02/09/2012 3:29PM

Aqueduct: Well Kept in fine spot in Dearly Precious


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Two months later, trainer Leah Gyarmati still can’t believe that Well Kept lost the Pandera Stakes to Dance to Bristol here on Dec. 7 in a race that epitomized the term “photo finish.”

“I didn’t [lose], I didn’t,” Gyarmati said Thursday morning with a smile. “That was crazy.”

After another runner-up finish to Agave Kiss in the Ruthless Stakes on Jan. 14, Well Kept looks poised to earn her first stakes victory Saturday when she takes on four rivals in the $75,000 Dearly Precious at Aqueduct. With only five runners, the race is carded as the fourth (1:45 p.m. Eastern) on a 10-race program.

In the Dearly Precious, Well Kept won’t have to face either Agave Kiss, who is awaiting next month’s Cicada, or Dance to Bristol, who won last weekend’s Marshua Stakes at Laurel Park. Her main competition figures to come from Singlet, who won The Xtra Heat Stakes here on Jan. 5, and Corderosa, who finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Well Kept when third in the Ruthless.

Well Kept, a daughter of Henny Hughes, has never finished worse than third in five career starts. She has the speed to be on the lead or sit just off it and doesn’t seem to fade even when she finds herself chasing a strong early pace.

“She’s shown that she’ll persevere. She’ll just keep trying hard all the way,” Gyarmati said. “If she ends up on the lead that would be fine, or if there was one or two in there for her to stalk that’s good too.”

Gyarmati, who has enjoyed an excellent winter meet with a 6-4-5 record from 29 starters, says Well Kept enters this race in good shape.

“It’s a little close back on paper,” Gyarmati said. “To look at her she’s eating great, she’s training great, she’s happy.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride Well Kept from post 3.Corderosa was a good-looking debut winner over the inner track on Dec. 10. She was off slowly in the Ruthless and finished third, 4 3/4 lengths behind Agave Kiss.

“It was a decent race,” trainer David Donk said. “She broke a little awkwardly, maybe lost a little position. I wasn’t going to beat the winner.”

Though Corderosa won her debut in front-running fashion from the rail, Donk knows his filly is going up against better competition on Saturday, when she again breaks from the rail.

“She was quick enough to win her maiden race,” Donk said. “She’s not quick enough to be on the lead against these. I don’t think it would hurt her any if there was a really fast pace.”

Singlet is 3 for 4 sprinting, including a six-length victory in the Xtra Heat over the inner track, a race from which the second- and third-place finishers came back to win. Maiden winners Lisa T. and Marvelous Margaret meet winners for the first time.