NEWS: racing

Morning Calm excels at a mile and a half in Gulfstream’s Raymond Earl Handicap

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
Leslie Martin

Photo: Leslie Martin

by Sarah Mace

As if there wasn’t enough stakes-caliber New York-bred talent to go around this Memorial Day with six full competitive fields of stakes horses on the Big Apple Showcase Day card at Belmont Park, 4-year-old Morning Calm (Broken Vow) showcased his own best asset – a strong late kick – while scoring a resounding 3 1/2-length victory in the $60,000 Raymond Earl Handicap at Gulfstream Park Monday at 1 1/2 miles on the grass.

Owned by Great Hill Stables, Morning Calm came into the Raymond Earl looking for his fourth career win and first stakes tally.

Bet down to 4-5 favoritism in the field of six, the late-running bay colt lingered at the back of the pack in the early stages, saving ground and energy under jockey Eddie Castro while Tap and Trade set a leisurely pace up top, clocking the first half-mile in 51.91 and a mile in 1:42.

Asked for run with three furlongs to go, Morning Calm, now in fifth, accelerated, gained a couple more spots in the far turn and entered the stretch four wide. He quickly took over in upper stretch and drew clear with good energy to a 3 1/2-length victory over Best Plan Yet. Rizwan, the 2-1 second choice and only sophomore in the field, finished a length back in third after racing evenly. Pacesetter Tap and Trade receded to fourth. Morning Calm, who toted 119 pounds, one pound less than the highweighted runner-up, completed 1 1/2 miles in 2:29.33

Natalie Fawkes

Photo: Natalie Fawkes

Trainer Michelle Nihei said, “I have to say that I wasn’t [worried], really (about the tepid early pace). As long as he stays in contact with the field, I know that horse can outkick anybody. It’s just a matter of timing and a matter of position, and Eddie made all the right decisions.”

Morning Calm’s first stakes victory caps two strong allowance performances on turf at Gulfstream Park in March and April: a near-miss second in a nine-furlong event and a late-closing victory in a 1 7/16-mile race on April 4. He has earned $167,140 from four wins and two seconds in 13 starts.

As to the future, Nihei indicated that she will seek out more long-distance opportunities for the colt in the future. “He’s screaming for that kind of distance.”

Bred by Gallagher’s Stud, Morning Calm is one of two winners out of Krakowviak, a Kentucky-bred winner by Tale of the Cat purchased by Gallagher’s Stud for $325,000 at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale. The mare is a half-sister to Antoniette, a graded winner in her own right, and dam of Grade 1 winner and millionaire Switch (Quiet American). Krakowviak’s other winner Hidden Vow, a gelded full brother to Morning Calm, is a stakes placed turf runner who has earned nearly $160,000.

Krakowviak currently has a yearling colt by Girolamo and was bred last year to hot sire Pioneerof the Nile, with no foal reported to date.


Sheriffa takes Critical Eye by storm

Monday, May 25th, 2015
NYRA/Chelsea Durand

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

by Sarah Mace

Relatively ignored at 9-1 odds, Sheriffa, a 4-year old daughter of top New York sire Posse (Rockridge Stud), overwhelmed her competition with a frontrunning victory in the one-mile $200,000 Critical Eye Stakes for fillies and mares, the final stakes race on Belmont Park’s Memorial Day Big Apple Showcase card.

Off the board in her only prior stakes try, when she wrapped up her three-race juvenile campaign in 2013 with a division of the New York Stallion Series at Aqueduct, Sheriffa has been an extremely consistent runner, finishing in the money in nine out of 15 starts with four victories. Last September she was claimed for $16,000 out of a winning effort in a Belmont sprint by trainer Linda Rice for Antonino Miuccio, the owner of Rice-trained Palace. In Rice’s care the filly has transitioned from a sprinter to a router.

Said Rice, who won last year’s inaugural running of the Critical Eye with La Verdad, “She’s really trained well, and really likes this distance. When I claimed her she was running short, certainly worth $16,000, but it’s really been the switch to route racing that’s really made the difference for her.” In six subsequent starts Sheriffa compiled a record of two wins, two seconds and third and a fourth.

