NEWS: racing

Loki’s Vengeance grabs a second NYSS victory in the Thunder Rumble

Monday, November 30th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Sarah Mace

Blue Bison Stable’s 4-year-old Loki’s Vengeance, winner of the New York Stallion Stakes series (NYSS) Times Square division as a sophomore and the Affirmed Success stakes last May, captured his third career black type score at Aqueduct on Sunday when he posted a game victory in the seven-furlong, $125,000 NYSS Thunder Rumble division for older New York-sired horses. He is sired by Frost Giant (Keane Stud).

Loki’s Vengeance came into the Thunder Rumble in good form. Two starts back he captured a third-level open allowance, defeating, among others, Green Gratto, winner of last Thursday’s Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap. In his prior start, the Hudson Handicap, Loki’s Vengeance finished sixth by 3 3/4 lengths to Palace, second in the Fall Highweight. Well-supported by bettors, the dark bay went to the post under Jose Ortiz on Sunday as the 3-1 second choice behind 3-2 Empire Dreams, recent winner of the Empire Classic.

Breaking well from post two, Loki’s Vengeance settled back into third position in the three path, 1 1/2 lengths behind Readthebyline, who scooted up the rail from his inside post to lead the field through early fractions of 23.38 and 46:68. The grey, Geaux Mets (Posse), got out of gate first but was now in hot pursuit two wide in second.

Coming under urging midway around the far turn, Loki’s Vengeance drew up even with Readthebyline and Geaux Mets, now racing in tandem, and gathered momentum in upper stretch for the drive.

Engaging new leader Geaux Mets with three sixteenths to go and gaining a narrow lead, Loki’s Vengeance battled Geaux Mets to the wire. Empire Dreams (Patriot Act) mounted a strong rally to join the fray.

Loki’s Vengeance held gamely to win by a half-length over Geaux Mets, while Empire Dreams finished third, just missing the runner-up spot by a nose. After three-quarters of mile in 1:11.01, the final time for seven panels over the fast track was 1:24.13. Completing the order of finish were early pacesetter Readthebyline, John’s Island, Comandante and West Hills Giant. [VIDEO]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Winning rider Jose Ortiz, “It was a perfect trip. I broke good and got a good spot on the turn in the clear. That was the plan, so it worked out great. I want to thank the owner and the trainer, the horse was 100 percent ready.”

Mike Hushion, the winning trainer, said, “He’s consistent in the mornings. He keeps himself looking like a million dollars. Everybody always says, ‘boy, you’ve got him looking good today,’ but he always looks good. A lot of good horses stay like that, tough horses.”

Hushion continued, “Jose rode him just right. He didn’t have to take too much hold of him, he didn’t have to move too early on him so it worked out well to get that seven-eighths. I was glad Jose could ride him today. We have a lot of good young riders around here and it’s really a pleasure.”

With his third stakes victory Loki’s Vengeance boosted his career record to 6-4-2 from 17 lifetime starts with the victory and increased his earnings to $393,409.

Bred by Andrew Cohen, whose Sunrise Stables stands Frost Giant at Keane Stud, and foaled at Vinery New York in Hudson (now Rockridge Stud), Loki’s Vengeance is the first foal out of Subtle Sweetness (During) who was bred in New York by Thomas-Narlinger, LLC and Dennis Repp and won two of three lifetime starts.

Subtle Sweetness has five foals on the ground, all sired by Frost Giant: 3-year-old gelding How Frosty It Is, 2-year-old colt Chilly Bon Bon and a pair of unnamed fillies. The mare was bred back to Frost Giant this year.

Loki’s Vengeance is a graduate of the 2012 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale where he was purchased by Blue Bison Stable for $35,000.

Effinex Triumphs in Grade 1 Clark Handicap

Friday, November 27th, 2015
Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

By Sarah Mace

Effinex (Mineshaft), bred and owned by Tri-Bone Stables’ Dr. Russell Cohen, capped an astonishingly successful 4-year-old campaign on Friday at Churchill Downs, when he held off defending champion Hoppertunity to win an exciting renewal of the Grade 1, $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Heathcare.

