NEWS: racing

Commanding comebacker for Moonlight Song in Morrissey

Thursday, July 30th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Al Fried homebred Moonlight Song (Unbridled’s song) had the stakes credentials, dangerous speed to spare and a history of running well fresh to loom as a possible upsetter of dual Grade 1 winner and odds-on favorite Palace in Thursday’s featured $100,000 John Morrissey for New York-breds at Saratoga Racetrack.

Once Palace suffered a miserable start, however, the 8-year-old’s task became much easier. He seized opportunity by the forelock and proceeded to control the pace solo for an impressive wire-to-wire victory for his third stakes win.

The 6 1/2-furlong Morrissey, which originally attracted eight, was contracted by scratches. Last year’s winner Weekend Hideaway scratched in the morning and, once a heavy rainstorm reduced the track to a sloppy (sealed) condition, Ostrolenka defected. Moonlight Song, unraced since his winning the 6 1/2-furlong Hudson Handicap at Belmont Park on October 18, 2014 for trainer Charlton Baker, went postward under regular rider Jose Ortiz as the second betting choice after Palace.

Unlike his unfortunate rival Palace, who stumbled at the start and spotted the field two lengths, Moonlight Song exited post five sharply and took control of the race. He led the field through strong fractions of 22.03 and 45.20, with Readthebyline a length behind in second. Palace meanwhile managed to make his way up into third.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Set down unchallenged in upper stretch, Moonlight Song widened his advantage to as many as four lengths and, though tiring somewhat, held well to stave off any closing threat. A 1 1/4-length winner in a final time of 1:17.69, Moonlight Song was followed across the wire by John’s Island, who closed with an energy from last to second, Palace, Noble Cornerstone, Readthebyline and Smooth Bert. [VIDEO]

Winning jockey Jose Ortiz reported, “My horse broke great and he went to the lead pretty easy. When I asked him to run by the quarter pole he responded very well. The horse was 100 percent. The horse has to take all the credit. I was just the passenger. [Trainer] Charlie [Baker] does a tremendous job with him. He always shows up.”

Charlton Baker added, “It was a great trip. He went all the way so it was pretty easy as far as I was concerned. He trained good for the race and I’m excited.”

As to the weather, Baker said, “We were happy to see the rain. He’s five out of six in the slop so that was a lot of help there. I thought we were faster on paper, but it was a help to see the one [Weekend Hideaway] and three [Ostrolenka] scratch, less pressure. I told [Jose Ortiz] not to slow it down too much. I wanted him to chase hard, so I didn’t want him to slow it down too much for them to sit on his heels.”

Trainer Linda Rice supplied a report on Palace. “The horse next to him was acting up in the gate and he just kind of fell out of there and grabbed himself with a hind foot. He tried to recover, but you can’t give that type of horse five or six lengths in the mud or an easy lead. I also don’t think Palace runs his best races in the mud, either. It’s not really his best, but that’s racing.”

Moonlight Song, a late bloomer and otherwise lightly raced due to physical issues, added the Morrissey win to victories last year in Belmont’s Hudson Handicap and Aqueduct’s Gold and Roses. Now a stakes winner at all three NYRA tracks, his record now stands at eight wins, two seconds and third from 17 starts with $474,294 in earnings.

Moonlight Song is the third foal, and one of four winners out of Moonlightandbeauty (Capote), also bred by Fried, who purchased her dam, Stolen Beauty (Deputy Minister), for $30,000 at the 1990 Keeneland September yearling sale. Stolen Beauty won the Grade 2 Demoiselle in 1992 in her third career start, and won or placed in seven stakes races, earning earned $299,451.

Stolen Beauty’s daughter Moonlightandbeauty, a stakes winner and $228,053-earner trained by Rick Schosberg, began her broodmare career with a bang, producing Giant Moon (Giant’s Causeway) as her first foal, also trained by Schosberg. Giant Moon went undefeated in his first four starts, culminating with a victory in the 2008 Count Fleet Stakes, and was voted champion New York-bred 2-year-old male in 2007. Giant Moon won at least one stakes race every year from 2007 to 2010 and earned just over a half million dollars ($502,586).

