OZONE PARK, NY – After a flashy debut on turf, trainer Todd Pletcher’s Perfect Munnings swaps surfaces for Sunday’s $100,000 Rego Park Stakes at Aqueduct.
The Rego Park is a 6 1/2-furlong dirt sprint restricted to New York-bred 3-year-olds. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 9-race card and has a local post time of 3:50 PM.
Here’s a look at the full field for the Rego Park:
1. Halpert 20/1 – He steps up to the stakes ranks after breaking his maiden by a nose against New York-breds while going 6 furlongs over a muddy local main track. The More Than Ready colt debuted in a turf route at Saratoga, again while facing his own kind, and new jockey Eric Cancel connects at 23% with trainer Jeremiah Englehart.
2. New York One 20/1 – He broke his maiden against open company at Mountaineer last August and defeated first level allowance runners there 2 starts later. He finished a well-beaten ninth in the NYSSS Great White Way Stakes going 7 furlongs over this course in his first time running without Lasix since his debut, when he finished last of 10. No Lasix here, either.
3. Uno 2/1 – He carried high expectations before his first start, having been purchased for $255k as an unraced juvenile and sent to Pletcher’s barn. He debuted against his own kind in a 6-furlong sprint in the local mud and won by 3 3/4 lengths, but he’ll have to prove that he can carry that same form over to what will likely be a fast, dry course.
“He’s been training well since his maiden race,” said Pletcher assistant Byron Hughes. “We’re looking for a big effort from him.”
4. Blue Gator 5/2 – He won his first 2 starts including the Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes, then finished a good second in the Notebook Stakes last time out as the 7/5 favorite. Trainer Mike Maker will leg up aggressive gate jockey Kendrick Carmouche for the third time on this $80k son of Liam’s Map; the two men have won 19% of their shared mounts.
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5. Windy Nations 8/1 – The second Maker entry returns after finishing a late-rushing fourth in the Great White Way in his first start wearing blinkers. He keeps them for this slightly shorter dash but gave a better account than his sixth-place dud in the Bertram Bongard Stakes. He was privately purchased after breaking his maiden on debut at Monmouth Park.
6. Storm Shooter 8/1 – Pletcher adds blinkers to him for the first time (a 19% winning move) after finishing a well-beaten sixth in the Notebook, though he had to steady hard near the 3/8 pole after getting crowded on the rail. He broke his maiden at second asking, conquering his own kind by 4 1/4 lengths in a sloppy off-turf 6-furlong sprint at Belmont Park.
“He’s breezed well with (blinkers) on, which gives us confidence,” Hughes said. “It was more of a focus issue. It’s just less things to look at and get distracted with.”
7. Lookin for Trouble 6/1 – He drops back into the state-bred ranks after finishing third in a local 6-furlong turf sprint against open company optional claimers. The third Maker entry is by elite sire Into Mischief and out of a Speightstown mare, so he should flash plenty of speed and challenge Storm Shooter early. Maker hits at 25% going turf to dirt.
8. Perfect Munnings 4/1 – He takes a big step up while changing surfaces after debuting with a 2-length score in a 6-furlong state-bred maiden special weight event on the local turf. The third Pletcher entry has reason to succeed on the surface swap (the barn wins at 20%), and the 76 Beyer Speed Figure that he earned matches stablemate Uno for highest in the field.
“He’s been training well since then and we expect him to put in another good effort,” Hughes said. “He’s been training well enough on the dirt to run in this spot with him. We’ll play the break and see where everyone ends up. We won’t take anyone’s running style away from them. It’s hard to tell after one start what a horse’s running style is.”