NEWS: racing

Verdant Pasture steps up to win the Distaff in her stakes debut

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

NYRA/Viola Jasko

By Bill Heller

Asking a three-year-old filly to step up from a bottom level allowance victory to a $250,000 stakes is a tall order, but it’s a lot easier if that filly won her allowance race by a staggering margin over older fillies and mares.

Francis Paolangeli’s home-bred, three-year-old filly Verdant Pastures certainly did, romping by 14 ¾ lengths in an allowance race at Saratoga, August 9th. Trainer Charlie Baker gave his filly ample time to recover and she came back to win Saturday’s fourth running of the mile and a sixteenth $250,000 Empire Distaff wire-to-wire under Manny Franco by two lengths on Empire Showcase Day Saturday at Belmont Park. Sent off the 3-1 second choice in the field of nine, Verdant Pastures won in 1:43.65.

Longshot Might Be, who was 41-1 under Dylan Davis, made a bold mid-stretch rush at Verdant Pastures, but was rebuffed. Might Be hung on for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of fast-finishing Bonita Bianca, the 2-1 favorite ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. Jc’s Shooting Star, who was 12-1 under Eric Cancel, finished fourth, 8 ¼ lengths behind Bonita Bianca.

“I was a little worried heading into the race that she’d be 100 percent,” Baker said. “Following her Saratoga race, she’s had some minor issues, but thankfully she was able to come back and perform today.”

Verdant Pastures is a daughter of Colonel John out of Stormy’s Smile by Stormy Atlantic. After finishing third, sixth and eighth in three starts as a two-year-old, Verdant Pastures won a maiden race Jan. 27th at Aqueduct by 7 ¾ lengths. She then finished fourth at 1-2 in an allowance race March 5th.

NYRA/Coglianese photo

Verdant Pastures didn’t return to the races for more than five months, but she came back a different filly, blowing away allowance foes at Saratoga in her first start against her elders with Franco regaining the mount Aug. 9th.  Baker decided to train her up to the Empire Distaff, and she worked a five-furlong bullet in 1:00 2/5 at Belmont Park Oct. 3rd to show her readiness. She added another useful five-furlong drill in 1:01 3/5 11 days later.

She came back ready to run and she took the lead from the four post. Verdant Pastures led Might Be, who broke from the seven post, by a neck after an opening quarter in :22.94, and they remained 1-2 the entire race. Might Be drew within a head of Verdant Pastures after three quarters in 1:10.72, but Verdant Pastures responded and put her away, opening up late.

“She broke so well, I just let her do her thing,” Franco said. “Like in Saratoga, I just went to the lead and she relaxed by herself. She’s a pretty nice filly. At the top of the stretch, I felt my filly was getting tired a little bit, but I knew I had something left.”

Verdant Pastures is now three-for-seven with earnings topping $230,000.

Mohawk victory high-water mark for Black Tide

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Black Tide, a 5-year-old gelding and former claimer by Hold Me Back, has collected a huge following this year, thrilling horseplayers and fans alike by his refreshing “take no prisoners” approach to racing.

On Empire Showcase Day at Belmont in the 1 1/16-mile, $200,000 Mohawk Stakes, Black Tide showcased his own special flair, earning his first stakes victory and giving trainer David Cannizzo a second career stakes tally.

Black Tide’s victory in the Mohawk was a tour de force. As 4-1 third choice behind 3-5 favorite, Chad Brown-trained Offering Plan and 3-1 Cloontia, the gelding popped the gate under regular rider Jose Lezcano and established a 1 1/2-length lead before the first point of call.

Leading Cloontia by widening lengths along the backstretch through a moderate opening quarter of 24.74, Black Tide enjoyed a five-length cushion by the conclusion of a quickening half in 47.92. Continuing an uncontested lead round the far turn, Black Tide was control by 3 1/2 lengths by the head of the lane. Meanwhile, pursuer Cloontia gave way to All is Number, and Offering Plan mounted a bid from fifth at the fence.