Moonlightandbeauty produced a filly by Street Cry (IRE) this year.

Sudden Surprise, first runner for NY sire Giant Surprise, impressive winner of sloppy unveiling

Thursday, July 30th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Sudden Surprise, a handsome bay 2-year-old son of New York freshman sire Giant Surprise, delivered a strong performance in his unveiling over the sloppy main track at Saratoga on Thursday, emerging as the much-the-best wire-to-wire winner of a New York-bred maiden special weight at 5 1/2 furlongs and giving his young sire a first progeny winner.

A homebred for Mike Repole trained by Todd Pletcher, Sudden Surprise went post seven (of ten) under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez as the fourth betting choice at odds of 9-2.

Getting a jump on his rivals at the bell, Sudden Surprise shot to the lead in the opening strides of the race and never looked back. Carving out splits of 22.67 and 46.06 as he traveled comfortably over the sloppy going with a one-length lead, the colt negotiated the turn unchallenged in the two path and swung out three-wide for the drive. Sudden Surprise widened his lead in the stretch, and kept to his task to the wire, where he stopped the clock at 1:05.15 a 2 3/4-length winner. [VIDEO]

Pletcher said he was not surprised to see Sudden Surprise delivered such a strong debut performance. “He trained pretty well and we’d learned a few things about him his last couple breezes,” said Pletcher. “It seemed like he was a speed horse and wants to run freely. When it came up sloppy especially, we just wanted to make sure he got away alertly and utilize his speed.”

According to Pletcher, who also trained the colt’s sire Giant Surprise, the apple did not fall far from the tree. Said Pletcher, “Mike [Repole]’s got a handful of these giant Surprises and they’ve all been training pretty well, but I told him [Sudden Surprise] one is the most physically similar [to his sire].”

Foaled at Mill Creek Farm in Stillwater, Sudden Surprise is the first foal out of Ready and Good, a placed Florida-bred runner by Ready and Good, also trained by Pletcher, who had a lone career start for Repole. She has visited Repole stallions exclusively, and has a yearling filly by Overdriven and a weanling filly by Stay Thirsty. She was bred this year to Uncle Mo.

Giant Surprise, who stands at Rockridge Stud in Hudson for $2,500, won his lone start for Repole-Pletcher four years ago by 4 1/4 lengths in a much-anticipated debut at Saratoga. He completed the six furlongs in 1:10.23 and earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. Unfortunately his career was cut short prematurely after he suffered a non-displaced, condylar fracture in that start.

Bred in Kentucky by George and Charles Bolton and purchased by Repole from the Lane’s End consignment at the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling sale for $130,000, Giant Surprise is the first foal out of the unplaced A. P. Indy mare Twisted Sis. His second dam Twist Afleet, by Afleet, was a multiple Grade 1 winner of $659,240. Twist Afleet produced stakes-winner A New Twist and three stakes performers. The third dam Twist Her (Nativo) was also a stakes winner and multiple stakes producer.

La Verdad sizzles in Grade 2 Honorable Miss

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Still reaping the benefits of a planned winter vacation that lasted from late November until mid-April, millionaire La Verdad drove up her 2015 record to a perfect four-for-four when she delivered a sizzling frontrunning performance in the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss for fillies and mares on a hot Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga Racetrack.

La Verdad, who is owned by Sheila Rosenblum’s Lady Sheila Stable and trained by conditioner Linda Rice, kicked off her 5-year-old campaign with a dominating five-plus length victory in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct on April 18. The six-furlong specialist (11-for-14) then stretched out her speed an extra half-panel in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap, which she won by a half-length on May 16. Returning to state-bred company and six furlongs on June 28, she annihilated a field of state-breds in the Dancin Renee on June 28, winning by more than seven lengths.

Second choice in the Honorable Miss at 6-5 odds behind odds-on reigning champion female sprinter Judy the Beauty, La Verdad shot out of the starting gate at the break and claimed the top spot from the get-go. Judy the Beauty, who had little choice in the matter once La Verdad threw down the gauntlet, followed a half-length behind in pursuit.

