NEWS: racing

Kharafa joins Lubash and King Kreesa at Old Friends in Georgetown

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Kharafa arrives at Old Friends
(Old Friend Farm Photos)

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility in Georgetown, KY., today announced the arrival of New York-bred multiple stakes winner and multiple graded stakes-placed runner Kharafa.

He completes the triumvirate of New York-bred turf stars at the farm, joining Lubash and King Kreesa, whose storied rivalry thrilled their fans in New York and beyond over the years.

Trained by Timothy Hill for owners Paul Braverman and Timothy Pinch, New York-bred warrior Kharafa finished out his career after 52 starts in eight seasons.  A star of the NYRA circuit, Kharafa captured multiple runnings of the Ashley T. Cole Stakes and the Kingston Stakes at Belmont Park as well as Aqueduct’s Three Coins Up Stakes.

This August the 9-year-old was the unexpected star of Saratoga’s New York Showcase Day after capturing the $150,000 West Point Stakes to the delight of his fans.  The win brought Kharafa’s career earnings to $1,238, 622.

Since 2013, Kharafa had become a huge fan favorite thanks to a sensational rivalry with fellow state-bred turfers Lubash and King Kreesa. As fate would have it, all three are now retired at Old Friends in Georgetown.

“It’s a banner day here,” said Old Friends founder Michael Blowen. “[I]t’s such a thrill to reunite Kharafa with his famous rivals. We hope all their fans will come to visit them,”

La Fuerza springs mild upset in Notebook Stakes

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

Coglianese Photos

By Sarah Mace

Barry Schwartz’s homebred La Fuerza (Flatter) collected the third stakes victory of his young career Sunday when Hall of Fame Jockey John Velazquez guided him confidently to a 2 3/4-length victory in Aqueduct’s $100,000 Notebook Stakes for New York-bred juveniles.

La Fuerza was the most battle-tested of the six youngsters signed on for the 6-furlong Notebook with six starts already under his belt. He was also the most accomplished of the group. His three wins to date included decisive victories in the Rockville Centre Stakes at Belmont on July 14, which he won by 4 1/2 lengths, and the Aspirant Stakes at Finger Lakes on September 8, which he took by three lengths. In both cases he stalked the pace.

La Fuerza’s two most recent starts, however, raised some questions about how he was holding his form. A fairly well-beaten third in the New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes, the colt did virtually no running last out in the Sleepy Hollow on the October 20 Empire Showcase Day card.

Attracting the bulk of the wagering interest, on the other hand, were two juveniles coming off sharp maiden wins on the Empire Showcase undercard. Kosciuszko aired more than six lengths with a frontrunning score while earning a gaudy 83 Beyer Speed Figure. Thorny Tale graduated handily at first asking with a tracking trip. This pair was co-favored at 8-5, while La Fuerza was let go as the third choice at 4-1.

Forwardly-placed after a good start for all, La Fuerza sat just off a duel percolating between Kosciuszko and 46-1 longshot Analyzethisandthat, who was quickest out of the gate. Once Kosciuszko took over the lead solo, La Fuerza advanced to issue a challenge early in the turn.

Ridden confidently by Velazquez through the bend with Kosciuszko to his inside and Thorny Tale on the outside, La Fuerza straightened away ready to roll. Meanwhile Analyzethisandthat cornered neatly and rallied into second at the rail.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

La Fuerza dispatched Kosciuszko, then Analyzethisandthat in upper stretch and kicked clear to secure the victory by 2 3/4 lengths. Analyzethisandthat posted a solid second while Kosciuszko and Thorny Tale finished further back in third and fourth. Completing the order of finish were Bustin Hoffman and Bustin to Be Loved. Following fast early fractions of 22.92 and 47.13, La Fuerza completed six furlongs over the muddy going in 1:12.28.

Velazquez reported, “He broke good and got a nice position. It was the complete opposite of the first time I rode him [when he finished fifth in the Funny Cide at Saratoga]. That time, he didn’t want to go anywhere. Today, he broke really good, and that was it, just keep him going forward.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher focused on the difference between La Fuerza Sunday and his disappointing tenth-place finish in the Sleepy Hollow, also with Velazquez aboard.

