A consistent earner throughout her 13-race career, Florida-bred Royal Poppy takes her persistent record into Saturday’s $175,000 Distaff for fillies and mares going seven furlongs at Aqueduct Saturday.

The Raymond Handal trainee has finished in the top three in 10 of 13 career starts including a three-quarter-length victory against second condition, $62,500 optional claiming fillies and mares going seven furlongs at Aqueduct in her last race on Feb. 19.

The Distaff will be her second start in stakes company and the first since finishing fourth after being bumped twice at the start of the $97,000 Ruthless won by Interpolate in February of last year at Aqueduct. In seven races since, Royal Poppy has two wins, three seconds and a third in seven starts. Her most notable win came in a length-and-a-half triumph in a first-level allowance during the Belmont at Big A meet going six furlongs in the slop on Oct. 7.

A $170,000 purchase by John Ball at the 2022 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring Sales where she was consigned by White Lilac, Royal Poppy has racked up $266,950 in career earnings. She currently races for owners Aldelphi Racing Club, Pavilion Racing, Zilla Racing Stables and Surrey Lane Stables. 

She was bred in Florida by Orlyana Farm, who consigned her at the 2021 OBS October Yearling Sale where she sold to Brothers Two for $40,000. She is by Classic Empire out of M’Dearest, by Macho Uno.

Royal Poppy is 10-1 on the morning line and will break from post three with jockey Joel Rosario aboard for the first time.

Trainer Linda Rice will saddle 9-5 favorite Hot Fudge, a winner of her last five starts, including her last three in Aqueduct stakes.

Hot Fudges exits a victory in the $100,000 Correction over a muddy six furlongs on March 9, adding to her victories in the $116,000 Garland of Roses on Dec. 9 and the $150,000 Interborough, also in the mud, on Jan. 27.

Hot Fudge has a career record of eight wins with a second and a third in 13 starts with earnings of $493,905.

The 5-year-old mare by Liam’s Map will be ridden from post four by Kendrick Carmouche.

Others entered are Apple Picker with Sheldon Russell riding, Ain’t Broke and jockey Eric Cancel, Fingal’s Cave with rider Jose Lezcano and Shidabhuti with Dylan Davis aboard.

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