by Brian Bohl / Heather Pettinger
Todd Pletcher saddles three contenders in first running of Bridgetown
Peter Brant's Fifty Five will make her 2018 debut after a nearly six-month layoff, headlining a group of five older fillies and mares in the $100,000 Plenty of Grace on Saturday on Aqueduct Racetrack's outer turf.
Carded as Race 3, the fourth running of the Plenty of Grace is one of two stakes on the day, complementing the first running of the $100,000 Bridgetown for 3-year-old sprinters in Race 8.
Fifty Five, the winner of the 2017 Grade 3 Florida Oaks, is coming off a solid 3-year-old campaign in which she was the runner-up in the Grade 3 Wonder Again, third in the Grade 3 Lake George and third in the Memories of Silver for trainer Chad Brown. The New York-bred mare by Get Stormy is 4-1-4 in 10 career starts.
Junior Alvarado will be in the irons from the rail.
Her stablemate, Uni, will also return off a freshening. After winning two of her first six races in France, the English-bred daughter of More Than Ready arrived in the United States and finished third in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 8. A strong runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Lake Placid on August 19 at Saratoga Race Course, followed by a win in the Grade 2 Sands Point on September 16 at Belmont, set her up for her 2017 finale in which she rallied from seventh to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 14 at Keeneland.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will have the return call from post 3.
My Impression will be making her first appearance since running third in the Forever Together on November 25 at the Big A. The 5-year-old Sky Mesa mare has posted Beyer Speed Figures exceeding 90 in six consecutive starts, including a win in the One Dreamer on September 6 at Kentucky Downs and second-place finishes in the Grade 3 Athenia on October 28 at Belmont Park and a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial on July 4 at Parx.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, My Impression drew post 2 with Manny Franco aboard.
Not Taken will be making her first start for trainer Todd Pletcher and her fourth straight at the Big A. After running fourth in an optional claimer on the main track February 23, the 5-year-old Arch mare will return to turf for the first time since Penjade beat her by a nose in the Forever Together on November 25.
Breaking from the outside, Not Taken, whose last win came at Aqueduct in an optional claimer on November 9, will have the services of jockey Rajiv Maragh, who will make his Aqueduct return on Friday after riding exclusively at Santa Anita to begin the year.
Stallion Heiress, who started her career with three straight wins, will look to earn a return trip to the winner's circle for the first time in four starts for trainer Michael Stidham. The Canadian-bred, who won the Joseph E. Spanky Brousssard Memorial and the Allen Black Cat LaCombe Memorial as a 3-year-old in 2017, will make her first start on a NYRA track, drawing post 4 in tandem with jockey Joe Bravo.
Pletcher will be represented by a trio of contenders in the inaugural running of the Bridgetown.
Comprising Pletcher's squad will be All Systems Go, exiting a 1 ¾-length maiden victory on February 10 at Gulfstream Park and making his stakes debut in the six-furlong turf event; Barry K. Schwartz's New York-bred Barbarossa, who beat state-bred maidens by 8 ½ lengths last fall and finished third last time out as the 3-2 favorite in the February 24 Texas Glitter at Gulfstream; and stakes-placed Coltandmississippi, looking to make the transition to the turf following a third-place finish in the Jerome and a fourth-place effort in the Grade 3 Withers, both on the main track.
Bravo has the mount aboard All Systems Go, who will break from post 3. Franco will ride Barbarossa from post 2, while Coltandmississippi will leave from post 6 with Trevor McCarthy in the irons.
Wesley Ward has entered a pair of fillies in Mentality, a New York-bred by Freud, making her first start of the year, and Nootka Sound, who finished a well-beaten 17th in the Windsor Castle Stakes last year at Royal Ascot and returned to action with a two-length optional-claiming win on January 28.
Also entered in the Bridgetown are Patricia Generazio's recent maiden winner Ambassador Jim for trainer Christophe Clement; Parx Racing-based Black Stetson and Robert Reid, Jr. trainee Smooth B, both making their first starts on turf.