Recent stakes winner Willet and four other fillies and mares will go shopping for their first graded stakes win 'Black' Friday, Nov. 23, when they go postward in the $200,000 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. II) at a mile at Aqueduct Racetrack.
New York-bred Willet, one of three stakes winners in the field, will be making her first graded stakes start. A 9 1/4-length winner of the restricted Iroquois Stakes at Belmont Park last time out, the 4-year-old Jump Start filly has finished in the top three in all seven starts including a pair of victories at Aqueduct last year.
"She really ran great," said trainer and co-owner James Iselin about the Iroquois. "Every once in awhile, things happen on schedule. We wanted to run her once in Saratoga and twice at Belmont and even though we had a few bumps in the road, we were able to do that. So, this will be the fourth race of that cycle."
Rajiv Maragh will ride for the second straight time.
Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. will send out 7-5 morning-line favorite Fantasy of Flight. A 4-year-old by Tiznow , Fantasy of Flight romped by 9 3/4-lengths in an allowance/optional claimer Oct. 18 at Belmont Park. She sports a record of 3-3-1 record from eight starts, including a runner-up finish in last year's Dogwood Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs. New York's leading rider Ramon Dominguez has the call.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will be represented by R Gypsy Gold, fifth as the favorite in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (gr. III) Oct. 27 at Belmont and the only multiple stakes winner in the race. The 4-year-old Bernardini filly won last year's Real Prize Stakes and this year's Endear Stakes, both at Belmont.
"On occasion she's run well enough to be competitive in a race like this, and it's a small field," Pletcher said.
Also returning from the Turnback the Alarm is third-place finisher Nefertini, whose only off-the-board outing in six starts this year was a fourth in the Molly Pitcher (gr. II) at Monmouth Park. The Empire Maker filly has made one appearance at Aqueduct, defeating Fantasy of Flight by a half-length in an allowance/optional claimer over the inner track in March.
The remaining member in the field, Hard Life,will be making her first start in a stakes. The Rock Hard Ten filly sports a record of 3-4-4 from 14 starts.
$200,000 Go for Wand Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 3:49 p.m.), Fillies and Mares, 3 and Up, One Mile
Post, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1 Willet, R Maragh, 115, J H Iselin, 5-2
2 Nefertini, A Garcia, 114, A E Goldberg, 4-1
3 Fantasy of Flight, R A Dominguez, 116, R E Dutrow Jr, 7-5
4 R Gypsy Gold, J R Velazquez, 115 T A Pletcher, 7-2
5 Hard Life, J Rosario, 113, R E Dutrow, 12-1