“He seemed on his game today,” Pletcher said. “He left the gate with good intentions and put himself into a good spot. Last time, I think we kind of misread the race when he broke. We thought there was a lot of pace and tried to ease him back off, and I think that was a mistake. He’s a horse that time has shown has some real quality. He’s just been a little inconsistent. Hopefully, he’s starting to put it all together.”

Pletcher plans to keep La Fuerza in New York for the winter in the New York-bred stakes ranks.

With a record of four wins and a third in seven starts, all stakes save for his winning debut, on June 22, the chestnut has earned $249,010.

Foaled at Barry Schwartz’ Stonewall Farm in Granite Springs, La Fuerza is the first foal out of Jonata, a Kentucky-bred two-time winner by Proud Citizen purchased by Schwartz as a yearling for $100,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September sale. Without issue in 2017, Jonata foaled colt by Mizzen Mast on January 27, 2018 and was bred this year to English Channel.

Sassy Agnes shows heels to competitive Key Cents field for third straight stakes score

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

NYRA/Susie Raisher

By Sarah Mace

Beach Haven Thoroughbreds’ Sassy Agnes scored her third straight stakes victory when she forged straight to the front of the full, competitive field of Friday’s 6-furlong Key Cents Stakes for New York-bred juvenile fillies and brooked no challenge.

Well-beaten in her August 1 debut, a turf sprint for state-breds at Saratoga, Sassy Agnes hasn’t taken a false step since. When she tried the Saratoga main track for the first time, she finished second to Take Me to Hardoon, a Key Cents rival, before competing twice at Finger Lakes in September and October, in each case collecting a stakes victory.

On September 2 Sassy Agnes won the Lady Finger Stakes by three-quarters of a length to become the first stakes winner for her freshman sire Central Banker while breaking her maiden. Appearing again in Farmington on October 22, she posted an even more impressive 3 1/2-length score in the Shesastonecoldfox Stakes. In all but her first start, the blaze-faced chestnut filly has been forwardly placed.

Drawn in post three of 12 for the Key Cents, Sassy Agnes (5-1) wasted no time, gunning straight to the lead after the bell and opening two lengths on the crowd before the first point of call.

Former nemesis Take Me to Hardoon and longshot My Best Friend mounted early challenges from the two- and three-paths along the backstretch, but Sassy Agnes held her position through a fast early quarter of 21.98.

Take Me to Hardoon backed off to bide her time in third, but My Best Friend pressed on, getting on even terms with Sassy Agnes early on the turn.

Sassy Agnes shook off her would-be challenger by the approach to the quarter pole and began to pull off in the lane. Even though she drifted out late, the issue was never in doubt, as Sassy Agnes crossed the wire alone, a convincing 1 1/4-length winner.

Espresso Shot, who had travelled near the back markers early, barreled down the middle of the track to finish an impressive second, outrunning her 20-1 odds for trainer Jorge Abreu and jockey Eric Cancel. Take Me to Hardoon (15-1) stayed on with determination at the fence to get the show honors. Parx invader and 59-1 longshot My Best Friend completed the superfecta, which paid $4,059 for a .10 cent wager. After a half mile in 45.39, the final time for six furlongs over the fast main track was 1:11.79.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Jose Ortiz, aboard Sassy Agnes for the first time, gave a positive appraisal of his mount. “She’s a really nice filly,” said Ortiz. “Today was the first time I’ve been on her and she showed me that she has good form and is very classy. She broke well and went plenty fast for this type of track and then kept going, which was impressive. She looks like a really nice New York-bred.”

Linda Rice, who has capitalized on racing opportunities at Finger Lakes this year like fellow NYRA trainer Rudy Rodriguez, said, “She’s really coming into her own. I kept her at Finger Lakes because I wanted to keep going three-quarters [of a mile] with her. I said let’s bring her down for this race, and then maybe as a 3-year-old, she can compete against open company. She’s very fast.”

Bred by Klaravich Stables and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Sassy Agnes is a graduate of the OBS March 2-year-olds in training sale, where Beach Haven Thoroughbreds made a winning bid of $105,000 after the filly breezed a furlong in :10 seconds flat. Sassy Agnes has three wins and a second from five starts and has already out-earned her purchase price with $168,182 in purse money.

Sassy Agnes is out of Bullish Sentiment, an unraced daughter of Stormy Atlantic and full sister to graded stakes-placed and multiple stakes winner Stormy’s Majesty who was bred in New York by Majesty Stud, LLC and earned $336,649. Her second dam is New York-bred stakes performer Raffie’s Dream. Bullish Sentiment has produced yearling and weanling full sisters to Sassy Agnes and was bred this year to Constitution.