Narrowly chosen over Hoppertunity to win the Clark, but the virtual co-favorite at odds of 5-2, Effinex settled off the pace in fifth after the break under Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith, while 28-1 Mr. Z came out winging to set the fractions for the first half mile in 47.68, shadowed by 16-1 Shotgun Cowboy in second. After a three-wide trip through the clubhouse turn and comfortable trip in the clear up the backstretch, Effinex got his cue from Smith with three furlongs to go.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Effinex caught up with new leader Race Day in the far turn and the pair raced in tandem through upper stretch. With just a furlong to go Effinex had claimed a narrow lead in the four path, but at least four others were in with a chance. Race Day still held second, but was destined to fade, Hoppertunity was rallying on the outside, 88-1 longshot Looks to Spare was hanging tough at the rail, and Keen Ice was motoring late from last.

Effinex finally began to inch off with enough momentum to hold off Hoppertunity to his outside, while Looks to Spare and Keen Ice picked up the pieces. After a mile in 1:36.10, the final time for 1 1/8 miles over the fast tracks was 1:48.92. [Link to Equibase ABR VIDEO page]

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Effinex gave notice that he had a bright future when he won the Empire Classic as a sophomore for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, but even his connections could not have imagined what kind of year he would have at four.

From seven starts this year going into the Clark, he had collected three wins, led by the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont in July and Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct in April. At the same time, Effinex also presented his conditioner with something of a mystery.

In the Grade 2 Brooklyn in June, he ran a nightmare race, trying to bear out throughout, and ultimately bolting to the outside fence in the far turn before being eased. After the Brooklyn Jerkens switched to a Houghton bridle, which gives the jockey better control, and showed unwavering confidence in his charge by racing Effinex exclusively in Grade 1 company from September on.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

A competitive fourth behind Liam’s Map in the Woodward Stakes in September 5 at Saratoga, despite being fractious behind the gate, and third behind Tonalist and Wicked Strong in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Effinex headed to Lexington to take on American Pharoah and the rest in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He ran “the best of the rest,” after being the only horse in the field to try to take the race to the Triple Crown champ while earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 110.

Mike Smith talked about the some of the challenges faced by a rider of this talented but somewhat eccentric colt. “He’s done some quirky things. He’s bolted before, he’ll switch leads in the middle of the turn with you to the right, which is very odd for a horse to do that. He’ll kind of throw himself off and I just took a long hold and keep my hands down and just let him get comfortable with himself. Every move he does, I just go with and it seems to work out well. Instead of grabbing him and trying to make him stay in his left down the turn and stay in his right down the lane, I just go with him and it works.”

Smith added, “So far, so good. I’m very blessed, just to get the opportunities like this. I always love coming in and getting to ride these good horses and when you point these good horses in the right direction and stay out of their way, you get results like this.”

Jimmy Jerkens said, “[Effinex] ran so well last time [in the Breeders’ Cup Classic] and it looked like he never missed a beat with his training and everything else afterwards so that’s why we decided to come. We broke a step slow and then they kind of converged on him and they went like a bat out of hell so he just sat there and went in behind them.”

Continued Jerkens, “He’s just a good quality horse. He’s really come around since that weird effort at Saratoga where he went crazy from behind the gate. I still don’t know what that was about, but he’s been all business since then. He ran a hard race in the Breeders’ Cup, but he shipped all the way back on the van and acted like a fresh horse so we decided to come back. We didn’t really make a final decision until the week before. We were sure we could get Mike [Smith] to do it and we were sure that he wanted to come. We didn’t know what he had elsewhere but he definitely wanted to come so that helped us a little bit.”

As to what might be down the road for the newly-minted Grade 1 winner, Jerkens said, “Maybe we’ll send him to Florida, I don’t know yet. He’s such a tough horse, as long as there’s someone around taking good care of him that’s all he cares about.”

Effinex now owns seven wins, two seconds and three thirds in 20 starts and has earned $2,112,950, which elevates him to fourth on the all-time New York-bred earnings list, between Say Florida Sandy ($2,085,408) and Dayatthespa ($2,288,892). He the only foal out of multiple stakes-winning Tri-Bone homebred What a Pear by E Dubai, whose dam Perfect Pair was purchased by Tri-Bone as a juvenile at OBS in 1999 for $28,000.

