Updated on 09/16/2011 8:33AM

Donk strong in Pilgrim


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer David Donk shoots for his third career Pilgrim win in Sunday's $75,000-added Pilgrim at Aqueduct with Rhythmic Motion. Donk won the grass race for 2-year-olds with his star Awad in 1992 and again in 1998 with Incurable Optimist.

Rhythmic Motion, who is 2 for 2, is one of 11 entered in the 1 1/8-mile Pilgrim, which doesn't feature a standout runner. Blakelock is entered for main track only. A fair amount of rain was expected early in the weekend, which will likely leave Aqueduct's turf course less than firm.

The top three Pilgrim contenders come out of an Oct. 9 race won by Rhythm Motion.

In his second start, Rhythmic Motion came from off the pace to win a first-level allowance race by three-quarters of a length after jockey Javier Castellano lost his whip in the stretch of the mile race. The runner-up, Hypnotist, and the third-place finisher, Stroll, are also entered.

Rhythmic Motion, a New York-bred owned by Robert Spiegel, won his first race in restricted company and was sent off at 22-1 in his second start.

"The only reason he was overlooked was because he had won a New York-bred race," Donk said. "He got off slow in his first race and spotted the field a lot of lengths - it was pretty impressive.

"This is a very competitive Pilgrim and it's a big step up in company," he added. "But I think there is room for improvement and he wants to stretch out."

John Velazquez, who has won three of the last four runnings of the Pilgrim, rides Rhythmic Motion from post 5.

Hypnotist was game in defeat when Rhythmic Motion edged him for the win.

"He's still a little green and he should improve off that," trainer Barclay Tagg said.

Stroll, the likely pacesetter, finished third as the favorite behind Rhythmic Motion after having a short lead in the stretch. Stroll's trainer, Bill Mott, won this race last year with Miesque's Approval.

Provincetown demonstrated the ability to handle a yielding course by finishing a sharp second in his career debut at Belmont in July. In his last start, Provincetown won a mile grass race on Oct. 5.

Kick In and Celtic Memories, who won maiden races at the Belmont fall meet, are also entered. One Colony, no match in his last start against the top three in here, adds blinkers.

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