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Aqueduct Preview | Autumn Days Stakes 2023: Danse Macabre Faces Older Horses For 1st Time
Danse Macabre (Coady Photography)

Aqueduct Preview | Autumn Days Stakes 2023: Danse Macabre Faces Older Horses For 1st Time

NBS Stable and Elements Racing’s Danse Macabre will take on older company for the first time in Friday’s $150,000 Autumn Days, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Autumn Days is slated as Race 8 on Friday’s nine-race card which also features the $120,000 Tepin in Race 6. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.

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Trained by Kelsey Danner, the Army Mule sophomore arrives from an impressive 1 1/2-length score in the six-furlong Glen Cove over the same course here on October 19. There, she rated in seventh-of-10 and closed with a four-wide run entering the stretch under regular pilot Adam Beschizza before angling to the inside and powering past Dontlookbackatall to take the spoils and garner a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

“She closed very fast and I thought he timed it well. It was one of her better races,” Danner said. “She had to come back down [inside], but she’s really straight forward. I know some horses can get a little intimidated being on the inside, but she really doesn’t care.”

Danse Macabre enjoyed a strong juvenile campaign, winning the Untapable at Kentucky Downs and hitting the board when second in the Bolton Landing at Saratoga Race Course and third in the Grade 3 Matron at Belmont at the Big A. She has won 3-of-4 starts this year, including scores in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride in March and the Mamzelle in May at Churchill Downs.

The talented chestnut has demonstrated versatility, racing near the pace over firmer footing and closing from further back on good ground in the Matron and Glen Cove.

Danner credits Beschizza, who has scored in 4-of-6 starts aboard Danse Macabre, for mapping out a variety of winning trips.

“Adam’s a very good rider. He’s fantastic on turf. He’s also done well for me on dirt,” Danner said. “I think he rides her well because he has great timing in turf races and he’s a strong finisher.

“She sat up very close in the 5 1/2-furlong race at Churchill and that was a fast race that day,” continued Danner. “So, she’s pretty flexible where she needs to be and he’s been very good at timing it the right way. I don’t think she appreciated the cut in the ground last time at the beginning, but she finished well.”

Danse Macabre, who will exit the outermost post 12 under Beschizza, has breezed back twice on dirt at her Churchill Downs base, covering a half-mile in 50.40 Thursday.

“In the morning, we never really do too much with her. It’s usually pretty pedestrian unless it’s on the turf,” Danner said. “She’s been good. She’s been high as a kite since she came out of that race last time.”

Danse Macabre, who has won 5-of-9 starts for purse earnings of $927,090, was selected by Danner and purchased for $55,000 at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. She is out of the Blame mare Sylphide, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner Cambodia.

“She’s very fun. She’s a classy filly and done everything right from the get go,” Danner said. “You can’t complain about a horse like her. She’s just an awesome filly with a great attitude and that makes you like her even more.”

Mark T. Anderson’s multiple graded stakes-placed New York-bred Sterling Silver [post 3, Javier Castellano] will make her turf debut for trainer Tom Albertrani.

“We’ve always wanted to give her a chance on the turf. It could give her some other opportunities,” Albertrani said. “It’s an experiment to see if she takes to it or not. It’s her last race of the year and we thought we’d take a chance.”

The 4-year-old Cupid grey, bred by Mallory Mort and Karen Mort, is on a strong run of form that saw her cross the wire first twice here last month in 6 1/2-furlong dirt sprints. She was demoted to second for interference in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom and returned last-out to post a neck score in the state-bred Iroquois arriving in the final stride under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.

“That was disappointing – it would have been a nice Grade 2 win for her,” Albertrani said. “She’s been very consistent.

“Javier told me he was very confident when he turned for home [in the Iroquois], but he made it a little scary for us watching,” added Albertrani, with a laugh. “He said he was confident she’d get there in plenty of time. He knows her well enough. The filly that was second there ran a big race and she was wasn’t giving up and made us earn it.”

The ultra-consistent Sterling Silver boasts a record of 18-6-3-3 for purse earnings of $652,988 which includes graded placings in last year’s Grade 3 Victory Ride [3rd], Grade 2 Prioress [2nd] and Grade 2 Gallant Bloom [3rd] to go along with state-bred stakes scores in the Franklin Square and Bouwerie.

Albertrani will also be represented by five-time winning New York-bred Itsakeyper [post 11, Dylan Davis], who won back-to-back open claiming sprints this summer over the Belmont turf.

Co-owned and bred by Albertrani with Robert Masiello, the 7-year-old Brilliant Speed mare has hit the board in 2-of-4 starts since and arrives from a distant fourth in the off-the-turf Ticonderoga on October 29 here which was contested at a one-turn mile over muddy and sealed going.

“She’s really been moving up the ladder since the beginning of the year,” Albertrani said. “I really would like to get her some black type. We tried her in the Ticonderoga but the distance was probably more out of her reach than anything. It’s a big step up for her, but we’re trying to see if we can get a decent run out of her.”

Arnmore Thoroughbreds’ Poppy Flower [post 8, Jose Ortiz] made the grade two starts back with a nose score over Bubble Rock in the Grade 3 Intercontinental traveling six furlongs over firm footing at Belmont Park.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 4-year-old Lea chestnut followed with a close fourth in the 5 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Caress when 2 1/2-lengths back of next-out stakes winner Roses for Debra on July 22 at Saratoga.

Poppy Flower, who will hope for speed to chase, also boasts closing stakes scores last year at 5 1/2-furlongs in the Stormy Blues at Laurel Park and the Spa’s Galway.

Mott will also saddle James S. Karp’s Mail Order [post 6, Jose Lezcano], who finished last-of-8 in this event last year after being bumped after the break and taken up early when the pacesetting Athwaaq crossed her path from the outside post.

The 5-year-old Liam’s Map dark bay has raced twice since in optional-claiming company, finishing second in July at Belmont to next-out graded stakes winner Roses for Debra ahead of a pace-pressing fourth last out on August 2 at Saratoga in a race that runner-up Scotish Star exited to take the off-the-turf Floral Park.

A talented field includes:

  • Graded stakes-placed Headland [post 10, Eric Cancel] for trainer George Weaver
  • Stakes-winner Can’t Buy Love [post 5, Trevor McCarthy] for trainer Michael Trombetta
  • Stakes-placed trio of Lady Milagro [post 2, Luis Rivera, Jr.] for conditioner Carlos Martin, Salvaje [blinkers off, post 7, Ruben Silvera] for trainer Dimitrios Synnefias and Loon Cry [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] for conditioner Christophe Clement
  • The Edward DeLauro-trained Floral Park runner-up Risk Free [post 9, Jose Gomez]

Unified Alliance and Hot Fudge are entered for the main-track only.