NEWS: racing

Swing and Sway much the best in Niagara Stakes

Monday, June 19th, 2017
SV Photography

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Westrock Stables LLC’s Swing and Sway (Maclean’s Music) won the 36th running of the 6-furlong, $50,000 Niagara Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies at Finger Lakes Monday afternoon in commanding fashion.

The second-top New York-bred seller at the 2016 OBS March sale, where she was purchased by Westrock for $185,000 via private sale, Swing and Sway is starting to build a fine resume, with three wins and a second from five starts and $139,890 in earnings.

Swing and Sway went postward for the Niagara under jockey Harry Hernandez as one of three 2-1 co-favorites in the field of seven: her 2.35-1 odds were two ticks behind favorite Tiznow’s Smile (2.25-1) and one tick behind Clara’s Gone West, an undefeated, never-headed full sister to Debra Breed’s Finger Lakes sprint star Breakin the Fever (2.30-1).

Exiting the outside gate alertly, Swing and Sway participated from the start in the scrum up front, which was led by Clara’s Gone West through an opening quarter-mile in 21.84. Meanwhile Tiznow’s Smile had an abysmal start, breaking awkwardly and spotting the leaders at least ten lengths.

Hernandez aboard Swing and Sway launched a confident early move in the far turn and struck the front midway round the bend. The pair opened three lengths on their rivals by the head of the lane and never looked back, driving home to a 4 3/4-length victory in a final time of 1:10.97 over a drying-out “good” racing surface.

The only horse to make up ground on the winner was the tough-luck Tiznow’s Smile, who went from last to second in the stretch to get the place, finishing two lengths ahead of 36-1 longshot and maiden Downtown At Noon. Completing the order of finish were Ribbonite, Filibustin, Rip Loves Maize and pacesetter Clara’s Gone West. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Swing and Sway returning to the winner's circle for her close-up. SV Photography

Swing and Sway returning to the winner’s circle for her close-up (SV Photography)

After opening her account as a juvenile with a fifth-place finish at Saratoga last September, Swing and Sway resurfaced this year in three races at Oaklawn Park where she broke her maiden second out and scored back-to-back Beyers in the 80s while finishing second, then first at the allowance level. Returned to New York at the end of May, she came into the Niagara following a troubled trip in the Bouwerie on Showcase Day.

Bred by Canyon Lake Thoroughbreds and foaled at Keane Stud in Amenia, Swing and Sway is out of a winning Kentucky-bred Gilded Time mare Placerita (Gilded Time). The filly has seven winning siblings, led by graded winner Sticksstatelydude and multiple stakes winner Saturday Nite Ride. The family tree also boasts Grade 1 winners The Big Beast and Slew the Dragon.

The filly first changed hands for $50,000 as a short yearling at the 2015 Keeneland January mixed sale. Purchased by Woodford Sales for $117,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale in Saratoga, she attracted the attention of Westrock at the OBS March sale of 2-year-olds after a co-bullet :9 4/5 breeze in the under tack show.



Wonderment upsets sloppy Dancin Renee

Saturday, June 17th, 2017
NYRA/Chelsea Durand

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

It was a topsy turvy late-spring Saturday at Belmont Park.

For starters, NYRA cancelled the card after the third race due to concerns about the safety of the racing surfaces. Unexpectedly heavy rain had hit the New York City metro area.

What’s more, the last race to be completed, the 6-furlong, $100,000 Dancin Renee Stakes for three-and-up New York-bred fillies and mares, ended with a surprise. Wonderment, fourth choice in the field of five, ran away with the race, while the 2-5 favorite Clipthecouponannie finished out of the money.

By post time bettors viewed the Dancin Renee either as a runaway win for the favorite, multiple stakes winner Clipthecouponannie (Pletcher/Velazquez/Repole) or, at the very least, a match race between ‘Annie’ and 7-2 second choice, Absatootly (Baker/Ortiz/Newman Racing), also a multiple stakes winner. In fact, the bridge-jumper crowd went so far as to wager $135,468 out of $162,952 in the show pool on Clipthecouponannie.