The leading first crop sire in New York and sitting at number five nationally, Central Banker is a Grade 2-winning sprinter by Speightstown out of multiple stakes winner Rhum. He stands at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds for a 2019 fee of $7,500.

Gold for the King pours it on in Thunder Rumble repeat

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

NYRA/Elsa Lorieul

By Sarah Mace

Bet down to thirty-five cents on the dollar Sunday to score a repeat victory in Aqueduct’s featured $125,000 Thunder Rumble Division of the New York Stallion Stakes (NYSS), Francis Paolangeli’s homebred Gold for the King didn’t give his backers an anxious moment. Following a confident middle move, the 4-year-old gelding poured it on in the stretch to win the race by more than nine lengths.

A multiple stakes winner by former New York sire Posse, Gold for the King came into the 7-furlong tilt sporting a strong Aqueduct resume – three wins and a second from four starts. Also, the Thunder Rumble was his second start off a freshening from July 26 to October 20. When he returned from the break in the Hudson Handicap on Empire Showcase Day, he finished a beaten favorite, but not by much. Despite an extremely wide trip, the gelding finished second by just three-quarters of a length to Runaway Lute, who will be a serious contender in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight at the Big A on Thanksgiving Day.

Out of the gate cleanly from his outside post in the scratched-down field of five, Gold for the King set up in a perfect stalking position in third, 1 1/2 lengths off pacemaker Tribecca and well off the fence.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Asked for run early on the far turn, with three furlongs to go he drew even with Tribecca and took over the lead around the 5/16ths marker, entering the lane with the race well in hand.

Leaving the rest of the field far in his wake in the stretch, Gold for the King crossed the finish line a 9 1/4-length winner, stopping the clock at 1:24.25. Winston’s Chance, last after a half-mile, closed to win the contest for second, finishing three-quarters of length ahead of Sudden Surprise. Next across the line were pacesetter Tribecca and Loki’s Vengeance. Winner of the Thunder Rumble in 2015 and 2016 Loki’s Vengeance was coming off a layoff of nearly seven months. Benevolence, Fleet Irish and My Boy Tate were scratched.

Joel Rosario who has ridden Gold for the King six times before, including two prior stakes victories, felt everything went according to plan.

“It was a good trip,” Rosario said. “He broke well, and it looked like a couple of them were trying to challenge for the lead a little bit. I just wanted to be in a stalking position, where I was, and then I took control in the turn. Before turning for home, he just took the lead by himself. He was just the best horse in the race.”

Trainer Charlie Baker, said, “He did it comfortably, which I think he was supposed to do. He pretty much had this field over a barrel. We thought if he was okay for this and, if he was healthy, he would win. Thankfully, it worked out. He’s always dependable and gives an ‘A’ effort.”

Baker added, “[Gold for the King] needed this race to get back into the swing of things. After his defeat in the Hudson, we wanted to get his confidence back.”

Foaled at Keane Stud in Amenia, Francis Paolangeli’s homebred has won five stakes: the lucrative New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes and Aqueduct’s Notebook Stakes as a juvenile, the NYSS Thunder Rumble and NYSS Times Square at three and, this year, his second Thunder Rumble. With an overall record of seven wins, four seconds and two thirds from 18 starts, his earnings bankroll sits at a robust $658,559.

Gold for the King is the second foal and one of two winners out of Gold for the Queen, a New York-bred multiple stakes winner of $239,136 bred by Pegasus Farms Inc. who was campaigned by Paolangeli and trained by Baker.

Gold for the Queen currently has a juvenile colt by Frost Giant named True Gold who finished second in this year’s New York Breeders’ Futurity and a weanling filly by Super Saver named Goldforthelady. She has been bred to Overanalyze.

New York’s richest son Mind Your Biscuits retired to stud

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Dubai Racing Club 2017

By Sarah Mace

Multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Your Biscuits has been retired, trainer Chad Summers announced Wednesday, October 14. The 5-year-old chestnut son of former New York sire Posse sits atop the all-time New York-bred earnings roster, having bankrolled $4,279,566. He was twice voted New York-bred Horse of the Year (2016 and 2017) and, as announced last May, will stand at Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai Farm in Abira on the island of Hokkaido in Japan.

