NEWS: racing

Picco Uno decisive winner of Union Avenue

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Kennesaw Mountain Racing’s Picco Uno rebounded in a big way from a sub-par performance in her last start, scoring a decisive 2 1/2-length victory in Saratoga’s Thursday feature, the $100,000 Union Avenue Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Last out in the one-mile Critical Eye which was run over a very sloppy track at Belmont on May 29, Pico Uno finished a well-beaten sixth. Until that glitch, Pico Uno had won her first three starts in 2017 and four straight dating back to last December 7. She may have hated the surface and not wanted to go a mile. Also, the Critical Eye was her second race in 11 days and, since then, she has enjoyed a brief freshening.

The 7-2 third choice in the Union Avenue field, which attracted nine, Picco Uno broke running from post eight under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., then conceded the lead to She’s All Ready, who broke to her outside, charged to the front and led the field through opening splits of 22.05 and 45.25.

Tracking the pacesetter a length back going into the turn, Picco Uno drew even with She’s All Ready at the head of the lane, was called upon for more run with three-sixteenths to go and responded with the decision. The grey mare kicked well clear, posting the 2 1/2-length victory in a final time of 1:16.57 over the fast main track.

Quezon, the 3-2 favorite, came flying from midpack to capture second after passing 19-1 Absatootly, who had advanced from the rear of the field to occupy the second position briefly in the stretch. Absatootly had to settle for the show money a length and a half back.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Completing the order of finish were Wonderment, Clipthecouponannie, Myfourchix, She’s All Ready, Court Dancer and Frosty Margarita. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Hot City Girl, a graded stakes winner, half-sister to sprint champion La Verdad and earner of $682,050, was scratched from the race, and, as announced the same day by owner Sheila Rosenblum on Twitter, will be retired to Vivien Malloy’s Edition Farm to take up a career as a broodmare alongside her elder sister.

Pre-race, Ortiz, Jr., who rides Picco Uno regularly for trainer Jason Servis, made sure he got his mount’s mind on business. “I always give her an aggressive warm up,” said Ortiz. “She’s the type of filly who doesn’t show much in the morning and she’s so quiet, but when it’s time to run she can run. I tried to make sure she was on her game today, because she had to run.”

“I had a perfect trip,” Ortiz continued. “I broke the way I wanted. I broke running out of there and the horse beside me cleared me. She does better when she’s alone outside of horses and that worked out for me. I sat there, and waited as long as I could, and when I asked her, she was there for me.”

Commenting on the rebound performance, Servis said, “[Pico Uno] definitely benefited from the time off since her last start. In that race, it looked like she took a step back, so we gave her some time and she was able to regroup and run great today. She had a terrific breeze coming into this the other day.

“She ran like we were hoping she would. She drew off pretty good. She’s an average looking filly, but she gets over the ground pretty good. I just told Irad she’s a trier and hoping we got a good trip and it worked out.”

The timing of the victory was also just right: “It’s very exciting,” said Servis. “The owners flew up from Georgia so I’m glad it all worked out.”

A 4-year-old daughter of Macho Uno, Picco Uno was bred by Topsmeade LLC and Adena Springs and foaled at Irish Hill Century Farm. She is one of two winners from two foals to start out of Piccola Isola, a winning New York-bred daughter of Western Expression. The mare was bred to Dublin in 2017.

Kennesaw Mountain Racing purchased Picco Uno at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale for $27,000. In January 2014, she sold at Keeneland as a $35,000 short yearling.


Flair for the dramatic lands March X Press in Bolton Landing winner’s circle

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Golconda Stables’ March X Press (Shangai Bobby) captured Saratoga’s attention just two weeks ago in her New York-bred maiden special weight debut going 5 1/2 furlongs on turf: after missing the break and running at the rear for most of the race, she absolutely roared home to post a visually impressive last-to-first victory.

In Saratoga’s open Bolton Landing Stakes at the same trip on Wednesday, she arguably took the drama to another level. Rallying from seven lengths off the pace and landing in heavy traffic midstretch, she somehow found a seam, extricated herself and, again, shot past the frontrunners to get the win.