Wonderment, trained by Ken McPeek for Walking L Thoroughbreds and Sherri McPeek’s Magdalena Racing, is a 4-year-old Cosmonaut filly with some back class to be sure, having won the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park on April 2, 2016. In 10 subsequent starts, however, Wonderment had two seconds and two thirds to show for her efforts and, in her prior race, the Critical Eye on Big Apple Showcase Day May 29, she finished fourth, beaten 13 lengths

After getting away cleanly in the Dancin Renee, Wonderment settled in fourth about seven paths off the fence, while Super Alison, the longest shot on the board at 18-1, dwelt at the start and never got out of last place. Clipthecouponannie got out a step slow and rushed her way into second to track Court Dancer, who struck the front early through a first quarter in 22.66.

As the field rounded the far turn Court Dancer still led, but Clipthecouponannie began to weaken. She was passed by Absatootly to her inside and Wonderment on her outside.

Absatootly and Wonderment ran down Court Dancer in midstretch and hooked up briefly, but Wonderment decisively outfinished her rival in the final sixteenth to win by 5 lengths

Runner-up Absatootly finished 2 1/2 lengths clear of Court Dancer, who preserved the show by a neck. Clipthecouponannie disappointed her bridge-jumper friends by finishing fourth, a nose ahead of Super Allison. After a half in 45.61, the final time for six furlongs over the sloppy (sealed) going was a 1:11.63. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Anette Jasko

NYRA/Anette Jasko

“We were hoping [Wonderment] would run well,” said Jeff Odintz, assistant to Kenny McPeek. “She had a rough trip in [the Critical Eye], and she got lucky today. I think she can run on any kind of dirt: fast, wet. She handles all of it, so I was never worried about it.”

Winning jockey Dylan Davis added, “She broke sharply and settled in nicely. I just wanted to get her relaxed and she was able to settle down and stalk the pace.”

Davis continued, “Turning for home, [Wonderment] was full of run and she gave me all she had. It was a great trip. It was my first time on her and she ran a great race and everything fell into place.”

Bred by Michael S. Landers and foaled at Mill Creek Farm in Stillwater, Wonderment sold as a weanling to Baccari Bloodstock for $24,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton New York Fall Mixed sale. A $47,000 buyback the following year at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, she was purchased for $185,000 by Walking L Thoroughbreds at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale, where she was offered as racing or broodmare prospect. The Dancin Renee was her third start for her new connections.

Sporting a record of 4 wins, 2 seconds and three thirds from 15 starts with stakes victories in the Grade 3 Bourbonette, Lynbrook Stakes and Dancin Renee, Wonderment has earned $329,120.

Wonderment is one of three winners, including six-figure earner Persuasive Devil (Closing Argument), from three foals to start out of A Wonder She is, a winning daughter of Three Wonders from the family of Videogenic. The mare currently has 2-year-old colt by Discreetly Mine named Potential Danger and a yearling colt by Itsmyluckkyday named Mr Wonderful. She was bred last year to Cairo Prince but aborted the foal.



Disco Partner delivers record-setting performance in Grade 3 Jaipur

Saturday, June 10th, 2017
NYRA/David Alcosser

NYRA/David Alcosser

By Sarah Mace

A surprise-package runner-up in the 2016 running of the Grade 3, $300,000 Jaipur Invitational, Patricia Generazio’s homebred Disco Partner not only got the job done on Belmont Day this time around, but in the process established a course, North American and world record time of 1:05.67 for six furlongs on turf.

Disco Partner is a son of the late Disco Rico, a speed-sensation in his own right who stood in New York from 2008 until 2013. The grey, now five, had a successful three-year run with trainer Jim Ryerson and in last year’s Jaipur, at odds of 16-1, finished a neck behind Pure Sensation (Zensational), another grey Generazio homebred who was trained by Christophe Clement and let go at odds of 18-1. Pure Sensation’s 2016 Jaiper established a new North American record for the distance on turf (1:06.76), and the all-Generazio exacta paid $825.