After running a quarter-mile in 22.47 closely attended by the champion, La Verdad widened her advantage two lengths and completed a half in 45.03, while Judy the Beauty ceded second to Street Story.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Asked for run at the head of lane, La Verdad kicked into gear and built an insurmountable advantage on the way to the finish line, which she crossed a four-length winner in a final time of 1:09.14. Street Story finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Judy the Beauty. Enchantress and Ultimate Shopper completed the order of finish. [VIDEO]

Victorious jockey Jose Ortiz said, “La Verdad broke great today and she did her job. I was cruising at the quarter pole and I let her run. You always expect a great horse like Judy the Beauty to put in a challenge.” Ortiz added, “[La Verdad]’s my favorite horse. She’s very special and she has given me a lot of good memories.”

As to the way Judy the Beauty attended the fast pace, Ortiz commented, “I can understand that because if [jockey Joel Rosario] wants to win he can’t let me go that easy in front. He put pressure on me early and still got beat. If I would have gone easier early, maybe I would have won easier.”

Linda Rice said, “Judy the Beauty is a very great horse and intimidating filly. Obviously today went very well. I was nervous running against that type of filly.  I knew she was going to be a real tough competitor.”

Owner Sheila Rosenblum waxed enthusiastic, as always: “Oh, my gosh, what a race!” said Rosenblum. “What competition! What a trainer! What a jockey! What a groom! She’s incredible. La Verdad is some joy.”

Last year at Saratoga La Verdad could do no better than fifth on a pair of starts in the Honorable Miss and Ballerina. This year La Verdad will head into the Grade 1 Ballerina having beaten the reigning female sprint champion. Said Rice, “La Verdad is at her best right now and this is great because we are going into the Ballerina. We’re going after that elusive Grade 1 victory.”

A winner of nine stakes races and owner of a 14-2-0 record in 20 starts, La Verdad has now earned a whopping $1,170,700. In addition to New York-bred stakes victories in the Critical Eye, Iroquois, Broadway and Dancin Rene (twice) she has won the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap twice, the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap and the Honorable Miss. According to her connections, she will retire next year to the breeding shed.

Bred by Eklektikos Stable LLC and foaled at Chester and Mary Broman’s Chestertown farm in Chestertown. La Verdad was purchased privately by (Lady) Sheila Rosenblum following her second allowance victory in November 2013.

She is one of three winners out of Noble Fire (Hook and Ladder), a stakes-placed runner bred by Chester and Mary Broman also trained by Rice. Rice bought Noble Fire for Eklektikos for $115,000 at the 2007 OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training. Noble Fire’s two other winners, are N. F’s Destiny (Cuvee), an eight-time winner of over $335,000 and Lady Sheila Stable’s stakes-placed six-figure earner Hot City Girl (City Zip).

Noble Fire currently has a yearling filly by Freud and was not bred last year. This spring she went to Will Take Charge.

My Meadowview homebred Lemon Liqueur takes Spa debut

Friday, July 24th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

After having to wait out a stewards’ inquiry into the stretch run of the second race at Saratoga on opening day, the connections of Lemon Liqueur (Exchange Rate), a 2-year-old homebred for Len Riggio’s My Meadowview Farm, were finally able to lead the dark bay filly into the Saratoga winner’s circle to celebrate a strong debut victory in a 5 1/2-furlong dash for New York-bred juvenile fillies.

Breaking from post one (of ten) under Jose Ortiz as the 2-1 favorite, Lemon Liqueur settled in at the fence two lengths off the pace set by Freud firster Freudsalm, who clocked sharp early fractions of 22.86 and 47.27.

Saving ground through far turn, Lemon Liqueur shifted out at the top of the stretch and, after bumping twice lightly with Here Comes Rosie (7-1), shifted into high gear with a furlong to go. Gaining command in the final sixteenth, Lemon Liqueur drew off to secure the victory by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:06.23. Here Comes Rosie (Congaree) finished second, while pacesetter Freudsalm (Freud) stayed on for third. [VIDEO]

Trainer Rick Violette he chose Saratoga opening day to unveil the filly because “The timing was right and this was the right place.”