Never faltering and without facing a serious challenge, Black Tide cruised under the wire a 1 1/4-length winner in a sharp final time of 1:40.98. Offering Plan got up for second 1 1/4 lengths ahead of 17-1 Rapt, who rallied from last to third. Completing the order of finish were Converge, All Is Number and Cloontia. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Robert Mauhar

“I let him break and go on, then I started to pick him up early and around the three-eighths [pole],” said victorious jockey Jose Lezcano. “You have to let him open up.”

The pilot continued, “I was not going to send him too hard early, there was a ways [to go]. When I got it to the five-eighths [pole], I opened up. I knew [Offering Plan] would be coming, but I just kept riding my horse.”

Trainer Dave Cannizzo talked first about how to manage jockey instructions in Black Tide’s case. “I don’t want to say he’s a simple horse to ride, because you have to have trust in him that he’ll keep going. But you have to let it rip.”

He continued, “It’s not that hard to tell a jockey how to ride him, but they have to have confidence because they don’t want to look foolish and let him go too fast and have him stop turning for home.”

Of Black Tide, Cannizzo said, “When you look, the faster [the pace], the better he runs. He keeps going. When you try to rate him, he doesn’t have that other gear. Jose [Lezcano] gets him to finish better than anyone. The horse hasn’t let us down. He’s great. He’s had a great year.”

Black Tide’s “great year,” capped by the Mohawk victory, ratifies Cannizzo’s determination to get the gelding in his barn for keeps. Cannizzo first claimed Black Tide for $35,000 last November 19 from Michelle Nevin, but lost him to David Jacobson two races later, on December 31. In the gelding’s very next start, when Jacobson dangled him for $25,000 in a race over the Aqueduct inner on February 2, Cannizzo pounced.

NYRA/Viola Jasko

In seven starts since, Black Tide has run exclusively on turf and won five of eight starts while ascending the Beyer scale. He posted career best figures of 95 and 94 in his two prior starts, and, for the Mohawk, was awarded a 94. In each case Cannizzo has instructed his jockey to play “catch me if you can” and, more often than not, “they” couldn’t. Black Tide’s earnings now total $450,832 from seven wins, six seconds and five thirds in 34 starts

Bred by Snow Lantern Thoroughbreds and foaled at the former Highcliff Farm in Delanson, Black Tide is one of four winners from four foals to start out of Turn the Tide, an unraced Theatrical (IRE) mare. Turn the Tide’s second foal Avanzere won a pair of Grade 2 turf stakes on the west coast and earned $536,705. The mare has a yearling filly by Stormy Atlantic, no foal this year, and bred to American Pharoah in the spring.

Black Tide first sold for $30,000 to Thoroughbred Management at the 2013 OBS Yearling sale. He was purchased the following year at the OBS spring 2-year-old sale by McMahon & Hill Bloodstock for $50,000.

Ostrolenka’s persistence pays off in Hudson Stakes victory

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

By Bill Heller

On January 17th at Aqueduct, trainer David Jacobson claimed Ostrolenka for $62,500 as he finished fifth at 7-1. In eight subsequent starts for Jacobson, Ostrolenka posted four seconds, two thirds, one seventh and just one win and that came in a $30,000 claimer at Monmouth Park, where Jacobson was willing to lose him for less than half the amount he had spent claiming him. On Saturday on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park, Jacobson and Ostrolenka hit the jackpot.

Grinding on the outside of front-running Eye Luv Lulu the length of the stretch, Ostrolenka finally passed him, winning the 40th running of the 6 ½ furlong $150,000 Hudson Handicap by a neck under Joe Bravo. Ostrolenka was 9-2 and Eye Luv Lulu, who was ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., 11-1 in the field of 10.

“I’m very happy,” Jacobson said. “He’s hard-hitting.”

Longshot Pat On the Back, who was 31-1 with Manny Franco aboard, finished just a neck behind Eye Luv Lulu in third after shifting out for a clear run in deep stretch. Celtic Chaos, who was 6-1 under Eric Cancel, finished fourth, 2 ½ lengths behind Pat On the Back.