Frosty Margarita dominates Key Cents Stakes

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Sarah Mace

Gabrielle Farm homebred Frosty Margarita (Frost Giant), morning line and post-time favorite to win the $100,000 Key Cents stakes for New York-bred juvenile fillies at Aqueduct on Sunday, did not disappoint, delivering a frontrunning, never-in-doubt three-length victory. The dark bay filly’s first stakes win caps a pair of black type placings in her two prior starts.

Reunited with jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., who had the assignment for each of her previous four races, Frosty Margarita took over the lead shortly after the bell from her inside post and never looked back, setting the fractions at every point of call in the six-furlong sprint.

After carving out a first quarter-mile in 23.04 and half in 46.54, Frosty Margarita entered the stretch with a comfortable three-length lead over her nearest pursuer, Joseph A. Gimma winner Melodic, who broke sharply from her outside post, settled back off the pace and moved up into contention in the far turn.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

After extending her lead to four-plus lengths, Frosty Margarita crossed the wire in hand, a three-length winner in a final time of 1:11.85 with ears pricked and looking pleased with the whole experience. Melodic finished a solid second, six-plus lengths ahead of the rest: Surprise Cameo, Louisville First, Lemon Liqueur, Here Comes Rosie and Taken by Surprise. [VIDEO]

Winning trainer Rudy Rodriguez said, “[Frosty Margarita] ran the way we expected. I told Irad to just break from there running and if someone goes crazy just let the other horse go. She got a nice comfortable lead and then she switched leads and took it home.”

Ortiz concurred, saying that his mount relished being the controlling speed. “I rode her before and after talking to Rudy I think we figured her out now. Before we thought she liked to run a little relaxed but today we let her go and she showed us what she’s got. She fights, and she has a lot of potential.”

Commenting on the filly’s runner-up finishes in the seven-furlong Gimma and one-mile Maid of the Mist, Rodriguez added, “[Cutting back to six furlongs] was the best thing we did. I still think she can stretch out. Hopefully next year she can stretch out to a mile. The main thing is we have to keep her sound and healthy.”

Never out of the exacta in five starts, and a maiden breaker second out at Saratoga on August 24,  Frosty Margarita has earned $195,800 from two victories and three seconds for owner/breeder Chip Acierno of Gabrielle Farm.

Foaled at Saratoga Glen Farm in Schuylerville, Frosty Margarita is by top-ten New York sire Frost Giant and the second foal and second winner out of Mango Margarita, an unraced daughter of Not For Love also bred by Gabrielle Farm. Currently the mare has a yearling filly by Freud and a weanling colt by Teuflesberg on the ground. She was bred this year to Central Banker.

Sudden Surprise back on track with Notebook victory

Saturday, November 21st, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Sarah Mace

Last out in the one-mile Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park on October 24 Mike Repole homebred Sudden Surprise “threw a clunker,” in the words of regular rider John Velazquez, which is a pretty strong statement, considering the colt had won his first three career starts, including the Funny Cide and Bertram F. Bongard Stakes, and only finished fourth in the Sleepy Hollow behind Get Jets. The talented juvenile erased the one blot on his copy book at the Big A on Saturday with a decisive win in the six-furlong $100,000 Notebook Stakes.

Figuring that the bay colt, who is by Repole’s leading New York freshman sire Giant Surprise, would benefit from the turnback in distance from a mile to six furlongs and an advantageous draw in the outside post, backers bet Sudden Surprise down to 30 cents on the dollar in the field of six by post time.

After a good break, Sudden Surprise settled at the flank of 11-1 Love that Jazz, who came out gunning from the inside post, and prompted the pace through a snappy first quarter mile in 22.17.

Drawing even with the leader and racing stride-for-stride through the far turn, Sudden Surprise emerged with the lead at the quarter pole and edged away in the stretch to win by 1 3/4 lengths. After a half in 45.18 the final time for six panels was 1:11.27.

Dr. Shane, winner of the New York Breeders’ Futurity in his prior start, made a strong late run from fourth to get a neck in front of pacesetter Love That Jazz. Completing the order of finish were No Entiendo, Steve’s Image and My Man Al. [VIDEO]

Winning trainer Todd Pletcher praised the colt’s effort and drew attention to the turnback in distance. “Sometimes the ones you’re supposed to win are the hardest ones to win. You never take anything for granted,” said Pletcher.  “The horse had trained very well, we were backing up to a distance he’s had success at and we drew a good post, but I think this year’s crop of New York-breds is the strongest I’ve seen in a while. You know these races are going to be competitive, but I was pleased with his effort.”