The final race for “Biscuits,” as he is affectionately known to many fans, was the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he finished eleventh. Summers, who co-campaigned Mind Your Biscuits with Shadai Farm, J Stables LLC, Head of Plains Partners LLC, M. Scott Summers, Daniel Summers and Michael E. Kisber, had been considering a final start for his charge in either the Grade 1 Cigar Mile or the Grade 1 Clark. By midweek, Summers felt that Mind Your Biscuits was not rebounding quickly enough from his Breeders’ Cup effort to be competitive.

“To run in those kind of races, you have to be doing well,” Summers told the Blood-Horse. “Last year when we came out of the Breeders’ Cup, he came out of it well, and we were able to progress forward. This time, he was jogging OK, and today was supposed to be his first gallop, just a routine gallop into a breeze tomorrow, and he just didn’t show the same energy we’re used to seeing from him.

“Just knowing him the way we know him, he doesn’t owe us anything. For me, selfishly, I’d love to kind of make up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I hate that to be his last race. But I’m not going to push him into a race if he’s not 100%.”

Bred by Jumping Jack Racing LLC and foaled at Sue and Gary Lundy’s Cedar Ridge Farm in Pine Plains, Mind Your Biscuits is one of four winners from four foals to start out of the late Jazzmane, an unraced Kentucky-bred daughter of Toccet and a half-sister to Canadian champion 3-year-old filly Kimchi (Langfuhr).

“Biscuits” was originally purchased as a short yearling by Machmer Hall at the 2014 Keeneland January sale for $47,000. When he RNA’d for $47,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, Summers and Susan Montanye purchased the colt privately as a pinhooking prospect. A buyback once again at the OBS Spring 2-year-old sale for $47,000, Summers bought out the colt and, over time, lined up J Stables LLC, Head of Plains Partners and Michael E. Kisber to complete Mind Your Biscuits’ first ownership group. Shadai Farm bought into the horse in May.

It took Mind Your Biscuits five tries to break his maiden, which he did as a sophomore at Aqueduct on April 9, 2016 for trainer Robert Falcone. Next, after placing in the Mike Lee Stakes for state-breds and winning through his first-level allowance condition at the state-bred level at Belmont in early July, Mind Your Biscuits completed his hat trick of the NYRA circuit with a rail-skimming victory in the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes. Fifteen of his sixteen subsequent starts came in graded competition.

Mind Your Biscuits finished second that fall in the Grade 3 Gallant Bob stakes at Parx, and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in Santa Anita, the first of three career trips to the championship races. Next out he nailed down his first of three Grade 1 victories in the Malibu Stakes at the same venue.

In 12 races for Summers, who took out his trainer’s license early in 2017, Mind Your Biscuits went from strength to strength, winning four more graded stakes and placing in five more. At five he successfully stretched out in distance, winning the Grade 3 Lukas Classic at nine furlongs.

Topping the list of Mind Your Biscuits achievements were his international performances at Meydan Racecourse, where he won back-to-back editions of the Grade 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (2017 and 2018). On the second occasion, his finish nearly defied belief. Last, and out of the sight of the camera for most of the stretch, he closed like a rocket ship down the middle of the course to strike the front in the very last jumps, defeating X Y Jet and champion Roy H. The final time was a course record. [VIDEO]

Memorable placings for “Biscuits” are topped by his second in this year’s Grade 1 Whitney Stakes, where he completed a New York-bred exacta in the Saratoga classic behind Diversify. In all from 25 starts, Mind Your Biscuits won eight races, was second 10 times and third three times.

Mind Your Biscuits has meant the world to Summers and his family. The conditioner tweeted Wednesday, “MIND YOUR BISCUITS has taken family, partners & team on a ride around the world. He retires sound and happy. We look forward to seeing his babies run for years to come and know he will be in great hands in Shadai Farm. Thank[s] for everything champ #richestnybredever [heart emoji].”


Highway Star dominates NYSS Staten Island on short rest

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

By Sarah Mace

A mere eight days removed from a solid effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs, and making her third start in 22 days, Chester and Mary Broman’s Highway Star (Girolamo) dominated Aqueduct’s Sunday feature, the 7-furlong, $125,000 Staten Island Division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series for fillies and mares by eligible New York sires.