Eric Fein bred Ostrolenka, a son of Musket Man out of Pumpkin’s Pride by Louis Quatorze who’s done his best racing at Belmont Park, posting four victories and one second from nine starts heading into the Hudson including a third consecutive second by a neck at 4-5 in an allowance/optional $100,000 claimer Sept. 21st.

Bettors had trouble separating the Hudson field, ultimately making the three-year-old gelding T Loves a Fight the tepid 3-1 favorite.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Eye Luv Lulu shot to the lead from the nine post. Ostrolenka broke fourth, but worked his way up to second after 22-1 Bust Another and Kendrick Carmouche checked hard. Eye Luv Lulu led Ostrolenka by one length after a first quarter in :22.82 and a half-mile in :46.16.

Then Ostrolenka pulled closer as T Loves a Fight rallied into third. In mid-stretch, Eye Luv Lulu was grimly holding on to a narrow lead on Ostrolenka as T Loves a Fight came up empty and Pat On the Back gained after shifting lanes for a clear run.

Racing in between Eye Luv Lulu and Pat On the Back, Ostrolenka gamely took over, sticking his neck in front and keeping it in front in the frantic, final yards.

“He’s had a couple of really good races,” Jacobson said. “He got beat by some really nice horses. Today, we got lucky. He made it an exciting race like he always does.”

Ostrolenka is now seven-for-31 with seven seconds, five thirds and earnings topping $620,000.

Evaluator lights up tote board in Sleepy Hollow

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

By Sarah Mace

In the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-olds, right in the heart of the Empire Showcase Day card at Belmont Saturday, R and H Stable’s Evaluator (Overanalyze) presented a perplexing case on paper, and was bet accordingly –  sent off at 19-1 to go a mile on Big Sandy in a full, talent-laden field of New York-bred 2-year-olds.

In the end, Evaluator made nothing of the question marks in his column, but rallied from well off the pace to put a game nose in front of Big Gemmy at the wire.

Part of the mystery was that Evaluator’s first three career starts had come on grass. The chestnut colt burst on the scene with an eye-catching last-to-first debut victory going a route of ground on turf at Saratoga on August 9. In his next two starts he dove straight into much deeper water, finishing no better than seventh in both the Grade 3 With Anticipation at the Spa and Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont on September 30.

Trainer Michael Dilger was quick to explain his rationale for trying dirt in the Sleepy Hollow. “[Evaluator]’s always worked very well on the dirt. We went to the turf looking for the distance. We thought that was going to be the most important factor for the horse at the time during the summer, then he ran so well. But he’s always worked well on the dirt, and it’s all about the trip for him.”

Still, with only mid-range Beyers to-date compared the competition in the Sleepy Hollow, and the outside post of 11, it is possible to forgive some skepticism on the part of the wagering public.

True to form, Evaluator spent the first quarter-mile of the Sleepy Hollow in last place, breaking well, then angling inwards to save ground. Meanwhile, virtual co-favorites Battle Station and Stoney Bennett hooked up and separated themselves from the body of the field by five lengths.

As the top two clocked splits of 23.07, 45.77 and 1:11.43, Evaluator picked off four rivals along the backstretch, moving into seventh, and came under a ride in the far turn. Upper stretch saw Evaluator fan wide and move up into fifth. Up front, Big Gemmy in third assumed the lead as the duelers weakened.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

When Evaluator kicked into full gear, he inhaled his other rivals in midstetch, and drew even with new leader Big Gemmy in the final sixteenth. Digging in gamely to the finish, Evaluator poked his nose in front at the wire, stopping the clock in a final time of 1.38.38.

Inalienable Rights closed into third four lengths behind the top pair, followed in order by Stoney Bennett, We Should Talk, Analyze the Odds, Mr. Pete, Battle Station, Lover’s Leap, Engineers Report and Bourbonfuhrme. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Jockey Manny Franco, who had the call on Evaluator for the first time Saturday, said, “[Michael] Dilger told me to break out of there and let him be comfortable, because he doesn’t have speed early on. I put my head down and tried to follow a target and get a space to go and it worked out well. I was following [Joel] Rosario’s horse [We Should Talk] and it worked out well for me.”

