Pletcher’s Agua Dulce looks to take another step forward in Sunday’s Tepin
by Brian Bohl
Bass Stables’ Agua Dulce showed improvement from her debut to her subsequent start and will look to continue that upward trajectory in making her stakes debut in Sunday’s $120,000 Tepin for juvenile fillies contesting one mile over the Aqueduct Racetrack inner turf.
Agua Dulce went three-wide on the first turn in her debut, stayed well off the pace and could never muster a serious challenge in finishing sixth going 1 1/16 miles on the Big A turf in September. Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher entered the English homebred at the same distance and track a month later and his charge responded with a one-length gate-to-wire victory on October 22.
After working four furlongs in 49.61 seconds on Sunday over the Belmont Park dirt training track, Pletcher said the daughter of Flatter has continued to take positive steps as she elevates in class.
“She breezed well and I thought she had a big improvement second time out,” said Pletcher, who saddled South of France to victory in the inaugural running of the Tepin in 2018. “She kind of got involved early and that helped. That’s the way it unfolded because she broke alertly, so she got into a good, comfortable spot. I think if the pace scenario is right, sure [she could go to the lead again], but I don’t think she’s one that needs to.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will have the call from post 8.
The Pletcher-trained Gambling Girl, the winner of the Joseph A. Gimma in September at the Big A, was entered for the main track only.
Smokie Eyes recorded a career-best 70 Beyer Speed Figure when running third in her stakes bow last out in the 1 1/16-mile Chelsey Flower at Belmont at the Big A on October 28. Smokie Eyes, a New York-bred Nyquist filly owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Darlene Bilinski and Steven Rocco, has not finished off the board in her first four starts, posting a 1-2-1 record that encompasses a maiden-breaking 3 1/2-length score on October 8 at Aqueduct.
The Christophe Clement trainee, bred in the Empire State by Kathleen Schweizer and Daniel Burke, will cap her 2-year-old campaign on Saturday, cutting back to one mile for the first time. Dylan Davis will be in the irons from post 6.
“She ran very well against open company when third,” Clement said when reflecting on the Chelsey Flower. “She’s a stayer and a galloper. This will be her last race of the year and we’ll give her a break afterwards.”
Trainer Jorge Abreu will saddle a pair of contenders, including the English-bred Alluring Angel, who ran fourth last out in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo on October 1 at Aqueduct. Alluring Angel, owned by Lawrence Goichman, was a first-out winner in August at Saratoga Race Course and followed with a runner-up in the Ainsworth in September at Kentucky Downs before returning to New York for her first graded stakes action the following month. Jockey Jose Ortiz drew the assignment and will ride from post 9 on Saturday.
Abreu will also send out SJB Stable’s Thirty Thou Kelvin, who will make her first stakes appearance in her fourth start and race for the first time since posting a 1 1/4-length victory in a race taken off the turf on October 1 at Aqueduct. Jose Lezcano will ride from post 7.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown sends out maiden winner Private Credit [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] in pursuit of his first Tepin win.
Klaravich Stables’ Private Credit, by Into Mischief, graduated gate-to-wire at second asking in September at Monmouth Park. The $260,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase finished third on debut in Alluring Angel’s maiden score.
Brown has also entered maiden winners Shidabhuti and Interpolate for the main-track only.
Trainer Michael Trombetta entered two contenders, with Bulsara, a maiden-breaking winner at third asking last out on October 24, and Lifelovenlaughter, fourth in the Chelsey Flower following a win at second asking in September at Pimlico. Kendrick Carmouche will ride Bulsara from post 2 while Paco Lopez will break from post 5 aboard Lifelovenlaughter.
The Classy One, fifth in the Chelsey Flower in her turf debut, will make her third consecutive stakes start for trainer Kelly Breen, drawing post 3 under Junior Alvarado.
Rounding out the field is Next Episode, who has posted two wins and two runner-up efforts in her four starts, who will make her stakes bow for conditioner Niall Saville [post 10, J.D. Acosta]; and Sweetlou’sgotaces, looking for her first win in her fourth start and her first stakes appearance for trainer Ray Handal [post 1, Joel Rosario]. Sweetlou’sgotaces is cross-entered in Saturday’s Central Park against male rivals.
The fifth running of the Tepin is carded as Race 6 on Sunday’s nine-race program, which also features the $150,000 Discovery for sophomores going 1 1/8 miles on the main track and the $150,000 Autumn Days for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up six furlongs on the outer turf. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
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