Trainer Todd Pletcher was confident his filly was ready to perform on just two weeks’ rest. “First of all, she came out of the race really well,” said Pletcher. “On that day, she only ran like the last three-sixteenths of a mile, so we just wanted to monitor how she came out of the race, and she came out of it well. There are not too many opportunities left like this, so she gave us the indication that she was ready to run back, and we are glad we did.”

Bet down to narrow favoritism (2.40-1), March X Press again got out of the gate last, then settled in sixth (of seven), where, seven lengths back, she chased pacesetter Fairyland, who clocked an opening quarter in 21.79.

Rounding the far turn in the two path, the dark bay filly advanced, spun out three wide into the lane, but still had five fillies to pass.

Mired in traffic in midstretch and forced to check hard, she and her pilot, Irad Ortiz, Jr. finally found a seam. Given a clear path, March X Press motored by the rest of the field to win by a half-length in the final jumps.

Runner up Fairyland finished 1 3/4 lengths clear of the winner’s uncoupled stablemate Sugar Queen in third, followed by Life Time Citizen, Buy Sell Hold, Sly Beauty and Madame X. The time for 5 1/2 furlongs over the firm Mellon turf course was 1:01.69. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Ortiz, Jr., said, “I went through a tight hole around the three-sixteenths pole, but she’s got a lot of heart. She made it through, and I think that’s the point where we won the race. I mean when I made it through the hole I knew I was going to win. There wasn’t a lot of race left and I saw the horse in front of me was getting tired. I think when Javier [Castellano, aboard Sly Beauty] hit his filly she lugged in a little bit on him and I was [that] much more sure that I could go for it. I went for it and he corrected, but when he corrected I was already there. It was good that I had a lot of horse underneath me.”

“There was a moment there where things got a little crowded and she showed a lot of bravery on her second start to push her way through there,” said Todd Pletcher. “She has an explosive turn of foot in that last part. She had to push her way through a little bit, and for a lightly raced filly to do that it is impressive.”

Both trainer and jockey are already thinking about March X Press’ next start. Pletcher said, “I think maybe something like the [Grade 1] Natalma [on September 17 at Woodbine] going a one-turn mile is something that might make sense for her.”

Said Ortiz, “Hopefully we can go a little further next time. You can only hope. Hopefully, she will stretch out and we can have more fun with her. She’s a good filly for a New York-bred. She’s got a lot of options. Hopefully she will stay sound and go a little longer.”

Bred by Pine Ridge Stables and foaled at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, March X Press is the fourth foal out of Indian Rush, a Kentucky-bred stakes-placed turf runner who earned just shy of $100,000. Her first foal, Harlan’s Honor, won the 2008 Colleen Stakes at Monmouth and placed twice more in black type contests, ultimately bringing $300,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale in foal to Liam’s Map. Indian Rush foaled a Tiznow colt this year and was bred to Honor Code in the spring.

Golconda Stables purchased March X Press for $90,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. From her two Saratoga victories, she has earned $103,800.


A confident, game Literata garners first stakes victory in Saratoga Dew

Monday, August 14th, 2017

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

On July 22, Michael Dubb’s 6-year-old mare Literata (Read the Footnotes) was still looking for her first trip to the winner’s circle since last September, and seventh lifetime score. Trainer Rudy Rodriguez shipped her to Finger Lakes that day hoping she could get a confidence-building victory.

Mission accomplished. Literata scored an allowance win by open lengths in Farmington and, three weeks later at Saratoga, parlayed her success into a first career stakes win: a determined half-length victory in Monday’s $100,000 Saratoga Dew Stakes at 1 1/8 miles for older New York-bred fillies and mares.

Runner-up to a romping Katheryn the Wise in the Critical Eye Stakes on May 29, and third in the same race in 2016, but not yet a stakes winner, Literata was reunited on Monday with jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., who had been aboard for all 12 of her starts last year, piloting the consistent runner to two wins, four seconds and three thirds.