Bred by EKQ Stables Corp and foaled at Sugar Maple Farm in Poughquag, Evaluator is one of three winners from three starters out of Show Me the Carats, a Kentucky-bred daughter of More than Ready who was unplaced her lone start.

Purchased by Starlight Partners for $180,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2010, Show Me the Carats was picked up by Dan Hayden for $13,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton New York fall mixed/HORA sale.

Evaluator, who has earned $195,634 from his pair of victories, is a graduate of the 2015 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, where he sold to Rick Higgins for $30,000.

Twisted Tom cruises in Empire Classic for third straight victory

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Bill Heller

Cobra Farm, RR Partners and Head of Plains Partners’ terrific three-year-old New York-bred gelding Twisted Tom made his debut against older horses in the 42nd running of the mile and an eighth $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap on Empire Showcase Day Saturday at Belmont Park. He treated them with the same disdain as the three-year-olds he’s been regularly thumping.

Confidently ridden by Javier Castellano, Twisted Tom, the even-money favorite in the field of nine, disputed the pace on the outside of 9-1 Control Group and Irad Ortiz Jr., took the front when asked and rolled to his third consecutive victory by a comfortable three lengths in 1:49.38. That gave Castellano and trainer Chad Brown their second consecutive stakes victory after winning the 37th running of the $200,000 Ticonderoga Stakes with Fifty Five. The Empire Classic Handicap was the fifth race on Saturday’s all New York-bred card of 11 races.

Control Group gamely saved second by a nose over 12-1 Can You Diggit and Manny Franco. Papa Shot, who was 13-1 on the rail under Dylan Davis, finished another 2 ¾ lengths back in fourth.

Dr. William Wilmot and Dr. Joan Taylor bred Twisted Tom, a son of Creative Cause out of Tiffany Twisted by Thunder Gulch.

Twisted Tom has now won six of his last seven starts, the only loss a horrible-luck sixth in the mile-and-a-half Grade 1 Belmont Stakes when he clipped heels on the first turn and lost by 27 ¾ lengths. Since the Belmont Stakes, he won the New York Derby at Finger Lakes by a half-length and the Albany Stakes at Saratoga by 4 ½ lengths.

“He’s a super consistent horse,” Brown said. “I am really proud of him. Just look at his form, how he has developed over the year. He is a real fine racehorse. We are lucky to have him.”

Castellano got him away second on the outside of Control Group and they raced 1-2 for the entire nine furlongs. “He has a high cruising speed and the horses weren’t going that fast, and I loved Javier’s decision early to just put him right in the race,” Brown said. “He got him in a nice rhythm down the backside. It looked like he had the other horse measured.”

Control Group led Twisted Tom by a head after a first quarter, but Twisted Tom took a head lead after a half-mile in :48.08. Control Group responded on the rail and led by a neck after three-quarters in 1:12.37. They had 2 ½ lengths on Papa Shot in third. The others were struggling to keep up.

Castellano asked Twisted Tom to take over in early stretch and he quickly did, edging away from Control Group. Twisted Tom finished a mile in 1:36.73 with an expanding lead and he cruised home to yet another victory.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

“He’s the kind of horse you can put wherever you want,” Castellano said. “He’s very straightforward. He went easy and comfortable today. He picked it up at the end. We had a lucky trip and we had the opportunity to get it done.”

Twisted Tom is making the most of his opportunities. He is now six-of-eight on dirt and one-for-two on turf with earnings of more than $680,000.

Control Group was hardly disgraced by finishing second. “He ran his race; he just got beat,” Ortiz said. “H was second best today. He fought. I’m happy.”

Twisted Tom is already a lock to win the male New York-bred three-year-old title, and he also has captured two open stakes in Maryland.

