02/08/2012 5:17PM

Aqueduct: Hardened Wildcat gets a stakes audition


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – There is a lull in the 3-year-old New York stakes program between now and March 4, but a few 3-year-olds whose connections might have designs on stakes down the road are set to meet in Friday’s $62,000 allowance feature at Aqueduct.

Five 3-year-olds will run in a first-level allowance race at six furlongs that could be a stepping-stone to a race like the $100,000 Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes here March 10.

Based on his solid 3 1/4-length maiden win here Jan. 14, Hardened Wildcat will likely go favored Friday. Hardened Wildcat debuted Dec. 3 and finished a disappointing fifth as the 2-1 favorite in a nine-horse field.

Cherie DeVaux, the New York-based assistant for trainer Chad Brown, said Hardened Wildcat didn’t have the best of trips first-time out and seemed to benefit mentally from having a race under his belt.

“He definitely matured from his first start to his second start,” DeVaux said. “He’s doing really well and has been training great.”

DeVaux felt that Hardened Wildcat may have been compromised by having an outside post, which led to a wide trip in his debut. Hardened Wildcat has the outside again Friday, but there are only five runners in the field.

“It’s a small field, he has more experience, and he’ll be able to handle it a little better,” DeVaux said.

Whistleblower, who defeated Hardened Wildcat in that Dec. 3 race, was stretched out around two turns in the Count Fleet and finished sixth behind Alpha. He cuts back to six furlongs and gets a rider switch from Ariel Smith to Ramon Dominguez.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sends out McKinley Square, who won a maiden race by a neck Dec. 17 and was scratched out of the Jimmy Winkfield on Jan. 16. McKinley Square won his maiden race when put on Lasix for the first time. Mike Luzzi rides.

Copy My Swagger is the only two-time winner in the field. He won a $25,000 claimer at Belmont on Oct. 28 and was taken out of that race by David Jacobson. Copy My Swagger has a win and a second in starter allowance company. He has not run since Dec. 9, however. David Cohen rides from the rail.

Perfect Trippi, third in this allowance condition Dec. 18, completes the field. The Dale Romans-trained son of Trippi fired a bullet five-furlong move in 59 seconds over Belmont’s training track Jan. 29.