Fast-forward one year. Both horses lined up again for the Jaipur, but this time both were sent out by Clement, to whom Disco Partner was transferred for his 2017 campaign. Disco Partner was sent off as third betting choice at odds of 9-2. His stablemate was slightly better regarded at 7-2.

After the break, the late-running Disco Partner assumed his customary position near the back of the field, content to cruise along at the hedge with only two horses beaten and seven lengths off the pace set by Pure Sensation, who led the field a through sparkling opening quarter mile in 21.43.

Drawing closer to the pack through the far turn, Disco Partner cut the corner while Pure Sensation reasserted his lead from challengers Loose on the Town and Stormy Liberal after a half in 43.04.

Disco Partner closed into second at the rail, then tipped out between horses with a furlong to go. Unleashing his devastating closing kick, he collared Pure Sensation to his inside and out-finished 5-2 favorite Green Mask who was issuing a late bid to his outside. He secured the victory by a half-length and put his name in the record books for the blistering final time. Holding Gold (18-1) got up for third another length back, while Pure Sensation had to settle for fourth. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

“I saved all the ground and when I had horse, I got through, said jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. “We split horses and [Disco Partner] got there. He’s a nice horse. He’s doing so well.”

Clement added, “Disco Partner had a great trip. Irad had him placed in a good position and he was able to take advantage and move forward to finish in the end. Irad has been riding great and he did a good job again here today.”

The winner of two of five starts in 2016, including his first black type victory in the open Troy Stakes at Saratoga, Disco Partner returned this year after six months on the bench with a sensational victory in the 7-furlong Elusive Quality under Ortiz on April 29.

Not only talented, but consistent, Disco Partner’s career record now stands at seven wins, four seconds and two thirds from 17 starts. The Jaipur win boosted his earnings bankroll to $621,810.

Foaled at Keane Stud in Amenia, Disco Partner is a third-generation Generazio-bred. His second dam, Mary Lou’s Magic (Concord Dream), was bred by in Florida by Patricia Generazio and trained by her husband Frank. As a broodmare Mary Lou’s Magic produced six winners including Lulu’s Number, the dam of Disco Partner, a New Jersey-bred multiple winner of over $200,000 trained by Ben Perkins, Jr.

Lulu’s Number (Numerous) has produced five winners, including Don Six’s Number (Don Six), a stakes performer and earner of $212,686. She has a 2-year-old filly by Posse named Lulu’s Partner, and delivered a colt by First Samurai on February 14, 2017.

I Still Miss You wires Astoria Stakes, now a perfect two-for-two

Thursday, June 8th, 2017
NYRA/Chelsea Durand

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

I Still Miss You (Majestic Warrior), the front-running winner of a five-furlong, New York-bred maiden special weight by 3 1/2 lengths three weeks ago, wheeled right back to wire the $150,000 Astoria Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Belmont Park on Thursday afternoon, the opening day of the three-day Belmont Stakes Festival.

Third betting choice in the field of eight at odds of 4-1, I Still Miss You shot of the gate and into the lead from post position two under Javier Castellano. She was soon joined by favorite Sugar Queen vying to her outside, then a three-wide Waki Patriot (6-1) through a first quarter mile in 22.19.

Leading her two rivals by a half-length as she entered the turn, I Still Miss You ended up shoulder-to-shoulder with Waki Patriot as they straightened out for the drive.

I Still Miss You kicked clear again in upper stretch, and Best Performance advanced into third. From that point on, Best Performance and Waki Patriot chased in vain.

In the final furlong, first under hand urging, then with a few reminders with the whip, I Still Miss You refused to give up an inch of ground, and sailed home a 2 1/2-length winner in a final time of 1:04.85.

Best Performance finished second, a head in front of Waki Patriot who crossed the wire ten lengths ahead of the fourth-place finisher. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

“It was a big field and with the inside post, I had to use her speed and she responded,” said Castellano. “We didn’t have a chance to rate; we had to send her because of the position she had. From the outside post, we can ask her to relax a little bit and don’t push her too much.” Added Castellano, “I think you’ll be able to stretch her out. I think she’s a straightforward filly, it’s the first time I rode her. She’ll move forward well.”