Brown isn’t sure if Twisted Tom will race again this year. “My initial plan was to rest him at this point,” Brown said. “He has had a long, hard campaign that started off this winter here. Sooner or later you have to give him a break. But I will discuss that with the ownership group and go from there. And in the weeks to come, we’ll made a final decision.”

Fifty Five rallies to victory over elders in Ticonderoga

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

By Sarah Mace

Chad Brown and Javier Castellano put their heads together to plot a winning strategy for Peter M. Brant’s Fifty Five (Get Stormy) in the $200,000 Ticonderoga on Empire Showcase Day, and the results spoke for themselves.

Reverting to the “one-run” style that had served her well in the past, sophomore Fifty Five rewarded those who backed her to narrow 5-2 favoritism with a solid victory over her elders in the 1 1/16-mle contest over  Belmont Park’s inner turf

The Ticonderoga represented some class relief for the bay filly, who had been knocking heads with graded rivals in her last three starts. A graded winner herself earlier in the year, taking the Florida Oaks, she finished second to the redoubtable New Money Honey in the Grade 3 Wonder Again, third in the Grade 3 Lake George and, last out, was unplaced in Belmont’s Grade 2 Sands Point.

Settling well off the pace, Fifty Five shared the tail of the field with Flipcup for three-quarters of a mile as Barrel of Dreams carved out early fractions of 25.17, 49.42 and 1:12.66.

In the clear going into the far turn, Fifty Five still had lots of work to do and six lengths to make up. Switching to the outside and put under a drive by jockey Javier Castellano, Fifty Five roared home, with Flipcup in tow.

Overtaking her rivals in midstretch, Fifty Five dug in for the final stages to win by one length. Flipcup kicked home well to get a head in front Fifty Five’s uncoupled stablemate Ancient Secret in second and third. Completing the order of finish were Tizzelle, Barrel of Dreams, Broken Border, Feeling Bossy and Frosty Margarita. After a mile in 1:35.72, the final time for 1 1/16 miles over the firm inner turf course was 1:41.65. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Javier Castellano, who had the call aboard Fifty Five for the first time, felt that good communication with Brown was crucial to the victory.

“Chad talked to me about her a little bit because I haven’t had the opportunity to ride or work the horse in the morning. To me, she’s kind of new, so it was important for me to have some feedback. That’s the thing that’s most important with Chad. Because we have a good relationship, we can talk about the horses. He can give me tips and we can put it together and have a race like that.”

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Continued Castellano, “I handicapped the race and watched her other races and I think she’s one of those kinds of horses where you have one run and that’s what I did. I’m glad Chad [Brown] gave me the option of making my own adjustments in the race. I broke well out of the gate with the field, I took my time, saved all the ground, and made one run. She responded like an explosion. That’s what I was looking for today and she did it. Great performance today.”

Brown commented, “It really set up well for her. We were trying to revert back to tactics that worked in the past – one run. The past couple of starts with her, we tried to get too much early position, and she’s better making that one run. The filly really showed up today.”

Brown will consult owner Peter Brant, but is inclined at this point to give Fifty Five a rest over the winter and bring her back fresh for a 4-year-old campaign.

Bred by Empire Equines and foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Fifty Five is one of two winners out of Empire’s homebred mare Soave, who died earlier this year. Soave was by Brahms out of New York-bred Cozzene mare Cozzekiki.

Fifty Five RNA’d for $24,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sales only to emerge as Get Stormy’s first stakes winner when she won the Florida Oaks. She now sports a record of four wins, a second and two thirds from five starts and has earned $359,600.

Absatootly Rallies from Last to First to Win Iroquois at 11-1

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

NYRA/Annette Jasko

By Bill Heller

Donald Newman, the late patriarch of Newman Racing, would have loved to see this. His four-year-old, home-bred filly Absatootly rallied up the rail from last to first under a perfect ride by Joe Bravo to win the 39th running of the 6 ½ furlong $150,000 Iroquois Stakes by a half-length over favored Quezon on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park Saturday. Quezon was the 6-5 favorite in the field of five and Absatootly the 11-1 longshot.

