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Dr. Miranda previews the 2022 Demoiselle Stakes (G2) from Aqueduct, then gives her top picks & long shots from this early major prep race for the 2023 Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Todd Pletcher trainee Julia Shining, a full sister to the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and 2020 Demoiselle Stakes champion Malathaat, makes her stakes debut carrying heavy expectations following a sharp maiden victory at Keeneland. Did Dr. Miranda pick the well-bred filly on top? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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Stonestreet Stables’ Kentucky homebred Julia Shining, a full sister to Champion 3-Year-Old Filly and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Malathaat, will make the step up to stakes company for her first try against winners in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle, a nine-furlong main track test for juvenile fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Demoiselle, which offers 10-4-3-2-1 qualifying points for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks to the top-five finishers, is part of a stacked card highlighted by the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets, along with the Grade 3, $200,000 Go for Wand and the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen, offering 10-4-3-2-1 qualifying points towards the Kentucky Derby to the top-five finishers.
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who will look to win this event for the third consecutive year, Julia Shining was an impressive debut winner on October 16 at Keeneland in a seven-furlong maiden special weight. The bay daughter of Curlin broke evenly from post 4-of-12 and dropped back to 11th as she struggled with taking dirt from her rivals. With a strong ride from Luis Saez, Julia Shining swung five-wide in the turn and made up ground with giant strides to claim the lead at the stretch call and coast home a 2 3/4-length winner in a final time of 1:29.43.
Pletcher said he was particularly impressed by Julia Shining’s ability to widen her margin.
“I thought she was kind of hopeless at the five-eighths pole. She did what a lot of first timers do when they get hit with that wave of dirt,” Pletcher said. “She was just climbing trying to get away from it. Finally, when Luis pulled her out, she made that huge middle wide move that was impressive, but most horses who do that kind of hang in the end. For her to keep going and polish it off was impressive.”
Julia Shining will look to follow in the footsteps of her accomplished sister Malathaat, who captured the 2020 Demoiselle. Julia Shining and Malathaat would be the first siblings to capture the prestigious Demoiselle since full sisters Coquette  and Celandria  took back-to-back editions.
Pletcher said both Julia Shining and Malathaat, who are out of the multiple graded stakes-winning mare Dreaming of Julia, show professionalism on the track.
“Physically, they’re a little bit different, but they’re both very impressive fillies to watch train and she’s shown talent from the beginning,” said Pletcher. “I always felt like the further she gets the opportunity to go, the better she’ll get. That’s why we have been pointing for the Demoiselle.”
Julia Shining has posted four works over Belmont Park’s dirt training track since her maiden score, most recently covering a half-mile in 49.05 seconds on Saturday.
Saez retains the mount from post 3.
Pletcher will also saddle Repole Stable’s stakes-winning New York-bred Gambling Girl, who won the Joseph A. Gimma against fellow state-breds on September 23 at Belmont at the Big A. The daughter of Dialed In was last seen finishing a troubled fourth in the one-mile state-bred Maid of the Mist as the post-time favorite where she was bumped hard at the break and struggled to improve position when five-wide in the turn.
The Maid of the Mist was the first time beyond sprint distances for Gambling Girl, who will look for a fairer chance at a stretch out in the Demoiselle as she makes her open company debut.
“We thought for sure she was going to improve with added distance, and it just didn’t work out that day,” said Pletcher. “They didn’t come back to her much. She’s been training good and she’s straightforward.”
Gambling Girl, who was bred by Gallagher’s Stud, will exit post 6 in rein to Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Pine Brook Farm’s Foggy Night arrives at the Demoiselle from a game runner-up effort to Good Sam in the one-mile Tempted on November 6 at the Big A. Trained by Butch Reid, Jr., Foggy Night entered the Tempted from an eye-catching 11 1/4-length victory going one mile and 70 yards at Parx Racing in October where she set the pace under Paco Lopez and drew away rounding the final turn. The effort was awarded a field-best 73 Beyer Speed Figure.
Lopez returned to pilot the Khozan filly in the Tempted and put pressure on Good Sam through the first half-mile, but was bested in the turn and defeated 3 1/2 lengths by her rival. Reid, Jr. said he was pleased with the performance from Foggy Night, who breezed a half-mile in 50.67 over the Parx main track Saturday.
“She came back with a real nice breeze and she’s coming into the race perfectly,” said Reid, Jr. “A mile and an eighth is a natural distance for her. It’s hard to say what they’re going to be like in the beginning, but she’s a big, rangy filly and has a nice, big stride on her. Anything is possible with her.”
Lopez has the call again from post 1.
Completing the field are the AMO Racing USA’s maiden Affirmative Lady [post 5, John Velazquez] for conditioner Graham Motion and a trio of maiden winners in Breffni Farm’s Royal Spa [post 2, Joel Rosario] for trainer Rodolphe Brisset; Sofia Soares, Matthew J. Mercurio, Michael Imperio, Douglas P. Allocco, Gary Cioffi and Vincent Valente’s La Vita Sofia [post 4, Manny Franco] for trainer Rudy Rodriguez; and Harold Lerner LLC, AWC Stables, Nehoc Stables, Scott K. Akman and Paul Braverman’s Tribal Queen [post 7, Eric Cancel] for trainer Tony Dutrow.
The Demoiselle is slated as Race 6 on Saturday’s 10-race program. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.
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