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Jockey John Velazquez also liked the performance “Perfect trip. We had a nice post-position on the outside and I got to watch a little bit on who was going to be the speed and move right to them. He’s back to his good form and it was pretty easy.”

Velazquez tended to discount the cutback in distance as the main factor in the victory, however. “We’ve been talking about it and I don’t think the cutback in distance made any difference. I just don’t think he was quite right last time. He broke to the lead like he was going to go and he didn’t go anywhere, so we don’t know why he just threw that clunker but today he showed up.”

In his young career Sudden Surprise has now won four of five starts, including three stakes races, and compiled a hefty earnings bankroll of $326,300.

Foaled at Mill Creek Farm in Stillwater, Sudden Surprise is the first foal out of Ready and Good, a placed Florida-bred runner by More than Ready, also trained by Pletcher for Repole, who had a lone career start. She has visited Repole stallions exclusively, and has a yearling filly by Overdriven and a weanling filly by Stay Thirsty. She was bred this year to Uncle Mo.

Sire Giant Surprise, the leading freshmen sire in New York and seventh on the national list with four winners and two stakes winners from 10 runners, stands at Rockridge Stud in Hudson. He likewise won his lone start for Repole/Pletcher in a much-anticipated debut at Saratoga four summers ago during which he suffered a career-ending non-displaced condylar fracture.

Sheriffa overcomes poor break to win NYSS Staten Island

Sunday, November 15th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Sarah Mace

Sheriffa managed to overcome a poor break to win the seven-furlong Staten Island Division New of the York Stallion Stakes Series for New York-sired fillies and mares at Aqueduct on Sunday. The victory also represented a decisive rebound from a sub-par performance at Belmont on September 19 in a second-level open allowance/optional claiming race following a four-month layoff.

Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez on Sunday and well-supported by bettors as the 5-2 favorite in the field of eight, Sheriffa got off last after rushing the gate then backing up at the bell. Making her way up into sixth, then fourth along the backstretch run, Sheriffa tracked the vanguard in the three path while 3-1 Vicki’s Dancer carved out opening fractions of 23.10 and 46.07.

Asked for more at the quarter pole, the chestnut filly rallied into contention in upper stretch on the grandstand side. She grabbed the top spot in the final furlong and edged away for the victory.

Saythreehailmary’s closed well from fourth to gain second, but could not get closer to the winner than one length. The top pair were followed across the finish line by Old Harbor in third. Completing the order of finish were Dreamboat Annie, Take Issue, Familyofroses, Vicki’s Dancer and Storied Lady. After six panels in 1:10.65, the final time for seven furlongs was 1:23.57. [VIDEO]

Velasquez said, “I thought my filly was the best filly in the race. She broke slow and backed up right before the gate opened. I had no choice, but to run her behind the 3 [Old Harbor] at that point, but she ran a big one today. When she got to the lead she galloped.”

Linda Rice reported, “I was sick to my stomach [after the break]. She kind of outbroke the gates, popped them open and got off awkwardly but Cornelio sat patiently and got the job done anyways. So it was fortunate.”

A 4-year old daughter of top New York sire Posse (Rockridge Stud), Sheriffa was claimed by trainer Linda Rice for Antonino Miuccio in September 2014 for $16,000 out of a winning effort in a Belmont sprint. An open-length frontrunning victory in the one-mile $200,000 Critical Eye Stakes at Belmont turned her into a stakes winner.

Sheriffa is an honest and consistent runner, finishing out of the money only twice in nine starts since the claim, including the race just prior to the Staten Island. Rice felt that Sheriffa had a valid excuse for finishing seventh out of eight in that open second-level allowance/optional claimer. “She had gotten a virus, mild pneumonia, after she won the Critical Eye,” said Rice. “I think she needed more time to recover, she just wasn’t as ready as I thought she was last time. The conditioner added, “She’s been a great claim. There’s always quite a few we don’t talk about, but she’s one of the good ones. ”

Sheriffa’s second stakes victory in the Staten Island improves her 18-race career record to six wins, three seconds and five thirds with $415,034 in earnings.