Eleven were signed on for the sprint, but bettors did not hesitate to send Highway Star out of the gate as the overwhelming 1-2 favorite with widespread confidence that the accomplished Broman homebred could handle her intense race schedule, quick turnaround and long ship to Kentucky and back.

Unhurried in the early stages of the race – in fact dropping back from midpack to third-from-last by the first point of call – Highway Star loped along as Bluegrass Flag and Frosty Margarita vied through an opening quarter mile in 22.72.

Late along the backstretch, pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. tipped his hand, asking Highway Star for some run and, by the time she struck the bend, she had easily cruised past four rivals. Highway Star continued to weave her way up to the vanguard while rounding the turn.

NYRA/Elsa Lorieul

As the main contenders lined up across the track at the quarter pole, Highway Star continued her inexorable advance, cruised through a convenient gap and took over the lead. She drew off to a sizeable margin under her own power, but was geared down late and, by the time she completed the seven furlongs in 1:25.58 over the fast going, her margin of victory was four lengths.

Starlite Mission (Mission Impazible), no worse than third throughout, finished second in her stakes debut at odds of 12-1, while Frostie Anne, one of three fillies and mares in the lineup by Frost Giant, closed from midpack to finish third. Another offspring of Frost Giant, Frosty Margarita, completed the superfecta. (VIDEO REPLAY)

Ortiz, for whom this was a maiden voyage aboard Highway Star, said, “I had never ridden her before, but when I asked, she gave me a good kick into the turn and was travelling really nice.”

Ortiz, who upon dismounting instantly started flushing his right eye, revealed that he rode the last portion of the race with a handicap, but still had the presence of mind to think of Highway Star first.

“I couldn’t see anything with my right eye from the three-eighths pole on, so I had to turn around big time to look with my left eye to watch for the competition,” said Ortiz. “Once I realized I was OK, I saved something [for next time].”

Trainer Rodrigo Ubillo said, “Irad did a great job. He was half-blind riding her, but she won easy. He had three goggles and used all of them. By the quarter pole he was trying to guide her, but he couldn’t see anymore and that’s why you see him looking back, because he was afraid somebody was coming, but nobody was coming. There was nobody near her.”

Ubillo also explained why he was confident about turning Highway Star around so soon after the Breeders’ Cup run.

“It’s like she didn’t run in her last race. It sounds crazy that she didn’t run at the Breeders’ Cup. She [finished eighth and] got beat five lengths, but it wasn’t the Highway Star that I know. She wasn’t all there. Coming back here after the race, it felt like she didn’t run. She was jumping and kicking, and this race was coming up. I decided to enter and had a few days. We could scratch the morning of, but it worked out good and I can sleep good tonight.”

Highway Star is a multiple graded stakes winner and earner of $1,326,813 from 10 wins, five seconds and two thirds. Her graded stakes scores have come in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom, Grade 2 Ruffian and Grade 3 Go For Wand. This year, she has also won the Iroquois Stakes on Empire Showcase day and finished second in the Grade 2 Ruffian, the Critical Eye for state-breds and Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses. She competed in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint both this year and last and, in all, has seven stakes wins on her resume.

Highway Star is one of four winners out of Stolen Star, a multiple stakes-placed homebred for the Bromans by Cat Thief, and a half-sister to the Bromans’ multiple stakes winner and Friend or Foe, now a sire. Chester Broman purchased Stolen Star’s dam, Unbridled Star (Unbridled), for $115,000 at the 2002 Keeneland November Sale. Stolen Star has a yearling colt by Forty Tales, no foal in 2018 and has been bred to Malibu Moon.

Highway Star’s sire Girolamo, a Grade 1-winning son of A.P. Indy owned by Darley, began his stud career in 2012 at Sequel Stallions New York before relocating to Kentucky.

He’s back! Audible’s message is loud and clear in Cherokee Run

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Coady Photography

By Sarah Mace

Following a six-month layoff, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm’s multiple graded stakes winner Audible (Into Mischief) returned to the races a winner Saturday with a confident victory in the $200,000 Cherokee Run Stakes at Churchill Downs on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.

Third behind Justify and Good Magic in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve on the first Saturday in May, Audible did not bounce back satisfactorily for trainer Todd Pletcher. The conditioner could not put his finger on any specific problem and had the horse checked out at the clinic. With no specific issue disclosed, Pletcher and ownership group turned Audible out at WinStar to regroup.