Third choice in the betting at 3-1 on Monday, Literata was forwardly placed after the break, 1 1/2 lengths behind Flattermefabulous (7-2), who carved out an opening quarter mile in 24.98. Jc’s Shooting Star tracked the action in third followed by Legally Bay and Jc’s American Dream – the older half sister to Jc’s Shooting Star.

Flattermefabulous continued to lead along the backstretch through a half mile in 49.18, but in the approach to the far turn, with a half-mile left to go, Literata made decisive move, gaining the lead and asked for her best at the quarter pole.

The “Jc” siblings tag-teamed Literata in the stretch. The rail opened for Jc’s American Dream, who cut the corner neatly and advanced from fifth into second, while Jc’s American Dream challenged Literata to her outside.

After a tooth-and-nail battle to the finish line, Literata prevailed in the final sixteenth to score by a half length. Jc’s American Dream in second finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of her younger sibling, while Legally Bay, Super Allison and Flattermefabulous completed the order of finish. After three-quarters of mile in 1:13.97, the final time for nine furlongs over the fast main track was 1:52.16. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“I broke out of there, and [there was] not too much pace in the race,” reported Ortiz, Jr. “We just knew we were going to be close, so I sat there comfortable, and waited as long as I could, and let her start to pick it up early, and she just kept going. When the other one [Jc’s American Dream] got through on the inside, I knew she’d fight a little bit, so I got close to her and kept going with her, and I knew my filly doesn’t quit, so we were in good shape.”

With the Saratoga Dew victory, Irad tied his brother Jose for leading rider at the meet with 32 wins each. “Well we are tied, so keep it tied for now, and we’ll see who’s happy in the end,” said the elder Ortiz.

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez said, “We are just happy to be here. It worked out good for us. All the credit has to go to Irad. He kept the filly very close and most of these horses don’t want to go that far, so I think the key was to keep her close to the pace. We were close enough that when the other horse made their move, I think the extra furlong kind of got to them. The second horse [Jc’s American Dream] ran a really good race, but Irad pushed her a little bit and maybe intimidated her a little bit, and everything worked out good for us today.”

As to the trip to Finger Lakes last month, Rodriguez explained, “We just wanted to build her confidence [and] win a race for her. Sometimes when you win a race with them, they get a little more into it, and it looked like it worked. Now we have put three [good] races back to back, so she is running very good. She is in very good form now.”

Literata is the first New York-bred for Judy Orton, who runs a small hands-on breeding operation called Meadow View Thoroughbreds LLC in Canajoharie. Orton bred her placed Kentucky-bred Personal Flag mare Personal Wealth to Read the Footnotes after Jan Durrschmidt of Indigo Farm gave her a season she had won the season at Sequel Stallions’ annual stallion show (conducted at Keane Stud that year) and encouraged the mating.

At auction Literata brought $18,000 from Western Guidelines as an OBS yearling in 2012 and resold later to EQB at the Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale in Kentucky for $30,000.  Literata, whose record is now eight wins, nine seconds and four thirds from 33 starts with earnings of $475,898, is the last reported foal for Personal Wealth.


Five Star Rampage guts out win in Jack Betta Be Rite Stakes

Monday, August 14th, 2017

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Late Night Stables LLC’s Five Star Rampage made Monday’s road trip from Saratoga to Finger Lakes Racetrack in Farmington well worth her while, scoring a determined victory in her stakes debut, the featured $50,000, 1 1/16-mile Jack Betta Be Rite for older New York-bred fillies and mares.

A 4-year-old daughter of Quality Road trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Five Star Rampage – a three-time winner in 13 starts – was tabbed as the 9-5 favorite for the “Jack” on the morning line, but by post time her odds had drifted up to 6-1. Most bettors gravitated toward Linda Rice’s Belmont/Saratoga shipper Daisy Cutter (4-5) and Jeremiah Englehart’s Finger Lakes-based Pride of Saratoga (2-1).

After breaking from the outside post of five, Five Star Rampage rushed up to the front under Joshua Navarro to establish a spot at the rail for the trip around the first turn. Midway around the bend, though, Pride of Saratoga advanced aggressively to take over the pacesetter’s role and led the field through opening splits of 24.36 and 48.44, with Five Star Rampage setting up in a customary stalking position.

