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Plenty Of Grace Stakes 2024 | Aqueduct Picks
Marvelous Maude (Jason Moran/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Plenty Of Grace Stakes 2024 | Aqueduct Picks

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will send out Group 3-winner Midnight Mile and New York-bred stakes-winner Marvelous Maude as he looks to secure a record-extending sixth win in Sunday’s Listed $150,000 Plenty of Grace at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Brown won five straight runnings of the one-mile inner turf test for older fillies and mares from 2016-21, scoring with Mrs McDougal [2016], Light in Paris [2017], Uni [2018], Fifty Five [2019] and Regal Glory [2021].

The Plenty of Grace is slated as Race 7 on Sunday’s eight-race card at Aqueduct. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern. 

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Mrs. John Magnier and Roisin Henry’s Midnight Mile [post 1, Trevor McCarthy], a 4-year-old Irish-bred No Nay Never bay, was previously conditioned by Richard Fahey, notching a head score in the 2022 Group 3 Oh So Sharp going seven-furlongs at Newmarket ahead of a rallying fourth in that year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland.

Last year, Midnight Mile posted a 5-1-0-1 record, taking a listed race at York traveling 1 5/16-miles ahead of a third-place finish against the boys in the Group 3 Rose of Lancaster at the same distance in August at Haydock. In the Rose of Lancaster, Midnight Mile tracked from fourth position before making an early move to the lead in the home straight where she was unable to fend off the late run of multiple Group 3-winner Al Aasy, who bested Group 1-placed El Drama by a neck.

Midnight Mile was last seen finishing off-the-board in the Group 3 Atalanta on September 2 at Sandown Park, but has worked consistently at Payson Park Training Center in Florida for her debut for Brown.

“She’s a little bit of an aggressive horse. The one thing with her is watching her temperament,” Brown said. “Her breezes have been good. She’s a bit of a hot filly, so my hope is first time in the country she’s not pulling too much.”

Midnight Mile is out of the Galileo mare Ruby Tuesday, who is a half-sister to 2003 Group 1 Irish 1,000 Guineas-winner Yesterday and dual Group 1-placed All My Loving.

Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Michael J. Caruso’s Marvelous Maude [post 6, Manny Franco] boasts a 12-5-3-2 record topped by a last-out nose score in the state-bred Mount Vernon on May 29 over firm Belmont Park turf in her lone start last year.

Marvelous Maude rated in fourth position in the Mount Vernon as Freddymo Factor stole away to a 6 1/2-length advantage before the chasing Sanura took over through three-quarters in a swift 1:10.20 with multiple graded stakes-placed Runaway Rumour looming large in second. Marvelous Maude was angled four-wide for the stretch run and took dead aim at the front pair, rallying to even terms with Runaway Rumour with a sixteenth to run and staying on strong to secure the narrow win.

The 6-year-old Slumber dark bay won an open-company allowance travelling 1 1/16-miles in July 2022 at Saratoga. She also tried longer distances in her 2022 campaign, winning a nine-furlong open allowance at Belmont and trying stakes company when sixth in the Spa’s 11-furlong Grade 2 Flower Bowl and a rallying second in the state-bred John Hettinger at nine furlongs at Aqueduct.

Brown said he is hopeful that the one-mile distance will prompt fast early fractions to help the late kick of Marvelous Maude, who has breezed extensively at Payson.

“We’re hopeful that’s the case. She’s doing well,” Brown said.

Bred in the Empire State by Beechwood Bruckner, Marvelous Maude is out of the winning Warrior’s Reward mare Wait Your Turn, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner Fear the Cowboy.

Spirit And Glory [post 3, Jose Lezcano], who kicked off her 5-year-old campaign with a stakes win at Fair Grounds, will look to make amends for an off-the-board effort last out at the Louisiana oval.

Trained and co-owned by Robert Falcone, Jr. with Michael Nentwig, Michael Dubb, Beast Mode Racing and John Rochfort, the Cotai Glory bay enters from an eighth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Tom Benson Memorial over good ground on March 23 where she was headstrong into the first turn before tracking the pace and failing to fire down the lane.

Spirit And Glory launched her current campaign from a six-month layoff with an impressive rail rally to win the 1 1/16-mile Albert M. Stall Memorial over soft ground at Fair Grounds, besting stakes-winner Join the Dance by three-quarters of a length. 

Falcone, Jr. said Spirit And Glory is at her best when she can relax in the early running.

“She gets in her own way a little bit and can be her own worst enemy,” Falcone, Jr. said. “Off the layoff she was perfect, but last time when she pulls like that and gives the jock a bit of a problem, she doesn’t run her best race. Hopefully, she’s more relaxed this time around.”

The Irish-bred scored a stirring victory in her U.S. debut in June 2022 at Belmont Park, closing from last-of-8 to win an optional-claiming event. She would add the 2022 Virginia Oaks to her ledger two starts later with a rallying effort from 12th-of-14 to score by 1 1/4-lengths.

Last year, she captured the Miss Liberty at Monmouth Park as her lone win in a five-start season that included a narrow neck defeat to Closing Remarks in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap in August at Del Mar to complete her campaign.

Falcone, Jr. said he wouldn’t mind another close stalking trip as Jose Lezcano climbs aboard Spirit And Glory for the first time.

“It’s less obstacles for her to overcome,” Falcone, Jr. said. “I like her being closer as long as she’s not as keen as she was last time. When she’s that keen it takes away from her. She’s training good into this.”

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Tango Uniform Racing and Steve Rocco’s New York-bred stakes-winner Silver Skillet [post 5, Dylan Davis] will make her seasonal debut for trainer Christophe Clement.

The 4-year-old Liam’s Map gray enjoyed a solid sophomore season through a 7-2-3-0 ledger, taking both wins at Saratoga Race Course in state-bred company when a prominent half-length winner of a one-mile optional-claimer in July ahead of her rallying effort to best Orange Freeze in the 1 1/16-mile Suzie O’Cain over good going one month later. 

Silver Skillet followed with a trio of stakes efforts at Aqueduct, finishing second in both the open-company Winter Memories in September and state-bred Ticonderoga in October before completing her campaign with a close fourth in the one-mile Grade 3 Pebbles.

Silver Skillet, out of the stakes-winning Red Giant mare Catcha Rising Star, was a $260,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Yearling Sale purchase.

Rounding out a talented field at Aqueduct are:

  • Multiple stakes-placed Tass [post 4, Javier Castellano] for trainer Jorge Abreu
  • Stakes-placed New York-bred Sunset Louise [post 2, Kendrick Carmouche] for trainer Bruce Levine

Venti Valentine, Movie Moxy and Ocean Gateway are entered for the Aqueduct main track only.