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.

Laurel’s Safely Kept Stakes all Hot City Girl

Saturday, November 14th, 2015
Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

By Sarah Mace

Following a summer freshening and the addition of blinkers this fall, 3-year-old Hot City Girl is going from strength to strength, capping a three-race winning streak on Saturday at Laurel Park by toying with the field of the $100,000 Safely Kept Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on her way to an eight-plus length frontrunning victory.

Trained by Linda Rice for Sheila Rosenblum’s Lady Sheila Stable, and a half-sister to La Verdad, who is enjoying such success for the same connections, Hot City Girl posted a breakthrough graded stakes victory by open lengths in the Charles Town Oaks on September 19. Then, just 16 days before shipping to Laurel for the Safely Kept, she trounced open company in a sprint allowance at Belmont for a career-top Beyer of 92.

Hot City Girl was reunited with Cornelio Velasquez on Saturday for the first time since the filly broke her maiden in state-bred company in her second start a year ago almost to the day. Bet down to a formidable 1-2 in the field of 10, and drawn mid-pack in post four to go seven furlongs, Hot City Girl weathered a slight bump at the break with Gypsy Judy in the stall to her inside, but it was all smooth sailing from there.

Leading at every point of call while racing just off the fence, Hot City Girl extended her lead over pace-presser Eloquent Tribute from a half-length to four lengths, while ticking off a sizzling half-mile in 45.49 and completing six furlongs in 1:09.97. Despite drifting some in the stretch, she finished straight and true under a vigorous hand ride 8 1/4 lengths in front of runner up and 5-1 second choice Stroke Play. Paulassilverlining completed the trifecta. The final time was 1:22.70.

From her fifth career win and second stakes victory, in addition to two second-place finishes, Hot City Girl’s earnings stand at a robust $455,150.

Bred by Eklektikos Stable LLC, and foaled, like La Verdad, at Chester and Mary Broman’s Chestertown Farm in Chestertown, Hot City Girl is another feather in the cap of her dam Noble Fire, 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. In addition to multiple graded stakes winner and $1.6 million earner La Verdad, who most recently finished second in Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, and Hot City Girl, Noble Fire is the dam of eight-time winner N. F.’s Destiny, has earned over $300,000. Altogether, the mare’s progeny have earned over $2.4 million.

Mecke’s Madalyn captures Shesastonecoldfox Stakes at Finger Lakes with strong finish

Friday, November 6th, 2015
SV Photography

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Penn National invader Mecke’s Madalyn (Desert Party) came charging late after a slow break to capture the $50,000 Shesastonecoldfox Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies at Finger Lakes Friday and stay undefeated after two career starts. The six-furlong sprint attracted a field of nine.

Trained for Sinatra Thoroughbred Racing by Corby Caiazzo, who bred Mecke’s Madalyn partnership with Stephen Sinatra, Mecke’s Madalyn won her debut against open company at Penn National after dropping back to last and advancing four wide to win a long stretch duel.

On Friday, Mecke’s Madalyn was bet down to 4-1 third choice behind 2-1 favorite Lady Lucky, making her dirt debut after three strong efforts on grass downstate, and 3-1 Crazy Love, who broke her maiden last out in her fourth career start at six furlongs at Finger Lakes. Penn National rider Kaylia Albright shipped in to take the mount.

Mecke’s Madalyn, sluggish at the break, lingered in seventh six lengths and more behind the pace for the first half-mile while Crazy Love led the field through sharp opening fractions of 22.29 and 46.09. Gaining on the turn in the three-path and angling out four wide into the lane, Mecke’s Madalyn still had nearly four lengths to make up at the top of the stretch.

Turning on the jets with long leggy strides, the filly inhaled new leader Fingerpainter and went on to secure the victory by three-quarters of a length going away. Fingerpainter (13-1) followed her across the line followed by pacestter Crazy Love. Favorite Lady Lucky finished last after not factoring in the race. The final time for six furlongs over the fast track was 1:13.44. [VIDEO]

Mecke’s Madalyn is the fourth winner from five foals to start out of Royal Mecke, a winning Florida-bred mare by Mecke. The mare produced a weanling filly this year by Forty Tales and has been bred to Tritap.

