NEWS: racing

La Verdad truly dazzles in Grade 2 Distaff

Saturday, April 19th, 2014
Adam Coglianese

Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Lady Sheila Stable’s La Verdad (Yes It’s True) dominated a deep field loaded with speedy fillies and mares to achieve her first graded victory gate-to-wire in the Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday afternoon. La Verdad makes it two in a row for New York-bred fillies in the Distaff, following in the footsteps of undefeated New York-bred Horse of the Year Cluster of Stars, who earned her fifth straight victory and first black type in the race last year.

A winner of six of eight prior lifetime starts for conditioner Linda Rice, La Verdad followed up a game second in her stakes debut in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park on February 22 with a commanding three-plus-length win in a sloppy renewal of the Broadway for New York-bred female sprinters on March 29. To tune up for the Distaff, the 4-year-old posted a sharp five-furlong breeze at Belmont Park on April 11 in 1:00 3/5, the fastest of thirty to work the distance that day.

Bet down to narrow 2-1 favoritism in the field of seven teed up for six-furlong Distaff (just edging 2.2-1 second choice Kauai Katie), La Verdad could have been vulnerable to having her frontrunning style compromised by the other speed in the field, but in the event turned the race into a romp.

Exiting post one like a shot under regular rider Jose Ortiz, La Verdad immediately threw down the gauntlet, opening up a length on the field and challenging the rest to “catch me if you can.”

NYRA/Susie Raisher

NYRA/Susie Raisher

After running fractions of :22.26 and :44.93, tracked first by Munnings Sister, then by Bridgehampton (who advanced as far as La Verdad’s neck in the far turn), La Verdad opened up again at the top of the lane. Entering the stretch with a comfortable lead, she cruised to the wire a 3 3/4-length winner.

Stonestreet Stables’ Kauai Katie came from off the pace to finish a solid second in her first start since last July, while My Pal Chrisy turned her closing style to advantage to advance from last finish third. The final time over the fast Aqueduct main was 1:09.10, La Verdad’s fastest six furlongs to date by nearly a full second. [VIDEO]

Jose Ortiz said, “She broke really well. The other filly put a little pressure on but she handled it OK. She was very relaxed. I know we went in :44, but she did it very easily. When I asked her to go at the quarter-pole, she just took off. I knew I had a lot of horse. Linda [Rice] has done a great job with her.”



Sheila Rosenblum of Lady Sheila Stable was elated with the victory, saying after the race, “I love that horse, and New York loves that horse. She’s a New York horse. There were great horses [in the race], but she was the best one today. This is the first [graded stakes win of my life], hopefully not my last. She’ll always be special. This is a really special moment, right after my daughter and son were born. She’s right up there.”

After finishing fourth in her unveiling in March 2013 on the Aqueduct inner, La Verdad went on to break her maiden and win an entry-level state-bred allowance in back-to-back starts in April and May at Aqueduct and Belmont. Following six months off, she took three straight races, winning through her second-level open allowance condition before finishing second in the Fritchie, winning the Broadway and Grade 2 Distaff. With a record of 7-1-0 from 9 starts, La Verdad has earned $426,700.

Bred by Eklektikos Stable LLC and foaled at Chester and Mary Broman’s Chestertown farm in Chestertown, La Verdad is one of two winners from two foals to start out of Noble Fire (Hook and Ladder), a stakes-placed runner bred by Chester and Mary Broman and also trained by Linda Rice ($67,000).

Noble Fire, who was purchased by Rice as agent for $115,000 at the 2007 OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training, is also the dam of speedy Rice-trained Eklektikos homebred N. F’s Destiny (Cuvee), a four-time winner and earner of over $200,000.

Noble Fire currently has a 2-year-old filly by City Zip named Hot City Girl. She was bred to Freud last spring.


NY-Bred KY Derby update for April 17: Uncle Sigh in, Samraat shifts tack to Belmont

Thursday, April 17th, 2014
by Sarah Mace

Ever since the completion of the final round of major Kentucky Derby preps on April 12, Uncle Sigh had been sitting on the cusp of qualifying for the 20-horse field, ranked at number 21 with 24 points.

Bred by Milfer Farm Inc. and conditioned by Gary Contessa for Chip McEwen’s Wounded Warrior Stables, Uncle Sigh ran strong seconds to Samraat in the Grade 3 Withers and Grade 3 Gotham and most recently finished fifth in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 5, eight lengths behind upsetter Wicked Strong.

