OZONE PARK, NY – R. L. Johnson’s A Great Time has enjoyed a career renaissance as a 6-year-old, registering half of her career wins (and her first stakes victory) during the current campaign. She will look to add another triumph on Sunday, competing in the $100,000 Autumn Days for fillies and mares 3 years old and up going 6 furlongs on Aqueduct Racetrack’s outer turf course.
The fourth running of the Autumn Days is one of 3 stakes on Sunday’s 10-race card, joining the $100,000 Tepin for juvenile fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf and the $100,000 Fall Highweight (G3) for 3-year-olds and up going 6 furlongs on the main track.
A Great Time won her first stakes in her 19th career start last out, rallying from 11th in the 12-horse field to post a 1-length score over Mr. Al’s Gal in The Very One in a 5-furlong sprint over the yielding Pimlico Race Course turf on October 1.
The Michael Trombetta trainee has finished on the board in her last 6 starts dating to February 2019, including back-to-back wins after a third-place effort in the License Fee on July 3 at Belmont Park.
“She’s training really good and seems like she’ll run on any kind of course at this point, so we’re looking forward to it,” Trombetta said. “Sometimes they come around at different stages. Although she’s been lightly raced this season, she’s had a pretty good one. She’ll be fine with running at Aqueduct; I think she’ll be good.
“The owner (Larry Johnson) is also the breeder and I think the endgame for him would be to breed her, so to finally get a stakes win was pretty important,” he added.
Jose Ortiz will pick up the mount, drawing post 10.
Jim and Susan Hill’s Lead Guitar enters on a hot streak, having won 3 in a row including the Floral Park last out on October 17 over firm Belmont turf. Bred in New York by Windylea Farm, Lead Guitar is conditioned by George Weaver, who is 2-for-2 with the 4-year-old Maclean’s Music filly since taking over the training duties.
“She’s a New York-bred and she has a lot of talent and that helps her knock out some wins,” Weaver said. “She’s consistent in open company races, too, and she’s developed into a really nice turf sprinter.”
Jose Lezcano will be in the irons from post 9.
Ode to Joy will look to potentially close out her career on a high note. Trainer Arnaud Delacour said her owners, Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson, could retire her at the end of the year. Ode to Joy has compiled a 4-0-3 record in 11 starts with earnings of $117,524 entering the Autumn Days. She was a competitive third in The Very One last out and has posted 2 wins in her 5-year-old campaign.
“She’s been very consistent,” Delacour said. “She might not be the favorite, but I hope she can run well. I think the owners have in mind to breed her in the spring, so we’re going to try and see if we can add to her resume this winter and she’ll be a broodmare.”
Christopher DeCarlo will ride from post 1.
Athlone Racing’s Rose Flower, the German-bred daughter of Dabirsim who ran fourth in the Floral Park, will make her first appearance at Aqueduct since running third in last year’s Autumn Days edition. Trained by Christophe Clement, Rose Flower will be making just her third start of her 4-year-old year.
“I was disappointed in her first start,” Clement said. “Second start she came to win a race but then flattened out, which surprised me. She looks great and is training well, so let’s go.”
Eric Cancel will have the call out of post 2.
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and R. A. Hill Stable’s Madeline Must won her first North American start just two weeks ago on November 14 at Aqueduct. Since arriving from Europe, the French-bred improved in each of her 4 starts in the United States, finally breaking through in a 6-furlong sprint over yielding turf last out.
Clement said he is looking forward to trying her in stakes company after all four of those previous efforts were in optional claiming contests.
“She’s been a little bit complicated. She probably has more speed and shows more speed than when I was training early on,” Clement said. “But she ran well last out. It’s a bit ambitious, but she’s doing very well.”
Junior Alvarado will have the call from post 8.
Jeff Drown’s Risky Mischief has sandwiched a pair of turf sprint wins around a second-place effort and will see trainer Jeremiah Englehart return her to stakes company for the first time since running fourth in the Bouwerie on June 28 at Belmont. The Jeremiah Englehart trainee, 3-1-0 in 6 career starts, will break from post 3 with Kendrick Carmouche aboard.
Rounding out the field is I’llhandalthecash, third in the Floral Park, for trainer Ray Handal (post 5, Dylan Davis); Dendrobia, a winner on June 13 at Laurel for trainer Timothy Keefe (post 4, Charlie Marquez); Mentality, winner of the Hessonite on June 26 at Belmont, for conditioner Philip Antonacci (post 7, Harry Hernandez); and Saratoga Treasure, third in the Smart N Fancy on August 27 before running seventh in the Floral Park, for trainer David Donk (post 6, Jorge Vargas Jr.).
My Sassy Sarah, sixth in the Floral Park in her first start since Jorge Abreu took over training responsibilities, is an also-eligible (post 11, Nik Juarez).
Timely Tradition, Bridlewood Cat, and Malibu Mischief were entered for the main track only.
The Autumn Days is slated as Race 7 on the program, which offers a first post of 11:50 a.m. Eastern. America’s Day at the Races will present daily television coverage of the Aqueduct fall meet with coverage to air on FOX Sports and MSG Networks.