Last seen finishing second in an open allowance race at 1 1/16 miles under Cornelio Velasquez, Rice thought the Sheriffa lost her best chance before the start. “She was acting up in the starting gate last time,” Rice said. Cornelio [Velasquez] told me he thought she should have won the race. She broke poorly, had stumbled away from there, so we spent a lot of time schooling her at the gate since then and in the paddock. She’s a high strung, high energy horse, and I think we had her nerves under control today.”

Partnered with Jose Ortiz for the Critical Eye and breaking from mid-pack in the field of 10, Sheriffa got out of the gate alertly and hooked up briefly with Carameaway. Shrugging off that rival through the first quarter-mile in 22.99, she continued unchallenged through a half in 45.77.

Extending her advantage to two, then three, then four, lengths through the turn, Sheriffa hit the head of the stretch completely in control after six furlongs in 1:10.25, at one point leading by as many as seven lengths. In the final furlong Saythreehailmary’s eroded her lead with a strong late move, but to no avail. Sheriffa kept her mind on business and achieved the victory by 2 1/4 lengths, completing one mile in 1:37.32. Saythreehailmary’s finished second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of 14-1 closer Easy Living. [VIDEO]

Ortiz said, “The 10 horse [Carameaway] has a little bit of speed, but my filly’s best races are on the lead. I thought that if I broke well and decided to go, I would go. And my filly broke perfect and I sent her to the lead. We went a little fast but she held on. Linda has done a tremendous job with her.”

Bred by Colts Neck Stables LLC and foaled at Vinery New York in Hudson, Sheriffa is one of two winners produced by Smileforamile, a winning Virginia-bred daughter of Unbridled’s Song. Her filly by Orientate, Love Your Smile, has won seven races and earned nearly $200,000 sprinting.

Sheriffa’s record now stands at 5-3-5 from 16 starts with $339,500 in earnings.

Lubash unleashes powerful late kick to win Kingston

Monday, May 25th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Bill Heller

A bit disrespected by the bettors, Aliyu Ben J Stables’ eight-year-old grass millionaire home-bred Lubash unleashed an incredible late kick to win the 37th running of the $125,000 Kingston Stakes by a length and a quarter under Junior Alvarado on all New York-bred Showcase Day on Memorial Day Monday at Belmont Park. Sent off as the 4-1 third choice in the distinguished field of nine, Lubash won in 1:33.07 by running his last quarter mile in a shade over 22 seconds flat.

Kharafa, the 4-5 favorite under Javier Castellano, finished second, a long neck in front of front-running King Kreesa, who was ridden by Joel Rosario and went off at 7-2. Kharafa and King Kreesa are both six-year-olds.

Christophe Clement trains Lubash, a son of Freud out of Nasty Cure by Cure the Blues who was bred by Aliyuee Ben J Stable Inc.

These three New York-bred turf titans had met many times previously with mixed results as each had beaten the other two on separate occasions. In last year’s Kingston Stakes, Kharafa won by a length over Lubash. King Kreesa missed that engagement.

“It’s great for the New York-bred program,” Clement said. “They’re three really nice horses and all are very consistent. It’s nice that they last because fans get to know the horses and it’s fun for them.”

In the tale of the tape, at Belmont Park, King Kreesa was 5-for-12, Lubash 6-for-20 and Kharafa 6-for-13. At one mile, King Kreesa was 3-for-7, Lubash 2-for-12 and Kharafa 1-for-8. Collectively, Lubash, King Kreesa and Kharafa had earned $2.5 million. Combined with the other six horses in the Kingston, the Kingston field had amassed more than $4 million in earnings.

And, as they invariably do, King Kreesa, Lubash and Kharafa gave it their best. All three were making their second start of the year off useful preps. Kharafa won his, an open company allowance, by nearly four lengths as the 2-1 favorite. Lubash was third in an open $100,000 stakes. King Kreesa was sixth in a different open $100,000 stakes.

Breaking from the three post Monday, King Kreesa shot to the lead, while Castellano got Kharafa away second out of the nine post. Alvarado let Lubash alternate in third and fourth with 24-1 Captain Gaughen.

King Kreesa took the field to the quarter in :23.68 with a length and a quarter lead on Kharafa. King Kreesa stretched his lead to a length and a half in a :46.90 half-mile. Kharafa was still second, a length in front of Lubash, who had worked his way up to be a clear third.

