NEWS: racing

Retonova kicks clear to take NYSS Times Square second out

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

In just his second career start, My Purple Haze Stables’ Retonova kicked clear in the stretch to win Aqueduct’s co-featured $100,000 Times Square division of New York Stallion Stakes series carded for eligible New York-sired sophomores. The undefeated winner is a dark bay gelded son of Boys at Tosconova, a top-10 New York sire standing at Questroyal North in Stillwater.

Drawn well in the outside post of five, by post-time Retonova was bet down to 2-5 favoritism to win the 6 1/2-furlong tilt. In his unveiling at Aqueduct on March 17 for trainer Chris Englehart, he stalked his way to a 4-length victory in 1:12.50 for six furlongs, which earned a strong Beyer Speed Figure of 80. He also emerged as the bettors’ clear choice after main rival A True Giant was scratched at the gate.

Under jockey Trevor McCarthy, who had the repeat call after guiding Retonova to victory in his bow, the gelding was reserved in the early stages. The pair settled in fourth place in the four-path three lengths off the pace set by a headstrong Belleville Spring, who clocked fast early fractions of 22.77 and 45.21 while Aqua Bel Sar chased in second.

Rounding the far turn three-wide, Retonova began his bid in earnest. He advanced into third and, moving in tandem with Aqua Bel Sar, overtook a tiring Belleville Spring. At this point, Retonova had all the momentum on his side. He kicked clear of Aqua Bel Sar and drew off to secure the victory by 2 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:16.62

Longshot Spectacular Kid (18-1) got up for second, while Aqua Bel Sar held on to the show. Santo Antonio finished a neck back in fourth and pacesetter Belleville Spring faded to last. [VIDEO REPLAY]

McCarthy realized he had a nice youngster on his hands after riding Retonova to victory first out. “He ran such a great race for me and after I won the first time with him I called my agent and said, ‘whatever you do, don’t let him get away.’” McCarthy continued, “He was pretty impressive today. Being on the outside and that other horse scratching, it was an advantage.”

McCarthy felt that Retonova’s talent made up for some lack of seasoning. “He’s still a little green in the lane, but he shows a lot of ability. He was a little worked up back there [in the gate]. I was getting a little nervous because he was getting a little hot and antsy. But when he broke, he was doing so good. He was in a perfect spot.”

Bred by Barry Ostrager, Retonova is out of Kentucky-bred stakes winner and successful producer Jb’s Golden Regret.

Ostrager bought Jb’s Golden Regret for just $17,000 at the 2011 Keeneland November sale. She has produced six winners from six foals to start. Retonova is her first stakes winner, but she has two more stakes performers. Six-year-old Gypsum Johnny by City Zip is a multiple stakes performer and has earned nearly $500,000, and E J’s Legacy by Freud is also stakes placed.

Jb’s Golden Regret produced a full sister to Retonova in 2016 named She’s Irie, has a yearling colt by City Zip and was bred last year to the late Effinex.

Frost Giant’s Baby Boss surprises at 23-1 in NYSS Park Avenue

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

By Sarah Mace

While making her stakes debut in her fourth career start, Neal M. Allread’s Baby Boss got no respect at the betting windows. Let go at odds of 23-1 in Saturday’s $100,000 Park Avenue division of New York Stallion Stakes series for eligible New York-sired 3-year-old fillies, Baby Boss belied her odds, proving both speedy and game when she led the field gate-to-wire through 6 1/2-furlongs to get the win by a length.

Turning back from a mile in her prior start, Baby Boss was the first to strike the lead from post five following the opening scrum. She set up in the three path to lead the field of nine through a sharp opening quarter-mile in 22.76.

Tucking into the rail position late in the backstretch, Baby Boss maintained her one-length advantage over presser My Roxy Girl in second and saved some ground as the half went in 46.28, but midway around the far turn, My Roxy Girl and Orchid Party menaced directly to Baby Boss’s outside.

With urging, Baby Boss shook off both foes in upper stretch. Under a left-handed whip in the final panel, she held on to win by a length over a resurgent My Roxy Girl in a strong final time of 1:16.85.

My Roxy Girl in second, was followed another length back by Orchid Party, returning for Rudy Rodriguez on just three days’ rest. Next in order across the wire were Aunt Babe, favorite Pure Silver, Baby Boss’ stablemate Wegetsdamunnys, Cathy Naz, Our Super Nova and Giant Boxer. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Baby Boss paid $48.80 for a $2 win-bet and had a hand in triggering a pick-5 and pick-6 carryover into Aqueduct’s closing day, where there is a mandatory payout for both pools ($18,071 pick-6, $48,700 pick-5).