Front-running Cozzy Spring, who was 4-1 under Dylan Davis, finished an extremely distant third, nine lengths behind Quezon. Wonderment, who was 8-1 under Javier Castellano, was another two lengths back in fourth.

Charlie Baker trains Absatootly, a daughter of Mineshaft out of So and So by Freud who was bred by Newman, a Roslyn, Long Island, sportswear manufacturer who bought his first horse in 1974 and won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland with Mucchina just four years later. He also campaigned First and Only, who won the 1993 Longfellow Stakes at Monmouth Park, and Absatootly’s dam, So N So, who won the 2009 Lucy Scribner Stakes at Saratoga.

After Newman died at the age of 85 on Dec. 23, 2014, his family continued their commitment to racing as Newman Racing. On Saturday, they were rewarded for their decision.

Absatootly seemed like a legitimate longshot in the Iroquois, having been beaten twice by Quezon and once by Picco Uno and Wonderment in her last four starts.

Her chances seemed even more remote as she languished in last, at one point 10 lengths behind next-to-last Wonderment.

Cozzy Spring had been hustled to the lead from the outside post in the five-horse field, and she opened a 2 ½ length advantage on Picco Uno, the 8-5 second choice on the rail ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., after a first quarter-mile in :22.51. Quezon and Wonderment alternated in third and fourth.

NYRA/Viola Jasko

Cozzy Spring was still in front by two lengths after a half-mile in :45.68, but the others closed in quickly. Quezon rallied to the front and opened a clear lead on Cozzy Spring and Wonderment in mid-stretch. But Bravo had Absatootly passing horses quickly on the rail, and she closed in on the inside of Quezon.

In deep stretch, Absatootly stuck a neck in front of Quezon, who tried to re-rally. Absatootly, though, edged away to win by a half-length in 1:16.04. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Credit Bravo with perfect timing on Absatootly’s rally. ”It was a beautiful ride,” Baker said. “I think for Joe, it was his third time riding her, and he’s figured her out. He figured out where she needs to make her run from. He timed it really well.”

Bravo said, “I knew she’d run a big one, and she ran a great race. I’m proud of her.”

Absatootly is now six-for-16 with four seconds, three thirds and earnings of more than $385,000.

Berning Rose kicks off Empire Showcase with strong performance in Maid of the Mist

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Sarah Mace

Berning Rose (Freud) turned in a strong winning performance in the $250,000 Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies, the first of the eight New York-bred stakes races on Empire Showcase Day 2017 at Belmont Park on Saturday.

Trained by Dominick Schettino for owners/breeders Robert D. Rosenthal and Bradford H. Bernstein, Berning Rose broke her maiden at first asking going gate-to-wire in a seven-furlong tilt at the Spa on August 30 as the longest shot on the board. Three weeks later, the dark bay filly finished a willing second to Broman homebred Held Accountable in the Joseph A. Gimma, when outfinished by the winner to the outside while she closed gamely at the fence.

Exchanging the rail for the outside post in the Maid of the Mist and sent off at odds of 7-1, Berning Rose and her jockey Kendrick Carmouche acted like they were “in it to win it” from the bell.

Springing out of gate to assume the early lead, Berning Rose then settled professionally in fourth position, while speedsters to her inside – Newport Breeze, I Still Miss You and 4-5 favorite and Grade 2 Adirondack winner Pure Silver – gunned their way to the front to battle for the top spot.

Attending the pace four wide through an opening quarter in 22.84 and half in 45.99 along the backstretch, Berning Rose came in a path in the far turn and, as Pure Silver dropped out of the pace-duel, accelerated past the remaining duelers rounding the bend.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Berning Rose passed the quarter pole in front and in control, but wasn’t home free yet. Her nemesis from the Gimma, Held Accountable, was launching a strong closing bid from midpack to her outside, and was closing the gap.