Awaiting the result of the inquiry

Awaiting the result of the inquiry

Violette admits to experiencing a few nerves about the outcome of the inquiry. “It looked like a bump. I don’t even think they made contact, but they were taking a long time to look at it.” Violette then quipped, “I have to go up and talk to Larry [Collmus]: it sounded like [the outcome] was going to be different: there was a pregnant pause when he said, ‘the Stewards have announced they will . . . not make any changes.’”

Violette said he will consider Lemon Liqueur for the $200,000 Seeking the Ante Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on August 28. She is one of several juvenile homebreds in Violette’s care from My Meadowview Farm, which owns and bred New York-bred multiple graded stakes winner Samraat ($883,300). Violette said, “She’s a nice filly, but we might have a couple other bullets for Mr. Riggio.”

Foaled on March 13, 2013 at the Riggios’ farm in Water Mill, Lemon Liqueur is the first winner for her dam Limoncella, a multiple stakes-placed Kentucky-bred daughter of Lemon Drop Kid purchased by My Meadowview for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fasig-Tipton Kentucky, November Selected Mixed Sale. The mare currently has a yearling colt by Afleet Alex and no foal this year.

Wonderment much the best in Lynbrook

Sunday, July 19th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Wheeling back just ten days after overcoming a difficult trip to achieve a debut maiden victory, Wonderment, a grey/roan daughter of New York sire Cosmonaut (Saratoga Stud, LLC), delivered a professional performance for her first black type score when she took the $125,000 Lynbrook Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies by a decisive six-plus lengths.

Running for a second time without Lasix and breaking well from post four for the six-furlong contest, Wonderment (8-5 second choice) immediately set up in the two path at the flank of Young Anna Lee, another sharp breaker to her inside. The pair separated themselves from the other four fillies and cruised their way through a quarter-mile in 22.96 and a half in 46.64.

Wonderment drew even and raced in tandem with Young Anna Lee through the latter half of the far turn before swinging out three-wide into the lane for the drive. Taking over in upper stretch she drew off to a much-the-best 6 3/4-length factory in a final time of 1:11.47. Young Anna Lee held on for second, followed 2 1/2 lengths back by first-time starter Bag of Tricks, half of a favored Broman entry (3-2). [VIDEO]

Joel Rosario rode Wonderment to her maiden victory, but did not anticipate her being entered in the Lynbrook so took the call on the Bag of Tricks. Jockey Javier Castellano, who picked up the mount, emerged with a very positive impression. “It was perfect,” said Castellano. “She broke well out of the gate. She’s a smart filly, she put me in a good spot in the race and I just went with the flow. She was very professional. I’m very blessed to ride these kinds of horses.”

Castellano continued, “I felt I had a lot of horse and didn’t want to use her too much because it’s so hot today; I didn’t want to ask her early. She responded so well and kicked very well at the top of the stretch. I think [she could go farther]. She galloped out steady and strong. I don’t think she’ll have a problem with an extra furlong in the future.”

Trained by Ken McPeek, Wonderment is owned jointly by Sherri McPeek’s Magdalena Racing and Chris Sterbenz. McPeek said he decided to run the filly back relatively quickly because she came out of her debut well and there wasn’t another race for her until the Seeking the Ante Stakes at Saratoga on August 28.

“She didn’t run on Lasix, and she did that basically off one half-mile breeze,” McPeek said. “We didn’t do a whole lot with her. There are not many opportunities for something like that. We figured it wasn’t going to hurt her.”

After the Lynbrook, McPeek’s assistant Jeff Odintz said, “She came in great. We had run her ten days ago, but she was ready to go. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have run her. She won this for fun. She actually did it a lot easier than I thought she would. She’s a nice filly, she can run.”

Bred by Michael S. Landers and foaled at Mill Creek Farm in Stillwater, Wonderment sold as a weanling to Baccari Bloodstock for $24,000. At the 2014 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, she did not attain her reserve when bid up to $47,000.

An earner of $111,000 from her two victories, Wonderment is one of three winners from three foals to start out of A Wonder She is, a winning daughter of Three Wonders from the family of Videogenic. She is also the dam of six-figure earner Persuasive Devil by Closing Argument. The mare currently has a yearling filly by Twirling Candy named Arabesque and weanling colt by Discreetly Mine.