The Indian Charlie colt seemed to have a good chance of moving up in the rankings, since the connections of several horses above him on the leaderboard (including Dance With Fate, Midnight Hawk, and Ring Weekend) were unsure about a Derby start, but Uncle Sigh made the cut unexpectedly on Wednesday due to an unlooked-for misfortune. The connections of undefeated Florida Derby winner Constitution (formerly No. 7 on the leaderboard) announced on Wednesday that he would miss the May 3 Classic in Louisville due to a hairline fracture on his right front cannon bone. Fortunately the talented WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ runner by Tapit should “be back to 100% after a little time.”

Uncle Sigh is scheduled to work Friday morning at Belmont Park, again on Thursday April 24 and will van to Louisville that afternoon.

Samraat ended up fifth on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” leaderboard with 100 points after winning the Grade 3 Gotham and Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct Racetrack, and finishing second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial.

As reported by the DRF, Len Riggio’s homebred shipped to Fair Hill after the Wood for some turn-out and therapy in the hyperbaric chamber. Instead of returning to his home base at Aqueduct, however, he was rerouted by trainer Rick Violette to Belmont Park to prepare for the big race.

Violette changed plans as a “best-case scenario in case the worst-case scenario happens,” after a precautionary quarantine was placed on Barn 10 at Aqueduct when tests done on Clawback, who died in the barn last Thursday, showed small amounts of Equine Herpesvirus. Violette’s stakes-winning New York-bred turf filly Effie Trinket (Freud) is also now based at Belmont after wintering in Palm Meadows.

Samraat, who was sired by Riggio’s surprising stallion Noble Causeway, will also breeze on Friday morning at Belmont Park.



Finger Lakes kicks off 2014 live thoroughbred racing season on Friday

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

finger-lakes-casino-racetrack logoFinger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack (FLGR) will kick off the 2014 live thoroughbred racing season on Friday, April 18. The Western New York track’s 52nd season, which runs through December 5, will begin with the nine-race Opening Day card. Post time for the first race is scheduled for 12:35 p.m. Gates open at 11:30 a.m.

FLGR will begin the season with live racing four days a week and dark days on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Thursdays will be added to the schedule beginning May 15. Post time for most days will be at 1:10 p.m. with the exception of Friday which will start at 12:35 p.m.

In 2014 FLGR will play host to fifteen stakes races for state-breds with purses of $1,125,000, including five races for juveniles worth $500,000. The richest race of the season, with an estimated purse of $200,000, is the New York Breeders’ Futurity for state-bred 2-year-olds to be run on Saturday, October 4.  The $150,000 New York Derby, the second leg of the Big Apple Triple and the season’s biggest race for New York-bred 3-year-olds, will be run on July 12, along with the $75,000 New York Oaks for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies. The season schedule after May 31 is pending approval from the New York State Gaming Commission.

The claiming price for the bottom level was increased from $4,000 to $5,000 for the 2014 meet. There will be five races with the higher tag on Friday.

Opening Day

2013 Finger Lakes “Horse of the Year” Frisky Warrior will make his 2014 debut in Friday’s seventh race. The 5-year-old New York-bred will run as part of a coupled entry with Exley for trainer Ralph D’Alessandro. Frisky Warrior will be making his first start since December 10, 2013. He performed a four furlong bullet workout of :48.60 on April 10 in preparation for the $19,300 allowance test. The talented gelding had a total of five wins in nine FLGR starts last season. The $200,802 earner will battle eight other rivals in the Opening Day feature with regular rider Jaime Rodriguez in the irons.

Rodriguez will be honored after Friday’s third race for being the top FLGR jockey in 2013. The 23-year-old from Carolina, Puerto Rico won his first career jockey title after making 149 visits to the FLGR winners circle last year. Rodriguez won the richest race of his young career on September 28, 2013. He took the $237,457 New York Breeders’ Futurity aboard Wired Bryan.

Chris Englehart will also be presented an award for his achievements in 2013. He was the top FLGR conditioner for the eleventh consecutive year. Englehart saddled 143 winning horses to register his thirteenth career trainer title. He surpassed the 3,500 mark in lifetime wins during the FLGR break.

Jockey notes

Hector Berrios recently joined the FLGR jockey colony for the 2014 meet. The veteran journeyman has an outstanding resume that includes over 2,600 career wins and over 80 stakes victories. He was a top ten rider at Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico before arriving at FLGR.

