By Matt Shifman
While the Breeders’ Cup is taking the main stage at Churchill Downs, opening weekend at Aqueduct will feature four graded stakes races.
On Friday, the $200,000 Bold Ruler (G3), which was held over from Belmont Park when racing was cancelled, will go as race 7 and the $150,000 Tempted (G3) is the race 9 feature. On Saturday, the $150,000 Turnback The Alarm (G3) is set for race 9. On Sunday, the $200,000 Nashua (G3) for 2-year-olds will be run as a one-turn mile.
The Bold Ruler has a field of seven which includes True Timber and Petrov. Both are now 4-year-olds that we remember from the 2017 Kentucky Derby trail. The 7-5 morning line favorite is Coal Front, who is coming into the race from a 13-month hiatus. The Todd Pletcher trainee won four of five career starts and was last seen in the winner’s circle of the Gallant Bob (G3) at Parx Racing in September of 2017.
The one mile Tempted for 2-year-old fillies drew a field of 10 with Brucia La Terra named as the 2-1 morning line favorite off her second-place finish in the Frizette (G1) behind Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies contender Jaywalk.
Kiaran McLaughlin sends the 7-2 second choice Enliven into the race. “She’s always done everything right and trained very well. We were disappointed with her first start, but she ran huge last time. It’s a big step up to a graded stakes but she’s doing very well,” said McLaughlin.
In Saturday’s Turnback The Alarm, which also drew a field of seven, the Divine Miss Grey is the likely favorite based on her second-place finish in the Beldame (G1). “She still fights to hit the board and she’s a real, true competitor,” trainer Danny Gargan said. “She’s done spectacular. Ten wins out of 21 for a 4-year-old is [impressive]. She’s been nothing but great for us and is a lot of fun to be around. She’s tough to train because she’s real aggressive, but she’s done real good, so hopefully this is the right spot to run her in.”
Sunday’s Nashua is headed by the promising Chad Brown trained 2-year-old U S Navy Cross. The son of Curlin, who was a $550,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, was an impressive debut winner at Belmont Park on September 29.
“He’s doing well,” said Brown. “We’re looking to get him more out in distance. A mile here and even further beyond after that. He’s bred for it and has been training really well for this race.”
The 23-day Aqueduct fall meeting, which runs from November 2 through Sunday, December 2, offers a total of 29 stakes events worth more than $5 million in purse money. Gates open Friday at 11 a.m. with first post time at 12:15 p.m.