“Going to the lead wasn’t the plan, but I wasn’t going to get in her way,” said winning jockey Manny Franco. “She put me in that position, so I’ll take it. She took me there, but I wasn’t going to go out of my way … Today, she broke sharp and I just left her there and she responded very well for me.”

After establishing the lead, the pilot then felt that it was just a matter of playing “catch me if you can.” Said Franco, “I knew they were going to have to run to catch me. I felt pressure a little bit, but I knew I had horse left under me.”

In her lone start as a juvenile for trainer Jeremiah Englehart, a maiden special weight at Finger Lakes last September, Baby Boss showed speed before tiring to fifth over off-going. Returning for her sophomore season, she graduated in a $40,000 state-bred claiming race on January 26 from a stalking position. Unclaimed in that race, she stretched out to a mile while moving up into a first-level New York-bred allowance on March 11, just missing when out-finished by a neck by Park Avenue Rival Our Super Nova.

Englehart felt his filly appreciated the turnback Saturday. “She had a tough draw,” said Englehart, “but I think the cutback … helped coming back from racing a mile. I still think she’d be OK going seven-eighths to a mile. If you look at the race she broke her maiden she rallied behind horses, so she’s definitely versatile and picked up a nice win today.”

Bred by Eric Bishop, Baby Boss is a daughter of Frost Giant, who stands at Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions LLC, and currently sits in a virtual tie with Freud as the leading sire in the state.

Baby Boss is the first winner out of Wild in Montana, a winning Kentucky-bred Yankee Victor mare. Owner Neal Allread purchased Baby Boss for $23,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile sale for $23,000. The filly has now earned $96,380 from two wins and a second in four starts.

Swing and Sway wins Oaklawn’s Carousel in the slop

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

By Sarah Mace

Westrock Stables LLC’s Swing and Sway (Maclean’s Music) thrives at Oaklawn Park, her springtime home-base, and loves off-going. With both factors at play on Saturday afternoon, she won the 6-furlong, $150,000 Carousel Stakes by a half-length to earn her second victory of the spring meet in Hot Springs.

Winner of Oaklawn’s 6-furlong American Beauty on a sloppy (sealed) racetrack two races back on January 27, and a closing third in the Spring Fever at the same venue on March 3, Swing and Sway was still only third choice at odds of 3-1 in the Carousel’s field of five. First choice was odds-on Grade 2 Prioress winner Vertical Oak trained by Steve Asmussen, and second in the betting was Bad Cox-trained Mythical Tale, an up-and-comer who earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure last out in an Oaklawn allowance.

Swing and Sway went with the vanguard following a good break and established position at the rail, with Vertical Oak and Mythical Tale stacked up on even terms to her outside.

Vertical Oak, between horses, eventually got a half-length advantage over her two rivals clocking a testing quarter-mile in 22.32, leaving Swing and Sway penned down on the fence in very tight quarters. In the approach to the far turn, the filly took back two lengths and let the Vertical Oak and Mythical Tale continue the duel alone.

Regrouping on the bend through a half in 46.10, Swing and Sway angled out three wide late in the far turn, caught back up with the leading pair and collared Mythical Tale.

With Swing and Sway and Vertical Oak left to fight it out, Swing and Sway gained an advantage by mid-stretch and began to draw off, but had to be urged to the wire by jockey David Cabrera to hold off a menacing late bid by Thoughtless. Swing and Sway prevailed over the the would-be spoiler by a half-length.

Vertical Oak held on to third, followed across the line by Impasse and Mythical Tale. The final time for six furlongs over the sloppy (sealed) track was 1:11.20.

Pilot David Cabrera was ecstatic. “This filly, she was so calm in the paddock,” he said. “She was doing everything right and I knew she could run big. I thought if I broke on top I would just sit there. As the speed got going pretty fast, I just let her sit where she was comfortable, and she responded to me. That’s what I was expecting out of her and that’s what she gave me. I love that filly!”

Trainer Ron Moquett recounted his thoughts as he second-guessed Cabrera’s tactics during the running of the race. “I was questioning the move at the quarter pole and then I was stating [Cabrera’s] brilliance in the stretch. Trainer’s play-by-play: ‘What are you doing? Oh, yeah, great, that worked great.’”

The conditioner is also looking forward to the rest of the season with his 4-year-old filly. “Not only is she talented, but now she’s improving with consistency. That could make for a really fun rest of the year.”

