03/09/2011 2:37PM

Aqueduct: Unbeaten fillies try two turns in Proud Puppy


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Ava K. and Midnight Visit both have won their first two starts impressively and will now test each other when they meet in Friday’s $60,000 Proud Puppy Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct.

The Proud Puppy, a mile-and-70-yard race which also drew stakes winner Queen’s Harbor and three others, will be the first race around two turns for Ava K. and Midnight Visit.

Ava K., trained by Mike Hushion, won her career debut by 10 1/4 lengths on Jan. 9, living up to her 4-5 odds in a 10-horse field. She came back five weeks later to win a restricted first-level allowance by 2 1/2 lengths. In both starts, Ava K. was geared down by her rider in the final 100 yards, giving Hushion some confidence she will stretch out.

“I don’t know if her pedigree says that’s her game, but she’s trained like she’d go on,’’ Hushion said. “Her gallops out have been strong, she’s had horse left when she ran.’’

Ava K. is by Dixie Union out of the mare Bedside Manner, whom Hushion also trained. In 2000, Bedside Manner successfully stretched out from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles in her third career start and actually was 3 for 3 around two turns. If forecasted heavy rains leave the track wet on Friday, Ava. K might be equipped to handle it. Bedside Manner won a first-level allowance in the mud by 12 1/4 lengths.

“She doesn’t act like a horse that needs to bring her track with her,’’ Hushion said.

Midnight Visit, trained by Todd Pletcher, is a daughter of the sprint specialist Henny Hughes. She won her debut over Aqueduct’s main track by 4 1/4 lengths, putting away two other rivals with whom she battled on the lead. Two months later, Midnight Visit stumbled at the start, slipped through an opening along the rail and won by 4 1/2 lengths while drifting out late.

Jonathan Thomas, Pletcher’s assistant, said he believes that Midnight Visit is a “rateable sort’’ who could stretch out, though the intention was to run her short one more time.

“We’re running a route of ground a little quicker than expected, but this is the race that went,’’ Thomas said.

Queen’s Harbor upset the East View Stakes in December at 26-1. She came back to run a disappointing fifth in the Busanda Stakes on Jan. 8. Breaking from the rail for the third straight race, Queen’s Harbor will likely be on the pace again.

All Quiet, Hot Danger, and Summer Flick complete the field.