Heading into the far turn, Kharafa got his cue from Castellano and made his bid for the lead. Alvarado moved Lubash three-wide, two lengths behind the top pair, for a clear shot after three-quarters in 1:10.46.

Kharafa took it to King Kreesa, but King Kreesa dug in as they dueled head-to-head. Behind them, Lubash was gaining with every stride. Lubash passed both his rivals with authority to win by a little more than a length. Kharafa out-gamed King Kreesa for second, but the bottom line was that these three turf stars delivered another incredible battle again.

“Turning for home, I had the chance to move him out, and when I asked him, he was there for me like he always is,” Alvarado said. “He gave me a nice kick and it was enough to get it done.”

Lubash is now 12-for-38 on grass with nine seconds and five thirds. He also has one win from three dirt starts and has now earned just under $1.1 million in his incredible career.

“Lubash is a nice horse; it’s not like he’s just a New York-bred,” Clement said. “I took him to Florida last year and he won a Grade 3. He can compete in open company. It just tells you how the New York-bred program has stepped up dramatically over the past few years.”

Quezon stays perfect in state-bred company with Bouwerie score

Monday, May 25th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Making only her fourth career start as well as her sophomore bow on Monday, Marc Keller’s Quezon (Tiz Wonderful) emerged as a much-the-best winner of the $125,000 Bouwerie Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, chalking up a third victory in as many starts in New York-bred company at Belmont Park.

Last seen on November 29, when she finished fourth behind runaway winner Condo Commando in the Grade 2 Demoiselle, Quezon brought a sharp work tab into her first start of 2015, culminating in a three-furlong blowout on May 21 in :36 seconds flat.

Breaking from mid-pack in the competitive nine-horse field, Quezon settled off the pace in seventh position in the three path as The Lewis Dinner and Lakeside Sunset knocked heads up front through a challenging early splits in 22.58 and 45.73.

Quezon launched a big three-wide move in the far turn as the top two continued to vie on the lead, striking the head of the stretch on nearly even terms. At this point Quezon angled out yet wider for the drive.

Charging down the middle of the track, albeit on the wrong lead, Quezon swept past runner-up Lakeside Sunset in the final furlong and drew off to a decisive 3 1/4-length win. Temper Mint Patty closed into the third spot from midpack, followed across the line by Hot City Girl. The final time for the seven furlongs was 1:23.17. [VIDEO]

A six-length winner of her career debut on September 17, 2014, an off-the-turf six-furlong maiden special weight over a muddy sealed track, Quezon ratified that victory by winning the Maid of the Mist Stakes on Empire Showcase Day by the same impressive margin. From her three Belmont victories she has earned $322,292.

Winning trainer Bobby Ribaudo focused on room for improvement in this talented filly’s performances. “If you watch (Quezon’s) replays, she hasn’t changed [leads] yet,” said Ribaudo. “That’s what she did in the Demoiselle, too. We work on it [in the mornings], but in the heat of battle, it takes a little bit of concentration and she loses that little bit of concentration. We’re still working on it. I’d rather see her switch than not, but it hasn’t hurt her so far.”

Winning jockey Manuel Franco said, “I just followed the instructions Bobby told me, ‘Just try to relax her the first part, take her back and give her one move.’ She didn’t switch leads, but she always runs like that and I didn’t want her to lose her momentum, so I just let her run like that.”

Bred by Apache Farm LLC and foaled at Apache Farm North in Mt. Morris, she is the only reported foal out of Kalookan Dancer, a multiple stakes-winning California-bred daughter of Olympio, who last changed hands at the 2009 Keeneland November sale, going to Jane Moriarty for $20,000. Quezon was a $90,000 purchase by Riverside Stable at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale in 2013.

Ostrolenka pours it on in Mike Lee

Monday, May 25th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Evidently Eric Fein’s homebred Ostrolenka (Musket Man) can do nothing wrong at Belmont Park, or at least hasn’t to date. In Monday’s Memorial Day edition of Big Apple Showcase Day, the bay colt ran up his record to a perfect four for four at the Elmont racetrack with a commanding victory in the $125,000 Mike Lee Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.