Audible thrived when he returned to training and signaled his readiness run earlier than expected. “The colt came around in his training quicker than Todd thought he might,” said Starlight founder Jack Wolf. “We’re excited about having him back.”

For a horse whose best performances have come in routes around two turns, Audible handled the turnback to seven furlongs like a professional.

Sent off as the odds-on favorite with a clear class edge over the field of 10, Audible settled toward the back of the group and well off the fence while Principe Guilherme set a strong and pressured pace up front. On the backstretch Audible picked off a horse or two under Javier Castellano.

Coady Photography

Still wide while navigating the turn, Audible spun out five-wide for drive. After making steady progress and passing horses in upper stretch, he collared Principe Guilherme a furlong out and drew off to post a two-length victory. Both the pace and final time were sharp. After fractions of 22:75, 45:69 and 1:09.98, Audible stopped the clock at 1:22.46. Honorable Treasure (20-1) got up for second and Principe Guilherme hung on for third.

Javier Castellano, who also rode Audible to victory in the Holy Bull and third in the Kentucky Derby, said, “He did everything like a professional today. The seven furlongs may have been a bit short, but he handled everything like a pro. We broke great and got into a great position with the pace up front. I think this race will set him up to have a great future.”

Coady Photography

The master plan for team Audible is to point the colt to the Harlan’s Holiday on December 15 at Gulfstream Park as a prep race for the Pegasus World Cup to be run on January 26.

One of the top 3-year-old contenders on the Derby trail this year, Audible won the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths on February 3 and the Grade 1 Florida Derby by three lengths Gulfstream Park. From five win and two thirds, Audible has earned $1,203,200.

Bred by Richard Leahy’s Oak Bluff Stables, LLC and foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Audible is a graduate of the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, where he was purchased from Winter Quarter Farm by 4H for $175,000. When presented to the world as a juvenile at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale, China Horse Club and WinStar Farm had pay a premium price of $500,000 to take him home.

Audible’s dam Blue Devil Bel, who was bred and campaigned in New York by Leahy, is a multiple winner and six-figure earner by Gilded Time and a half-sister to multiple stakes winner and stakes producer Akilina, who is the dam of Rieno Tesoro, a group winner in Japan, and Governor Malibu, a stakes winner and multiple graded stakes-placed New York-bred runner. Blue Devil Bel’s most recent foal is a yearling filly by Lookin At Lucky.

New York Stallion Stakes Series purse values to double to $2,300,000 in 2019

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

(NYRA/NYTB press release)

In 2019, purses for the 10-race series restricted to the progeny of nominated New York stallions and contested on NYRA racetracks will double from $1,150,000 to $2,300,000.

Purses for all 10 races will see increases with The Great White Way for juvenile males and the Fifth Avenue for juvenile fillies, to be run at Aqueduct in December 2019, becoming the richest sire stakes races in the country with purses of $500,000 each.

“This purse enhancement is the result of a diligent process with our partners in New York racing and I appreciate the leadership of John Poklemba of The Fund and Jeff Cannizzo from the NYTB to get this over the finish line,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s Senior Vice President of Racing Operations. “Continuing to find new and innovative ways to incentivize the owners and breeders who fill our races is paramount to the ongoing success of New York racing.”

Funding for the enhanced NYSSS purse structure comes from The Fund which distributes “Purse Enrichment” annually.

Jeffrey Cannizzo, Executive Director of the NYTB which administers the NYSSS series, said, “I sincerely want to thank The Fund and NYRA for agreeing to this proposal which dramatically enhances the Stallion Stakes Series and creates the most lucrative sire stakes for two-year-olds in the country. Directing The Fund’s ‘Purse Enrichment’ to New York-sired horses will, I believe, have both immediate and long-term positive effects on the state’s breeding and racing industries.”

The purse hike will directly benefit all participants in the New York breeding and racing programs starting with the owners of New York-sired horses, who already derive added value from the racing opportunities afforded by the NYSSS. Owners will see an increase in their bottom lines both from bigger purses and the opportunity to earn larger “Open Owner’s Awards” from The Fund. Currently, New York-sired horses who finish first through third in open races, and races like the NYSSS which are not otherwise restricted to New York-breds, earn 20% on top of purse earnings.

