Updated on 09/16/2011 6:41AM

Balto Star makes season debut


JAMAICA, N.Y. - It has been 11 months since Balto Star ran on the inner track and won a first-level allowance race by 12 1/4 lengths, an effort that propelled the gelding to back-to-back wins in a pair of Grade 2's, the Spiral and Arkansas Derby.

Balto Star returns to the inner track, where he is 2 for 3, in Saturday's $100,000-added Aqueduct Handicap and carries a 118 pounds as the highweight in his 4-year-old debut. Balto Star, the likely favorite, meets seven rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Aqueduct, a Grade 3.

* ended his 2001 season with a second to Evening Attire, who is also entered in Saturday's race, in the Grade 3 Queens County on Dec. 1 on the main track. Balto Star, who usually sets the pace in his races, sat off the early leader, Top Official, in the 1 3/16-mile Queens County. Balto Star engaged Top Official around the turn and forged to a narrow advantage with a furlong remaining but was outfinished by Evening Attire, who won the race by 1 3/4 lengths.

Todd Pletcher, who trains Balto Star for Anstu Stables, said his gelding is probably at his best when he's the boss from the start.

"We let the [Queens County] unfold as it came up and let him run his race away from the gate," Pletcher said. "In retrospect, he's probably a little better when he is controlling the pace. He'll be a little more aggressive in this."

Richard Migliore has the return mount on Balto Star, who drew post 3.

Tempest Fugit and Unbridled Time could push Balto Star on the front end.

Evening Attire, who will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, would benefit from a snappy pace. The Queens County winner has enough tactical speed to get in a favorable position early and has a useful closing kick.

Trained by Pat Kelly, Evening Attire upset the Grade 3 Discovery on Oct. 31 at 65-1 before winning the Queens County.

Evening Attire, who has been training up a storm at Belmont, makes his first start over the inner track.

"We need to get the trip," Kelly said. "He's a big striding horse and that could hurt him with the sharp turns, but he's been laying close to the pace and that's usually a prerequisite for the inner track."

Ground Storm, My Request, and Tempest Fugit are all coming off big allowance wins. Private Ryan has won his last four starts in optional claimers at Laurel and Delaware Park.

Sweet Ricky, a restricted stakes winner, completes the field.


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