Rounding the far turn, the pair found themselves on even terms. Five Star Rampage took a narrow lead at the quarter pole and a pitched battle ensued in the dash for the wire as the pair took turns holding the top spot.

Both fillies were in it to win it, but, in the end, Five Star Rampage edged past Pride of Saratoga to get the victory by a neck. Daisy Cutter checked in third, 2 1/4 back, followed across the line by Mecke’s Madalyn and Taramislew. After six furlongs in 1:12.95, and a mile in 1:39.59, the final time for 1 1/16 miles over the fast track was 1:46.89. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds and JMJ Racing, Five Star Rampage is the first foal out of Genisa, a placed Kentucky-bred Storm Cat mare who was purchased by Sequel’s Becky Thomas for $140,000 at the 2011 Keeneland January sale. In addition to Five Star Rampage, Genisa has an unplaced 3-year-old filly by Girolamo named Vedado, and a juvenile filly by Mission Impazible named Dreamers and Me. At the 2015 Keeneland November, the mare sold in foal to Bodemeister to Shimokobe Farm in Japan.

Five Star Rampage changed hands once at public auction when purchased by Dr. Stephen Carr for $175,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale in 2012. Her stakes victory improves her overall record to four wins, two second and three thirds with earnings of $159,939.

Thermistor wires full field to win Arapahoe’s Gold Rush Futurity

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Coady Photography

By Sarah Mace

While his younger New York-bred brethren were busy keeping their dates with the auctioneer in Saratoga Springs on Sunday, Thermistor, a juvenile colt by New York-based sire Frost Giant (Sunrise Stallions at Keane Stud), was out in the Wild West — Aurora, Colorado to be exact — preserving a perfect two-for-two record. In the closing-day feature at Arapahoe Park, the flashy blaze-faced chestnut wired a field of 12 in the $100,000 Gold Rush Futurity.

Trained by J. R. Caldwell, who co-owns Thermistor with Mojo Racing Partners, the colt came into the race off a winning debut on July 15 at Lone Star Park, where he bested seven rivals by 3 3/4 lengths going five furlongs in 1:05.70. Thermistor posted his final work in preparation for the Gold Rush at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, where he fired a five-furlong bullet in :59 4/5.

As in his debut, Thermistor was quick out of the gate as the 5-2 favorite, using post two to his advantage to gain the lead and the rail. Following a hot quarter in 21.67, Thermistor was directly challenged by Iowa shipper Fortified Effect, who got on even terms in the two path.

Coady Photography

The pair raced virtually stride-for-stride from the quarter pole to the furlong marker. In the final sixteen Thermistor finally wrested back his lead and edged away to win by three-quarters of a length. After a testing half-mile in 44.57, the final time for six furlongs over the “wet fast” (sealed) track was 1:11.31.

“This colt is really quick away from the gate,” said jockey Danny Sorenson, who was riding in his first race at Arapahoe Park.  “He broke sharp, and then he stays to his task.  He doesn’t mind the pressure of horses, and he’s really talented.”

Mojo Racing Partners purchased Thermistor for the bargain price of $15,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. He has now earned $72,360 from his two wins.

Bred by Golden Goose Enterprises, LLC, Thermistor is out of Sinister Quill, a winner of both her juvenile starts and a multiple stakes placed runner in Canada who was purchased by Hidden Brook for $8,000 in 2013 at the Keeneland January sale. Thermistor is Sinister Quill’s second winner from two foals start. She foaled a filly by Big Brown on January 23, 2017.

Undefeated Twin Creeks homebred Pure Silver turns G2 Adirondack into a rout

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

NYRA/Jamie Coulter

By Sarah Mace

Despite a less than ideal break, Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ undefeated, never-headed homebred Pure Silver made a quick recovery, struck the front and never looked back in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Saratoga. In the end, Pure Silver turned the 6 1/2-furlong affair, which had attracted a talented field of eight, into a rout, posting a 9 1/2-length victory.

