For the second consecutive week at Aqueduct, a homebred racing for Joe Allen and trained by Shug McGaughey began fulfilling their early promise when Mrs. Danvers scored a wire-to-wire victory in the $100,000 Comely Stakes (G3) on Friday.
Out of a half-sister to North Dakota, who scored an upset for Allen and McGaughey in last Saturday’s Red Smith (G3), as well as prominent sire War Front, Mrs. Danvers had won just twice from seven previous outings and had finished last in her only prior stakes attempt in the Test (G1) back in August.
The 1 1/8-mile Comely for 3-year-old fillies marked Mrs. Danvers’ first attempt around two turns and, as was the case with North Dakota, it appears the farther the better for the gray filly.
“We were anxious to get her stretched out. It’s just been kind of difficult to do so,” McGaughey said. “I think this is naturally what she wants to do is run this far.”
When 2-1 favorite and expected speed Gale stumbled at the start, jockey Jose Lezcano was quick to send Mrs. Danvers to the front. Eventually turning back in-race challenges from Project Whiskey and Gale, Mrs. Danvers proved to have a lot left for the final quarter-mile and drew off impressively to dominate by 6 1/4 lengths.
The third choice in a field of eight, Mrs. Danvers paid $9.50 after covering one lap of the fast Aqueduct strip in 1:50.09. Ice Princess finished second, four lengths ahead of Thankful. Completing the order of finish were Toned Up, Gale, Black-Eyed Susan (G2) winner Miss Marissa, Project Whiskey, and My Sweet Wife.
A maiden winner at Saratoga in the second start of her career in August 2019, Mrs. Danvers did not reappear until June 20. Her dull try in the Test was interspersed among three second-place finishes in entry-level allowances, including a head loss to Thankful in late September, but the Tapit filly rebounded last out to win by a neck going a mile at Belmont. Her record now stands at 8-3-3-1, $211,800.
Also on Friday, trainer Christophe Clement captured two undercard grass stakes when City Man won a head-bob over Bodecream in the $100,000 Gio Ponti Stakes for 3-year-olds while Feel Glorious rallied in the $100,000 Forever Together Stakes for fillies and mares. Both City Man and Feel Glorious are owned in partnerships headed by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and were ridden by Junior Alvarado.
City Man prevailed by a nose in a time of 1:44.88 for 1 1/16 miles on good ground. He paid $10.40 in what was his first open stakes victory. Last season, the son of Mucho Macho Man had captured the Funny Cide S. for New York-breds at Saratoga over the main track.
The Forever Together was the fourth career stakes win for the Grade 2-placed Feel Glorious, a 4-year-old daughter of Bated Breath who covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.77 and paid $9.80 after beating the heavily favored Tapit Today by three parts of a length.
Feel Glorious is now 3-for-3 over the Aqueduct turf having previously captured the 2019 editions of the Memories of Silver S. and Winter Memories S. over the same course. She also registered a victory in the Perfect Sting S. at Saratoga this past August.