In addition to the purse increase for the juvenile races from $150,000 to $500,000, purses for the other eight races will increase as follows in 2019:

  • the Times Square and Park Avenue divisions for 3-year-olds of both sexes to be run at Aqueduct will be worth $200,000 (up from $100,000);
  • four turf races for 3-year-olds, which are run in pairs at Belmont and at Saratoga (Spectacular Bid and Cab Calloway for males and Cupecoy’s Joy and Statue of Liberty for fillies) will be worth $150,000 (up from $100,000);
  • a pair of sprints for older horses run at Aqueduct (the Thunder Rumble for males and Staten Island for fillies and mares) will be worth to $150,000 (up from $125,000).

NYSSS Race Schedule for 2019 – $2,300,000

April    Park Avenue Division                 F 3YO  6 1/2 Furlongs  $200,000
April    Times Square Division               3YO     6 1/2 Furlongs  $200,000

June     Spectacular Bid Division          3YO     7 Furlongs (Turf)   $150,000
June     Cupecoy’s Joy Division            F 3YO  7 Furlongs (Turf)   $150,000

Aug      Cab Calloway Division              3YO     1 Mile (Turf)      $150,000
Aug      Statue of Liberty Division         F 3YO  1 Mile (Turf)    $150,000

Nov     Staten Island Division               F&M 3&UP     7 Furlongs        $150,000
Nov     Thunder Rumble Division         3&UP             7 Furlongs       $150,000

Dec      Fifth Avenue Division               F 2YO  7 Furlongs        $500,000
Dec      Great White Way Division        2YO     7 Furlongs        $500,000

Breeders of New York-sired New York-breds and stallion owners will also benefit from the opportunity to earn increased fund awards. New York-sired New York-breds earn 30%, 15% and 15% in “Breeders Awards” for first, second and third-place finishes, which is 50% more than the Breeder’s Awards for out-of-state-sired New York-breds. “Stallion Owner’s Awards” are allotted at 10% each for progeny that finish first through third. On the bloodstock side, New York-sired foals will gain added value in the sales ring for their increased earnings potential.

“Doubling the purse value of the New York Stallion Stakes Series through The Fund’s ‘Purse Enrichment’ money will benefit owners, breeders and the bloodstock market, starting immediately. Having an additional $1,150,000 in quality black-type earnings on the table could also have a wide-ranging effect on the landscape of the stallion business in New York,” said Cannizzo. “New York-bred juveniles will have a greater built-in added value when they enter the sales ring in the first few months of 2019. My additional hope is that the enhanced NYSSS program will incentivize stallion owners to consider bringing stallions to the state. The racing opportunities, purses and awards in New York for a stallion’s progeny are second to none. This move could help enhance the quality of the stallion population and provide a stronger magnet for attracting quality mares to New York.”

Central Banker’s Sassy Agnes wins Shesastonecoldfox for second FLGR stakes tally

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Beach Haven Thoroughbreds’ Sassy Agnes broke her maiden in style on September 8 when she won the lucrative Lady Finger Stakes in her third career start, while giving her first-crop New York sire Central Banker his first stakes winner. The Linda Rice-trained, Belmont-based runner still had some unfinished business at the Farmington oval, however. Shipping in to Finger Lakes on Monday, the chestnut filly scored a decisive victory in the fifth running of the $50,000 Shesastonecoldfox, the track’s final stakes race of the year.

Following the scratch of L.A. Page who had contested the Maid of the Mist Stakes on Empire Showcase Day, a field of five lined up for the Shesastonecoldfox, which, like the Lady Finger Stakes, is a 6-furlong dash for New York-bred juvenile fillies. Party Like Grandma, winner of the Seeking the Ante on Saratoga Showcase Day and the only other stakes winner in the field, emerged as the 4-5 favorite, while Sassy Agnes was sent off as the second choice at odds of 9-5.

Sassy Agnes was quickest out of the gate from her outside post before being guided toward the fence by jockey Oscar Gomez, also aboard for the Lady Finger. Oh Dilly, a second-time starter who had aired in her Finger Lakes debut on September 19 by more than 14 lengths, also got out of the gate alertly from post five and took over the lead at the rail on the backstretch while clocking an opening quarter-mile in 22.40.

Sassy Agnes shadowed Oh Dilly closely and, midway through the far turn, chose her moment to take over. Emerging with a clear lead at the head of the lane, the filly never looked back, cruising home to a 3 1/2-length victory in a final time of 1:11.43.

