 2 2Highway Star (NY) Angel S. Arroyo 121 Rodrigo A. Ubillo 8/1 3 3Torrent (KY) Jose Lezcano 117 Ron Moquett 12/1 4 4Divine Miss Grey (KY) Kendrick Carmouche 120 Danny Gargan 9/5 5 5Berned (KY) Feargal Lynch 117 H. Graham Motion 15/1 6 6Picco Uno (NY) Manuel Franco 116 Jason Servis 12/1 7 7Holiday Disguise (NY) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 117 Linda Rice 9/2 8 8Sounds Delicious (KY) Junior Alvarado 118 Linda Rice 8/5
Aqueduct Racetrack, Friday, April 06, 2018, Race 8