“I chose to ride here because of the length of the meet and the larger purses,” said Berrios. “I can still ride in Puerto Rico during the four months off.”

The 42-year-old from Coamo, Puerto Rico began his riding career in California. After working for Laz Barrera he competed in his first race at Santa Anita. Berrios earned his first career victory at Hollywood Park in 1991 aboard Drum Sound.

His most notable triumph was on December 2, 2007 at Hipodromo Camarero.  Berrios guided Soy Conquistador to a five length victory in the $290,000 Clasico Internacional del Caribe. The one mile and one-eighth time of 1:50.06 in the Caribbean’s richest race was a track record.

Berrios will see immediate action with two mounts on Friday. He is listed to ride in the fourth and seventh race.

Regular FLGR jockey Jose Gutierrez notched his 1,000th career North American win during the FLGR offseason. The journeyman from Panama directed Sharp Tongue to victory at Calder on April 11.

Wagering notes

A new wagering option has been added to the FLGR menu for the 2014 season. The Pick-5 will be available beginning with race three on a typical nine-race card. The minimum play for the Pick-5 is fifty cents.

FLCR recently launched an interactive wagering platform that allows the customer to bet on thoroughbred racing through the internet and telephone. Horse players can register at and make deposits and withdrawals to a secure account.

Discreet Marq close-up second in G1 Jenny Wiley for impressive 2014 debut

Saturday, April 12th, 2014
Keeneland Photo

Pink cap (Keeneland Photo)

by Sarah Mace

Patricia Generazio’s homebred Discreet Marq (Discreet Cat), winner of the 2013 Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks and voted last year’s champion New York-bred 3-year-old filly and champion turf female, debuted impressively at four on Saturday, finishing a close-up second, beaten just a half-length after overcoming a rough start in the Grade 1, $300,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Discreet Marq was making her first start at Keeneland in the 1 1/16-mile Jenny Wiley, but was no stranger to success in grass competition at the Grade 1 level. In addition to winning the Del Mar Oaks last August, she finished second to Alterite in the Garden City at Belmont in September and to Egg Drop in the Matriarch at Betfair Hollywood Park in December. In other stakes competition closer to home last year, she won the Grade 2 Sands Point, the Eventail Stakes for state-breds and Pebbles Stakes, all three at Belmont, finishing the year atop the New York-bred earnings leaderboard with $657,500 for the year.

With a quintet of strong five-furlong works at Payson Park under her belt toward her 4-year-old debut, including a bullet move on March 29, Discreet Marq was third choice in the betting at post time at odds of 4-1. Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard once before for the Pebbles victory, had the call.

Discreet Marq had anything but an ideal start from post eight. Pinballed shortly after the break when the horse to her inside came out, the grey resolutely headed for the front, eventually settling in second position around the clubhouse turn behind Cloud Scapes.

Tracking Cloud Scapes along the backstretch, who carved out solid fractions of 23.77, 48.61 and 1:13.78 while leading by a diminishing length, Discreet Marq drew even with the pacesetter in the far turn and took possession of a short lead by the head of the stretch, with a host of pursuers pressing hard behind her.

Keeneland Photo

Keeneland Photo

After repelling bid from last year’s Jenny Wiley winner Centre Court, the grey was passed in deep stretch by 13-1 upsetter Hard Not to Like (Hard Spun), who dove down to the fence in the final stages and powered home to a half-length victory. Staying in the fight to the wire, Discreet Marq kept her nose in front of 24-1 Abaco (Giant’s Causeway) who charged late in the four-path to snag the show. After a mile in 1:36.68, the final time for the eight and a half furlongs was 1:42.38. (VIDEO CLIP)

Irad Ortiz Jr. said, “My filly drifted a little bit in the stretch and the winner came through. My filly was fighting (in the stretch) and I didn’t want to stop her momentum. She ran big big today; perfect trip, she settled and relaxed pretty good. We tried.”

Clement’s game plan for Discreet Marq’s 4-year-old campaign is to point next to the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game at Belmont Park on June 7.

An open stakes winner for James Ryerson (the Lie Low Stakes at Aqueduct in November 2012) and twice stakes-placed in two starts for Jane Cibelli at Gulfstream at the beginning of 2013, Discreet Marq has posted four victories and three runner-up finishes in seven starts for Clement, whose barn she joined last spring. Her career record now stands at 6-4-2 from 14 starts with $815,900 in earnings.

