11/22/2012 2:07PM

Aqueduct: McLaughlin hopes fortunes turn in Gazelle


B y David Grening

OZONE PARK, N.Y. − Remember that amazing Saratoga meet trainer Kiaran McLaughlin enjoyed, winning five graded stakes, including Grade 1 staples such as the Alabama, Coaching Club American Oaks, Travers, and Forego?

Well, seasons change as do fortunes, and that sensational summer has given way to an awful autumn for McLaughlin’s stable. Since sweeping the early daily double at Belmont on Sept. 23, McLaughlin has one win from his last 49 starters entering Saturday’s card at Aqueduct.

If the streak − which includes an 0-for-14 at Aqueduct − doesn’t end earlier on Saturday’s card with the maiden Transparent (race 2) or Irsaal in the Grade 2 Remsen, perhaps it will with Dance Card in the $350,000 Gazelle Stakes, the final Grade 1 race to be run on the NYRA circuit this year.

Dance Card, a daughter of Tapit, seeks her fourth consecutive victory in the Gazelle, where she will meet six runners including stakes winners Book Review, My Wandy’s Girl, Wildcat’s Smile and Lady Cohiba.

After losing her debut to Book Review in May, Dance Card has reeled off three consecutive victories including a 7 1/2-length romp in the Belle Cherie Stakes on Sept. 23 at Belmont.

Dance Card drifted out in the stretch of her last two starts, but she was well clear, so it didn’t matter.

“We’re not too concerned about that,” McLaughlin said. “We’re not sure what happened, but she’s worked four times since and hasn’t drifted one path. But you worry a little bit because she did it in her races. But she’s a top filly, doing great, worked well [Monday]. We expect her to run very well.”

Dance Card, who will race under Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stable after running previously under his Darley banner, breaks from post 2 under Dominguez.

Dominguez committed to ride Dance Card before he rode My Wandy’s Girl to victory in the Pentelis Stakes here Nov. 15. That win was the 14th in 18 career starts for My Wandy’s Girl, who had done all of her running in Puerto Rico before coming to Mike Hushion in the summer.

Hushion said he was using the Pentelis as a prep for the Gazelle. Hushion said Pentelis, who won twice at 1 1/8 miles in Puerto Rico, walked three days after the Pentelis and galloped each day thereafter.

“She’ll probably be a little bit sharp,” he said. “I wouldn’t think she’d be very far off it.”

Since running second to multiple Grade 1 winner Questing in a June allowance race at Belmont, Book Review has won 3 of 4 starts, including the Charles Town Oaks and the Imperial Gesture, an overnight stakes at Belmont. The Imperial, at 1 1/16 miles, was Book Review’s first start beyond a mile and she handled it well despite drifting out somewhat late.

“Early on in her career, she trained like she might be a one-turn, speedier-type horse,” said trainer Chad Brown, who won last year’s Gazelle with Awesome Feather. “As she’s matured, she’s changed a bit in her training and it gave us some confidence to try her long. She did run two turns [going] seven-eighths at Charles Town and I was encouraged to see her get 1 1/16 miles, albeit it was one turn, but I thought she did it the right way.”

Lady Cohiba won a two-turn, 1 1/8-mile overnight stakes at Saratoga before running third behind Dance Card and second behind Book Review.

Wildcat’s Smile suffered a brutal nose defeat in last year’s Demoiselle here. Jemima’s Pearl, second in the Remington Park Oaks, and Sea Island, a nose loser in a turf stakes, complete the field.