Jeremiah Englehart, who trains the filly for partners Gold Star Racing Stable, Matthew Hand and Brian McKenzie, referred to the way I Still Miss You fared after her debut three weeks ago. “Coming out of that race she’s done everything right. She didn’t lose any weight, her blood work remained good and we thought she would give a similar effort her if she was fast enough and she proved that today.”

Continued Englehart, “I thought Javier did a great job with her. I’ve had two great rides from her on Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] the first time, and Javier now and you’re pretty lucky when you’re in that company.”

I Still Miss You has earned $124,200 from her two wins.

Bred by Emcee Stable, LLC and foaled at Hickory Hill Farm Thoroughbreds, I Still Miss You is the first foal out of Maryland-bred Lion’s Terms. The mare won 16 races for Englehart and Gold Star Racing Stable and earned $235,042. Lion’s Terms has a yearling colt by Blame and was bred last year to Orb.

Breakin the Fever repeats in George W. Barker from off the pace

Monday, June 5th, 2017
SV Photography

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Two-time Finger Lakes Horse of the Year and confirmed front-runner Breakin the Fever (Roaring Fever) had to switch tactics to defend his title in the 6-furlong, $50,000 George W. Barker Stakes at Finger Lakes Monday afternoon, but the 5-year-old still managed to come up with a winning performance for breeder-owner-trainer Debra Breed.

Favored at odds of 3-4, Breakin the Fever got out of post one a step slow under jockey Nazario Alvarado, was hustled up into third, then taken back into fourth position at the fence for the early splits. Meanwhile, Marriedtothemusic (9-2), bounced out of the gate and struck the front, soon to be joined by Love That Jazz (9-2). The top pair were pursued by Fratello Del Nord (5-1) through an opening quarter in :22 flat.

As the leaders entered the far turn, Love that Jazz began to draw off, while in the bend Breakin the Fever worked his way toward the outside for clear running.

Marriedtothemusic, Love That Jazz and Fratello Del Nord hit the head of the lane together, completing the half in 45.45, while Breakin the Fever tipped out and launched his bid four-wide and, in upper stretch, began to close the three-plus-length gap.

As Marriedtothemusic re-rallied at the rail and Fratello Del Nord took second, the favorite hit his best stride. He ran down his rivals in the final sixteenth and scored a half-length victory in a final time of 1:11.70. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Marriedtothemusic, who bore the brunt of the hard work on the front end, held second, finishing a half-length in front of Fratello Del Nord. Completing the order of finish were Sundae on Sunday, Love That Jazz, Baime and Frisky Warrior.

Breakin the Fever’s 17th career victory in 26 starts and sixth stakes victory carried his earnings over the half-million-dollar threshold to $500,441.

The gelding has sustained peak form over two racing seasons and seems to thrive from regular winter breaks. He has won 11 of his last 13 dates with the starter dating back to August 2015, has a 13-for-15 record at Finger Lakes and is currently riding a six-race winning streak. His penultimate start last year produced a career-best performance when he won the Hudson Handicap on last year’s Empire Showcase card.

Breakin the Fever is one of four winners from four foals to start out of Breakers West, a winning daughter of Rodeo owned and bred in New York by Francis Casey and trained by Debra Breed. Breakers West foaled a colt by Hold Me Back on April 11, 2017.

Forgive holds on for gritty win in Churchill’s Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017
Coady Photography

Coady Photography

By Sarah Mace

Patricia’s Hope LLC’s Forgive (Sidney’s Candy) dug down deep under jockey Joe Rocco to hold off a pair of determined challengers and secure a nose-win while making his stakes debut in Saturday’s $65,000-added Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Largely ignored in race previews, and relatively dismissed as the sixth choice of eight at odds of 8-1 for the five-furlong turf tilt, Forgive bounced alertly out of post two and laid down his claim to the lead.