Discreet Marq is out of the multiple stakes-winning and graded-placed Marquetry mare To Marquet ($198,236), a Kentucky-bred Generazio homebred. Frank Generazio Jr. bred To Marquet’s dam, Florida-bred Pretty Momma.

Foaled at Keane Stud in Amenia, Discreet Marq is her dam’s first stakes winner, but To Marquet has also produced two successful stakes performers on turf. Marquet Cat (Cat Thief) earned $386,881 from 60 starts and Marquet Madness (Pico Central) earned $226,994. To Marquet currently has a yearling and weanling full-brother to Discreet Marq.

Samraat noses Social Inclusion for second behind G1 Wood upsetter Wicked Strong

Saturday, April 5th, 2014
by Sarah Mace

Though handed his first career defeat in the 90th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday, My Meadowview Farm’s homebred Samraat (Noble Causeway) once again put talent and grit on display when he managed to nose out Gulfstream Park invader and 3-2 favorite Social Inclusion for second behind Wicked Strong (9-1), who made a late charge from midpack to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Provided all goes well post-race, Samraat, who has amassed 100 points toward a place in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, will have his next date with the starter on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

Sharp out of post eight under regular rider Jose Ortiz, Samraat (3-1 second choice) entered the clubhouse turn in second position in the two-path behind pacesetter Schivarelli, with Social Inclusion just to his outside. As the field raced along the backstretch, Samraat settled in the second flight in-between Kristo and Noble Moon, while Florida phenom Social Inclusion tugged his way up into second position to vie with Schivarelli,

Once Social Inclusion assumed a clear lead in the far turn, Samraat advanced into second and focused on running him down, as Schivarelli hung tough at the fence. Although Samraat made up two lengths to get his nose in front of Social Inclusion in the shadow of the wire, Wicked Strong meanwhile barreled down the middle of the track and overhauled the frontrunners for a 3 1/2-length victory

Pacesetter Schivarelli finished fourth, followed across the line by New York-bred Uncle Sigh (5-1). New York-bred longshot Effinex (59-1), making just his third career start and stakes debut, finished eighth. The final time for the nine furlong race over the fast Aqueduct main track was 1:49.31. [VIDEO]

Samraat’s jockey Jose Ortiz said, “We had a perfect trip. He broke very sharp and I sat behind the favorite (No. 11, Social Inclusion), and when I asked him to go, he went, but he was looking at the horse in front of him and he didn’t see the other horse (winner Wicked Strong) come out, but he came out and passed us. I think he did great. He ran a big race.”

Trainer Rick Violette was thrilled with his colt’s performance. “It’s his best race,” said Violette. “It’s the first time he’s been surrounded and covered up, and he handled it. He came back three times. I thought he was going to be fourth the entire [stretch run] and he kept finding more, finding more. Good horses rally from this and get better. Other than win, he got a huge education.”

Violette continued, “I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do; Jose can put him anywhere he wants – behind horses, on the inside, wherever. I don’t think the extra eighth of a mile is going to bother him. We kind of did it the hard way. We made the first charge against the horse on the lead and did everybody else’s work, and [Wicked Strong] – who’s shown signs of talent – came and ran everybody down. I thought [Samraat] was going to be fourth every step of the way. You just can’t ask more from a horse.”

Samraat, who was already assured a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby by points, added to his tally for a grand total of 100 points (co-fourth place on the Kentucky Derby Starting Gate leaderboard).

Uncle Sigh (Indian Charlie), close runner-up to Samraat in both the Withers and Gotham, was a step slow out of the gate from post 10 and traveled in mid-pack to finish fifth. Trainer Gary Contessa said, “That’s not the position we really wanted to be in. It looks like the place to be was 1, 2, 3 or 4. He broke a little awkwardly and wasn’t quite the same horse. He was in behind horses for the first time and [jockey] Corey [Nakatani] said he was very green. We expected to be right next to Samraat, not seventh and taking dirt. I’m sure a set of blinkers would have helped today.” Uncle Sigh sits at with Cairo Prince at 17/18 on the Kentucky Derby Starting Gate leaderboard with 24 points.

Samraat, whose five prior victories include a romp in the Damon Runyon and determined victories in the Withers and Gotham has now earned $773,200.

Sired by Noble Causeway, who entered stud in Kentucky in 2008 at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky before relocating to Sequel Stallions New York in 2013, and foaled at My Meadowview Farm in Watermill, Samraat is out of Little Indian Girl, a winning Kentucky-bred daughter of Indian Charlie from the family of multiple graded stakes winner Nonsuch Bay. Purchased by My Meadowview at the 2008 Keeneland November sale for $150,000, Little Indian Girl has produced six winners and three other stakes performers led by top earner Original Fate by Grand Slam, who raced in Japan ($793,248), and graded black type-placed Screen Legend.

