Distaff Handicap: Gerrymander Looks to Return a Winner When She Headlines a Field of Eight Older Females

Written by: Brian Zipse
Published April 5, 2023
6 min read

Distaff Handicap Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct!










J Lezcano

G Weaver





M Franco

C Brown





J Davis

J Ferraro





J Gomez

R Rodriguez





J Torres

J Ferraro





J Ortiz

R Atras





K Davis

R Handal





E Cancel

L Rice

*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.

Distaff Handicap Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$20 Exacta Part Wheel - Rossa Veloce over Gerrymander, Funny How, and Pass the Champagne = $60 

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Rossa Veloce (5/2).    

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Distaff Handicap Predictions

The only graded stakes winner in the field, Gerrymander looks to return a winner when she headlines a field of eight older females entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct.

Trained by Chad Brown, the 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief has been a stakes winner in New York in each of her first two seasons on the racetrack. 

A winner of the Grade 2 Mother Goose at Belmont Park three starts back, she has won 3-of-8 overall. This will be her first start since a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Cotillion last September.

Chief among her opposition in the 7-furlong Distaff will be a pair of streaking New York-breds.

Rossa Veloce has won four of her last five starts for trainer Rob Atras. A 5-year-old Giralomo mare, she is coming off two sharp wins over the track. 

Most recently, she earned her first career stakes victory when she went wire-to-wire in last month’s Correction Stakes to win by better than five lengths.

Meanwhile, Funny How has won five in a row for trainer Raymond Handal. A daughter of Overanalyze, she finished third in her first two career starts but has not been beaten since. 

Like Rossa Veloce, she also earned her first career stakes victory last time. After breaking slowly, she powered by her New York-bred competition to win the Broadway Stakes going away. 

Distaff Handicap Predictions and Race Analysis


Away from the races since the Grade 1 Cotillion last fall, her trainer Chad Brown knows how to have horses ready off the layoff. Twice a stakes winner at Belmont, this will be her first career start at Aqueduct. 

Her biggest win came last summer while going a little longer than this in the 8 1/2-furlong Mother Goose. The shorter distance she will find on Friday could be a tough ask in her first race back while facing some good sprinters.

At her best, this daughter of Into Mischief would likely win this, but away for just over six months, I am not sure she will be quite sharp enough. Still, she is an obvious threat.

Rossa Veloce

One of three New York-breds in the field, this 5-year-old mare has never been better. With strong early speed, she has been tough to catch of late. In fact, only one horse has been able to pass her in the last five. 

All of those came at Aqueduct, where she has won 7-of-13 lifetime. Trained by Rob Atras, she has a conditioning edge over Gerrymander and she also has a pace advantage. 

It’s rare to see a graded sprint without much speed, but I believe that is what she has found here. As for the controlling speed, I like her chances for her second stakes score in less than a month. She is the top pick.

Funny How

Another New York-bred, this daughter of Overnalyze has won five straight races dating back to last September. Each of the five have come at Aqueduct and she has also won two straight at the 7-furlong distance. 

She even overcame a slow start last time to rally for the win. That was her first stakes victory, but it did come against fellow state-breds.

This will undoubtedly be the toughest competition she has ever faced, but with all the positives, she is impossible to dismiss and is one of the biggest threats to the top pick.

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Pass the Champagne

Lightly raced, this 5-year-old daughter of Flatter has a strong back class. Her best career race came two years ago when she gave the two-time champion Malathaat everything she wanted in the Grade 1 Ashland. 

She has only run four times since then with two long layoffs mixed in for trainer George Weaver. The good news is that this will be her third race back since the second break, and she looks to be in pretty good form. 

I do not like her best in this spot, but considering her class, tactical speed, and recent form, she has to be considered a real threat on Friday. 


This daughter of Maclean’s Music finished fifth and last in Sunday’s Top Flight Stakes on Sunday. So unless she comes back on a very short rest, she will be scratched. 

If she does run, she would have a minor chance. She was claimed three times in the second half of last year and has now been running for Linda Rice of late. 

Through the switches of barns, she continues to run plenty of solid races, and in fact, had a nice win over the track two starts back. Still, this class of competition looks to be a bit more than she wants.

Easy to Bless

A stakes winner over the Aqueduct track, this 5-year-old daughter of Flat Out will be looking to regain her best form on Friday. That win over the track was her only stakes victory in her career and came just over a year ago. 

The ten-time winner has won 2-of-8 since, and both of those wins came against significantly cheaper competition than she will face in the Distaff. 

While I always respect a horse that knows how to win, her recent form, including a pretty good beating at the hands of Rossa Veloce last time, has me looking elsewhere.


This experienced 7-year-old mare sports a very nice career record of ten wins from 34 career starts, including three victories at Aqueduct. Unfortunately, all of those wins came at lesser levels than she will deal with here. 

Claimed for $40,000 out of her last start by Rudy Rodriguez, she will need to make a big improvement for her new barn off the fifth-place finish to have any real shot here. 

Two starts back, she was well beaten by Rossa Veloce. I like others better in this spot.


This 4-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid has been a claimer for most of her career, which has seen her win 3-of-14 starts.

Her only previous stakes attempt came in her second career start when she finished sixth in the Franklin Square Stakes as a big longshot. 

Already winless in five starts this year, this seems like a reach to enter her in this graded-stakes affair. I find her hard to recommend.

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How to Watch the Distaff Handicap

Distaff Handicap Race Information

  • What: Distaff Handicap (Grade 3)

  • Location: Aqueduct

  • Time: Friday, April 7 -- 4:34 pm Eastern time

  • How to Watch: Fox Sports

  • Purse: $150,000

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Brian Zipse

Horse Racing Betting Analyst

Horse Racing
Betting Picks
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Communications
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