(Sharp Starr / Coglianese Photo & Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Barry Schwartz’s graded stakes-winner Sharp Starr will look to commence her 4-year-old campaign the same way she capped her sophomore year, headlining a six-horse field in the fourth running of Sunday’s $100,000 La Verdad for New York-bred fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Sharp Starr enters off her two best Beyer Speed Figures with victories going one mile at the Big A. The Munnings filly earned a 101 for a 15 ¾-length score against allowance company on November 7 over a fast track before posting her first stakes score by edging Portal Creek by a neck in the Grade 3 Go for Wand Handicap over a sloppy and sealed track on December 5.

Trainer Horacio DePaz will see Sharp Starr cut back to the La Verdad’s seven-furlong distance after six consecutive starts going at least one mile.

“She’s heading into the race in good order, we’ve had no hiccups and she’s maintained her form,” DePaz said. “Hopefully, she likes the seven-eighths. That’ll be the question. She places herself forwardly, so I wouldn’t think it’d be too short for her. But we won’t know until we try her.”

Sharp Starr has put up strong showings at multiple race tracks, including her maiden-breaking victory on July 2 at Belmont Park and a third-place effort against state-breds going 1 1/8 miles in the Fleet Indian on September 4 at Saratoga Race Course. But she’s thrived particularly at Aqueduct, going 2-1-1 in four starts.

“She didn’t run bad at Saratoga and I think she takes her racetrack with her,” DePaz said. “At Aqueduct, she’s taken to that surface.”

After earning a 96 Beyer for her Go for Wand effort, DePaz credited Sharp Starr’s maturity for her continued improvement, especially after finishing seventh against challenging company in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan on October 3, Preakness Day, at Pimlico Race Course.

“She’s always been talented,” DePaz said. “Early on in races, she wouldn’t switch leads and wasn’t breaking well for whatever reason. After the Black-Eyed Susan, she’s been starting much better. I just think it’s a maturity thing. She’s peaking right now and her efforts have gotten better and better. She’s just in a good stage right now.”

Jockey Trevor McCarthy, aboard for that convincing allowance win last month, will have the return call from post 6.

Espresso Shot also enters off a stakes win, posting a two-length score in the New York Stallion Stakes Series Staten Island on November 22 at Aqueduct. The Jorge Abreu trainee won for the first time in 11 starts, besting next-out winner and fellow La Verdad contender Prairie Fire.

Owned by NY Final Furlong Racing Stable, Maspeth Stables and Parkland Thoroughbreds, Espresso Shot has recorded three of her four career wins at the Big A.

Manny Franco will ride from post 3.

Mrs. Orb has become a must-include part of exacta wagers, with the soon-to-be 6-year-old ending 2020 with five consecutive runner-up finishes, all against stakes company. Her bridesmaid-like tendencies continued last out when finishing a half-length back to Lucky Move in the Bay Ridge going 1 1/8 miles on December 13 at Aqueduct. Previously, she was bested only by Royal Flag in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm going the same distance at the same track on November 7.

Trained and co-owned Michael Miceli, along with Ruggeri Stable, Richard Coburn and Script R Farm, Mrs. Orb has finished first or second in nine of her last 10 starts dating to October 2019.

Dylan Davis will be in the irons from post 5.

Timely Tradition, third in the Iroquois on October 24 at Belmont, will make her first Aqueduct appearance since defeating claiming company on March 15 for trainer Ray Handal. The First Defence mare is owned by Bush Racing Stable and Scott Labooliere. Eric Cancel will ride from the inside post.

McCourt Racing’s Prairie Fire followed her second-place effort in the NYSSS Staten Island with a half-length win against allowance company on December 5 in a race moved off the Aqueduct turf for trainer Linda Rice. The daughter of Posse will have the services of Jose Lezcano from post 4.

Dennis Narlinger’s Sadie Lady, the winner against allowance company on December 18 at the Ozone Park-based track for trainer Rob Atras, will be wheeled back two weeks later. Kendrick Carmouche, currently the Aqueduct meet-leading rider, will have the call from post 2.

The La Verdad is slated as Race 8 on Aqueduct’s nine-race program, which offers a first post of 12:20 p.m. Eastern.