La Verdad skims over slop in Broadway for first stakes victory

Saturday, March 29th, 2014
NYRA/Chelsea Durand

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

by Sarah Mace

La Verdad (Yes It’s True), winner of five straight before finishing a game second in her stakes debut in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park on February 22, achieved her first stakes victory in the slop at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday afternoon, taking the $100,000 Broadway Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares.

Trained by Linda Rice for Sheila Rosenblum’s Lady Sheila Stable, La Verdad was the 4-5 post time favorite in the salty field of eight fillies and mares lined up to go six furlongs, seven of whom had won their last start. The main track at Aqueduct, which began the day labeled “good,” was downgraded over the course of a rainy afternoon from “muddy” to “sloppy.” La Verdad had won all three previous outings over off-going.

Out of the gate sharply under Jose Ortiz, aboard for all seven of the 4-year-old’s prior lifetime starts, La Verdad quickly opened up two lengths on the field, pursued by longshot Here’s Zealicious and 5-2 second choice Risky Rachel, winner of the 2012 Broadway and coming off back-to-back stakes wins at Tampa Bay.

Carving out a sharp quarter-mile in 22.80 and half in 46.26, La Verdad extended her lead to more than three lengths in upper stretch, and never had an anxious moment to the wire, completing the six furlongs in 1:11.55 3 1/2 lengths to the good.

Hot Rendezvous (Macho Uno) winner of her last two starts for trainer Gary Contessa, broke in the air and raced well back early, but finished strongly to get second, a head in front of multiple stakes winner Sunny Desert (Wild Desert), winner of last year’s Broadway and starting for the first time after nearly a year on the bench.

Completing the order of finish were Make the Moment, Here’s Zealicious, Cape Cod Carol, Ave’s Halo and Risky Rachel. Vicki’s Dancer was scratched.

Jose Ortiz felt that he had the best horse going in, and that she acquitted herself as expected. “She’s a nice horse, a nice New York-bred,” said Ortiz. “It was easy company here. She did what she had to do. She handled the [sloppy track] very good. She had won on [an off track] before, and she liked the track today.”

Linda Rice indicated that, for her part, she had a few pre-race concerns. “I wanted to use this race as a prep for the [Grade 2] Distaff on April 19, and I was a little shocked at how tough it came up,” Rice said.  I was concerned I didn’t have her quite tight enough for today; Jose said she was blowing a little bit, but she should be better next time. I didn’t want to have her over the top for the Grade 2.”

Following a fourth-place finish in her unveiling in March 2013 on the Aqueduct inner, La Verdad went on to break her maiden and win an entry-level state-bred allowance in back-to-back starts in April and May at Aqueduct and Belmont. Following six months off, the bay took three straight races, winning through her second-level open allowance condition before an impressive stakes debut in the Fritchie.

Rice said, “She’s a big filly so we took our time getting started with her. Then last summer, she got an infection, and I had to give her the summer off, but she’s come back with a vengeance.”

With a record of 6-1-0 in eight races, La Verdad has now earned $306,700.

Bred by Eklektikos Stable LLC and foaled at Chester and Mary Broman’s Chestertown farm in Chestertown, La Verdad is one of two winners from two foals to start out of Noble Fire (Hook and Ladder), a stakes-placed runner bred by Chester and Mary Broman and also trained by Linda Rice ($67,000).

Noble Fire, who was purchased by Rice as agent for $115,000 at the 2007 OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training, is also the dam of speedy Rice-trained Eklektikos homebred N. F’s Destiny (Cuvee), a four-time winner and earner of over $200,000.

Noble Fire currently has a 2-year-old filly by City Zip and was bred to Freud last spring.

Effinex late nomination to Triple Crown Series

Monday, March 24th, 2014
Adam Coglianese

Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Tri-Bone Stables’ Effinex (Mineshaft), runaway longshot winner of a first-level state-bred allowance at Aqueduct on Sunday, was one of ten 3-year-olds added to the roster of the 2014 Triple Crown Series during the late nomination period, which closed at Saturday, March 22 at 11:59 p.m. Late nomination to the series requires payment of a $6,000 fee.