Broman firster Manipulated takes Rockville Centre

Saturday, July 18th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Manipulated, a first-time-starting homebred for Chester and Mary Broman, came from off the pace to emerge as the decisive winner of the $125,000, six-furlong Rockville Centre for New York-bred 2-year-olds at Belmont Park on Saturday afternoon.

Conditioned by Jimmy Jerkens and piloted by Luis Saez, Manipulated (Malibu Moon) represented half of a coupled entry for the Bromans in the field of eight juveniles along with Spin Cycle (Hard Spun) for trainer John Kimmel and jockey John Velazquez. The Malibu Moon colt posted a bullet three-furlong blow-out on July 15 and the pair were bet down to odds-on favoritism by post time.

Ridden along out of the gate, Manipulated was outrun in the early stages traveling more than six lengths behind Love that Jazz and Dr. Shane, who vied for the lead and carved out a first quarter mile in 22.80 and half in 47.01.

As Lucky Lurie joined the fray and Love that Jazz began to weaken, Manipulated began a bid midway around the far turn, made up ground and swung five-wide into the top of the stretch. After picking off rivals, he took over inside the furlong marker and worked his way four lengths clear by the wire in 1:12.67 over a “good” main track. Lucky Lurie finished second, a length in front of Dr. Shane. [VIDEO]

Saez reported, “We had a little trouble when we broke. First, a horse came in and another one came out. I was trying to be patient and get a better position so I put him in the clear. At the half-mile pole, I knew I had a lot of horse and at the three-eighths, I asked him a little and he just took off. He won easy.”

Jerkens said, “It’s not often you run in a stakes with a first-time starter, but there were a few of us in the same boat. He’d been training well in the morning, and there was a lot of money hanging out there, so why not take a shot? He blew out good the other morning and we thought if he cooled out well, we’d go, and it worked out.”

Manipulated became the second winner for his dam Silver Knockers, a stakes winner and multiple graded stakes performer by Silver Deputy who earned nearly $250,000 on the racetrack. Chester Broman purchased the mare in foal to Unbridled’s Song for $320,000 at the 2009 Keeneland November sale. That first foal, Knockher Off, has earned $186,656. Silver Knockers has a yearling filly by Bernardini named Spa Treatment and a foal this year by Desert Party.

Saratoga Snacks wins sprint to wire in Saginaw

Saturday, July 18th, 2015
NYRA/ Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Saratoga Snacks, winner of the Empire Classic in 2013 and sharp in the first three starts of his 6-year-old campaign for owner/trainer Gary Sciacca, delivered a gritty performance to win the inaugural Saginaw Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday, clawing his way to victory after yielding the lead in the stretch to main rival Empire Dreams.

Partnered with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez for the first time and bet down to 4-5 favoritism, Saratoga Snacks broke sharply from post three and headed to the front, accompanied to his inside by Eye Luv Lulu. As the pair hooked up and traded the lead along the backstretch run, 2-1 second choice Empire Dreams bided his time in last, but only three lengths or so from the duelers through a first half mile in 48.73.

The frontrunners’ duel lasted until midway on the far turn, but when Saratoga Snacks began to get the edge, he was joined to his outside by Empire Dreams who made a sweeping three-wide move, and Notacatbutallama who advanced between horses in the two path.

Empire Dreams, who had the best momentum, briefly took over the lead at the head of the stretch, but Saratoga Snacks dug in, reclaimed the top spot in the final furlong and outsprinted Empire Dreams to the wire, a three-quarter-length winner in a final time of 1:43.98 for 1 1/16 miles over a track labeled “good.”

Gridley Here closed to finish 4 1/2 lengths back in third, followed across the line by Notacatbutallama, who was making in a rare main track appearance, and Eye Luv Lulu. [VIDEO]

saratoga snacks credit joe labozzetta

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

Velazquez reported, “I had a perfect trip: Broke well, got a good position and just kind of sat against him. That gave him a chance for the first part of the race. I kind of waited for Javier [Castellano]’s horse [Empire Dreams] and I was like, ‘let’s make this a sprint race down the lane and see who is best.’ I turned out to be the best one.”

