by Brian Bohl
Newman Racing's Absatootly and Mac Keller's Quezon will square off for a fifth consecutive race as part of a field of seven older New York-bred fillies and mares in the first running of the $100,000 La Verdad at seven furlongs on Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Originally scheduled to run on Saturday, January 6, the La Verdad's inaugural edition was pushed back after a winter storm and inclement weather canceled racing at the Big A from January 4-7.
The rescheduled date provided an extra week of rest for Absatootly, who is looking to build on a third-place finish in the Garland of Roses on December 9 at Aqueduct, which Quezon won by three-quarters of a length. That marked the fifth time in seven stakes starts that Absatootly finished on the board last year, including a half-length score over Quezon in the Iroquois on October 21 at Belmont Park.
Trained by Charlie Baker, Absatootly finished 2017 with Beyer Speed Figures of 80 or better in her last four starts. Jockey Rafael Hernandez will have the call for the first time from post 2.
"I didn't think the race would go off last week, but she's been doing fine and we're ready to see what she can do this year," Baker said.
Quezon rallied from last in the Garland of Roses to register her only stakes win of 2017 in five attempts, including a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Vagrancy on May 5 at Belmont.
The 6-year-old Tiz Wonderful mare earned a personal-best 97 Beyer for running second in the Iroquois, which came one start after running third in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom on September 24.
Quezon is 6-6-2 in 17 career starts. The Bobby Ribaudo trainee drew post 6 with Joe Rocco, Jr. aboard.
The ultra-consistent Bee Noteworthy will look to finish on the board for the fourth time in her fourth career stakes start, drawing post 3 with jockey Kendrick Carmouche aboard. The 6-year-old mare by Read the Footnotes won by 5 ¼ lengths over Frosty Margarita, building on an impressive effort in which she took second in the Artic Queen on October 2 at Finger Lakes, falling to Wonderment by a nose.
Bee Noteworthy, trained by H. James Bond, has finished in the money in her last 11 starts and is 7-4-1 in 14 career races. She is 2-for-2 on Aqueduct's main track.
The victory over Bee Noteworthy was the second of two stakes wins in Wonderment's 4-year-old campaign in 2017, with the other coming in the Dancin Renee on June 17 at Belmont.
Trained by Kenny McPeek, Wonderment has been training at Belmont and will be looking for her first win in five tries at the Big A, drawing the rail with Dylan Davis aboard.
Holiday Disguise, who has three straight wins since running fourth in her debut as a 3-year-old on March 18 at Aqueduct. Trained by Linda Rice, Holiday Disguise won her first stakes start with a 1 ¼-length win in the Bouwerie on May 29. Off a seven-month layoff, Holiday Disguise will break from post 4 in tandem with jockey Junior Alvarado.
Two new entries for the race's rescheduled edition include Palladian Bridge, who will be returning to stakes company for the first time in 10 starts carrying the momentum of having won three of her last four starts, and She's All Ready.
Trained by Ray Handal, Palladian Bridge will be making her second career stakes start and first since running fifth in the Xtra Heat on April 1 at Aqueduct. The 5-year-old daughter of Girolamo put in yeoman's work in 2017, posting a 6-2-1 ledger in 14 starts. Manny Franco will ride from the outside post.
She's All Ready will be running back at Aqueduct for the first time in 11 months with a third-place finish in the Broadway on February 18. After capping her 2017 year with a second-place effort in an optional claimer on December 16 at Parx, the James Ryerson-trainee will have the services of Paco Lopez in breaking from post 5.