Effinex, who has never run on Lasix, debuted on February 9 at Aqueduct for trainer Richard DeMola, finishing mid-pack in a 6-furlong sprint after ducking in at the break. Going off as the favorite in his second start as he stretched out to a mile on March 1, the dark bay finished second by 2 3/4 lengths, but was promoted to first by the stewards because the winner came out in late stretch and forced him to check and lose momentum as he closed with intent.

Making his first start for trainer David Smith on Sunday, and utterly dismissed at 28-1 odds, Effinex relaxed early during the 1 1/16 mile test, advanced three wide in the far turn and, when asked in upper stretch, drew off to a dominant 6 1/4-length victory under jockey Rosario Montanez, besting prohibitive 3-5 favorite Tapitation. The final time for the race was 1:47.18.

According to a tweet by @HRTVinsider on Sunday, the connections of Effinex said several weeks ago that the horse would be pointed to the April 5 Wood Memorial depending on the outcome of Sunday’s race.

Bred by Dr. Russell S. Cohen, who also manages his mother’s Tri-Bone Stables, Effinex is the first and only reported foal out of Dr. Cohen’s homebred multiple stakes winner What a Pear by E Dubai ($161,860). What a Pair is a daughter of Perfect Pair, an unplaced daughter of Pine Bluff purchased by Tri-Bone as a 2-year-old at OBS in 1999.

Cohen told the DRF that named the colt Effinex because he is a divorced father of three children with whom he has no communication. “This horse is dedicated to all divorced fathers who are estranged or alienated from their children.”

New York-bred stakes schedule upgraded for 2014

Monday, March 17th, 2014
by Sarah Mace

The schedule of New York-bred stakes races to be run at the three New York Racing Association (NYRA) racetracks and at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack (FLGR) has a new and improved look for 2014.

Published in advance to make it easier for owners and trainers to map out campaigns for their horses, the 2014 stakes schedule shifts the emphasis from overnight stakes races to a defined series of races for each age group distributed among the three NYRA tracks (Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack) and FLGR. Exciting new developments include the addition of five new races for 2-year-olds and the introduction of a Saratoga Showcase Day.

Jeffrey Cannizzo, Executive Director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. said, “The New York-bred stakes program is in a class by itself. No other region even comes near it and now, for the first time, we have a set schedule so that horsemen and owners can target races for the entire calendar year.”

FLGR Racing Secretary Bill Couch said, “Working collaboratively with the Breeders and NYRA, we are pleased to have been able to create a mutually beneficial stakes program that maximizes benefits and options for all horsemen in New York and at the same time enhances the visibility of New York-bred program.”

The 2014 New York racing schedule features a total of 69 New York-bred stakes races worth $8.6 million. Fifty-four stakes worth $7,475,000 will be run at the NYRA tracks and 15 stakes with purses of $1,125,000 will be hosted by FLGR. The purses for New York-bred stakes run by NYRA have increased by $485,000 over 2013.

Headlining the New York-bred stakes schedule for 2014 are five new races for 2-year-olds to be hosted by NYRA, bringing the total number of stakes races for New York-bred 2-year-olds in the state to 19 with total purses of $2,650,000. Fourteen races for New York-bred juveniles worth $2,150,000 will be run at NYRA tracks, and five races worth $500,000 will be run at FLGR. NYRA has boosted stakes purses for New York-bred 2-year-olds on its circuit by $1,050,000.

“This is the first step in what will likely be a multi-year process,” said NYRA Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza. “This year, we focused on the races for 2-year-olds, which seemed like a logical place to start. In coming years, we hope to roll out similarly structured programs for 3-year-olds and for older horses of both sexes.”

Said Cannizzo, “Martin Panza and NYRA deserve credit for the enhancements to the New York-bred 2-year-old stakes program. More races and bigger purses will add to commercial appeal of New York-breds in the eyes of pinhookers and end-users alike. Every breeder with a yearling for sale stands to benefit.”

Beyond the 2-year-olds, in 2014 New York-bred 3-year-olds will have 14 restricted stakes on the schedule worth $1,625,000 distributed as follows: 10 races worth $1.3 million on the NYRA tracks and four races worth $325,000 at FLGR. For horses of both sexes 3-years-old and up there will be 36 stakes races worth $4,325,000. Thirty of these, worth a total of $4,025,000, will be run at NYRA tracks. Six worth $300,000 are scheduled at FLGR.