The win was the first graded victory for Pure Silver’s sire Mission Impazible, last year’s top first crop sire in New York and currently the state’s leading second crop and juvenile sire. The stallion stands at Becky Thomas and Dennis Narlinger’s Sequel Stallions New York where Pure Silver was also foaled.

Bet down to 3-2 favoritism for the powerhouse team of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez, Pure Silver had an awkward start from post one, tossing her head before the break after Stainless, directly to her outside, became fractious. Stainless came off the worst of it, actually going to her nose after the break, but Pure Silver recovered quickly and ranged up on the inside past three horses to strike the lead.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Along the backstretch, Pure Silver showed the the way to 31-1 longshot Di Maria by three-quarters of a length through a speedy opening quarter mile in 22.44. That rival was no match, but with a half mile left to go Limited View loomed with intent to Pure Silver’s outside, and the pair hooked up through the turn.

Cutting the corner neatly, Pure Silver shook clear after the quarter pole and opened up daylight, then five lengths and ultimately a winning margin of 9 1/2 lengths. Southampton Way closed from forth into second while 23-1 Wall of Compassion rallied from sixth to get the show. Completing the order of finish were the unlucky Stainless, Sly Roxy, Limited View, Proportionality and Di Maria.

After a half mile in 45.48 and three-quarters in 1:17.22, the final time for 6 1/2 furlongs over the fast main track was 1:17.22. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“We expected to be on the lead,” said winning pilot John Velazquez who has been aboard for all three of the filly’s starts. “We did[n’t] break very well. I used [her] a little bit to make sure I was going to be close the pace. Once I got to the spot I wanted to be in, I just waited there. She did a good job settling around the turn and finished up really well.”

Added trainer Todd Pletcher, “She won pretty convincingly. She’s pretty fast. She didn’t actually get away quite as easily as she normally does, but she made up for it quickly and got to the lead the right way. She kind of ran them off their feet from there.”

The conditioner also offered the following thought on race strategy. “It’s been a hard track sometimes to make up a lot of ground on. We knew that this filly was naturally fast and we were going to let her do her thing.”

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Pure Silver broke her maiden at Belmont Park on June 22 going 5 1/2 furlongs, following up a month later with a victory by the same margin in the 6-furlong Lynbrook Stakes on July 16. She passed class test of facing open and graded rivals for the first time in the Grade 2 Adirondack with flying colors, and tacked on an extra furlong with ease.

Pure Silver is the lone starter to date from her dam Jehan, a Kentucky-bred stakes winner and $302,683-earner by Forest Wildcat, who was purchased by Twin Creeks at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale for $150,000. Jehan has produced a yearling full-brother to Pure Silver and foaled a Graydar filly on April 6 this year. The mare was bred back to Graydar this year.

Pure Silver, who went through the OBS March sale this year, where McMahon and Hill Bloodstock signed the ticket for $120,000, has earned $217,200 for her three victories. As to her next start, Pletcher said, “I think we’ll certainly take a look at [the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway on September 2]. She’s a filly who has carried her condition really well. Now having run three times, she looks fantastic.”

Nagle’s “Key” claim continues to pay dividends with wire-to-wire Statue of Liberty score

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Lover’s Key, owned and trained by Reid Nagle, went out on a mission in Saratoga’s feature on Thursday –  the Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Stakes series for eligible New York-sired 3-year-old fillies. The speedy chestnut Frost Giant filly held sway from gate to wire under jockey Junior Alvarado in the one-mile turf contest, and nailed down the victory by a comfortable 2 1/4-length margin.

Nagle claimed Lover’s Key for himself from Tom Bush and Empire Equines for $50,000 at Gulfstream Park on January 4. After he sorted out Lover’s Key’s tendency to drift out by adding and adjusting blinkers, the filly won four of six subsequent starts and came in second in her stakes debut in the Cupecoy’s Joy division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Belmont Park on June 25.

Explaining his reason for making the claim, Nagle said, “I liked her breeding. She had a layoff and it looked like she was figuring out what was going on. It looked like she was relatively immature at that point. I take lots of chances and I end up with lots of things I wish I didn’t have, but then I end up with [some successful ones].”

