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Aqueduct Picks | Ruthless Stakes 2024
Ghalia Princess (3) at Fair Grounds (Bentley Breland/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Aqueduct Picks | Ruthless Stakes 2024

Sumaya U.S. Stable’s Ghalia Princess makes the trek from New Orleans to New York for Saturday’s $100,000 Ruthless, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Ruthless is slated as Race 7 on Saturday’s 10-race program which also features the $100,000 Broadway in Race 9. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.  

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Trained by Brad Cox, the American Pharoah bay posted a narrow head score to graduate on debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight on January 20 at Fair Grounds.

Ghalia Princess, with Florent Geroux aboard from post 3, stalked from third position as favored Motown Dynamic marked the opening half-mile in 46.32 seconds over the fast main track.

Geroux tipped Ghalia Princess to the outside for the stretch run and was initially staved off by the frontrunner before persevering inside the final sixteenth to secure the win over the mutuel favorite in a final time of 1:10.81.

“She showed us a good bit in the mornings and we liked her first time out,” Cox said. “She pulled through and just based off of timing and what she’s done since her maiden-breaking win, I feel she’s ready to make this jump. She’ll need to improve but it’s an opportunity for some black type. She’s a good-looking filly and hopefully has a big future.”

Ghalia Princess, although cross-entered in Saturday’s six-furlong $150,000 Dixie Belle at Oaklawn Park, is confirmed to race in the Ruthless after working a half-mile in 48.20 seconds on February 9 at the Fair Grounds.

“It’s early stages of her career, but I think she will stretch out and I like the idea of running her seven-eighths as opposed to three-quarters,” said Cox, who has already won four stakes at Aqueduct this year with Drum Roll Please [Jerome], Comparative [Ladies], Gin Gin [Busanda] and Bergen [Jimmy Winkfield].

Bred in Kentucky by International Equities Holding, Ghalia Princess is out of the stakes-winning Medaglia d’Oro mare Ghalia, who captured the 2017 Sunland Park Oaks. Her second dam is graded stakes-winner Verdana Bold.

Cox said the well-bred bay has a right to improve with racing.

“She has good size, powerful, a great mover and covers a lot of ground,” Cox said. “She’s easy on herself. She’s been very good in the morning and was able to show she could do it in the afternoon first time out.”

Manny Franco picks up the mount from the inside post.

Rigney Racing’s Halina’s Forte [post 4, Eric Cancel] will look to go one better after runner-up efforts in both the Fern Creek on November 20 at Churchill Downs and the Letellier Memorial last out on December 23 at Fair Grounds.

The $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Select Yearling Sale purchase graduated gate-to-wire in her November 5 debut sprinting 5 1/2-furlongs at Churchill, just 20 days before missing by three-quarters of a length to graded stakes-placed Youalmosthadme in the Fern Creek.

Last out, the Phil Bauer-trainee stalked from third-position in the six-furlong Letellier Memorial but could not reel in a runaway Leslie’s Loot, who prevailed by 3 3/4-lengths.

“I may have made a mistake running her back so quick after her big effort at Churchill when we went her to Fair Grounds,” Bauer said. “She was maybe a little dull that day, but she’s a very nice filly in her own right and we’re excited to try her at seven-eighths and march forward from there.”

The Mitole bay is out of the stakes-winning Yes It’s True mare Lunarlady, who is a half-sister to both multiple graded stakes-winner Lunarpal and graded stakes-winner Astrology.

“She’s shown a lot of class from Day One. We considered pinhooking her, but the recommendation was to hang on to her,” Bauer said. “She came in and marched forward. We were always high on her. We maybe questioned a little bit at age 2 how she would go on as a 3-year-old, but she’s blossomed and put some more height to her. We’re excited to get her back going.”

Bauer said jockey Eric Cancel will have the benefit of a versatile horse as he looks to work out a trip from post 4.

“She possesses speed but she’ll rate and do what you need her to do,” Bauer said. “She’s shown good gate speed in all her starts, so that’s definitely an attribute that keeps you out of trouble. He can see how things develop after the first furlong and go from there.

“She shipped up yesterday (to Aqueduct) and all reports are good so far,” Bauer added. “We’re hopeful she’ll have a good showing on Saturday.”

Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who took Eclipse Award honors for Outstanding Trainer in 2023, will be represented by Godolphin’s Kentucky homebred Most of All [post 6, Jorge Vargas, Jr.].

The Quality Road bay graduated at third asking at Aqueduct in October by 10 1/4-lengths in an off-the-turf one-turn mile maiden special weight over sloppy and sealed footing.

She has since made a pair of stakes starts traveling nine furlongs over muddy and sealed going at Aqueduct, finishing a pace-pressing fourth in both the Grade 2 Demoiselle in December and the Busanda on January 13.

Most of All is out of the graded stakes-winning Bernardini mare Indulgent, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winner Frosted.

Robert S. Evans’ Kentucky homebred Reconcile [post 2, Jose Lezcano] will look to improve on a runner-up effort last out in the Xtra Heat at Laurel Park for trainer Linda Rice.

The War Front grey has made her first two starts in six-furlong sprints, graduating gate-to-wire on debut here in December ahead of a pacesetting second in the Xtra Heat on January 27 over a muddy and sealed track.

Reconcile is out of the multiple stakes-placed Tapit mare Welcoming, who is a half-sister to last year’s Grade 3 Comely-winner Raging Sea.

Owner Michael J. Ryan, who won the Listed Heavenly Prize Invitational at Aqueduct on Saturday with the Brittany Russell-trained Saddle Up Jessie, will look to continue his recent run of success with maiden Tiarella [post 3, Trevor McCarthy].

Trained by Horacio De Paz, the Nyquist dark bay finished a prominent second on debut at Aqueduct sprinting six furlongs on January 14. She has breezed back twice over the Belmont Park dirt training track, including a half-mile in 49.75 on February 9.

The $90,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, a half-sister to stakes-placed Sweet Solare, is out of the Quality Road mare Elusive Checkers, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-winner Cause to Believe and stakes-winner Imaginary Sailor.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary F. Lewin’s maiden winner Value Area [post 7, Kendrick Carmouche] graduated at sixth asking at Aqueduct on January 27 in a seven-furlong maiden special weight over muddy and sealed footing.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, the More Than Ready dark bay sports a perfect in-the-money record of 6-1-4-1 for purse earnings of $126,600.

A $210,000 purchase from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, Value Area, a half-sister to dual graded stakes-winner Pink Sands, is out of the Grade 1-winning Include mare Her Smile.

Rounding out the field is Paradise Farms Corp.’s Low Society [post 5, Dylan Davis], who won first off the claim for trainer Mike Maker last out in a six-furlong optional-claiming sprint at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day.

The World of Trouble dark bay was first haltered by De Paz from a maiden claiming score on debut for trainer Brittany Russell in September at Pimlico Race Course.

She followed with a third-place effort in an optional-claiming sprint in October at Laurel Park before being taken for $50,000 from a third-place finish in November here in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint.

Last out, Low Society made every pole a winning one under returning rider Dylan Davis en route to a 4 3/4-length score that garnered a career-best 74 Beyer Speed Figure.