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OZONE PARK, NY – Newtown Anner Stud Farm and Mark Breen’s Saguaro Row has done her best running over the Aqueduct Racetrack main track and will make her first start in 10 months in Sunday’s 26th running of the $100,000 Garland of Roses for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward going 6 furlongs.
Trained by Michael Stidham, the 5-year-old Union Rags mare was winless in six starts against stakes company before making her Aqueduct debut in last November’s Pumpkin Pie at 7 furlongs, winning by 4 1/4 lengths with a career-best 88 Beyer Speed Figure.
Following a runner-up finish in the Go for Wand (G3) last December at the Big A, she replicated such winning ways in the January 20 Interborough at Aqueduct before an eighth-place finish as the heavy favorite in the Barbara Fritchie (G3) on February 15 at Laurel Park.
Saguaro Row has not raced since that contest, but Stidham said that the mare has been training forwardly at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.
“We think that she’s a winter horse. It’s when she seems to do her best running,” Stidham said. “After the Barbara Fritchie, we decided to freshen her up a bit and have her ready for a winter campaign, which is now. She’s been training beautifully.”
Saguaro Row has shown to do her best running when displaying a come-from-behind style, which she utilized in both of her stakes triumphs.
“The key to her is getting her to settle early on and put in a good finish,” Stidham said. “In her bad races, she’s been too aggressive early on.”
Jockey Joel Rosario, aboard for her Pumpkin Pie score, will return to the irons from post 2.
Trainer Charlton Baker will saddle Saul Kupferberg’s Honor Way in attempt to win 2 in a row for the first time in her career after a last-out win in the Pumpkin Pie on November 1 at Belmont Park.
The 6-year-old daughter of Caleb’s Posse has put together one of her most consistent seasons to date with a 2020 record of 9-3-3-2, including placings in the Interborough on January 20 at the Big A and a runner-up finish in the Gallant Bloom (G2) on October 3 at Belmont Park.
The veteran of 40 lifetime starts boasts the highest bankroll in the field with $633,892.
“She’s always been a horse that tries, but this year she’s definitely been one that will give you a little more,” Baker said. “6 furlongs is a little on the short side. I think she wants to go further, but she’s doing super. She has to get some pace up front and the right trip.”
Honor Way will have the riding services of jockey Jose Lezcano from post 5.Almost Heaven Stables’ Honey I’m Good makes her first start since taking her stakes debut in the June 5 Harmony Lodge over a muddy main track at Belmont Park for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The 4-year-old Shackleford bay led at every point of call to secure a 1-length victory over graded stakes winner Royal Charlotte, while recording a 90 Beyer.
Jockey Manny Franco will pilot Honey I’m Good from post 7.
Gainesway Stables and Andrew Rosen’s Lady Ninja will make her New York debut, as well as her first start for the stable of Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey.
Like Saguaro Row, the dark bay or brown daughter of Majesticperfection has not raced since February 15, where she was fourth beaten 6 lengths in the Santa Monica (G2) at Santa Anita for former trainer Richard Baltas.
Lady Ninja put together a consistent campaign in 2019, with an 8-4-1-2 record that included a nose win in the L.A. Woman (G3) last October at Santa Anita en route to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), where she finished a distant eighth in her lone off-the-board effort last year.
With a record of 8-5-4 through 25 lifetime starts, Lady Ninja boasts a bankroll of $359,505.
Lady Ninja will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from post 1.
Rounding out the field are Bridlewood Cat (post 3, Junior Alvarado), Pacific Gale (post 4, John Velazquez), and Hey Mamaluke (post 6, Dylan Davis).
The Garland of Roses is slated as Race 7 on Aqueduct’s 9-race program, which offers a first post of 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
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