A winner of five races (three on off-tracks) with three seconds and a third from 15 starts, Swing and Sway has earned $345,540.

Bred by Canyon Lake Thoroughbreds and foaled at Keane Stud in Amenia, Swing and Sway is out of Placerita a winning Kentucky-bred Gilded Time mare. Placerita has produced eight winners from 10 foals to start. Swing and Sway leads the pack, followed by closely by graded stakes winner Sticksstatelydude by First Dude ($345,057) and Saturday Nite Ride (Flower Alley), who won four stakes races in Canada ($220,471). The family tree boasts Grade 1 winners The Big Beast and Slew the Dragon.

Swing and Sway first changed hands for $50,000 as a short yearling at the 2015 Keeneland January mixed sale, going to Walter Bloodstock. Purchased by Woodford Sales for $117,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale in Saratoga, she posted a co-bullet :9 4/5 breeze in the under-tack show at the OBS March sale of 2-year-olds, where she was purchased by Westrock Stables for $185,000.

Holiday Disguise makes the grade in Distaff Handicap

Friday, April 6th, 2018

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Lady Sheila Stable’s Holiday Disguise (Harlan’s Holiday) aced her graded stakes debut at Aqueduct Friday, when she came from just off the pace to pick off Sounds Delicious and Divine Miss Grey and win the Grade 3, $150,000 Distaff Handicap for fillies and mares by a length.

The 4-1 third choice in a salty field of seven set to go seven furlongs, Holiday Disguise broke on top for Irad Ortiz, Jr., who had the call for the first time, before settling back in fourth three lengths off the pace. Her stablemate from the Linda Rice barn Sounds Delicious (2-1) led the pack through a fast opening quarter in 22.41. Even-money favorite Divine Miss Grey, who handed Holiday Disguise a 6-plus length defeat when they ran one-two last out in the Heavenly Prize, pressed the pace.

Ortiz reported, “[Linda] told me she doesn’t like to be rushed and let her break out of there wherever she’s comfortable. I didn’t take a hold of her until we passed the three-quarters [pole], then she came back to me, but I was still close to the leaders. There were a couple horses in front of me, so I let them be there.”

Racing three-wide up the backstretch, Holiday Disguise advanced into third behind the pacesetters as the half ticked by in 44.99 and angled out into the four-path for the drive.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Sounds Delicious kicked away at the quarter pole, and Torrent (13-1) rallied into contention at the fence in upper stretch. Meanwhile Holiday Disguise passed Heavenly Prize nemesis Divine Miss Grey in the approach to the furlong marker. In the final seventy yards Heavenly Disguise surged past her two remaining rivals and edged away to win by a length in a final time of 1:22.98.

Sounds Delicious, second across the wire, came in and bumped Torrent into the rail in the late going and was demoted to fourth by the stewards. Divine Miss Grey, third, was placed second and Torrent was awarded the show. Completing the order of finish were Picco Uno, Berned and Anydayismyday. Highway Star was scratched. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Rice was delighted the filly could take home some graded black type. “[Holiday Disguise] ran terrific and to get a win in a graded stakes race, it’s really great for her.”

Previously Holiday Disguise won last year’s Bouwerie Stakes and, after a long layoff, came back victorious in the Biogio’s Rose Stakes, both for state-breds, before finishing second in her open company debut in the Heavenly Prize.

Rice, who also trains the filly’s younger half-sister Midnight Disguise, a multiple stakes winner, sees some similarities in the siblings’ versatility.

“She’s great at seven-eighths, she’s OK at six and can probably run a mile well, so she’s quite versatile, similar to her sister, Midnight Disguise. She’s shown us her whole career, and I’ve been so delighted with it, that she really has some finish to her. It’s exciting to run horses like that.”

For Holiday Disguise’s next start, Rice has in mind the one-mile, Grade 2 Ruffian which will be run at Belmont Park on May 6.

Bred by Dr. William B. Wilmot and Dr. Joan M. Taylor and foaled at Gallagher’s Stud in Ghent, Holiday Disguise is out of Wilmot and Taylor’s Thin Disguise (Yes It’s True), a winning half-sister to millionaire and 2007 New York-bred Horse of the Year Naughty New Yorker. Her second dam is the couple’s late star broodmare Naughty Natisha.

Thin Disguise has produced four winners from four foals to start. Midnight Disguise, winner of the Busanda and Busher Stakes, is entered on Saturday in the Grade 2 Gazelle, after which she will have the option of making the trip to Churchill Downs to contest the Kentucky Oaks.

