Pletcher expects Nonna Madeline to shine again

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Mar 31, 2018; Hallandale Beach, FL, USA; Trainer Todd Pletcher stands in the winners circle after a race during Florida Derby day at Gufstream Park. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Nonna Madeline “shows up every time” she gets to the racetrack and should do likewise in Saturday’s $100,000 Go for Wand Handicap at Aqueduct, says trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Grade 3 contest for fillies and mares aged three-years and up is part of a strong card headlined by the 32nd running of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.

Nonna Madeline celebrated a breakthrough success in stakes company this summer when she landed the Summer Colony over a mile-and-one-furlong at Saratoga.

The four-year-old daughter of Candy Ride has amassed $275,128 in career earnings already and could top that up considerably with a big showing this weekend.

She was unplaced in the Grade 3 Shuvee at the Spa in August but quickly bounced backed to win in the Lady’s Secret at Aqueduct early last month, fending off Royal Flag over a half-furlong longer distance that she’s going to meet now.

On her most recent start, Nonna Madeline posted third in the nine-furlong Turnback the Alarm (G3), as old rival Royal Flag turned the tables.

That rival won’t be at Aqueduct on Saturday as Pletcher’s filly drops to the bare mile to face five rivals.

“She shows up every time and runs hard every time, so I wouldn’t expect her to do any different this time,” said Pletcher. “It will be interesting backing her up from a mile and an eighth to a mile. She should appreciate that as well.”

Pletcher will also saddle Graceful Princess, fifth in the aforementioned Turnback the Alarm last time out. John Velazquez partners Nonna Madeline (gate one) while Joel Rosario takes the reins on Graceful Princess from the wide gate in six.

Meanwhile, trainer Horacio DePaz saddles the New York-bred Sharp Starr, victorious by more than 15 lengths in a one-mile state-bred allowance at Aqueduct recently.

“She was entered the Friday that racing was cancelled back in March and she was the favourite that day,” said DePaz.

“We had that little break with no racing and when we brought her back, she just needed to run. We ran her three-quarters first time back and we knew that probably wouldn’t be to her liking but she would benefit from the experience. It ended up working out when we stretched her out to a mile and she won pretty convincingly.”

Completing the field will be Portal Creek for trainer Randy Matthews, Overheated for Raymond Handal and the Rob Atras-trained Stand For The Flag in the latest edition of the Go For Wand Handicap.

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