by Mary Eddy
Barry Schwartz’s homebred Stonewall Star will look to notch her second stakes victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Franklin Square, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for New York-bred sophomore fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Horacio De Paz, the daughter of Flatter will return to state-bred company after a game third-place finish in the seven-furlong Gin Talking on December 30 at Laurel Park. There, she led the field of seven through honest fractions before losing the advantage down the stretch and finishing 1 3/4 lengths in arrears of the victorious Malibu Moonshine. That effort, which was her first against open company, came on the heels of her first stakes victory in the Key Cents on November 20 sprinting six furlongs here.
“She ran very well,” said De Paz. “I think it’s possible she could be a little limited in distance, but still, it was a very nice effort. She was going against open company, so I’m no discouraged by it at all. She’s doing good. I think the cutback will be to her liking.”
Stonewall Star has made steady progress since finishing second on debut in September at Saratoga Race Course. The bay filly graduated in dominant fashion at second asking in September at Belmont at the Big A, leading at every point of call in a six-furlong state-bred maiden sprint to score the victory by 4 1/2 lengths. She followed with a gutsy third-place effort when facing male rivals in the New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes Racetrack, where she finished one length behind the victorious Acoustic Ave and close runner-up Andiamo a Firenze.
“She’s come along very nice,” said De Paz. “I thought she would need her first race and after that one, she’s really moved forward nicely in all of her races. She’s been holding good form after each race. I think she’s a talented filly.”
Stonewall Star, who has hit the board in all five of her career outings, made her final preparations on Saturday over the Belmont dirt training track, breezing a half-mile in 50 seconds flat. Kendrick Carmouche will ride for the first time from post 7.
WellSpring Stables’ Security Code [post 6, Jose Gomez] is in search of her first stakes triumph on the heels of an even fourth-place effort behind fellow Franklin Square aspirant Banterra in a December 4 state-bred optional claimer going six furlongs at the Big A.
Trained by Phil Serpe, the daughter of Frosted rallied from last-of-6 after a slow start and three-wide trip to be defeated 6 3/4 lengths. She has made three outings at stakes level, her best finish a third behind Stonewall Star in the Key Cents after swinging five-wide and making a mild bid. Her lone win came with a second-out graduation sprinting six furlongs against state-breds in September at Saratoga.
Bred by Rockridge Stud, Ascendant Farms and Godolphin, Security Code is out of the graded stakes-placed Montbrook mare Stopspendingmaria, who also produced the stakes-placed nine-time winner Blewitt.
Jan Durrschmidt’s homebred Little Linzee arrives from a closing third-place effort to earn her first stakes placing in the NYSSS Fifth Avenue on December 17 here. Trained by Domenick Schettino, the Honorable Dillon grey rallied from ninth-of-10 under Katie Davis to vie for the lead at the top of the stretch but was outkicked and defeated three lengths by the victorious Les Bon Temps.
The Fifth Avenue was the best stakes effort yet from Little Linzee, who was previously well-beaten in the state-bred Maid of the Mist and the Grade 3 Matron over the grass, both efforts coming in October here. She is in search of her first main track victory after breaking her maiden by a nose on the grass in July at Saratoga. That effort garnered a field-best 79 Beyer Speed Figure.
Katie Davis has the call again from post 4.
Debut maiden winner Starry Midnight [post 1, Jose Lezcano] will make her first start for trainer Linda Rice after being purchased privately by Lady Sheila Stable. The dark bay Connect filly won impressively in a 6 1/2-furlong November 26 state-bred maiden, rallying from 10 lengths off the pace and displaying an impressive turn of foot to score the victory by a head under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.
Starry Midnight, who was bred by Dr. James Randall McGlinn, breezed from the gate on Wednesday and covered a half-mile in 48.40 seconds, the fastest of 66 works that day.
Completing the field are Queens Masterpiece [post 2, Eric Cancel], Lockbox [post 3, Jackie Davis] and Banterra [post 5, Dylan Davis].
The Franklin Square is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
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