Big Q looks for answers in Thursday's NYSSS Park Avenue
by Brian Bohl
Stakes-winner Big Q will make her second start at Saratoga Race Course in less than three weeks as trainer Gary Gullo will wheel her back in Thursday's $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series Park Avenue for state-bred 3-year-old fillies.
Owned by GMP Stables, Big Q won her debut last July at Saratoga and later notched a five-length victory in the Key Cents in November at Aqueduct Racetrack. The Big Brown filly started her sophomore campaign with back-to-back runner-up efforts in New York-bred stakes, starting with the 6 ½-furlong Franklin Square in January at the Big A and in the Bouwerie on June 28 at Belmont Park.
Returning to the Spa, Big Q ran seventh against optional claimers on August 16, breaking from the outermost post 11 and tracking in second position before tiring late, but will look to rebound in the 27th running of the 6 1/2-furlong Park Avenue. Jockey Joel Rosario, aboard for her first win, will ride from post 4.
"She's doing well," Gullo said. "The last one was a little disappointing for her, but I think she was up close to a fast pace and I think this race should be a little easier for her. I got Rosario and I'm just hopeful he can sit a little bit off the pace. But she's training good and came out of the race great. I'm hopeful."
Big Q, bred by Golden Goose Enterprises, is 2-2-0 in eight career starts and will be making her fifth start at Saratoga as she looks to make amends.
"I think the other races before that puts her right in the game," Gullo said. "It's a new surface at Saratoga this year, so hopefully she does well now. Rosario knows her, so hopefully we'll get things turned around."
Spin a Yarn won all four of her races at Finger Lakes and will now take a step up in class for trainer Chris Progno. The Chester and Mary Broman homebred captured her debut in September by 12 1/2 lengths. With restrictions due to COVID-19 preventing Finger Lakes from reopening until the summer, the daughter of Forty Tales could not return to the track until July 20, but has won three races since, including a six-length score against allowance company on July 29.
Progno said he had a work planned for her after that race but instead ran her in a six-furlong allowance on August 26. Instead of registering an official breeze, Spin a Yarn earned another trip to the winner's circle following her 3 ½-length triumph.
"She's been doing phenomenal," Progno said. "Basically, the race was a work prep for the stake race. She did it in hand; as easy as you could have asked. She wasn't exerted and was never asked. The rider saved a lot of horse and she went easy. She can be a little finicky in the feed tub when eating but since that race, she's been cleaning her feed tub right out. As of now, she's taken all the right steps to go up there and compete."
Progno, who will be looking for his first career Saratoga stakes win, said the 10-month break between her first start and her sophomore bow gave Spin a Yarn time to fill out and improve in her training.
"Mentally, she's really matured in that time. She still is a little bit of a high-strung filly, but she was more so as a 2-year-old," Progno said. "I think she's matured there. She's more classy and figuring out what she has to do and is more professional than she was as a first-timer."
Jose Lezcano will pick up the mount, drawing post 3.
Nicky Scissors, owned by Michael Dubb and The Elkstone Group, ran third in the NYSSS Statue of Liberty at 1 1/16 miles on the turf on July 23 at Saratoga. Trainer Brad Cox will return her to dirt, where she ran second in her debut in December at Aqueduct before breaking her maiden at second asking over the same track in January. She ran fifth at the Ozone Park-based course in her last main-track appearance in the one-mile Maddie May in February.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be in the irons from post 2.
Rounding out the field is The Important One, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen who has two wins in four starts and will return to the main track after two turf races [post 6, Jose Ortiz]; Mani Pedi, who broke her maiden at second asking on July 22 at the Spa, for trainer H. James Bond [post 5, Luis Saez]; Officer Hutchy, who will be making his first start for trainer Rob Atras after being claimed for $25,000 off a winning effort on August 16 at Saratoga [post 7, Dylan Davis]; and Holmdel Park, conditioned by James Ryerson [post 1, Kendrick Carmouche].
The NYSSS Park Avenue is one of two stakes on Thursday's nine-race card, going off as Race 6 with a post time of 4.01 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1:10 p.m. with the $100,000 P.G. Johnson slated as Race 3. Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete Saratoga Live broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
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