11/10/2017 12:50PM

Baker holds strong hand for New York Stallion Stakes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Bee Noteworthy, trained by James Bond, has improved markedly in the past year and earned her way into stakes company.

Charlton Baker has the numbers on his side in the $125,000 Staten Island division of the New York Stallion Stakes on Sunday at Aqueduct. His two entrants have the highest Beyer Speed Figures in the seven-horse field.

But is the race that simple?

Baker has Bluegrass Jamboree and Riot Worthy in the seven-furlong race for fillies and mares. Bluegrass Jamboree earned a 92 Beyer for a statebred second-level optional-claiming win Oct. 20 at Belmont Park. The figure is the best anyone in the seven-horse field has recently recorded.

“She is a model of consistency,” Baker said. “She loves those big turns at Belmont. She liked to run on the turns.”

Riot Worthy returned from a 15-week layoff to finish second in an open second-level optional claimer Oct. 25 at Belmont. Her 87 Beyer is the second-best recent figure.

“I was concerned if I had her fit enough for that race, and she flattened out a little late,” Baker said. “I am taking a chance bringing her back a little early, but she is doing great. The race suits her. It’s her distance.”

While the move from Belmont to Aqueduct may not work in Bluegrass Jamboree’s favor, and the quick turnaround is not perfect for Riot Worthy, Baker certainly has a strong hand.

While their numbers are lower, Wonderment and Bee Noteworthy ran well in the Arctic Queen Stakes at Finger Lakes last month, with Wonderment winning a head bob. They do not figure to lay down here.

Wonderment, trained by Ken McPeek, got the jump on Bee Noteworthy in the Arctic Queen and then held her off to win by a nose when hooked late. She has since finished fourth against tougher rivals in the Iroquois on New York Showcase Day.

Bee Noteworthy has improved markedly in the past year and has earned her way to this level. Trainer James Bond ran her for a $16,000 claiming tag in August 2016 and then sent her to Finger Lakes for three allowance starts last fall. She won three of those four races.

“She’s one of those fillies that probably was not cut out to make it as a racehorse, but she just throws her heart out there and chases it,” Bond said. “You just gotta love her. She shows up every time.”

Bee Noteworthy has two statebred wins this year. She won a first-level allowance over the Aqueduct inner track and a second-level optional claimer over the main track. The Arctic Queen was her first start in four months.

“She’s doing awesome, and this looks like a good spot for her,” Bond said. “It’s the distance she needs. It looks like there’s a lot of speed up front.”

Bond is not the only one who respects how hard Bee Noteworthy tries. Rajiv Maragh will be riding her for the seventh consecutive race.

“Rajiv just loves her,” Bond said. “He went up to Finger Lakes on a Monday to ride her, and that says a lot.”

The Arctic Queen was Maragh’s second career mount at Finger Lakes and his first since 2013.