A homebred for Eric Fein and co-owned with Fein by Christopher McKenna, 7-5 favorite Ostrolenka got out of post two sharply and set up in a stalking position behind narrow second choice Wincoma, who shot to the front after breaking from post seven and proceeded to carve out testing fractions of 22.09 and 44.86.

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

Switching from the rail out to the two path along the backstretch, and biding his time through the far turn, Ostrolenka drew even with Wincoma at the quarter pole, threw down the gauntlet and took command in upper stretch.

The swift pace ultimately took its toll on Wincoma, who began to fade, but Ostrolenka only picked up steam. He opened up his advantage to a final, emphatic 2-length margin of victory in 1:23.65. Good Luck Gus (9-1) rallied to get second in his sophomore debut, while Battle of Evermore (6-1) got up for third. Completing the order of finish were Gypsum Johnny, Wincoma, Possessed, Regal Minister, Fleeting and Papa Shot. [VIDEO]

Winning jockey John Velazquez reported, “I had a perfect trip; it worked out the way I thought it would with [Wincoma] going to the lead. I pressed him a little bit to make sure he didn’t go too easy on me, and after that my horse did it easily.”

A maiden-breaker in his second career start by more than 14 lengths at Belmont Park on September 28, Ostrolenka won the Sleepy Hollow on Empire Showcase Day next out. After faltering in a pair of graded stakes efforts in the Grade 2 Remsen and Grade 3 Jerome at Aqueduct, he got back on track in April and May with two strong state-bred allowance performances, finishing second at a mile two starts back and winning by four lengths at 1 1/16 miles on May 2.

Byron Hughes, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, added, “[Cutting back to seven furlongs] helped him and it was also very impressive in how he did it. Not too many horses can keep that kind of speed up and run like he did when he came back like that.”

Hughes also thought the race tactics were key. “We knew [Wincoma] had sprinter speed and it worked out kind of ideal the way Javier [Castellano, on Wincoma] came down on the rail and we got the outside position on him. It kind of worked out better for us.”

A two-time stakes winner, Ostrolenka now sports a record of four wins and a second from eight starts and has earned $322,292. Foaled at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, he is one of five winners from five foals to start out of Pumpkin’s Pride, a winning sprinter by Louis Quatorze and half-sister to multiple stakes-winner Gesture (Italy). Pumpkin’s Pride is also the dam of multiple stakes-placed Great Gracie Dane, earner of over $344,000. The mare currently as a yearling filly by Malibu Moon and was bred to Flatter last year, with no foal yet reported.

Empire Dreams rallies from last to capture Commentator

Monday, May 25th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Bill Heller

Rallying from dead last in the field of six under Javier Castellano, West Point Thoroughbreds’ four-year-old gelding Empire Dreams wore down front-running Readthebyline to take the third running of the one-mile $200,000 Commentator Stakes by three-quarters of a length. Sent off at 4-1, Empire Dreams won in 1:35.42.

Readthebyline, who went off at 7-2 under Jose Ortiz, saved second by a nose over Saratoga Snacks, the 8-5 favorite ridden by Joel Rosario. Readtheprospectus, the 2-1 second choice with John Velazquez riding, finished fourth, five lengths behind Saratoga Snacks. Readtheprospectus won the initial running of the Commentator Stakes, named for trainer Nick Zito’s two-time New York-bred Whitney Handicap winner, by a length and a half in 2013, but finished seventh in last year’s edition to his stable-mate in trainer Chad Brown’s barn, Zivo.

Empire Dreams, a son of Patriot Act out of Ascended Dreams by Thunder Gulch who was bred by Pegasus Dream Stable and sold for $35,000 as a two-year-old in April, 2013, at Ocala, is trained by Tom Albertrani.

As a three-year-old, Empire Dreams captured the mile-and-a-sixteenth $161,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes by 2 ¼ lengths as the 1-2 favorite. He made two more starts last year, finishing seventh in the $250,000 Albany Stakes at Saratoga and ninth in the $300,000 Empire Classic at Belmont Park. Both those stakes were at a mile and an eighth.

Albertrani stopped with Empire Dreams and targeted the Commentator Stakes. Empire Dreams prepped for that assignment with a strong-finishing second by a length and three-quarters at 25-1 in the six-furlong $100,000 Affirmed Success Stakes on May 3rd in his four-year-old debut under Irad Ortiz Jr.

