Eight Fillies Seek Graded Victory in Comely Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 19th, 2018

Calling all three-year-old fillies! Friday’s $200,000 Comely Stakes (gr. III) might not be the most anticipated race on Thanksgiving week, but the nine-furlong event at Aqueduct does represent the penultimate opportunity for sophomore fillies to seek a graded stakes victory on dirt this year.

Suffice to say, someone is definitely going to benefit from this opportunity, because none of the eight entrants in the Comely have previously won at the graded stakes level. For one lucky filly, this race could wind up being the highlight of the season.

Favoritism could potentially fall to #4 Blamed, who won five straight races at Zia Park and Sunland Park last winter by a combined 30 ½ lengths. He win streak culminated with an easy victory in the Sunland Park Oaks, which would have led to a start in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) if she hadn’t suffered a hairline fracture in her right hind pastern less than a week before the race.

Fortunately, Blamed recovered quickly, and when she returned to action in the seven-furlong Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland she ran a huge race in defeat, carving out fast fractions on the front end before tiring only slightly to finish second behind the next-out Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) winner Shamrock Rose. The Comely Stakes will be her longest race to date, but the Bill Mott-trained daughter of Blame is clearly a classy filly with a lot of talent, and if she improves at all in her second start back from injury, her she’ll be difficult to beat.

#8 Remedy, has likewise shown talent at the graded stakes level, most recently finishing a game second in the Remington Park Oaks (gr. III) after setting the pace. Trained by Brad Cox, who is off to a sharp start at the current Aqueduct meet, Remedy will have the four-time Eclipse Award-winning rider Javier Castellano in the saddle for the first time as she steps up to the big leagues in New York.

#7 Indy Union has competed four times at the graded stakes level without cracking the trifecta, though the daughter of Union Rags ran arguably her best race to date when scoring an allowance victory at Belmont Park two months ago, which could be a sign that she’s heading in the right direction. #5 Stronger Than Ever has also faltered in her previous graded stakes attempts, though she did upset the accomplished Wonder Gadot in the Silverbulletday Stakes last winter, so on her best day she can be competitive against high-quality fillies.

#1 Split Time, a New York-bred filly with three stakes victories under her belt, boasts a 3-for-4 record at Aqueduct and could be dangerous while facing open company for just the second time in her career. #2 Hey Niki, runner-up in the Winter Melody Stakes against older mares at Delaware Park last month, is a lightly-raced but improving filly with a chance to contend as well. Rounding out the field are #3 War Cabinet, who tries dirt after five starts on turf, and #6 Alberobello, who finished eighth in the Remington Park Oaks.

The Comely Stakes is the ninth race of the day, with a post time of 3:50 p.m. Eastern.