12/07/2012 3:15PM

Aqueduct: Notacatbutallama getting dirt test in Damon Runyon

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Barbara D. Livingston
Notacatbutallama, a son of Harlan’s Holiday owned by Mike Repole, has won 3 of 6 starts.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Notacatbutallama has already proven to be quite adept on turf. But as is the case with virtually every soon-to-be 3-year-old with talent, his connections want to see how he will handle dirt.

So, even though trainer Todd Pletcher has a full arsenal of talented dirt horses to point down the Triple Crown trail, Notacatbutallama will get his chance to play in the dirt in Sunday’s $80,000 Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct.

The Damon Runyon, restricted to New York-bred juvenile males, is one of four stakes on Sunday’s nine-race card. Sunday is the closing day for the main track. The inner track opens on Wednesday.

Notacatbutallama, a son of Harlan’s Holiday owned by Mike Repole, has won 3 of 6 starts, including the Incurable Optimist at Belmont and the Super Mario at Aqueduct, the Super Mario just two weeks ago.

“He trained okay on the dirt for us earlier in the summer, but when we put him on the turf we saw some improvement,” Pletcher said. “He’s matured a little bit physically. We’ve seen improvement in his dirt works. We need to find out what his program for the winter is – find out how he handles the dirt to know that.”

Rajiv Maragh will ride Notacatbutallama from post 8 in the one-turn mile Damon Runyon.

While Notacatbutallama will be trying to prove himself on the dirt, the majority of his eight rivals will be trying to prove themselves at a distance of ground.

Six of the nine horses in the field have not won beyond six furlongs. Meeker Avenue, a son of Read the Footnotes, is 2 for 2 for trainer Dominick Schettino, including a division of the New York Stallion Stakes.

Both of those races were at six furlongs, but Schettino believes his horse will get the mile.

“I think he’ll be fine,” Schettino said. “I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”

Schettino noted that Meeker Avenue has been working in company with the 2-year-old debut winner Always in a Tiz, who is scheduled to run in the $75,000 Traskwood Stakes at seven furlongs earlier on Sunday’s card.

Other contenders in the Damon Runyon include Giant Finish, a debut winner for trainer Tony Dutrow, and In Harm’s Way, a son of Hook and Ladder, who did finish third in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and in the money in a pair of New York-bred sprint stakes. Trainer Mike Hushion adds blinkers to In Harm’s Way’s equipment, and jockey Edgar Prado is in from south Florida to ride.

Laila’s Jazz, Reaching Out, Lucci the Lion, Smooth Bert, and James Jingle complete the field.

Kelli Got Frosty tops East View

Kelli Got Frosty, who won a division of the New York Stallion Stakes gong six furlongs here on Nov. 11, heads a field of seven statebred juvenile fillies ready to contest a mile in the East View Stakes.

Kelli Got Frosty proved herself capable of getting a distance of ground when she won an off-the-turf maiden race at 1 1/16 miles in the mud at Belmont on Oct. 4.

Since then, she was third in the Joseph A. Gimma and won the New York Stallion Stakes.

Agilion, who finished a head in front of Kelli Got Frosty in the Joseph A. Gimma, looms the major threat. A late-running daughter of Lion Heart, she figures to get a decent pace in front of her. Junior Alvarado rides for trainer John Kimmel.

“She was closing going seven eighths and ran out of ground,” Kimmel said. “This should be a good distance for her.”

Bit Bustin wheels back one week after winning a maiden $50,000 claimer by 7 1/4 lengths for trainer Gary Contessa.