Sciacca contrasted Saratoga Snacks’ effort on Saturday with his close-up third place finish to Empire Dreams last out in the Commentator on May 25. “He ran well. I think if he had run this way last time it would have been a different ballgame. He did everything right. He had an easy first quarter, picked it up a little bit for the next quarter, and made it a horse race. [Empire Dreams] got in front of him, I was just hoping he had something left.”

Continued Sciacca, “I got a little nervous at the eighth-pole because [track announcer Larry Collmus] said, ‘[Empire Dreams] is making a bold move on the outside.’ He came to him, but [Saratoga Snacks] took off again. I’m proud of him.”

Bred by Mrs. Gerald A. Nielsen, “Snacks” (Tale of the Cat) was purchased by Sciacca for Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells’ August Dawn Farm at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton New York Preferred yearling sale for $60,000. Sciacca trained Saratoga Snacks for the early part of the ridgling’s career before the horse was transferred to the barn of Bill Mott for his 2014 campaign. Sciacca purchased the horse before his 2015 campaign.

Winner of the Alex M. Robb in 2012, and the Shy Groom Stakes and Empire Classic in 2013, Saratoga Snacks now sports a record of nine wins, four seconds and four thirds in 21 starts with $652,000 in earnings.

His dam Near and Dear, a multiple winner by Red Ransom ($80,400) bred by Mrs. Nielsen and her husband Gerald, has produced three other winners: six-figure earner Speed Dating (Not For Love), Rajman (Thunder Gulch) who placed twice at the Group 3 level in Peru, and Hurricane Jackie by Stormy Atlantic.

Sciacca is considering either the Alydar on August 9 or the Evan Shipman for New York-breds on September 4 at Saratoga for Saratoga Snacks’ next appointment with the starter.

Final sustaining payment for 2015 Finger Lakes Futurity Series due July 31

Thursday, July 16th, 2015


finger-lakes-casino-racetrack-logoby Sarah Mace

The deadline for final sustaining payment for New York-bred juveniles nominated to the 2015 Futurity Series at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack (Foals of 2013) is July 31.

The Finger Lakes Futurity Series consists of three stakes races for New York-bred 2-year-olds: the $100,000 (estimated) Aspirant Stakes for colts and geldings (September 18), the $100,000 (estimated) Lady Finger Stakes for fillies (September 18) and the $225,000 (estimated) New York Breeders’ Futurity for all horses (October 17). All three races are run at six furlongs.

The first supplemental payment of $425 was due on May 31. The second supplemental payment of $650 is due on or before July 31. Horses may also be supplemented to individual races (see fees below). Late payments are not accepted.

For questions, please contact the Finger Lakes Racing Secretary’s office at 585-924-3232 ext. 388 or email

Final Sustaining Payment for the 2015 Futurity Series: July 31, 2015:

$650 to maintain eligibility for both races
$400 New York Breeders’ Futurity
$250 Aspirant (colts/geldings) or $250 Lady Finger (fillies)

Checks should be made payable to Finger Lakes Racing Association and mailed to:

Finger Lakes Racing Association
ATTN: Michele Fish
PO Box 25250
Farmington, NY 14425

Click here for Payment Form.

King Kreesa versatile in Forbidden Apple, attains millionaire status

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
NYRA/Chelsea Durand

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

by Sarah Mace

Gerald and Susan Kresa’s homebred King Kreesa (King Cugat), winner of his second Grade 3 Poker Stakes on June 13, usually sets off most of his fireworks on the front end, but earned his victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Forbidden Apple Stakes at Belmont Park after rating patiently under jockey Jose Ortiz behind a loose-on-the-lead Howe Great. The victory propelled the 6-year-old gelding over the million-dollar mark in earnings.

King Kreesa (6-1 fourth choice) broke on top from his outside post of six, but was overhauled shortly by Howe Great, who moved aggressively to the front and opened up as many as four lengths on his rival on the backstretch while carving out testing fractions of 23.42 and 45.49 for a one-mile race.