Racing virtually stride-for-stride with Platinum Prince (6-1) through splits of 22.37 and 44.83, Forgive sustained a stretch-long drive to wire. Holding his advantage over Platinum Prince and beginning to inch away toward the finish line, he then refused to be passed by fresh challenger Partly Mocha who was rallying strongly from off the pace. The trio hit the line in a blanket finish.

Coady Photography

Coady Photography

Forgive won the photo, keeping a nose in front of Partly Mocha, while Platinum Prince finished a head back in third. The final time for the five furlongs over firm grass was 56.31. Latent Revenge, sent to post as the 2-1 favorite after winning the race a year ago, bobbled at the start and finished last.

“When Latent Revenge didn’t break well, that changed the whole landscape of the race,” said jockey Joe Rocco. “Forgive is a very game horse. [Trainer] Mike [Tomlinson] told me in the paddock how well this horse has been training in the morning and he really showed it this afternoon.”

Tomlinson, who also trains Platinum Prince, said, “I’m so proud of both of my horses. Platinum Prince has been off for such a long time so he just ran out of gas at the end. Forgive is such a game horse. I’m so happy for the owners with Patricia’s Hope (Vince Foglia).”

Continued Tomlinson, “When we bought this horse we took our time with him and he’s really improving. We were a bit nervous it was too quick to bring him back from his last start [on May 19], but he was doing so well training that we gave it a shot.”

Coady Photography

Coady Photography

With this victory in his stakes debut, Forgive improved his record to four wins, a second and two thirds from eight starts and increased his earnings to $125,156.

The 4-year-old gelding was bred by WinStar Farm LLC and foaled at Vinery NY at Sugar Maple in Poughquag. Forgive first sold to Xavier Racing and Hidden Brook Farm at the 2015 OBS March sale for $145,000. After finishing third in his debut for these connections (plus WinStar) in November 2015, the gelding was purchased by Foglia’s Patricia’s Hope at the Keeneland November sale for $110,000.

Forgive broke his maiden in in September 2016 in his third start, and in five races since then has thrown in only one clunker. The Mighty Beau was his third straight win.

Forgive’s dam is Three Graces, a Kentucky-bred stakes winner at a mile on turf at Canterbury Park in 2008. She has produced two winners from two foals to start led by her first foal Euphrosyne (Harlan’s Holiday), a graded winner. Forgive has a juvenile filly by Pioneer of the Nile, a yearling colt by Into Mischief and was barren in 2017.


Holiday Disguise unleashes powerful late kick to win Bouwerie in stakes debut

Monday, May 29th, 2017
NYRA/Viola Jasko

NYRA/Viola Jasko

By Sarah Mace

Lady Sheila Stable’s Holiday Disguise (Harlan’s Holiday) scored a visually-impressive victory over nine other New York-bred 3-year-old fillies while making her stakes debut in the $125,000 Bouwerie Stakes, the nightcap on Belmont Park’s special Memorial Day Big Apple Showcase card.

Coming into the race, Holiday Disguise was looking to win her third straight start. After breaking her maiden second out on April 9 at seven furlongs at Aqueduct, she romped by six-plus lengths at 6 1/2 furlongs in her first try against winners at Belmont on May 7, for which she earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 83.

Clearly, she was comfortable at the longer sprint distances (like the seven-furlong Bouwerie), which can be a challenge for some, but it was an open question how she would fare on the sloppy (sealed) racing surface. Her only loss, an even fourth-place finish in her career debut on March 9 on the Aqueduct inner oval, came over “good” going.

As the 3-1 second choice, Holiday Disguise had a rough go of it at the bell, when bumped hard exiting post eight by an inward-veering Noble Freud, and pinballed into rivals to her inside. She recovered her poise, though, and settled nicely into stride in eighth under Jose Ortiz, where she raced evenly through the first half mile while Noble Freud (4-1) took the field through early splits of 22.64 and 46.26.

A patient and immobile pilot up to this point, Ortiz flipped off another pair of goggles and got to work just past the five-sixteenths pole, starting to ask for more and taking Holiday Disguise seven-wide into the stretch.