Some of the marquee races for older horses have received significant purse enhancements. On Empire Showcase Day in the fall, the Empire Classic is now worth $300,000 and the new Empire Distaff Stakes for fillies and mares has a purse of $250,000. On the Big Apple Showcase Day, the one-mile Commentator Stakes and Critical Eye are each worth $200,000. Said Cannizzo, “It has now become even more lucrative to breed and own quality New York-breds. The money on offer here is a huge endorsement of our breeders and breeding program.”

Finally, this year for the first time Saratoga Race Course will play host to one of the popular all New York-bred showcase cards. The new Saratoga Showcase card, scheduled this year for August 24, the day after the Travers Stakes, will feature six stakes races. The event is modeled on the original New York-Bred Showcase program run at Belmont in October (now, Empire Showcase Day) and the Big Apple Showcase card run at Belmont on the Saturday before the Belmont Stakes, which was added to the NYRA racing calendar in 2013.

The “Stakes Schedule” page of the NYTB web site gives a chronological list of all New York-bred stakes races for the year, supplemented by tables breaking down the New York-bred stakes races by conditions of age and sex.


Deadlines approaching for Futurity Series nominations and supplements

Thursday, March 13th, 2014
by Sarah Mace

Owners and trainers should be aware of upcoming deadlines for nomination fees and supplemental payments for the Futurity Series at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack. The Finger Lakes Futurity Series consists of three stakes races for New York-bred juveniles: the Aspirant for colts and geldings, the Lady Finger for fillies and the New York Breeders’ Futurity for all horses

Typically foals are nominated to the Futurity Series as weanlings, when they are eligible to be nominated through the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund for a $25 fee through December 31 of the weanling year. Yearlings may be nominated though December 31 of the yearling year through Finger Lakes for a fee of $25. Any 2-year-olds of 2014 who have not yet been nominated to the series, must be nominated on or before April 1, 2014 for a fee of $150.

For all nominated horses, two supplemental payments are due in May and July of the horse’s 2-year-old year to remain eligible for the races. Late payments are not accepted (Finger Lakes will mail a reminder letter to the owner/breeder on file. If a foal has changed hands since being nominated, please contact the Finger Lakes Racing Secretary’s office.)

The first supplemental 2-year-old payment of $425 is due on or before May 31. The second supplemental 2-year-old payment of $650 is due on or before July 31.

Horses may also be supplemented to individual races. The supplemental payments for the Futurity alone are: $250 on or before May 31 and $400 on or before July 31. The supplemental payments for either the Aspirant or Lady Finger are: $175 on or before May 31 and $250 on or before July 31.

For further information and nomination forms for the Futurity Series, contact the Finger Lakes Racing Secretary’s office at 585-924-3232 ext. 388 or


Samraat proves tough as nails out-dueling Uncle Sigh, In Trouble to win G3 Gotham

Saturday, March 1st, 2014
Adam Coglianese

Adam Coglianese (from left to right: Samraat, Uncle Sigh, In Trouble)

by Sarah Mace

Upping the ante on his gritty one-length victory over fellow New York-bred Uncle Sigh after a protracted duel in the Withers on Feb. 1, tough-minded My Meadowview Farm homebred Samraat emerged victorious – and undefeated – following a thrilling three-way stretch-long battle with Uncle Sigh and In Trouble in the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday afternoon.

The five-for-five Noble Causeway colt earned a coveted 50 points under the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” point system from his Gotham victory. His 60 points total catapults him to number one on the updated leaderboard and should ensure a spot in the starting gate for the May classic. Runner-up Uncle Sigh earned 20 points giving him 24 points in all. A rematch in the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 5 between the two stand-out New York-bred Derby hopefuls seems likely.

Bet down to 2-1 favoritism with coupled entry Noble Cornerstone, and breaking from post six in the field of nine 3-year-olds, co-highweighted Samraat (123 pounds) sat just off the pace in third as 9-2 Grade 2 Futurity runner-up In Trouble set the pace closely shadowed by Uncle Sigh (7-2).

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Moving in the far turn, Samraat drew even with In Trouble and Uncle Sigh, and the three lined up across the track at the head of the stretch.

All three sophomores – In Trouble at the rail, Uncle Sigh between horses and Samraat in the three-path – dug in for the drive, none giving way as they raced in close quarters for the length of the stretch.

In the final yards, a determined Samraat edged off to a win by a neck. Uncle Sigh, unflinching between horses, finished a neck in front of pacesetter In Trouble, who crossed the wire in third 5 1/4 lengths clear of the rest of the field. Before the race was declared official, there was a general stewards’ inquiry focusing on some light bumping among the top three finishers in the stretch, but officials saw no cause for a change.

