A baker's dozen of two-year-olds will vie for the spotlight at Aqueduct on Sunday afternoon as they take the next step in their careers in the Grade 2, $200,000 Nashua and the Grade 3, $150,000 Tempted for fillies.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who swept all four main track graded stakes for juveniles at the recently concluded Belmont Park fall meet, once again will be well-represented with a pair of contenders in each one-mile race.
In the Nashua, Pletcher will saddle promising maiden winners Darwin and Violence against five contenders, while the more seasoned Kimono and Unabashed take on impressive maiden winner Emollient, Grade 1 Frizette runner-up My Happy Face and two others in the Tempted.
Darwin, purchased for $1.3 million in the spring by Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Mrs. John Magnier, was a front-running two-length winner at Belmont on October 6. The Big Brown colt, out of the Silver Ghost mare Cool Ghoul, covered six furlongs under John Velazquez in 1:09.54, for which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.
Violence was one of Pletcher's 21 maiden winners at Saratoga, rallying to take a seven-furlong event under jockey John Velazquez on August 18. The Medaglia d'Oro colt covered the distance in 1:22.91.
On Sunday, Velazquez will be aboard Darwin, who drew post position 1 as the even-money morning-line favorite, while Javier Castellano will ride Violence, 3-1 on the morning line from post position 3.
Lining up against the duo will be the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Irsaal, a 6 1/4-length winner of a 1 1/16-mile off-the-turf maiden race on October 11; Really Sharp, making his conventional dirt debut after finishing second by a nose before being disqualified to sixth in the grassy Grade 3 Bourbon on October 7 at Keeneland; Stormy Len, victorious in his only outing on September 29 at Belmont; Vegas No Show, who has won two of four starts including the Dover on October 6 at Delaware Park; and Candy Raider, a maiden-claiming victor at Belmont on October 18 in his fourth try.
The field for the Tempted, returning to the Big A following last year's stint as a six-furlong race in October at Belmont, features both promising maiden winners and fillies with stakes experience.
Heading the former group is the Bill Mott-trained Emollient and topping the latter is My Happy Face, a rousing second in the Frizette on October 6 at Belmont Park.
Emollient rallied from just off the pace in her second start to win a seven-furlong event by 2 3/4 lengths on September 30 at Belmont. The Empire Maker filly covered the distance in 1:23.83, and will have Junior Alvarado in the irons for Sunday's contest as the 7-5 morning-line favorite.
A 21 1/4-length maiden winner on August 31 at Saratoga, My Happy Face gave undefeated Dreaming of Julia -- the co-favorite in Friday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies -- all she could handle in the one-mile Frizette to eventually just miss by a head on the wire. The Tiz Wonderful miss drew post position 2 with Ramon Dominguez as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line.
Both of Pletcher's fillies also have stakes experience, with Unabashed finishing fourth to the undefeated Kauai Katie in the Grade 2 Matron on September 30 at Belmont in her second start and Kimono, a second-out maiden winner at Saratoga, finishing third in the Blue Hen on September 29 at Delaware Park.
Completing the field are maiden winners Cue the Moon, who defeated Emollient by a half-length on September 2, and Ruby Lips, who won at second asking on September 16 at Belmont.
Prior to the juveniles taking to the track, a field of nine sophomores will go 1 1/16 miles on the turf in the $80,000 Montserrat. Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap runner-up King Kreesa and Grade 3 scorer Shkspeare Shaliyah top the group.