By midstretch Holiday Disguise was targeting Noble Freud with intent. Arrow-like, ears pinned with determination, and neck and head extended, she strengthened her rally with every stride. In the final sixteenth she collared Noble Freud, and crossed the finish line a 1 1/4-length winner going away in a final time of 1:25.19.

Noble Freud finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of 18-1 Tiznow’s Smile in third and the rest of the field finished as follows: Wilburnmoney, Timely Tradition, 2-1 favorite Bluegrass Flag who was also bumped at the break, North End, Swing and Sway, Frosty Gal and Toni Tools. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Jose Ortiz explained why he opted to take his filly so wide in upper stretch. “I took a look in front of me and I saw Irad [Ortiz on Noble Freud] in front of me at the quarter-pole and he was going pretty good so that’s when I decided to go wide and not wait anymore. I felt like I had a lot of horse and I caught up with him and I decided to go wide.”

Ortiz added, “When I saw I had [Noble Freud] in my sights at the eighth-pole I knew I was going to pass her. She was moving well and I knew I was going to get there.”

“This filly is getting more professional, obviously,” said trainer Linda Rice. “She’s got a great disposition, good mind for it. She lays back and really puts in a strong stretch run, so she’s proved that she’ll just get better with more experience.”

As to the future, Rice said, “I think I want to keep her around one turn, whether that’s six [furlongs], seven, a mile, whatever. Jose and I just talked about it and I don’t think she’s handy enough for two turns yet. Maybe with more experience, she will be. She leans out just a little bit in her workouts and in her race, so we’ll stay around one turn.”

Bred by Dr. William B. Wilmot and Dr. Joan M. Taylor, Holiday Disguise first changed hands as a weanling, purchased by John Greathouse for $70,000 at the Keeneland November sale Linda Rice snapped up the talented filly for $220,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale.

Holiday Disguise’s dam Thin Disguise (Yes It’s True) is a winning half-sister to millionaire and 2007 New York-bred Horse of the Year Naughty New Yorker. All three of Thin Disguise’s foals to start are winners and she currently has a 2-year-old filly by Midnight Lute, a yearling colt by Verrrazano and a filly by Tiznow foaled on April 5.

Offering Plan beats three millionaires in Kingston Stakes

Monday, May 29th, 2017
NYRA/Viola Jasko

NYRA/Viola Jasko

By Bill Heller

Talk about disrespecting your elders. Michael Dubb and Nantucket Thoroughbred Partners’ five-year-old Offering Plan passed three older millionaires, eight-year-old King Kreesa, 10-year-old Lubash and eight-year-old Kharafa, to win the 39th running of the $125,000 Kingston Stakes by a length under Javier Castellano on a yielding turf course at Belmont on Big Apple Showcase and Memorial Day Monday at Belmont Park.

Offering Plan, the 2-1 favorite in the field of eight, rallied from last to win in 1:37.40 on the yielding turf, giving trainer Chad Brown his third victory from the six stakes contested on Showcase Day. Front-running King Kreesa, who was 9-2 under Jose Ortiz, held well for second, a length and a quarter ahead of 8-1 Lubash and Irad Ortiz Jr. Kharafa, who was 3-1 under Paco Lopez while making his first start for new trainer Linda Rice, finished fourth, 2 1/2 lengths behind Lubash.

To say that King Kreesa, Lubash and Kharafa had history in the Kingston Stakes is an understatement. King Kreesa won the Kingston in 2013. Kharafa won the stakes the following year. And Lubash, who was making his seventh start in the Kingston, was the 2015 Kingston winner.

Offering Plan was making his first start in the Kingston. The son of Spring At Last out of Rosalie Road by Street Cry, who was bred by C.W. Swann and Cygnet Farm, had won just one stakes, the $100,000 English Channel, in Oct., 2015. He hadn’t raced since Sept. 24th when he finished second by three-quarters of a length in the $125,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes for New York-breds.

But two of Offering Plan’s four victories heading into the Kingston were off long layoffs. “I think freshening him up helped him a lot,” Brown said. “The rest was beneficial. This horse has run well fresh before.”