Berning Rose kept to her task, though, and, even after attending the strong pace, still had enough left in the tank to hold off her rival convincingly, crossing the wire with a 1 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:37.76 for the mile over fast going. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Carmouche, Berning Rose’s regular jockey, reported that, from the way he prepared the filly, all went pretty much as planned.

“When Dom [Schettino] asked me last time what I thought about stretching her out, I said I thought it would be the best-case scenario, just to get her away from the speed. I worked her the last two times and I taught her how to rate a little better because she was a little anxious,” said Carmouche. “Today, she broke like a shot and she just took me there whenever I asked her. She responds very quickly. I’m very happy for the owners and the trainer. It was a good team effort.”

Added Schettino, “We and Kendrick spoke about it. We figured she would break running and then we would go from there. I left it up to him today. The outside post helped. The more we can get her to settle, the more [she will improve]. She was a little close up front today, but that is her running style. She has a natural speed, but I think she will go a little longer as she learns to settle and relax.”

The conditioner concluded, “When she broke sharp, I figured Kendrick could get her to settle. She is easy like that. She is not a hard horse, she is not a run-off type. She is easy to relax once you take a hold of her, but she was ready for the race today.”

Berning Rose, who has earned $223,800 from two wins and second, is one of four winners from four foals to start out of Peach Flambe, a Florida-bred multiple stakes winner by Flying Chevron. She is the first stakes winner for her dam, who has a yearling filly by Alpha, a weanling filly by Normandy invasion and was bred back to Alpha this year.

Breakin the Fever wins third Leon Reed Memorial

Monday, October 9th, 2017

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Breakin the Fever (Roaring Fever), who is bred, owned and trained by Debra Breed, proved once again that he rules the roost at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, where he has twice been named Horse of the Year.

On Monday, the 5-year-old gelding posted his third straight victory in the featured $50,000 Leon Reed Memorial Stakes. This was his eighth stakes win and twentieth win in 32 career starts. He is 17 for 20 at Finger Lakes.

Bettors felt that Breakin the Fever was facing some serious competition in the Leon Reed, sending him off as the slender second choice (1.80-1) behind the speedy Foreset (1.70-1).

Breaking from post five with regular rider Nazario Alvarado in the irons, Breakin the Fever vied with Saratoga Giro (7-2) to his inside for the lead, but Foreset, who broke slowly out of post one, rushed up the fence to take a one-length lead by the first point of call (22.16).

Second by a length along the back stretch and into the turn, Breakin the Fever confronted Foreset at the head of the lane while Saratoga Giro closed from third.

In the final furlong, Breakin the Fever dug a little deeper, gained a clear lead and drew off to win by 2 lengths. Saratoga Giro in second finished 2 3/4 lengths in advance of Peter’s Project. Foreset was fourth, followed by Sundae On Sunday and Zoo Yorker. The final time for six furlongs over the sloppy (sealed) track was 1:10.87. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Breakin the Fever is one of four winners from four foals to start out of Breakers West, a winning daughter of Rodeo owned and bred in New York by Francis Casey and trained by Breed.

The gelding, who has earned $564,997, has held top form for three racing seasons and gets generous 6-7 month breaks each winter. He does his best work on the lead, but is versatile, able to win from just off the pace as on Monday, or even rallying from mid-pack. Breakin the Fever’s top career performance came in the 2016 Hudson Handicap at Belmont, when he defeated multiple graded stakes-placed runner and millionaire Weekend Hideaway by a half-length.

The Leon Reed Memorial is named in honor of the Finger Lakes assistant starter who tragically died following a starting gate accident in November 19, 2005. Reed was 47 and worked at Finger Lakes for 21 years.

Diversify earns Grade 1 glory with gate-to-wire victory in Jockey Club Gold Cup

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

NYRA/Coglianese Photos

By Sarah Mace

Lauren and Ralph M. Evans’ Diversify, by New York-based sire Bellamy Road (Dutchess Views Farm), delivered a career performance Saturday when he posted a wire-to-wire victory in the storied Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

Diversify joins Funny Cide (2004) and Haynesfield (2010) on the roster of New York-bred winners of the Jockey Club Gold Cup since the inception of the New York-bred breeding and racing program in 1973.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1, $6 million Classic on November 4 at Del Mar, but the connections have not decided whether to make the trip. “We did pick up the ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Classic today, but we’re going to enjoy today’s race and give it a couple of days,” said trainer Rick Violette. “I’ll talk it over with Lauren Evans and Ralph Evans and we’ll come up with a decision next week.”