Currently, Thin Disguise has a juvenile colt by Verrazano, a yearling filly by Tiznow and was bred in 2017 to Bodemeister.

Holiday Disguise first changed hands as a weanling, purchased by John Greathouse for $70,000 at the Keeneland November sale. Rice bought her for Sheila Rosenblum’s Lady Sheila Stable as a yearling, going to $220,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred sale.

Audible roars to victory in G1 Florida Derby

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Coglianese Photos/Kenny Martin

By Sarah Mace

Audible’s powerhouse win in Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull Stakes on February 3 generated lots of Derby buzz, but if anyone still questioned whether the Into Mischief colt should be taken seriously as a Kentucky Derby contender, Audible probably laid most doubts to rest on Saturday afternoon when he scored a decisive victory from well off the pace in his toughest test yet – Gulfstream Park’s Grade 1, $1,000,000 Florida Derby.

While under the microscope in the leadup to the Florida Derby, Audible’s apparently lackluster approach to morning duties, well-documented by XBTV videos, worried some observers.

When questioned, however, Todd Pletcher – who trains the colt for China Horse Club International Ltd. (Ah Khing Teo), Head of Plains Partners LLC (Sol Kumin), Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf) and WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt) –  replied patiently that Audible has always been that way and there was nothing to be concerned about. Pletcher was right.

Marooned by the draw in post eight (of nine) but bet down to 3-2 favoritism on the strength of the Holy Bull performance, Audible was forced to exert some energy early to get into position before the clubhouse turn under jockey John Velazquez.

Two-wide and moving smoothly through the clubhouse turn in fifth, early on in the backstretch run Audible dropped back, actually racing for a time in last place, ten or more lengths from the leaders. Midway along the backstretch, though, Audible regathered his momentum and started picking off horses, advancing into fifth by the approach to the far turn.

As John Velazquez explained, “I had to use my horse to get position on the first turn. I was in the spot I wanted to be in going into the backstretch and after that I was pretty happy. The only thing that concerned me was when he got to the backstretch he started backing up a little bit. I thought I was overdoing it so I had to give him a little chance on the backstretch to regroup again and once he got his stride back together and when he started moving again on the backstretch I was very happy with the way he was doing it.”

Meanwhile up front, the two speediest horses in the race, Promises Fulfilled and Strike Power, set the table with a lightning-fast pace, each intent on getting the lead. The pair ran the opening half mile in splits more suited to a sprint  (21.95, 46.38), opening up six lengths or so on Mississippi in third.

Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin

Midway around the far turn bend the pacesetters wilted, leaving Mississippi to inherit the lead, but he no sooner struck the front than Audible loomed at his flank, engaged and took over while straightening away for home.

Despite drifting out a bit in the final furlong, Audible drew off to a no-doubt-about-it three-length score in a final time of 1:49.48. Hofburg, a Bill Mott trainee facing winners for the first time, rallied impressively to finish second while Mississippi had to settle for the third.

Completing the order of finish were second choice Catholic Boy, Millionaire Runner, Tip Sheet and Storm Runner, followed by pacesetting duo who brought up the caboose. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“It played out the way I thought it was going to be,” said Velazquez. “I talked to Todd and we thought there were the two horses with speed and Julien [Leparoux]’s horse [Mississippi] who was wearing blinkers for the first time, so we figured he’d probably come out running.”

Pletcher concurred. “The race unfolded with the pace that we were hoping for and we wanted to get some position into the first turn, which he was able to do beautifully. Just watching the race I was a little concerned at the five-eighths pole because he started to drop back a little bit, but I could tell Johnny wasn’t panicked. He kind of grabbed him up and sometime midway down the backstretch he started to pick up horses and I started to feel better and better. You could tell the pace up front had developed pretty swiftly so you felt like those horses were going to start to come back at some stage.”

Velazquez was also impressed with Audible’s finish.  “Once he got to the horses on the lead I just tried to keep him busy down the lane and he kicked pretty good. I didn’t ride him last time but he way he ran today he was definitely impressive. [The distance] didn’t seem to bother him at all. I think the farther he goes the better he gets.” Velazquez was aboard for the colt’s first two starts, but Javier Castellano piloted Audible to victory in an open allowance at Aqueduct and the Holy Bull.

The Florida Derby has produced the winners of 59 Triple Crown events, including 24 Kentucky Derby champions. Three of the last five Kentucky Derby winners – Always Dreaming, Nyquist (2016) and Orb (2013) — also won the Florida Derby. Audible, with 110 points, shares the top spot on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with Noble Indy.