King Kreesa, idle since finishing ninth in the open $150,000 Artie Schiller Stakes at Aqueduct, Nov. 19th, went off at 9-2. Both Lubash and Kharafa were making their second start of 2017. Lubash went off at 8-1 and Kharafa 3-1.

Collectively, the field in the Kingston had earnings topping $6.5 million, led by Lubash ($1,498,130), King Kreesa ($1,388,554) and Kharafa ($1,061,497).

Ortiz gunned King Kreesa to the lead from the four post, and the speedy Macagone, who was 3-1 on the rail under Kendrick Carmouche, let him go, settling in second. King Kreesa led Macagone by less than a length through a quarter in :24.85, a half-mile in :49.40. Then Macagone went after King Kreesa, but King Kreesa put him away as Lubash gained on the inside into second after three-quarters in 1:13.55.

King Kreesa dug in and kept Lubash at bay. But Offering Plan was flying on the outside and he passed the front-runner in deep stretch to win in 1:37.40. “The horse showed his class and showed an unbelievable turn of foot heading for home,” Brown said.

Castellano deferred credit to Brown: “The horse hasn’t run for a while, and to have him prepared for this race and the effort he put in is amazing. He had the horse ready to win. I give all the credit to him.”

Offering Plan is now five-for-13 in his all-grass career with one second, three thirds and earnings of more than $380,000. [VIDEO REPLAY]


Weekend Hideaway turns millionaire in thrilling Commentator title defense

Monday, May 29th, 2017
NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

By Sarah Mace

In trainer Phil Serpe’s eyes, Red and Black Stable’s accomplished Weekend Hideaway (Speightstown) wasn’t getting the respect he deserved when sent off at odds of 6-1 to defend his title in the $200,000 Commentator Stakes on Belmont’s Memorial Day Showcase card. “To tell you the truth, I think he got a little Rodney Dangerfield here,” said Serpe.

Serpe got the last laugh, however, when Weekend Hideaway led the deep and salty 9-horse Commentator field from the bell and gave his all in the final sixteenth to hold off Diversify and prevail in a close photo finish. A twelfth career win and eighth stakes score took the 7-year-old horse’s earnings into seven-figure territory to make him racing’s newest millionaire.

Breaking from post six, Weekend Hideaway was gunned to the front by rider Luis Saez, and cruised along the backstretch a measured length in front of 22-1 Hit It Once More, who was destined to fade from contention, and 2-1 favorite Diversify, who was eager and proceeded under a hold.

As the field rounded the bend after early splits of 23.04 and 46.04, Weekend Hideaway still held sway by a length, but Diversify kept to the task of determined pursuit. After six furlongs in 1:10.57 over the sloppy (sealed) going, Weekend Hideaway began to tire and Diversify, who switched inside for last push, posed a serious threat late. Weekend Hideaway kept on digging gamely to win by a matter of inches. The final time for the mile was 1:37.34.

The other placings, 2 1/4 lengths length back, were also a squeaker. Governor Malibu (5-2) closed from way back and, despite having to alter course twice in late stretch, managed to get a short nose in front of Gypsum Johnny (15-1) who was in the hunt throughout.

Completing the order of finish were Royal Posse, Empire Dreams, Eye Luv Lulu, Hit it Once More and Loki’s Vengeance. Bellamy Way and Celtic Chaos were scratched. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Luis Saez suffered some tense moments awaiting the results of the photo. “I had a feeling that we had won the race, but we came back and saw it wasn’t official,” said Saez. “That was a little scary, anything can happen, but I had a little feeling that we got there. He ran so hard. When we came to the stretch, he was giving me everything. When I saw the other horse [Diversify], I thought he was going to get me, but we were still there. He was really trying.”

Saez, who has been Weekend Hideaway’s regular rider since August 2015, added, “I think I know him a lot. He loves a wet track and he loves the speed, too. Just break and let him run, leave him alone and he’s happy.”

“You have to love a horse like this,” said Serpe. “He always gives you his best effort. He loves the muddy track and he loves Belmont, so we’re very happy.” From eight starts over off-going, Weekend Hideaway has five wins, a second and third.

