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Aqueduct Preview | Central Park Stakes 2023: Uncle Truly Tries Stakes Company
Aqueduct (Jason Moran/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Aqueduct Preview | Central Park Stakes 2023: Uncle Truly Tries Stakes Company

Augustin Stables’ Kentucky homebred Uncle Truly will try stakes company for the first time in Sunday’s $120,000 Central Park, a one-mile inner turf test for juveniles, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Central Park is slated as Race 5 on Sunday’s nine-race program, which also features the $135,000 Forever Together. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.

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Trained by Jonathan Thomas, Uncle Truly’s second dam is Augustin Stables’ multiple Grade 1-winner Forever Together, the 2008 Champion Grass Mare, who is honored with a stakes in Race 7 on Sunday’s nine-race card.

The Uncle Mo colt debuted in September traveling one-mile over firm Kentucky Downs turf, rallying from eighth to finish third in a race that the runner-up, Thomas Aquinas, and seventh-place, Hawks Creek, exited to graduate.

Uncle Truly shipped to Woodbine Racetrack last out on October 15 and annexed a one-mile maiden special weight over good going, surging up the rail to win by three lengths and garner a career-best 75 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He’s an interesting horse,” Thomas said. “He’s a really nice mover. We’re just looking to give stakes company a try before we start planning out his winter.”

A full-brother to turf stakes winner Mouffy, Uncle Truly is out of the graded stakes-placed Smart Strike mare Truly Together.

Jose Ortiz will pilot Uncle Truly from post 4.

KatieRich Stables, Christopher Connors and Lawrence Appel’s multiple stakes-placed New York homebred Works for Me [post 6, Trevor McCarthy] is cross-entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Notebook here – a six-furlong main track test for state-bred juveniles.

“It will be up to the owners if they want to run in the Notebook on Saturday or the Central Park on Sunday, but he’s doing well. The only negative thing is it’s back in two weeks,” trainer Joe Lee said.

The Daddy Long Legs colt overcame a stumbled start to graduate over the main track in June against fellow state-breds ahead of a distant fourth in the state-bred Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in August at the Spa.

Works for Me has made his last two starts in open stakes company here, finishing a prominent second to Book’em Danno from post 2-of-5 in the off-the-turf Futurity before landing a pacesetting third from post 3-of-9 in his turf debut on November 4 in the six-furlong Atlantic Beach when a half-length back of the victorious Please Advise. The game effort garnered Works for Me a field-best 84 Beyer.

“He ran really well against Book’em Danno that day. We were hoping it would stay on the grass, but he still ran well,” Lee said. “He’s still young and still learning, but he’s nice. He has a good attitude.

“He came back in that open stakes on the grass and unfortunately went to the front again,” continued Lee. “We were going to try and lay off the pace there, but Trevor had really no option being down on the inside and half a length back, so he had to move him along up the inside. He dug in at the head of the lane and dug in again and nearly hung on.”

Lee said he is cautiously optimistic Works for Me could stretch out on turf, noting a bullet work under Martin Pedroza in 48 flat over the Oklahoma training turf on September 29.

“I thought he had a turf foot and would run well and he did,” Lee said. “I think he’s a better turf horse. That Beyer came back better than his dirt races and his foot – there’s not as much cup on his front feet as dirt horses might have. It’s a little flatter and those horses tend to prefer the turf and can just skip over it instead of having to dig into it.

“His bullet work with Martin Pedroza at Saratoga – he went the first half in 48 and galloped out the next three-eighths in 36,” added Lee. “So, he actually went seven-eighths in 1:24. He’s OK. I think it’s just a matter of maturing.”

Don Alberto Stable’s Kentucky homebred Quokka [post 8, Kendrick Carmouche] will make his stakes debut out of a 21-1 upset graduation at second asking on October 26 here.

Trained by Tom Albertrani, Quokka attended the pace in his September debut traveling one-mile here before faltering to last-of-8.

Quokka followed up last out with a game neck score over the rallying mutuel favorite Heartened. With returning pilot Kendrick Carmouche up, Quokka tracked in second position as Houlton set splits of 24.56, 51.28 and 1:16.43 over the firm footing, bumping with his rival at the top of the lane before taking command inside the final sixteenth to prevail in a final time of 1:46.47.

“He was showing some promise in the morning. We knew on the dirt that was going to be the outcome, but he showed some speed and stayed up there for a good half-mile or so,” Albertrani said of the debut effort. “Kendrick came back very positive after that race. In his second start on the turf, he really showed that’s what he wanted.”

Albertrani said the Noble Mission colt, out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Quantify, should improve with experience.

“He’s turf all over so hopefully he can make another step forward off of that,” Albertrani said. “We’ll give him a try in there and see if he can compete.”

Upland Flats Racing’s Blue Creek [post 12, John Velazquez] rallied from 20 lengths off the pace last out to finish third, defeated 4 1/4-lengths by the victorious Move to Gold in 1 1/16-mile Awad contested on October 28 here over firm turf.

Trained by Keri Brion, the Demarchelier gelding rallied from last-of-7 to graduate at second asking against restricted company in August at Colonial Downs. Two starts later on September 30, Blue Creek closed from 21 lengths back to finish third in the 1 1/16-mile Laurel Futurity.

The Kentucky bred breezed back five-eighths in a bullet 1:01 flat over the Fair Hill all-weather surface on Tuesday.

Dual graded stakes-placed maiden Spirit Prince [post 9, Joel Rosario] will look to graduate in style while making his fourth stakes appearance for trainer Christophe Clement.

The Cairo Prince gray, who has made four turf starts all at 1 1/16-miles, made a five-wide bid to finish third in the Grade 3 With Anticipation over good going in August at Saratoga Race Course. He followed with a pacesetting third in the Grade 2 Pilgrim on October 4 here and was a close second as the favorite last out in the Awad. There, he tracked the runaway leader Tropandhagen from second position before taking command with an eighth of a mile to run, but could not hold off the late-running Move to Gold.

The $110,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase is out of the Curlin mare Dottie’s Spirit, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-placed Lecturing Lynn.

Rounding out a competitive field are:

  1. Wine Collector [post 1, Angel Cruz] for conditioner Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon
  2. Buffoon [post 11, Dylan Davis] for trainer Mike Maker
  3. Sanderson [post 3, Jorge Ruiz] for trainer Graham Motion
  4. The George Weaver-trained Typhoon Fury [post 2, Javier Castellano]
  5. Frontline Warrior [post 10, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey
  6. Ruddy Buddy [post 5, Mario Fuentes] for trainer Robert Werneth
  7. Walley World [post 7, Manny Franco] for conditioner Chad Brown

The Gary Contessa-trained maiden Day Away [Jose Gomez] is listed as also-eligible and Pandagate is entered for the main-track only.