After an opening half-mile in 48.30, six furlongs in 1:12.30 and a mile in 1:37.56, the final time for the 1 1/16 miles over the fast Aqueduct inner oval was 1:44.44. [VIDEO]

NYRA/Joe Lobezzetta

NYRA/Joe Lobezzetta

Samraat’s jockey Jose Ortiz, aboard for all five of the colt’s victories, said, “He has a lot of heart, he’s a nice horse. We had a good trip . . . As soon as we got to the first turn I was third behind the two leaders, and that’s where I wanted to be. He responded very good.”

Ortiz added some details about the dynamics of the duel. “In the stretch when I showed him the whip a little bit, he was lugging in, but he never made contact with other horses. I just hand-rode him and he responded very good, and I tried to keep him straight.” Ortiz also said, “He runs good when he’s in the front, but I rated him the last two times and he responded and passed horses and kept running. That’s a nice horse. I think he’s going to handle [additional distance] very good.”

Samraat’s trainer Rick Violette enthused, “This is a real horse now. We knew he had a shot to be a real horse after the Withers; he proved he is a real horse today. This was a good field. It was a deep field of horses. The weight had me worried. We picked up five pounds from last time; that’s a big shift.”

Added Violette, “I’d be lying if I said we weren’t already thinking [about the Kentucky Derby]. At this stage, we didn’t want to do anything that would prevent us from going to the Derby. A couple of races before the Derby probably toughens him, but this was another stretch-long, hard duel, but Jose [Ortiz] never hit him. He’s an honest racehorse and there might be a little left. Today, he graduated big time. His last race was a terrific race and this was a notch above that. He was pretty impressive today.”

Adam Coglianese

Adam Coglianese

Samraat returns to Florida tomorrow where he has been training this winter at Palm Meadows. As to his next start, Violette said, “The Wood is a real possibility. That would be our best option as long as the horse cooperates and tells us that we should get on a plane and come up for it.”

Owner / breeder Leonard Riggio was understandably thrilled. “We thought he might need a little more time [after the Withers]. The horse bounced back pretty quick,” said Riggio, adding “He’s a magnificent horse, and that was some race.”

Gary Contessa, who trains runner-up Uncle Sigh for Wounded Warrior Stables and Anthony Robertson, sounded very upbeat. “Samraat is a nice horse. Now I’m a believer. We closed the gap on him a little bit today, and my horse is still very young. He was intimidated and he got bumped, and he might have been a little bit cautious down in there, but we’re getting better. He’s certainly developing.”

Contessa expects to bring back the Indian Charlie gelding in the Wood Memorial. “Absolutely,” said Contessa, when asked. “It’s still home-field advantage, it’s a mile and an eighth on the main track, I love the distance. God willing, and, if the horse is sound, we’ll come back in the Wood.”

Corey Nakatani, aboard Uncle Sigh for the first time in the Gotham, indicated that the close quarters of the stretch run were a challenge, but gave his mount valuable education: “These young colts, he was trying to run, but he [had] no room to stride. He’s getting a lot of experience out of this. I thought he ran a great race. I thought they’d go a little bit quicker.”

Samraat, whose five victories include a romp in the Damon Runyon and determined victories in the Withers and Gotham has now earned $583,200. Sired by Noble Causeway, who entered stud in Kentucky in 2008 at Crestwood Farm in Kentucky before relocating to Sequel Stallions New York in 2013, and foaled at My Meadowview Farm in Watermill, Samraat is out of Little Indian Girl, a winning Kentucky-bred daughter of Indian Charlie from the family of multiple graded stakes winner Nonsuch Bay. Purchased by My Meadowview at the 2008 Keeneland November sale for $150,000, Little Indian Girl has produced three other stakes performers led by top earner Original Fate by Grand Slam, who raced in Japan ($793,248), and graded black type-placed Screen Legend.

Uncle Sigh, runner-up to Samraat in the Withers and Gotham in his third and fourth career starts, has now earned $201,000. Bred by Milfer Farm Inc, Uncle Sigh is out of the unraced Pine Bluff mare Cradlesong, purchased in foal by Milfer Farm for $85,000 at the 2010 Keeneland November Sale, Cradlesong is a half-sister to graded stakes winners High Cotton and Symphony Song, and comes from the family of champion juvenile filly and million-dollar earner Storm Song. She has also produced black type winners Slew by Slew and Percussion.