“We just decided to give him some time off at the end of last year and gelded him,” Albertrani said. “He came out of his last race really well, and he was pretty sharp coming into this race.”

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

Empire Dreams got away last Monday as Readthebyline set a pressured pace under Jose Ortiz. Summer Place to Be, who went off at 10-1 under Manuel Franco, took a stalking position on Empire Dreams’ flank, three-quarters of a length behind in an opening quarter-mile in :23.44 and a half-mile in :46.15. Readthebyline led by a length after three-quarters in 1:10.26 before Summer Place to Be weakened and both Saratoga Snacks and Empire Dreams roared into contention, two-wide and three-wide, respectively.

Readthebyline dug in and gamely battled both of the closers through the lane before weakening in deep stretch. Empire Dreams proved stronger than Saratoga Snacks and got the hard-earned victory. “I believe it was a good set-up today,” Castellano said. “There was a lot of speed in the race, and I think he had the perfect trip today. He’s an off-the-pace horse and they went pretty quick with a decent pace, so I took advantage. He gave me a good run in the last part of the race. I was looking forward to the late kick and he gave it to me.”

Albertrani gave credit to Castellano: “I think Javier had them measured.”

Empire Dreams now has four wins, five seconds and one third from 13 starts with more than $450,000 in earnings.

Invading Humor sizzles in Mount Vernon

Monday, May 25th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Bill Heller

Benefitting from a blistering pace in front of her and a brilliant ride by Rajiv Maragh, Bloodlines Racing Partnership’s five-year-old mare Invading Humor won the 37th running of the one-mile $125,000 Mount Vernon Stakes on grass at Belmont Park on all-New York-bred Showcase Day, Memorial Day Monday, by two lengths.

Sent off at 7-2 in the field of seven in an extremely even betting race, Invading Humor won in a sizzling 1:32.87, not that far off the Widener Course track record for one mile, 1:31.63, set by Elusive Quality on July 4th, 1998. Three hours after Invading Humor’s victory, millionaire Lubash won the Kingston Stakes at the same distance in 1:33.07, and he’s one of the best New York-bred turf horses of the last decade.

Bruce Levine trains Invading Humor, a daughter of Invasor out of Very Funny by Distorted Humor who was bred by Dr. James Mcglinn.

Invading Humor was making her first start since Nov. 8th when she set the pace and tired badly to ninth in the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct. She showed five workouts for her return, including a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 at Aqueduct May 2nd.

“She was pretty fit,” Levine said. “I knew she was running a mile and we had this planned for a while. I don’t think she needed one, but a race will help. She’s easy to train. Rajiv gave her a great ride, saved ground and they (the others) went after her (Laura Can Disco) and did the dirty work. I thought we would have to do that.”

Bettors respected Invading Humor, but also her rivals with all seven starters going off at single-digit odds. Old Harbor, who hadn’t raced since Oct. 18th, went off the 5-2 favorite on the rail under Manual Franco. Invading Humor was the second choice at 7-2, followed by Laura Can Disco at 9-2 and both Unbelievable Dream and Mah Jong Maddnes, who won this stakes last year, at 5-1. Both Chrysolite and Lady Kreesa were 8-1.

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

Laura Can Disco, who had won both of her previous turf tries, broke sharply out of the outside post under Cornelio Velasquez and went right for the lead. But Old Harbor protected her rail position and made Laura Can Disco work to take a half-length lead on the outside in a first quarter in :22.43. Lady Kreesa was a three-wide close third under Javier Castellano and Invading Humor raced in fourth.

Laura Can Disco inched her lead out to three-quarters of a length over Old Harbor in a testing :45.22 half-mile. Lady Kreesa was a clear third. Invading Humor was fourth on the rail and Mah Jong Maddnes fifth on the outside.

Laura Can Disco finally cleared Old Harbor for the lead but had nothing left and was quickly passed by Old Harbor two-wide and Mah Jong Maddnes three-wide around the far turn.

Maragh kept Invading Humor on the rail and when Laura Can Disco tired, he shot Invading Humor to the lead while Mah Jong Maddnes advanced into second on the far outside. Invading Humor spurted clear and won comfortably. Mah Jong Maddnes was second, a half-length ahead of Old Harbor. Lady Kreesa finished fourth, a length behind Old Harbor.

