12/29/2011 4:26PM

Aqueduct: Speightscity pointing to Count Fleet


OZONE PARK, N.Y. − With disappointing efforts in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Remsen, Speightscity proved he wasn’t as good as he looked winning a maiden race by 11 1/2 lengths at Saratoga. By winning a first-level allowance race here by nearly two lengths Dec. 15, Speightscity hopefully proved he wasn’t as bad as he looked in his two graded stakes attempts.

How talented is Speightscity remains a question even to his trainer, Gary Contessa, who hopes to find out more when he runs the colt in the $150,000 Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 7. The Count Fleet is the first stakes race of 2012 in New York for 3-year-olds and a race that received a purse boost from $65,000 in 2011.

“One thing this horse has never told us is exactly what he is,” Contessa said Thursday after Speightscity worked five furlongs in 1:01.90 in company with the maiden Scrap Dragon. “Is he a big-time horse or is he a horse that trains really well and is a lesser horse?”

Speightscity, a son of Speightstown, won a 1 1/8-mile maiden race by 11 1/2 lengths in his second career start at Saratoga. He was entered in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont but was scratched because of a foot injury suffered a couple of days before the race.

Speightscity ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where, under Corey Nakatani, he chased the pace-setting Hansen early before backing up to ninth, beaten 11 1/2 lengths by Hansen.

“I don’t think he was per se a short horse in the Breeders’ Cup, I think the complexion of the race didn’t suit him,” Contessa said. “He wound up in a position where he was chasing, and that’s not what I wanted. It was maybe a miscommunication between myself and Nakatani. I said there’s only one speed in here. If that horse stumbles or gets left and he’s not going, then go. But that horse went. My feeling would have been to grab him and take back. Nakatani decided to let him out a little bit, and it probably cost him a little. It’s not exactly what I wanted, but racing is not perfect.”

Contessa ran Speightscity back in the Remsen at Aqueduct on Nov. 26, when he finished eighth to O’Prado Again. Contessa said his horse came out of that race “full of mucus.”

Still, Speightscity was able to come back in three weeks and win a first-level allowance by 1 3/4 lengths Dec. 15. Contessa said he wished the Count Fleet was a few weeks later on the schedule, but since he wants to run Speightscity in the Grade 2, $200,000 Withers on Feb. 4, Contessa wanted to prep him in this spot.

There were 26 soon-to-be 3-year-olds nominated to the Count Fleet, run at a mile and 70 yards. Among those expected to run are Champagne runner-up Alpha, Pilgrim Stakes winner Shkspeare Shaliyah, two-time winner How Do I Win, and Stephanoatsee.

Nicole H to defend Interborough crown

Nicole H, whose two wins over the inner track last winter included a 2 1/2-length victory in the Interborough Stakes, is back to defend her crown when the Interborough is run for the 91st time Sunday.

Nicole H, who also won the Garland of Roses over the inner and the Grade 2 Distaff over the main track, comes off a nose loss to It’s Me Mom in the Robert O’Malley Stakes at Suffolk on Oct. 22. She drew post 4 and will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, who was aboard for her Interborough victory a year ago.

Nicole H, who is a stalker, has landed in a six-horse field seemingly full of early speed, including Winning Image, Bold Affair, Don’tgetsuspicious, and Isn’t She Grand. Aquitania, who has won four consecutive races, is the only other closer in the field.

The Interborough will go as race 6 on Sunday’s card.

CC’s Pal tops Ladies

C C’s Pal, who won the six-furlong Garland of Roses on Dec. 3, will stretch out to 1 1/8 miles in Sunday’s $75,000 Ladies Stakes. The Ladies will go as race 3.

The Ladies drew a field of six, including Bahama Bound, who will be the first New York starter for Parx-based trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero. Guerrero was recently charged with indecent assault without consent of a Parx Racing employee, and it was announced that he would be barred from Parx for 10 years. However, Guerrero, that track’s leading trainer, has run horses at Parx since the ban was announced, and NYRA officials said as long as Pennsylvania authorities have not suspended his license, he will be able to run horses in New York as well.

Others entered in the Ladies include Karmageddon, One Last Dance, Fools in Love, and Katy Now.

◗ Aqueduct will be open for live racing Monday but will be dark Tuesday and Wednesday next week.