On the face of it, there were formidable obstacles in Diversify’s path to victory Saturday. The 4-year-old gelding was being asked to go a furlong further than he had before, and he faced a gigantic class test — the Jockey Club Gold Cup was his graded stakes debut. Finally, Diversify was going up against a deserving 6-5 favorite in Keen Ice, winner of the Grade 2 Suburban on July 8, and runner-up to Gun Runner, the presumptive favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in the Grade 1 Whitney on August 5.

Diversify did, however, catch a break when he drew the inside post. For 1 1/4-mile races, the Belmont starting gate is placed early on the clubhouse turn, giving horses on the inside a couple of jumps on the competition if they break alertly. A horse on the outside, like Keen Ice in post seven, is guaranteed to lose some ground in the early stages.

Diversify, 7-2 second choice, took full advantage of the one-hole, popping out of the gate alertly, and opening up two lengths in a flash. Regular rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. was then able to moderate the pace, as they led the field though early splits of 24.17 and 47.74 with Pavel and Rally Cry vying for second two lengths back.

Traveling comfortably just off the rail along the backstretch, Diversify faced mild pressure around the far turn, and was asked for more with three-sixteenths to go. Keen Ice had advanced into second from sixth and was looming a threat.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

In late stretch, Ortiz kept his mount gamely to his task and corrected Diversify’s inclination to get out with a right-handed whip. In the end, Keen Ice was left with just too much to do, and Diversify nailed down the victory by a length.

Keen Ice finished 3 1/4 lengths clear of Pavel, who was followed across the line by Good Samaritan, Destin, Rally Cry and Highland Sky. After clocking a mile in 1:36.08, Diversify’s final time for 1 1/4 miles was 2:00.96. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“He’s a good horse and he’s improving,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “He’s growing up and he was that good today. He was ready to run today. He was challenged and responded. Before, he used to play a little bit and would wait for horses. He doesn’t do that as much anymore, so he’s getting better.”

Violette said, “We couldn’t have dreamed of a better scenario. The first quarter, going in twenty-four [seconds] was ideal.”

The conditioner continued, “He’s done nothing but get better from the early summer until now. He’s always been a nice horse, but he’s certainly jumped into the major leagues here today. [Keen Ice] might’ve moved a little earlier than he wanted to because we were always loose on the lead. The pace certainly made the race for us. My only instructions to Irad was to ride him like he rode him in Saratoga.”

Diversify came into the Jockey Club Gold Cup in the midst of an excellent campaign, in which he finished second by a nose in the Commentator in May, and earned back-to-back triple-digit Beyers winning Belmont’s Saginaw and Saratoga’s Evan Shipman Stakes.

Bred by Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding and foaled at Majestic View Farms in Gardiner, Diversify is the only winner to date out of Rule One, a placed daughter of Street Cry (IRE), whom Hertrich bought at the 2010 Keeneland November sale for $57,000. Rule One has a 2-year-old filly by Data Link and was bred to More than Ready this year.

Diversify graduated from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred preferred yearling sale, where he sold to Maverick Racing for $150,000. Unraced at two, he flashed talent from the start, opening his account in 2016 with four straight front-running victories in routes. Diversify earned a “TDN Rising Star” designation after September 22 allowance win for WinStar Farm LLC.

Offered as a racing prospect at the 2016 Keeneland November sale, Diversify was purchased by Lauren and Ralph Evans bought him for $210,000 and opted to stay with Violette, the gelding’s original trainer.  The $450,000 winner’s share of the Jockey Club Gold Cup purse boosted Diversify’s earnings to $775,425.