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Cicada draws field of seven
Stablemates Elghayoor and Railtown Girl, the 1-2 finishers in last month's Dearly Precious at Aqueduct, return Saturday to the New York track to take on five other three-year-old fillies in Saturday's 21st running of the $100,000 Cicada.
The six-furlong Cicada is the final stakes of the Big A's inner track season before racing moves to the main track on March 20. It's also worth a total of 85 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks points system, with the winner getting 50 points toward a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on May 3.
Owned by Shadwell and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Elghayoor was still a maiden when she went postward in the six-furlong Dearly Precious. Narrowly beaten in her first two starts, the homebred Ghostzapper filly sat three-wide off an early duel, took command in the stretch and held off the late rally from Railtown Girl to break her maiden in style.
Railtown Girl, who carries the colors of Cam Allard, won first time out at Laurel Park as a 2-year-old, then finished third in the Ruthless over a muddy track prior to her runner-up effort in the Dearly Precious.
"They're both doing well," said McLaughlin's assistant, Art Magnuson. "We're not trying to keep them apart -- yet. Most importantly, Mr. Allard and Mr. (Rick) Nichols (of Shadwell) are happy."
Eddie Castro has the return call on Elghayoor, who drew post position 5 as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, while Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount on Railtown Girl at 8-1 from post position 7.
Making her New York debut as the 7-5 morning-line favorite is Highestmaintenance. The Macho Uno filly was a front-running, 6 3/4-length maiden winner at Gulfstream Park on December 20 going six furlongs, and set the pace before holding for second when stretched out to a mile in an optional claimer last out on January 25.
"She should be prominently placed and in the mix early," assistant trainer Michael McCarthy noted. "This is a chance for her to get some black-type early."
Rajiv Maragh will ride the Todd Pletcher-trained Highestmaintenance, who is sandwiched between Elghayoor and Railtown Girl in the starting gate in post position 6.
Over the years, trainer Tony Dutrow has enjoyed success shipping in to Aqueduct from the Mid-Atlantic, and he is hoping to continue that with Disco Barbie and I'm Mom's Favorite.
No worse than third in five outings, Disco Barbie most recently went last-to-first in a six-furlong allowance over a sloppy Parx Racing strip, while I'm Mom's Favorite was a game nose winner at the Big A on February 1 after an awkward start in a maiden contest.
"I'm Mom's Favorite is lightly raced, but she's shown a lot of promise," said Dutrow, who won the 2010 and 2011 Grade 3 editions of the Cicada with Liam's Dream and Quantum Miss, respectively.
"She's demonstrated she deserves a chance to compete with nicer fillies this quickly. Disco Barbie has already shown she can compete on this level, and I'm very happy with both of them."
With Stewart Elliott aboard, Disco Barbie, 12-1 on the morning line, will leave from the rail while I'm Mom's Favorite, 7-2, drew post position 4. Junior Alvarado will ride.
Rounding out the field are Sense of Reality, third in the Caeser's Wish at Laurel last out, and Kiss the Lady, most recently third behind Elghayoor and Railtown Girl in the Dearly Precious.