Continued Serpe, “We do right by our horses and if he needs a little break, he tells us. We gave him a little bit of time off and he came back great for us. He looked great today. He came into the race in good shape. In his last race, the Affirmed Success [on April 28, when he finished fourth], he broke from the extreme outside and broke flat-footed, which he’s done once or twice. It was not his day. Today worked out better for us.”

Serpe wrapped up with, “He’s got speed and has real speed in the slop. He does cherish the wet track. To tell you the truth, I think he got a little Rodney Dangerfield here. People weren’t respecting him because he didn’t come back winning. I think they will in the next one.”

From 12 wins, five seconds and six thirds in 38 starts, Weekend Hideaway has earned $1,004,632. His career best Beyer Speed Figure of 107 came in January 2015, when he dominated the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream, completing six furlongs in 1:08.64. He has won at least one stakes race every year since his 2012 juvenile campaign, owns Grade 1 and Grade 3 placings and has even won a turf sprint stakes in one of three career starts on the grass.

Bred by the late Carl Lizza’s Flying Zee Stables, for whom Serpe was a long-time trainer, and foaled at Highcliff Farm in Delanson, Weekend Hideaway was purchased by Michael Hoffman’s Red and Black Stable for $40,000 in the yearling portion of the Flying Zee Dispersal in October 2011.

He is one of only two foals (both winners) out of New York-bred Apocalyptical, an unplaced New York-bred daughter of Wiseman’s Ferry.

T Loves a Fight gamely wins the decision in the Mike Lee Stakes

Monday, May 29th, 2017
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Bill Heller

Speaking in the paddock before the 38th running of the seven furlong $125,000 Mike Lee Stake for three-year-old New York-breds on a sloppy track at Belmont Park on Big Apple Showcase Day, Monday, Memorial Day, trainer Mike Hushion and jockey Kendrick Carmouche discussed strategy for Hoffman Thoroughbreds’ improving gelding T Loves a Fight, a proven closer.

T Loves a Fight had won on a good track impressively, but never raced on a truly sloppy surface which usually favors early speed. “I was concerned about the way the front end had been so strong today, and knowing he was going to have to come from off the pace” Hushion said.

Regardless, he told Carmouche to ride him the way he had from off the pace in his last six starts. “I talked to Mr. Hushion in the paddock and we weren’t going to change anything because of the track surface,” Carmouche said.

Good decision.

Splitting horses in deep stretch, T Loves a Fight, sent off the 9-5 second choice in the field of six on the rail, rallied past front-running and even-money favorite Syndergaard and John Velazquez to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:25.06.

Syndergaard, who was very game after putting away repeated early changes, held on for second, 4 1/2 lengths ahead of 17-1 Pat On the Back and Dylan Davis in third. Sal the Turtle, who was 6-1 under Rajiv Maragh, finished fourth, 3 1/4 lengths behind Pat On the Back.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

T Loves a Fight is a son of Girolamo out of Worth Fighting For by Broken Vow who made his stakes debut in his previous start when he finished second in a $100,000 division of the New York-bred Stallion Stakes April 23rd.

Monday’s sloppy track led to four scratches from the original field of 10, none more significant than Bobby On Fleek, who was expected to be the second favorite. Bettors made Syndergaard, who was making his second start of the year, the favorite and T Loves a Fight the strong second choice.

Syndergaard, named for the New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, and Sal the Turtle hooked up immediately on the front end as T Loves a Fight got away last. Syndergaard led Sal the Turtle by a half-length through a first quarter in :22.95 and a half-mile in :46.36. When Syndergaard put away Sal the Turtle, he was immediately confronted by Pat On the Back, who had been a close third. By then, T Loves a Fight was third and gaining.

T Loves a Fight split Syndergaard and Pat On the Back, and drew away to an impressive victory.

“I love T Loves a Fight,” Carmouche said. “He lives up to his name.”

Hushion points out that T Loves a Fight’s owner calls him a blue collar horse. “He gets out there and fights,” Hushion said.

T Loves a Fight is now four-for-nine on dirt with three seconds and earnings of more than $200,000.