Representing Nagle for his first career start at Saratoga on Thursday, while making her own Saratoga debut, Lover’s Key faced field where the top contenders seemed well matched on paper.

Out of the gate alertly, Nagle’s filly (4-1) established the lead from the get-go, leading Lady Joan (5-2), Hollywood Cat (17-1) and Paz the Bourbon (5-1 favorite) by a length around the clubhouse turn and into the backstretch through a quarter mile in 24.31 and a half in 48.52.

The leading group traveled through the far turn with their relative positions unchanged. Asked for a little more late in the bend, Lover’s Key came off the rail in upper stretch, edged away and ultimately scored the victory by 2 1/4 lengths.

Lady Joan in second finished a half length in advance of Hollywood Cat. Paz the Bourbon followed 1 1/4 lengths later. Completing the order of finish were She’s Dreamin, Silly Numbers, Carry Your Heels and Emiliana’s Hope. After six furlongs in 1:12.46, the final time for the mile over the firm inner Saratoga turf course was 1:34.97. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

“I thought she was very impressive,” said jockey Junior Alvarado. “She broke out of there very good and coming to the first turn I just had to get her to relax and she relaxed very well and I knew turning for home I was going to have plenty of horse left. When I ask her, she gives me a nice run and she finished full of run by the end.”

Alvarado, who rode her to victory in her prior start, a state-bred allowance, continued, “There is nothing not to like about her. She does everything I want her to do. She has been on the lead a couple of times, but she lets me rate her. She has extension blinkers, which I was worried about the first time I rode her, but, I mean, nothing really bothers her. She doesn’t drift out at all. A very nice and lovely filly.”

Reid Nagle first talked about problem-solving with the assistance of the blinkers. “[The blinkers have] turned her entirely around. She’s very focused now,” said Nagle. “She knows what her job is and she knows where the finish line is. It’s a full cup on the [left] side and an extended cup on the right side. In two of her races she went to the lead and ultimately won, but went tightly on the first turn and on the second turn she ran to the outside rail at Gulfstream, and those were with full-cup blinkers, so we put extended cup blinkers on the right-hand side and that eliminated that issue entirely.”

On race strategy, Nagle said, “From what I’ve been told, the inner turf was a speed-favoring turf course, so I thought there would be a lot of competition for the lead. She just broke perfectly. Sometimes she doesn’t break that fast and then catches up and can easily be put to the lead. But she just broke easily and the pace was very moderate. I was surprised that it was that moderate and there wasn’t more competition for the front end.”

Bred by Akindale Farm, Lover’s Key is the second foal out of My Dinah, a multiple stakes winning New York-bred mare bred by the late John Hettinger at Akindale farm. My Dinah’s first foal, No Texting by Stormy Atlantic is a multiple winner. The mare has a 2-year-old colt by First Samurai named Sun Bahram, who has not started, and foaled a Freud colt on April 19, 2017.

Lover’s Key changed hands once at public auction, purchased by McMahon and Hill Bloodstock for $25,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale. From 12 starts she has compiled a record of five wins, a second and a third, and has earned $186,162. Nagle does not have plans for Lover’s Key’s next start.


Mo Maverick decisive winner of Monmouth’s Lamplighter Stakes

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo

By Sarah  Mace

Three-times stakes placed already, Mo Maverick (Uncle Mo) got his breakthrough black type victory on Saturday afternoon with a decisive score over five rivals in the 1 1/16-mile, $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park.

Bet down to even money, Mo Maverick stalked a length behind longshot pacesetter Hot and Heavy for the opening half mile. Asked for more approaching the far turn, the colt caught up with Hot and Heavy and, in the bend, made a decisive move between the pacesetter and Holiday Bonus, who had ranged up on his outside, and poked his head in front.

Opening up daylight in the stretch, Mo Maverick roared home a 1 1/2-length winner, with never an anxious moment. Dover Cliffs, Harlan Strong and Holiday Bonus finished next in order a neck and a nose apart, followed by Muggsamatic. The final time for the race was 1:42.80 over a “good” turf course.

