Updated on 09/15/2011 1:38PM

No soft touches in this prep


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Thursday's six-furlong $54,000 classified allowance at Aqueduct could easily pass for a Grade 3 stakes, and several of these sprinters, notably Fickle Fanny, Poivre, and Celtic Melody, are returning from layoffs and look to be prepping for upcoming handicaps such as the Interborough and/or the Correction. The returnees will need to have their running shoes on due to the presence of Major Wager and Case of the Blues, who are currently sharp as tacks.

The 2001 Correction winner, Fickle Fanny, is on the rail with Richard Migliore. An earner of nearly $400,000, Fickle Fanny makes her first start since April, when she finished second as the favorite in a Pimlico stakes. A productive winter campaigner, Fickle Fanny is 4 for 9 lifetime on the inner track.

Most of her competition has also run well on this surface. Poivre, drawn in post 2 with Chuck Lopez, returned from a two-month freshening to win three of four starts on the inner track last winter. Poivre has been given a similar respite after running fourth in a pair of two-turn stakes at The Meadowlands in early fall.

Double Trick, in post 3 with Shaun Bridgmohan, is primarily a router who has never won at six furlongs. But longshot players will notice that her two starts on the inner track produced the two best Beyer Speed Figures of her career.

Celtic Melody and Major Wager are the two 3-year-olds in the field, and they break from posts 4 and 5, respectively. Celtic Melody hasn't been out since a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Cotillion Handicap at Philadelphia Park on Oct. 6, and is the only entrant without experience on the inner track. On the plus side, she returned from a longer layoff to win back-to-back allowance sprints at Saratoga, beginning with a big-figure romp under John Velazquez.

Velazquez, who has not ridden in New York since Nov. 30, switches back to Major Wager, whose two conditioned allowance wins since coming back from a layoff for Todd Pletcher include a lifetime top Beyer. In fact, Major Wager's only loss from four starts during the past 12 months came in the Ruthless, when she was beaten less than a length by Xtra Heat.

Case of the Blues, the top earner in the field and winner of the Maryland Million Distaff two starts back, ships in for Tony Dutrow and breaks from the outside on the heels of a bullet half-mile workout last Saturday. She was beaten a neck in her only previous start on the inner track.

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