Facing elders in the $400,000 Vosburgh Invitational, Barry K. Schwartz’s 3-year-old The Lumber Guy collected Grade 1 glory on Belmont Park’s “Super Saturday” card, winning the six-furlong sprint by 1 1/4 lengths and earning his ticket to the 2012 Breeders’ Cup on November 3 at Santa Anita Park.
Winner of the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on April 21 and freshened by trainer Mike Hushion after an off-the-board effort in Belmont’s Grade 2 Peter Pan on May 12, the grey son of Grand Slam has been working steadily for his return to the races since the end of July. Jockey John Velazquez had call for the first time.
Favored with entrymate Sean Avery at odds of 2-1, The Lumber Guy came out of the gate running and in no time tugged his way up to third, stalking a pitched battle up front between Grade 1 Vanderbilt winner Poseidon’s Warrior (6-1), who carved out opening fractions of 22.57 and 45.06, and Little Drama (9-1).
Beginning his bid in the far turn in the three path, The Lumber Guy advanced steadily, eventually taking over the lead between the furlong marker and sixteenth pole. After he opened up daylight, the grey kept up his momentum under a lively hand ride to hold off a fast-closing Caixa Eletronica and secure the victory by 1 1/4 lengths. Poseidon’s Warrior held for third 1 3/4 lengths back. The Lumber Guy completed the six furlongs over the “good” track in 1:09.22. [VIDEO]
This is the second year in a row that a New York-bred has won the race, following the late Giant Ryan’s triumph in last year’s Vosburgh.
John Velazquez said, “It was pretty simple. Mike [Hushion] told me ‘He’s quick, make sure you get him out of there running, and if he’s taking you, leave him alone.’ He thought he was going to finish for me, and he did.”
Hushion added, “This is always a good time of year for 3-year-olds. They’ve gone through that maturing. I like 3-year-olds vs. older horses this time of year. I’ve been telling [owner Barry Schwartz] for the past five weeks that he’s been working like the real deal.” Schwartz said, “We really felt going in that we were going to win today. I just joked, ‘The only bad thing is that we’re not going to get 10, 12-1 on him.’”
When asked about whether the Lumber Guy would compete in the Breeders’ Cup, both owner and trainer were on the same page. Hushion said, “Why not? Our first thought would be Breeders’ Cup.” Schwartz added, “It’s just a question of which one, the Sprint or the Mile. I’m kind of inclined to think he’s a miler.” The Vosburgh is a “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
This was only the sixth career start for The Lumber Guy, whose earnings are now approaching the half-million dollar mark ($465,800). Unraced at two, he won his first two career starts by a combined margin of 13 1/2 lengths: a state-bred maiden special weight at Aqueduct in January and the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park in February. In April, just two weeks after finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, he won the Grade 2 Jerome.
Named after thoroughbred owner and lumber magnate Aaron Jones, The Lumber Guy is the third stakes winner and fourth winner of four foals to start – all New York-breds bred by Schwartz – produced by Boltono, an unraced daughter of Unbridled’s Song purchased by Schwartz at the 2003 Keeneland November sale for $77,000.
The Lumber Guy’s siblings include stakes winners Bold Deed, by Anasheed ($146,000), and Magical Solution, by Stormin Fever ($75,712). Boltono unfortunately died from complications the day after foaling The Lumber Guy, leaving him to be raised by a nurse mare.