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
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.