11/03/2017 10:20AM

Distance the equalizer in Nashua Stakes

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Avery Island could be the favorite in the Nashua, coming off a 5 1/4-length maiden win at Belmont in September.

Avery Island and Super Sermon shined when stretched out in distance for the first time. Aveenu Malcainu didn’t fare as well and folded up his tent in midstretch. But first impressions can be deceiving, and it will be interesting to see how the trio matches up in the Grade 2 Nashua on Sunday at Aqueduct.

The $200,000 Nashua, a mile race for 2-year-olds, has drawn a field of six and will go as race 3. The rescheduled Pumpkin Pie, a $100,000 sprint for fillies and mares, will be the eighth of the day’s nine races.

Avery Island and Super Sermon each won a Belmont Park maiden race in his second start and will be stepping up in class. New York-bred Aveenu Malcainu beat statebreds at Saratoga in his first two races, including the $200,000 Funny Cide at Saratoga, then faltered when thrown in against tougher in the Grade 1 Champagne.

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Avery Island might be a slight favorite in the Nashua for Kiaran McLaughlin off his 5 1/4-length victory, but he certainly isn’t a lock.

A Godolphin homebred by Street Sense, Avery Island comes from a nice female family. His dam, Kinda Spicy, won both of her starts by open lengths for Darley. She is out of the Argentine-bred Isola Piu Bella, who won 9 of 18 races, including the Grade 3 Sabin, Grade 3 Sixty Sails, and the Obeah.

Avery Island was the 3-1 favorite in a 10-horse field going six furlongs at Saratoga in his debut, but went evenly to the stretch before weakening to finish seventh. Stretched out to 1 1/16 miles at Belmont on Sept. 30, he went to the lead and ran his six rivals off their feet, earning a 79 Beyer Speed Figure.

“We really liked him prior to the first start and he ran disappointing,” McLaughlin said. “The track was muddy and sealed for his second race and he won easy and did it the right way. The thing is, I don’t know how good the field was and it was a funny track that day.”

Avery Island has been up at the Greentree Training Center adjacent to Saratoga Race Course since his win, and shipped to Belmont on Monday. Joe Bravo has a return mount.

Super Sermon debuted in the same race as Avery Island at Saratoga and finished third. Todd Pletcher sent him a mile at Belmont Sept. 9 and he came from just off the pace to win by 1 1/4 lengths. He earned a 73 Beyer, and the runner-up, Indimaaj, who was disqualified to third by the stewards, came back to win his next start for McLaughlin.

John Velazquez will be back aboard Super Sermon.

Aveenu Malcainu was sent off as the 3-1 favorite in the 12-horse Champagne but did too much too soon. He set fractions of 22.90, 45.94 and 1:10.37 in the one-mile race, but had little left after Breeders’ Cup Juvenile entrants Firenze Fire and Good Magic roared by him in midstretch.

Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, Aveenu Malcainu is unlikley to have to go as quick early to control the pace in the Nashua, and Luis Saez should have an easier time of rationing his speed.

The field is completed by Crea’s Bklyn Law, who has made his last two starts in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and the Saratoga Special; Blue Ridge Scout, who ships north from Laurel Park; and Delaware Park debut winner Under the Graydar.