“He sat just off the early pace and was comfortable,” said winning rider Eddie Castro, who had the assignment aboard ‘Mo’ for the first time on Saturday. “I felt the horse [Holiday Bonus] come pressure me on the outside and I asked [Mo Maverick] to run and he took off. He’s a really good horse.”

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo

Trained by George Weaver for RA Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables, Mo Maverick compiled a strong juvenile record last year after transitioning from dirt to turf and stretching out to a route of ground. Breaking his maiden by seven lengths at third asking at Aqueduct on November 13, he came right back to win a state-bred allowance on November 26. The colt wrapped up his 2-year-old campaign on the Aqueduct inner, where he finished second in the Damon Runyon Stakes on December 29.

Following a 10-week winter break, the colt came roaring back off the bench to win an allowance turf sprint at Gulfstream Park by more than three lengths on March 11. He then posted a pair of solid performances in stakes company. A game third in a blanket photo for place behind Yoshida in the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico on May 20, Mo Maverick finished a fourth to Frostmourne in the Grade 2 Penn Mile on June 3. The Lamplighter provided some welcome class relief.

Bred by Gentry Stable and foaled at Blue Chip Farms in Wallkill, Mo Maverick is the first foal out of Lemon Splendor (Lemon Drop Kid). Bred by Gallagher’s Stud, campaigned by Jim and Susan Hill and trained by George Weaver, Lemon Splendor won the 2011 Swirlaway Stakes for New York-breds as a juvenile. In 2013 the mare sold to Arch Bloodstock in foal at the 2013 Keeneland January sale for a bargain price of $10,000. In addition to Mo Maverick, she now has a placed juvenile by Tapizar named Raging Fire and a weanling filly by Carpe Diem.

Mike Ryan purchased Mo Maverick at the Keeneland September yearling sale for $200,000. From four wins, two seconds and a third from nine starts, the colt has earned $204,700.

Celtic Chaos wins loaded edition of John Morrissey with thrilling late charge

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Zilla Racing Stables’ Celtic Chaos (Dublin) can do little wrong these days. That includes on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga, when the 4-year-old colt charged down the center of the course to cut down a gritty Ostrolenka and win a loaded edition of the $100,000 John Morrissey Stakes for older New York-breds.

The victory was Celtic Chaos’ third straight win, second consecutive stakes score and the fifth win of the 2017 Saratoga meet for the white-hot barn of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

A one-run closer who depends on some pace to run into, Celtic Chaos was drawn in the outside post of nine under Eric Cancel for the 6 1/2-furlong tilt over a muddy (sealed) racetrack. Going in, his conditioner was a little concerned about the way the race was going to set up. “We were worried about the track. He likes it wet, but so do others,” said McLaughlin. “We wanted a fast pace when we saw [speedster] Bustin It as well as a couple others [Candid Desire and Weekend Hideaway] scratch.”

Sent off as the 5-1 fourth choice in this competitive group, Celtic Chaos settled next-to-last shortly after the break, while freewheeling longshot Brimstone clocked the first quarter in 21.74 on the front end.

Celtic Chaos passed one rival along the backstretch then advanced toward the vanguard in the approach to the far turn, with early trailer Papa Shot hot on his heels. Four wide in the turn the colt fanned out in the seven path at the head of the stretch as the half went in 44.96.

While Celtic Chaos unleashed his charge in the center of the track, Ostrolenka split horses to take over control in midstretch from third. Celtic Chaos quickly caught up with the new leader, and despite a stubborn foe and some brushing in the final strides, got up to win by a game neck. After six furlongs in 1:10.81, Celtic Chaos stopped the clock at 1:17.65.

Papa Shot, well back early with the winner, got up for third another 2 1/2 lengths back. T Loves a Fight and 7-2 favorite Gypsum Johnny followed a neck apart in fourth and fifth. Completing the order of finish were pacesetter Brimstone, Eye Luv Lulu, Fish Trappe Road and Breakin the Fever. [REPLAY].

