04/05/2013 2:58PM

Aqueduct: Integrity, Now and Then meet Sunday in Fit to Fight Stakes

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Bob Coglianese
Integrity has shown speed in both of his starts and makes his stakes debut in Sunday's Fit to Fight.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The stakes action for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct isn’t confined to Saturday’s Wood Memorial and Bay Shore.

On Sunday, five 3-year-olds will attempt to convince their trainers to try bigger and better things down the road when they contest a one-turn mile in the $75,000 Fit to Fight Stakes.

Chad Brown and Kiaran McLaughlin, who both had runners in the $1 million Wood Memorial, send out the likely top two choices in Integrity and Now and Then.

Integrity, a son of Hard Spun, has shown good early speed in his first two starts at Gulfstream Park, a maiden win going six furlongs and a second-place finish in a first-level allowance race at seven-eighths.

Brown said he’s been surprised by how much speed Integrity displayed in his first two starts.

“He doesn’t train like a horse that wants to run that way,” Brown said. “He doesn’t train like a speedball. I think he’ll appreciate an easier pace going longer.”

Brown said that in one-turn races at Gulfstream, it’s preferable to be forwardly placed, “but he’s not one where you go as fast as you can as far as you can.”

On Sunday, Integrity will break from post 5 under Rajiv Maragh.

[WOOD MEMORIAL: Get Aqueduct PPs, watch video previews]

In the last month, McLaughlin’s 3-year-olds have come to life, led by Elnaawi, Maleeh, and Transparent.

Now and Then, also trained by McLaughlin, was a debut winner in January sprinting before finishing third in a four-horse first-level allowance race going two turns March 7.

“Two nice horses finished ahead of him,” McLaughlin said. “We ran very well, and it was a very fast race on numbers. Maybe our horse had a little inexperience going two turns; no complaints.”

Junior Alvarado rides Now and Then from the rail.

Battier, a son of Tale of the Cat, reeled off three consecutive wins at Parx before finishing second to Wood candidate Mr Palmer in the $150,000 Private Terms at Laurel.

“The horse is very good right now,” said trainer Pablo Andrade. “I have a good chance.”

The Smarty Jones connections – Someday Farm, John Servis, and Stewart Elliott – will have Res Judicata, who drops in class after finishing eighth in the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream. Prior to the Swale, Red Judicata won a Pennsylvania-bred stakes at Parx last November and was second in another Pennsylvania-bred stakes in December.

Vegas No Show, the winner of the Dover Stakes at Delaware Park for trainer Kelly Breen, returns to Aqueduct, where he finished second to Violence in the Grade 2 Nashua on Nov. 4.