04/13/2011 3:48PM

Aqueduct: Qualia tries to gain elusive first graded stakes win in Distaff

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Qualia will make her first start of the season in Saturday's Distaff Handicap.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – At this time last year, Qualia had won three of four career starts and looked poised to win a graded stakes race. Fast forward a year and Qualia has won just one more race and remains in search of that elusive stakes victory, something she will attempt to remedy in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct.

Only five fillies and mares were entered for the Distaff, perhaps because of all the races being run for filly and mare sprinters in 48 hours – including Thursday’s $300,000 Vinery Madison at Keeneland and Saturday night’s $250,000 Sugar Maple at Charles Town – at seven furlongs.

The Distaff will be Qualia’s first start of the year, and first since she finished third, beaten two lengths in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap last Nov. 26 at Aqueduct. Trainer Robert Ribaudo had hoped to run Qualia in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint three weeks earlier, but Qualia was excluded from the race due to lack of earnings.

Qualia, a daughter of Saarland, last won a race on May 28 when she took a third-level allowance race at Belmont. Following that race, she was beaten a head by Rightly So in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses on July 5. Qualia needed a shoe repair and then had her saddle slip when finishing last in the Grade 1 Ballerina before she ran fourth in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom.

Qualia wintered in south Florida, but was not ready to run in any of the three graded stakes for filly and mare sprinters at the Gulfstream meet.

“By running in the Top Flight it gave her less time off and the odds of running in Florida grew less,’’ Ribaudo said Wednesday, after Qualia arrived from south Florida by van. “This became the first spot back that really made sense.’’

Ribaudo said that he would have preferred to have brought her back in a race at 6 1/2 furlongs, but said he did not want to wait until the Vagrancy at Belmont on June 4.

With regular riders Rajiv Maragh and Javier Castellano out of town this weekend, Alex Solis will ride Qualia.

The rest of the Distaff lineup consists of Top Flight Handicap winner Spacy Tracy (Jeremy Rose), Kid Kate (Cornelio Velasquez), Nicole H (Channing Hill), and Wild News (C.C. Lopez).

Hushion contemplates next move with Bold Deed

Trainer Mike Hushion said he believes his New York-bred 3-year-old Bold Deed is a horse who will enjoy stretching out in distance. However, Hushion realizes in order to do that Bold Deed will have to be a little kinder earlier in his races.

On Sunday, Bold Deed won the $60,000 Packett’s Landing Stakes by a neck over Tap Attack. Racing on the lead, Bold Deed ran fractions of 22.84 seconds, 45.38, and went six furlongs in 1:09.41. He covered the mile in 1:35.76.

“Hopefully we can settle him down,’’ Hushion said. "We always felt the edge we had with him was a mile and an eighth would be better for him. He’s not going to be able to go 22, 45, and be able to do that.’’

Hushion is not sure where and Bold Deed would make his next start.

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