“Every single time I ride this horse he gives me 100 percent,” enthused jockey Eric Cancel. “Today, we had a wonderful trip. He felt really comfortable where he was along the inside and he was relaxed. He was running so I had to take swing him out. Like always, he was there for me and finished strong.” McLaughlin added, “Eric [Cancel] gets along great with this horse and everything worked out today.”

McLaughlin said, “I was a little worried in the stretch. I thought he was lugging in a little bit and I didn’t want to see any bumping but it all worked out and it was a fun day to win with these owners. It’s great for the Zilla [Racing Stables] group so many of them are from Saratoga and they have a lot of passion for the game.”

At three Celtic Chaos had a strong campaign, winning two races and finishing six times in the money, but has really blossomed at four. Never out of the exacta in six 2017 starts, the colt won through his state-bred conditions in Aqueduct in early April. Next out in his stakes debut in the Affirmed Success Stakes on April 28, he made a terrific last-to-first run to get the money. In 19 starts, the Celtic Chaos has six wins, four seconds and three thirds and has earned $380,780.

Bred by Spendthrift Farm LLC and foaled at Cedar Ridge Farm in Pine Plains, Celtic Chaos is from the first crop of Dublin, who stands at Keane Stud in Amenia. His dam Let Joy Reign, has produced five winners from five to race, including Louisiana-bred stakes-winner Osi Posse and Kentucky-bred multiple stakes performer Get a Notion. Zilla purchased Celtic Chaos for $55,000 at the 2015 OBS spring sale.

Twisted Tom scores determined victory in New York Derby

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Twisted Tom, last seen when sent off as a well-respected 9-1 shot in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, where, with an assist from some traffic trouble, he finished midpack, proved just too good for six rivals in Saturday’s salty renewal of the $150,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes where he scored a determined half-length victory.

Carrying the colors of Cobra Farm Inc., who owns the Creative Cause gelding along with with RR Partners and Head of Plains Partners, Twisted Tom has been based at Saratoga with trainer Chad Brown, and, since late June, has posted three works, including a four-furlong bullet move on June 29. By post time for his Finger Lakes debut, he was bet down to 3-4 favoritism. Regular Maryland-based jockey Feargal Lynch who had the riding assignment was also appearing at Finger Lakes for the first time.

Gold for the King was sent to the front after bell, only to be joined to his inside by Pat On the Back, while from post three Twisted Tom embarked on his trip around the clubhouse turn between horses in the second flight. Exiting the turn four wide, “Tom” caught up with the leaders in company with Broken Engagement.

Gold for the King extended his lead somewhat on the backstretch, but Twisted Tom followed suit and attached himself firmly to the pacesetter’s flank, while Pat on the Back settled in third.

As the field rounded the far turn, the top three were stacked up across the track, but Broken Engagement and Twisted Tom emerged as the main contenders at the head of the stretch, setting up a pitched battle to the wire.

Twisted Tom found himself in tight at the rail in midstretch, but poked his head in front and, from that point on, refused to give up any ground. The gelding simply dug in and propelled himself to a determined half-length victory.

Runner up Broken Engagement finished 2 1/4 lengths clear of Pat on the Back in third. Completing the order of finish were Can You Diggit, Gold for the King, Six Sided Bling and Dynamax Prime. The final time for 1 1/16 miles over the fast going was 1:44.62. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Bred by Dr. William B. Wilmot and Dr. Joan M. Taylor and foaled at Gallagher’s Stud in Ghent, Twisted Tom now has five wins from eight starts and has earned $350,131. The New York Derby marks stakes win number three for the gelding. Earlier in the year he followed a thrilling victory in Laurel’s Private Terms on March 18, when he nailed O Dionysus at the wire in his stakes debut, with a more decisive 2 1/4-length score over the same rival and three others 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio also at Laurel.

Twisted Tom is one of six winners from six foals to start out of Wilmot-Taylor homebred Tiffany Twisted. The mare is a half sister to multiple graded stakes winner Incurable Optimist and two stakes-performers. Grade 1 winner Class Play appears further down the family tree. Tiffany Twisted currently has a yearling filly by Fed Biz.