“She settled in nice and she showed a big strong finish at the end,” Maragh said of the winner. “Originally, I was planning to track the leader, but when I got out of the gate and saw that they were going a little fast, I adjusted a little bit. We sat off and she was comfortable where she was, so I was pretty happy with that. And then it set us up really good for the late run.”

Invading Humor now has six wins, one second and one third from 12 turf starts. She also has one win from three dirt starts with combined earnings of just under $380,000.

First sustaining payment for 2015 Finger Lakes Futurity Series due May 31

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

by Sarah Mace

The deadline for the first of two sustaining payments for juveniles nominated to the 2015 Futurity Series at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack (Foals of 2013) is May 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.

Foals are normally nominated to the series as weanlings through the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund for a $25 fee. Otherwise the foal is nominated by December 31 of its yearling year for $25 or through April 1 of its 2-year-old year for $150. Once a horse is nominated, in order for that individual to remain eligible for these races, there must be two supplemental “sustaining” payments during the horse’s 2-year-old year.

The first supplemental payment of $425 is due on or before 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.

Finger Lakes will mail a reminder letter to the owner/breeder on file. If a foal has changed hands since being nominated, and for other questions, please contact the Finger Lakes Racing Secretary’s office at 585-924-3232 ext. 388 or email

Payment Schedule for the 2015 Futurity Series:

May 31, 2014:
$425 to maintain eligibility for both races
$250 for New York Breeders’ Futurity
$175 Aspirant (colts/geldings) or $175 Lady Finger (fillies)

July 31, 2014:
$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.

Be Bullish claimed by Repole, retired to Old Friends Cabin Creek a winner

Monday, May 18th, 2015
10-year-old Be Bullish wins fourth straight in final start (NYRA/Adam Coglianese)

10-year-old Be Bullish wins fourth straight in final start (NYRA/Adam Coglianese)

By David Grening, Courtesy Daily Racing Form (with additional notes)

ELMONT, N.Y. – Be Bullish, the popular 10-year-old stakes-winning New York-bred gelding won a $16,000 claiming race Sunday at Belmont Park by three lengths, his fourth consecutive victory and 19th overall from 87 starts.

He was claimed from David Jacobson and Drawing Away Stable by owner Mike Repole, who said he will retire Be Bullish to Old Friends Cabin Creek in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

“All great athletes have to retire some time, and not too many great athletes get to retire at the top of their game,” Repole said. “That he won four in a row makes for a cooler story, but he’s got close to 90 starts, 50 percent first or second, churned out over a million bucks.”

Be Bullish, a gelding by Pure Prize, had 19 wins, 26 seconds, and 14 thirds from 87 starts. He won six stakes, including two runnings of the Hollie Hughes, and earned $1,106,288.

“I won the race with him that put him over a million dollars, and if he didn’t get claimed that day, I probably would have done it then,” said Repole, referring to a $20,000 claiming race last December at Aqueduct, from which he was claimed by Jacobson and Drawing Away.

Repole only raced Be Bullish six times, having claimed him once for $75,000 in June 2011 and for $16,000 last September.

Though Be Bullish has won four straight races, Repole said he only had to hearken back to Jan. 4, 2014, when Caixa Eletronica, a multiple graded stakes winner he owned who was 9-years-old, died in a freak training accident at Belmont Park.

“These mostly are freak circumstances – they can happen,” Repole said. “[Be Bullish] has put in his time. He’s going out on top. He’s going out in the winner’s circle. If every horse could have an ending like this, the sport would be in a much better place.”

David Jacobson, who had trained Be Bullish for 23 of his career starts – the gelding winning seven times – including 13 of the last 14 for Drawing Away Stable, said he was surprised to hear Repole would retire him.

“If Mike Repole claimed this horse to retire him, I don’t see it,” Jacobson said. “I think it’s foolish. He shouldn’t be taking this horse away from the public. This horse is a real professional. He knows how to win. I guess that’s one less good horse I have to run against.”

Repole believes Be Bullish should be in New York, which is one reason why he selected Old Friends in Saratoga. However, Repole said he could move the horse somewhere else if Be Bullish doesn’t settle into farm life well.

