Trainer Butch Reid has already won three stakes races this year.

Uncle Heavy took down the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct and is on the Kentucky Derby bubble. Jeanne Marie returned from a lengthy layoff to win Parx Racing’s Main Line and was entered in last Saturday’s Weber City Miss at Laurel. Disco Ebo captured Laurel’s Primonetta earlier in the month.

That just might be the beginning for Reid as multiple stakes winner Morning Matcha makes her 5-year-old debut in Monday’s $100,000 Unique Bella for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares traveling seven furlongs at Parx.

One race later, Reid brings back multiple stakes winners Beren and Ninetyprcentmaddie in the $100,000 Page McKenney Handicap, also for statebreds at seven furlongs.

“We [brought them back] with this day in mind,” Reid said. “I think they all have a nice series of breezes and am looking forward to a big day on Monday.”

Morning Matcha captured the Unique Bella in her first start last year, a race that kick-started a campaign that saw the Central Banker mare win or place in all five of her subsequent dirt outings, including a third-place try in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap. She closed her season with a last-to-first victory in an edition of the New York Stallion Series on Dec. 3 at Aqueduct.

Aoife’s Magic is a 3-year-old facing elders for the first time, but trainer David Dotolo opted for this spot instead of the Weber City Miss, which was restricted to 3-year-old fillies. In her most recent outing, Aoife’s Magic finished third, beaten 14 lengths, in Laurel’s Beyond the Wire, which was contested over a sloppy track that Dotolo said she didn’t appreciate.

Dotolo seems pleased with Aoife’s Magic’s recent training.

“Nothing seems to faze her,” he said. “She’s just a little bit lighter than she was, but she’s putting her weight back on. That’s why I want to keep her home.”

New Hire finished third in Laurel’s Nellie Morse on Feb. 17, then returned with a bang-up third against high-level open allowance rivals last month. New Hire is twice stakes-placed against state-sired competition.

Doctor Abbie wheels back on short notice after finishing third in Laurel’s Heavenly Cause on April 13. Could Be a Cougar has won three of her last four and makes her stakes debut.

Multiple stakes-placed performers Knickersinatwist and Warrior’s Ransom can be counted on for honest efforts, while Dewey Doit scored over sloppy going three weeks ago. Normandy Life and Namora also entered.

Page McKenney

Although the reliable 11-time winner Beren has banked $897,970, Reid also is very impressed with the progressive Ninetyprcentmaddie, who makes his 4-year-old debut in the Page McKenney.

A stakes winner sprinting at 2, the Weigelia gelding dominated Parx’s City of Brotherly Love at a mile and 70 yards in his third start last year. That led Reid to try tougher two-turn races, and Ninetyprcentmaddie gave mixed results.

Turning back to sprints later in the year woke Ninetyprcentmaddie up a bit. He won the off-turf Carle Place in New York before giving Post Time fits in the City of Laurel, coming up a head short. Post Time then won Laurel’s General George and Aqueduct’s Carter and is pointing to the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.

“We learned a little bit about him,” Reid said. “We tried him long, and he had success going long just getting beat in the Tesio and a couple of other nice races. But I think he really likes to be a come-from-behind sprinter. I think seven-eighths might be his best distance. We’re expecting a big year from him now that we’re concentrating on middle distances, seven-eighths or one-turn mile races.”

The Reid-trained runners will have to have them nailed on tight against this salty field, however.

Twisted Ride won this race last year and already has a 2024 prep, finishing fifth of sixth in a high-level allowance at Aqueduct. Conditioned by Mike Moore, Twisted Ride has excellent early speed.

Uncle Ernie finished a nose behind Twisted Ride in last year’s Page McKenney and was third behind that foe and Beren in the Banjo Picker Sprint on Aug. 21. Trained by John Servis, Uncle Ernie signaled a return to his best form when wiring a high-level allowance by four lengths with a 94 Beyer Speed Figure on March 18. Stakes winner Dollarization, also entered in the Page McKenney, finished third that day.

Far Mo Power cuts back to a sprint for the first time in almost two years, but he won his last two appearances at seven furlongs and is an open stakes winner that has hit the board in 14 of 16 races.

Movisitor is capable of some big races and exits a gate-to-wire score over the course and distance on Dec 20.

Veeson, Meet Me At Mundis, Eagles Cry, Liar Side Chat, Natural Harbor, and Young Square complete the field.

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Cover Photo Credit to Barbara Livingston

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