Over the long run, two turns have agreed with Miss Marissa. That was evident when she held on by a neck over the heavily favored Bonny South in last month’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2), a 10-1 upset that marked the gray’s third consecutive victory over a route of ground.
On Friday, Miss Marissa will look to make it two graded wins in a row, and atone for the worst loss of her career over the same track and distance, in the $100,000 Comely Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct over 1 1/8 miles.
The three race win streak, which includes allowance scores at Saratoga and Monmouth, have stood in marked contrast to Miss Marissa’s earliest two-turn try on dirt, a last-place finish in the 2019 Demoiselle (G2) in which she folded in the final quarter-mile.
“Early on, we thought she’d stretch out,” trainer Jim Ryerson said. “She really likes the two-turn pace scenario. I think it’s just getting that stretch out and the two turns, her efforts have been much better.
“We’re very pleased with how she’s training. We gave her a little blowout before this and she’s done well since the Black-Eyed Susan and we’re looking forward to it.”
Thankful appears a serious threat making her stakes debut for Todd Pletcher. An easy maiden winner over 9 furlongs at Saratoga two back, the American Pharoah filly returned to edge Mrs. Danvers by a head in a Belmont Park allowance when shortening up to a mile. Mrs. Danvers, a daughter of Tapit, flattered the form with her own photo-finish allowance tally at Belmont in late October.
“She’s kind of a frustrating filly so far. She’s got more ability than she’s given me,” said trainer Shug McGaughey of Mrs. Danvers, who tries two turns for the first time.
Also stretching out for the first time on the main track is My Sweet Wife, who’s won two off-the-turf overnight events at 7 furlongs this fall. Project Whiskey won the Delaware Oaks (G3) and placed in the Monmouth Oaks (G3) over the summer, but was humbled in the Black-Eyed Susan last time.
Forever Together Stakes
The $100,000 Forever Together Stakes, a competitive 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares on the inner turf, is headlined by recent Athenia (G3) winner Tapit Today and multiple stakes winner Feel Glorious, who’s won both previous stakes attempts over the Aqueduct turf.
Gio Ponti Stakes
The field for the $100,000 Gio Ponti Stakes, also at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf but for 3-year-olds, includes Grade 3 veteran Fighting Seabee, last of 14 but beaten less than four lengths in the Bryan Station S. on Breeders’ Cup weekend at Keeneland, and Bodecream, third in the Hill Prince (G3) and Saranac (G3) in his last two.
“He actually ran a good race that day but had some traffic trouble,” said trainer Kenny McPeek of Fighting Seabee’s effort in the Bryan Station.