“I want to get him there through the Saratoga meet; hopefully, he’ll get a bunch of visitors, and after that if he’s not settling well and he still wants to do things, we’ll either go to New Vocations or Rerun, a program that’s authorized by Thoroughbred aftercare, and get him a great home where he’ll either be a jumping horse or something that he would want to do,” Repole said.

“He may not be as fast as American Pharoah, but there are a lot more Be Bullish’s in the world than American Pharoahs,” Repole added. “This is a really special horse, so he deserved this.”

[Additional notes: Be Bullish, who broke his maiden on September 22, 2007 in his 2-year-old debut at Belmont Park for trainer Scott Schwartz, numbers the following stakes wins among his 19 victories: the Hollie Hughes twice, the Appealing Guy, Sir Keys, Leon Reed Memorial, and open Mr. Nasty Stakes. The resume of the stalwart grey gelding also features an additional eight seconds and eight thirds in stakes company.

Bred by Carol and Herbert Schwartz and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Be Bullish’s dam is Smart Holly (Smarten), a seven-time New York-bred winner bred by Milfer Farm who earned $187,229. Smart Holly is also the dam of Tom’s Thunder (Thunder Puddles), a multiple stakes-winning New York-bred who earned $463,485. STM]


La Verdad stays perfect at five with determined Vagrancy victory

Saturday, May 16th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Lady Sheila Stable’s La Verdad (Yes It’s True), last seen successfully defending her title in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack on April 18, ran her 2015 record up to a perfect two-for-two at Belmont Park on Saturday with a determined victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap for older fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs.

As the 121-pound highweight, five-plus pounds more than her rivals once overweights were in, La Verdad was bet down to 3-5 favoritism and slated to break from the rail post. Waiting in the wings (and in post two) was 7-5 second choice and recent Videogenic winner Room For Me, whose form has been extremely sharp since being claimed by the Jacobson barn two starts back for $12,500.

Out of the gate sharply, La Verdad met an unexpected early challenge from 16-1 Frivolity, Room For Me’s stablemate, who rushed up after a poor break and came up on even terms with her at the half-mile pole.

After turning back Frivolity, La Verdad opened up two lengths on the field through the turn and straightened away for the drive. Her next test came from Room For Me, who took over second and loomed in the stretch.

Digging in as Room For Me eroded her lead, and drifting out slightly under a left-handed whip, the bay mare held off her challenger with determination, winning by the margin of a half-length in a final time of 1:16.17. It was seven lengths back to Mamdooha in third. [VIDEO]

Jockey Jose Ortiz said, “I wasn’t expecting [Frivolity] to come after me early, but [La Verdad] handled it well. When [Room for Me] came up to me in the stretch, she was coming at the same pace, but my filly was never going to let her by.”

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

Trainer Linda Rice focused on the second rival in her post-race comments. “The four horse [Room For Me] had been running some real crazy numbers the last two races, so I knew she was a formidable foe, but [La Verdad] managed to get through it again,” said Rice. “She’s pretty tough herself.”

Sheila Rosenblum, La Verdad’s owner (and biggest fan), added, “My horse is fantastic, what can I say? She’s proven herself over and over. We gave her a big break, a well-deserved break. She came back and it was tough. We had some fabulous horses against us, and we were very, very worried about the speed horse (Room for Me). She proved herself once again.”

A winner of seven stakes races, and owner of a 12-2-0 record in 18 starts, La Verdad’s earnings have now soared to a lofty $990,700. Last year at four she won four New York-bred stakes in addition to her victory in the Distaff Handicap, and finished second in both the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie and Grade 2 Gallant Bloom.

Rice said that we may see La Verdad competing at the highest level at some point this year. “With a filly like her – she’ll be going to the breeding shed next fall – if we could get her a Grade 1 win this year, that’d be the ultimate goal,” said Rice.

Bred by Eklektikos Stable LLC and foaled at Chester and Mary Broman’s Chestertown farm in Chestertown. La Verdad was sold privately to Rosenblum following a second allowance victory in November 2013.

She is one of three winners and two stakes performers 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). The mare currently has a yearling filly by Freud and was not bred in 2014.