Connections comment on strong efforts by BC NY-bred runners-up La Verdad & Effinex

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

BreedersCupLogo2015_298by Sarah Mace

La Verdad was caught in the stretch by Wavell Avenue after setting the pace in the Grade 1, $1 Million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at seven furlongs just one week after coming from off the pace to romp in the Iroquois:

  • Trainer Linda Rice: “She held on pretty well considering how fast they went [22.53, 45.12, 1:09.54, 1:22.39]. Seven furlongs is a bit of a reach for her but I am not disappointed that we came.”
  • Jockey Jose Ortiz: “It was very good. My filly broke very sharply. I took the lead like she wanted. I think she’s awesome. Wavell Avenue is a nice filly and last time we met we beat her by half a length. She beat me by maybe two lengths today and maybe the seven furlongs made the difference. My filly is more of a six – six and a half sprinter. We tried to make seven furlongs and we did pretty good. This is one special horse for me.”

Effinex shadowed winner American Pharoah throughout the Grade 1, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles and kept on well to finish second by 6 1/2 lengths.

  • Trainer James Jerkens: “I’m ecstatic. I was happy to see him sitting second early and not being rank. American Pharoah started pulling away on the backside but he stayed second. It was unbelievable.”
  • Jockey Mike Smith: “Once we hit the 3/8 pole I thought ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic. Maybe we can hold on for second,’ Passing the 3/8 pole we really picked it up. The real guy (American Pharoah) showed up today.”
  • And on Sunday, Tri-Bone Stables’ Dr. Russell Cohen: “He’s sound as a dollar, we could enter him back this week. He ran against perhaps the best horse to run in 100 years. For him to be in contention with Pharoah the whole way, I’m pretty proud of him. He may run again this year, but he will definitely run again next year.”

Flipcup strikes again at Woodbine in Saturday’s Grade 3 Maple Leaf

Saturday, October 31st, 2015
Toronto Ont.October 31,2015.Woodbine Racetrack.Jockey Luis Contreras guides Flipcup to victory in the $150,000 dollar Maple Leaf Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack.Flipcup is owned by Team Penney Racing,Watchel Stable and Brous Stable LLC and trained by Bill Mott. michael burns photo

Michael Burns Photograhy

by Sarah Mace

Woodbine-loving Flipcup collected her first graded laurels and a second straight stakes victory over the Toronto oval on Breeders’ Cup Saturday when she came from off the pace to post a driving win in the Grade 3, $150,000 Maple Leaf Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on the all-weather track. Her first graded stakes score bolsters her Woodbine record to an impressive four wins, a second and a third from six starts.

A 4-year-old Team Penney Racing homebred by Milwaukee Brew owned by Team Penney’s Shirl Penney in partnership with Wachtel Stable and Brous Stable LLC, Flipcup has been trained by Bill Mott since the spring of 2014. She kicked off her career at Woodbine with trainer Brian Lynch, for whom she won her first two starts and finished third in her stakes debut in the South Ocean in November 2013. In December 2013 she won the East View at Aqueduct in her first of two starts for George Weaver, following up with a runner-up finish in the open Busanda in January.

Winner of the New York Oaks at Finger Lakes in 2014 and consistently stakes placed in New York-bred company, Flipcup captured Woodbine’s $125,000 Classy n’ Smart Stakes in the final stride going 1 1/16 miles in her prior start on September 27.

Stretching out for the first time beyond nine furlongs in the Maple Leaf, Flipcup went to the post under Luis Contreras as the 7-1 third choice in the field of nine fillies and mares behind odds-on favorite Academic, a multiple graded winner issuing from the Reade Baker barn, and 6-1 Graham Motion trainee Sabbatical.

Michael Burns Photography

Michael Burns Photography

Settling off the pace at the rail after breaking from the seventh post position, Flipcup relaxed at the back of the pack with only one horse beaten through a first half-mile in 48.61, as favorite Academic led the way pushed along by longshot Club One Two.

