12/9/16 By Bob Ehalt
The inner track is now open at Aqueduct, bringing with it the official start of winter for New York racing.
You can say goodbye to seven furlong and one-turn mile races as sprints will top out at six furlongs, including Saturday’s featured race at the Big A, the $125,000 Garland of Roses for fillies and mares.
The six-furlong test attracted a field of seven, headed by an odds-on favorite who was competitive in Grade 1 stakes at the Breeders’ Cup and in the seemingly long-ago days of Saratoga.
Paulassilverlining was last seen finishing third behind Finest City in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita, largely explaining why she was pegged as a huge 2-5 favorite in the morning line.
Before that, she won the Grade 2 Prioress at Belmont and was a close fifth in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga.
A repeat of any of those efforts should put her in the winner’s circle on Saturday.
Trained by Michelle Nevin and owned by Vincent Scuderi, the 4-year-old Paulassilverlining has won four of eight starts this year while earning $605,000.
The main competition could come from Kelsocait (6-1), a 3-year-old filly coming off a disastrous stakes debut.
In the Safely Kept at Laurel, Kelsocait stumbled at the start of the seven-furlong stakes but was still rushed up to battle for the lead and paid a steep price. Second after the opening quarter-mile, she steadily faded after that and wound up 13th and last, some 51 lengths behind the winner.
Since that Nov. 19 fiasco, Kelsocait has put in a pair of bullet works and figure to be the pacesetter from the rail.
The other main threats in the field include Disco Chick (8-1) and Black Mission Fig (10-1).
Back in September, Black Mission Fig beat Disco Chick by 3 ¼ lengths in a $100,000 stakes at Parx, then was second in an allowance race in her most recent start.
Disco Chick is coming off a third behind the fleet Stonetastic in the Pumkin Pie at Belmont. Prior to that she was third in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga, the same race in which Paulassilverlining finished second.
Unfortunately, she finished 12 lengths behind Saturday’s odds-on choice.
The rest of the field includes My Savannah Belle (15-1), Old Valyria (20-1) and Callista (12-1).
Sunday’s card at Aqueduct features the $100,000 Bay Ridge Stakes for fillies and mares bred in New York State at mile and a sixth.