December 5 will be a rare Saturday in U.S. racing with no graded stakes scheduled. However, a trio of graded stakes-winning female sprinters will be in action at Aqueduct and Laurel.
The six-furlong, $100,000 Garland of Roses is the last stakes of the season to be run on Aqueduct’s main track. Heading the field is Princess Violet, who captured the Madison (G1) at Keeneland in April over subsequent Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Stopchargingmaria.
The Garland of Roses marks Princess Violet’s first start since June. Prior to the long spell, the New York-bred finished second and fifth, respectively, in the Ruffian (G2) and Ogden Phipps (G1), both times behind Wedding Toast.
Her main challenger from a class perspective is Classic Point. The six-year-old defeated Princess Violet in a photo finish when they last met in the Go for Wand H. (G3) in November 2014. Classic Point went on to take the March 21 Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream by a neck, but has gone unplaced in two stakes attempts since returning from a layoff in September.
Also in the lineup is Room for Me, who placed in the Ballerina (G1) and Vagrancy H. (G3) earlier this year but was only seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) last time after a slow start.
Lady Sabelia, who defeated Princess Violet in the Barbara Fritchie H. (G2) in February and Classic Point in the $100,000 Pumpkin Pie at Belmont last month, figures to be an overwhelming favorite to defend her title in the $100,000 Willa On the Move at Laurel.
The main challenger to Lady Sabelia in the six-furlong dash is multiple stakes winner Galiana, third versus males in the $200,000 Fabulous Strike H. at Penn National on Thanksgiving eve.
There will also be strong favorites in a pair of two-year-old stakes on the same Laurel card. Never Gone South, a close second in the $100,000 James F. Lewis III in mid-November, looks to rebound in the $100,000 Marylander, while Cathryn Sophia is likely odds-on to take the $100,000 Gin Talking after earning a 99 BRIS Speed rating for her 12 3/4-length debut win at Parx in late October.
Both the Marylander and Gin Talking will be contested at seven furlongs.