Approaching the far turn, Contreras asked for more, and Flipcup began to pick off rivals through the turn, entering the top of the stretch in fourth. Driving inexorably to the front, she took over with a sixteenth to go and drew off to a two-length victory in 1:03.42. Academic finished second, followed by 11-1 Dido in third. [VIDEO]

Contreras said, “She relaxed right away. I was just trying to save ground and make one move in the stretch and she galloped out.”

Shirl Penney added, “She’s been spectacular. We started her career here (at Woodbine) with Brian Lynch who did a great job with her as a juvenile. She was bred by Milwaukee Brew, an Ontario sire, and foaled in New York. We bred her that way purposely so we could run in the Ontario-sired races here in Canada as well as in the New York races. She obviously seems to favor the synthetic here.”

A four-time stakes winner and seven more times stakes-placed, Flipcup’s record now stands at five wins, six seconds and five thirds from 17 starts with earnings of $472,666.

Foaled at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, Flipcup is the fourth winner from four starters and lone stakes winner out of Dream Affair, an unraced daughter of Touch Gold. Dream Affair, who issues from the family of Canadian juvenile champion Wavering Girl, was purchased by Team Penny Racing for $11,000 at the 2007 OBS Winter mixed sale.

Dream Affair currently has a 2-year old filly by Giant Surprise named Giant Dreams Await who has not yet started, and a yearling colt by Simmard named Amys Dream. She was bred this year to Cross Traffic.

Mountain Music Man leads Empire-bred trifecta across the wire in open Awad

Friday, October 30th, 2015
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Going dirt-to-turf and sprint-to route in his second career start, Mountain Music Man (Bluegrass Cat) bested a salty field of juvenile turfers at Belmont Park on Friday as he led fellow New York-breds Converge and Pagan across the finish line in the co-featured $100,000 open Awad run at one mile over the Widener Turf Course.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for Robert and Lawana Low, Mountain Music Man won his Belmont debut by a neck on September 26 after pressing the pace in a six-furlong main track tilt for New York-breds. As a full brother to stakes winner and graded stakes placed Michael With Us and a half-brother to stakes winner and Grade 1 placed Tourist (Tiznow), he stood to relish the surface switch and stretchout. Since his maiden victory, he had also posted two strong half-mile turf works, most recently a best-of-six move on October 24.

Partnered with Manny Franco while his debut rider John Velazquez was contesting Friday’s Breeders’ Cup races at Keeneland, and sent off as 5-1 fourth choice in the well-matched field, Mountain Music Man took back after a good start and enjoyed a rail trip in fourth covered up by Don’t Be So Salty who led the field of 11 through a first half-mile in 47.84 pressed along by Rappel. After six furlongs in 1:12.04, the top two passed the quarter pole on virtually even terms.

Rappel took over the top spot in upper stretch and Mountain Music Man angled out five wide for the drive, rallying steadily. He wore down his rival and made the lead with sixteenth to go inching off to a 1 1/2-length victory. Fellow New York-breds Converge and Pagan both closed strongly from well out of it to grab second and third, followed across the line by Rappel, who hung on for fourth. The final time for one mile over a course labeled “good” was 1:37.11. [VIDEO]

Winning jockey Manny Franco reported, “I expected that the pace in front of me would be fast. I just tried to break well and get my position early. I was [sitting] perfect behind another horse that had a chance to win the race too and I just tried to follow him and go by.”

Byron Hughes, assistant to Todd Pletcher, added, “I thought he ran well. He sat right off the pace and Manny did a good job getting him out off the turn. He made a winning move and looked good doing it. We worked him twice over this turf and he seemed to really like it. Given his pedigree, and since we had an opportunity to breeze him over the turf, we thought it was a good chance [to try turf] and the timing set up for this race. It worked out well.”

Bred by WinStar Farm, LLC and foaled at Vinery NY at Sugar Maple in Poughquag, Mountain Music Man was picked out as a yearling by Raul Reyes (Kings Equine) for $90,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale. The colt RNA’d in March for $160,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale, where Reyes said the heat did not agree with him and he looked dull. Mountain Music Man then sold for a gaudy $450,000 price tag in May at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year old sale after breezing a co-bullet :10 flat breeze in the under tack show.

Undefeated in two starts and now a stakes winner, Mountain Music Man has earned $102,000.