King Kreesa eroded Howe Great’s lead in the far turn and took over midway through. He entered the top of the stretch in the lead, but was dogged by odds-on favorite Reload, who had moved with him, and came up on nearly even terms.

After six furlongs in 1:08.87, King Kreesa still had more on offer for the final push. Reload wearied in the stretch, but the New York-bred kicked clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths in a blazing final time of 1:32.34. Wicked Strong closed to finish second, a half-length in front of Vyjack. [VIDEO]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Ortiz reported, “The race didn’t start off like we planned. I just saw Cornelio [Velasquez] went off [aboard Howe Great] and I just let him go. My horse relaxed very well. At the three-eighths pole, I’m coming along with the favorite [Reload] and when we turned for home at the quarter-pole he switched leads and I hit him left handed and I knew we were going to win because he responded very well.”

Added Ortiz, “I want to thank the owners and all the connections for the opportunity. David Donk has done a tremendous job with this horse.”

Donk said, “Good horses are good horses. It was a good race for him last time. Today it looked like the pace scenario was going to set up, but then the No. 7 horse [Howe Great] went by him, and he rated nicely. Obviously Jose [Ortiz] gets along with him. But I was very impressed with the way he kicked on through the stretch.”

Donk harkened back to an earlier performance for the horse’s prior trainer. “If you go back on his form, when Jeremiah [Englehart] had him, in the [2013] Mohawk he laid second behind a speed horse, so I know he’s done it before. Good horses are not supposed to be one-dimensional. Even as a fan I was impressed today. Today was his best race for me; it was a pretty loaded field.”

Donk said he will look next at the Grade 2, $400,000 Fourstardave on August 15 at Saratoga Race Course. “Why not?” said Donk. “It’s Saratoga.”

An eight-time stakes winner, topped by a pair of victories in the Grade 3 Poker stakes, King Kreesa’s record now stands at nine wins, five seconds and four thirds in 25 starts with earnings of $1,075,370.

Bred the Kresas under the banner of Horse Partners (and given an extra “e” in his name so that their often-mispronounced surname would not extend to the horse), King Kreesa was foaled at Carlland Stables in Avon.

He is the most successful of four winners out of Storm’s Advance, a Florida-bred daughter of Storm Creek who was a multiple winner and stakes-placed on turf ($94,652). Another foal, four-year-old Lady Kreesa, by Stonesider, is a multiple winner and six-figure earner and has placed in a division of the New York Stallion Stakes series. Storm’s Advance currently has a 2-year-old colt by Malibu Moonshine named Moonsurge who has not started.

King Kreesa’s sire King Cugat, a multiple Grade 2-winner and millionaire by Kingmambo, stood in New York in 2008 and 2009 under the management of Questroyal Stud.

Galiana continues Delaware Park reign with repeat in Dashing Beauty

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

by Sarah Mace

Galiana, top earner for her New York sire Stonesider (Saratoga Stud, LLC), continued to dominate her home base of Delaware Park when she won the $50,000 Dashing Beauty Stakes for the second straight year with a strong late rally. The victory ran up her record to eight wins and a second from nine starts over the Wilmington main oval.

Owned and trained by Rodolfo Romero, the 8-5 favorite bided her time early under jockey Carol Cedeno, traveling in fifth behind a scrum of leaders through scorching early fractions of 22.06 and 44.47.

Swinging out as much as six- or seven-wide for the run to the wire, the 5-year-old mare simply rocketed home in the stretch on the grandstand side to win by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:09.35 for six furlongs.

Galiana, now five, has won 14 of 27 career races, including ten tries at six furlongs, and earned $571,621. In addition to a pair of victories in the Dashing Beauty Stakes and Sweet and Sassy Stakes at Delaware, she won the Primonetta and Skipat Stakes in back-to-back starts at Pimlico this year.

Bred by John T. Behrendt and Charles Marquis and foaled at Anne Morgan and Tim Little’s Mill Creek Farm in Stillwater, Galiana is out of Baby Jess, an unraced Argentinian-bred daughter of Interprete (ARG). A full sister to Galiana has won in Argentina.