After Oh Dilly tired, Party Like Grandma and Wait a Minute, who had run their own match race throughout in third and fourth, were left to battle it out for second. Wait a Minute, who stalked her way to a two-length victory in her debut three weeks ago at Finger Lakes, won the fight for place, ultimately finishing 1 1/4-lengths ahead of Party Like Grandma in third. Ma Meatloaf and Oh Dilly completed the order of finish. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Bred by Klaravich Stables and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Sassy Agnes is a graduate of this year’s OBS March 2-year-olds in training sale, where Beach Haven Thoroughbreds made a winning bid of $105,000 after the filly breezed a furlong in :10 seconds flat. She has now earned $113,182 from four starts, which are topped by her two stakes wins.

The filly is the first foal out of Bullish Sentiment, an unraced daughter of Stormy Atlantic out of stakes performer Raffie’s Dream. Bullish Sentiment is also a full sister to Stormy’s Majesty (bred by Majesty Stud, LLC), winner of the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap, three additional stakes races and earner of $336,649.

Bullish Sentiment has produced yearling and weanling full sisters to Sassy Agnes, and the unnamed yearling brought $55,000 at this year’s OBS yearling sale. The mare has been bred this year to Constitution.

Central Banker, whose son Bankit also won the Sleepy Hollow Stakes this past weekend, is a Grade 2-winning sprinter by Speightstown out of multiple stakes winner Rhum. Currently fourth on the leading first-crop sire list nationally, his stud fee for the 2018 breeding season, where he stood at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, was $7,500.

Pat On the Back recovers from poor break to win the Empire Classic

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

NYRA/Coglianese Photos

By Bill Heller

Any pre-race strategy jockey Dylan Davis had regarding his mount on Harold Lerner, AWC Stables and Nehoc Stable’s four-year-old colt Pat On the Back went out the window at the start. Sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 10 contesting the mile-and-an-eighth $300,000 Empire Classic on New York-bred Showcase Day at Belmont Park Saturday, Pat On the Back lunged when the starting gate opened and nearly went to his knees.

Davis didn’t panic. He let Pat On the Back regain his balance and then delivered a flawless ride, rallying Pat On the Back to a length and a half victory, giving Lerner and Nehoc Stables their second Showcase Day stakes after winning the Hudson with Runaway Lute, the horse who gave Javier Castellano his 5,000th career victory.

Can You Diggit, who was 5-1 with Junior Alvarado aboard, rallied to finish second, one length ahead of 10-1 Mr. Buff and David Cohen. Wine Not, who was 11-1 under Manny Franco, finished fourth, just a neck behind Mr. Buff.

Sugar Maple Farm bred Pat On the Back, a son of Congrats out of Accomplished by Awesome Again who sold for $70,000 as a yearling at Saratoga in August, 2015. He is trained by Jeremiah Englehart.

Pat On the Back, who had been principally sprinting earlier in his career, took his game to a whole new level when he finished second by a nose to subsequent Grade 1 stakes winner Diversify in the $200,000 Commentator Stakes on May 28th.

Pat On the Back then won the $90,000 Saginaw Stakes by a length and three-quarters July 13th before finishing second by a neck to Can You Diggit in the $97,000 Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga, Aug. 20th. Englehart freshened Pat On the Back, and, outside of the clumsy start, he raced lights out in posting his most significant victory.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

After letting Pat On the Back regain his balance, Davis settled him in third as 7-2 Sea Foam and Joel Rosario set the pace prompted by Mr. Buff through early splits of :24.26, :47.94 and 1:12.03.

Mr. Buff took over the front and Pat On the Back was right behind him going three-wide. Pat On the Back then took the lead, opened a clear advantage and maintained it to the finish line. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“This was a great way to end a fantastic day, also winning the Hudson today with Running Lute,” Lerner said afterwards. “It’s been a great Empire Showcase Day for me and my partners. We’ll definitely enjoy today and we always love to support the New York-bred program.”

Davis said of his winner, “He really likes this track and handles it well.”

No lie there. Pat On the Back is now three-for-eight at Belmont with three seconds and a pair of thirds.

Overall, Pat On the Back is six-for-20 on dirt with four seconds and four thirds. He also has raced once on grass and has total earnings of more than $710,000.