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 has yearling filly by Lookin At Lucky and was bred in 2017 to Constitution.

From four consecutive victories following a third-place finish on debut last September, Audible has earned $882,920.


Therapist turns tables on Speed Franco in Cutler Bay Stakes

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Coglianese Photo/Kenny Martin

By Sarah Mace

Therapist, a homebred for Lynn and Richard Leahy’s Oak Bluff Stables, first tasted defeat in his fourth career start – also his seasonal and graded stakes debut – when he finished 2 1/4 lengths behind Speed Franco in Gulfstream Park’s Palm Beach Stakes on March 3.

On Saturday at the same venue, the chestnut son of Freud turned the tables on the spoiler, collaring Speed Franco late to record his third career stakes win in Gulfstream Park’s $150,000 Cutler Bay Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile on turf.

Breaking from post one (of six) as the 2-1 second betting choice under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Therapist let others wrangle for the lead and spent the first three-quarters of the race biding his time with a ground-saving trip in fifth and sixth, about six lengths off the pace. Up front, Salmanazar was pressed along by Speed Franco through testing fractions, clocking an opening quarter-mile in 23.57, half in 46.75 and six furlongs in 1:09.95.

Therapist began to angle out for position in the far turn while coming under a ride and spun out widest of all into the lane to launch his rally.

As Therapist passed horses rocketing down the center of the track, Speed Franco overhauled Salmanazar inside the furlong grounds, and was minded to draw off. In the nick of time, however, Therapist reeled in his rival to get the win by a neck. Salmanazar and Nauti Boy finished noses apart third and fourth another 2 3/4 lengths back. Neepawa and The Dow completed the order of finish. The final time for the mile was a sharp 1:33.42.

Coglianese Photo/Leslie Martin

“[Therapist] broke a little slow but he moves a lot in the gate, so he always breaks like that,” Ortiz Jr. said.

“I got a good position and I followed the speed horses and tried to save some ground, and when I tipped him out he was there for me. I just waited, and he’s much better on the outside. I told the trainer the ground is pretty hard and holding speed, so we have to be close. He wasn’t, but we got there anyway.”

Therapist’s 2018 season is off to a great start with a graded third-place finish and the Cutler Bay win, but he got everything off on the right foot last year for trainer Christophe Clement with a stellar juvenile campaign, when he went undefeated in three starts.

After breaking his maiden in a turf sprint maiden for state-breds at Belmont Park last July 2, Therapist went straight on to the 6-furlong Laurel Futurity on September 16, which he won with a dramatic surge despite breaking through the gate before the race. He closed out 2017 by winning Belmont’s Awad Stakes on October 28.

Foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Therapist is one of two winners out of Lady Renaissance, a winning Kentucky-bred daughter of Sharp Strike who was purchased by Oak Bluff Stables for $15,000 at the 2009 Keeneland November sale. Lady Renaissance has produced a yearling full sister to Therapist and foaled a Temple City colt on February 13, 2018.

Owner/Breeder Richard Leahy said, “We bought the mare and bred her. We actually tried to sell him, but he didn’t attract any real bidders, so I took him back,” Richard Leahy said. “Christophe and John Donaldson, a bloodstock agent, thought he’d be a lot of fun and he has been.”

From four wins and a third Therapist has earned $243,725.



Mind Your Biscuits thrills in Group 1 Golden Shaheen repeat, becomes richest NY-bred

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Dubai Racing Club

By Sarah Mace

With 400 meters to go and virtually everything still left to do, Meydan-loving Mind Your Biscuits pulled off an all-but-impossible feat Saturday. Out of picture for most of the stretch, he closed like a rocket down the middle of the course and, in the very last jumps, passed his final two rivals to score a repeat victory in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen in course record time.

The winner’s share of the $2,000,0000 Golden Shaheen purse also propelled Mind Your Biscuits to the very top of the New York-bred earnings rankings with a bankroll of $3,719,286, which overtakes the mark of $3,529,412 set by Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide.

Exactly one year ago Mind Your Biscuits and his novice trainer Chad Summers burst onto the international scene when they annexed the Golden Shaheen from another seemingly impossible position: the outside post of 12. Partnered with Joel Rosario, who had the repeat call this year, Mind Your Biscuits came from the clouds and kicked clear to win by three lengths in a final time of 1:10 4/5. The victory was Summers’ first win as a trainer, though he had been involved with Mind Your Biscuits from the bloodstock angle from the very first and is a co-owner.

This year, the Golden Shaheen draw landed Mind Your Biscuits at the opposite extreme – in post one, directly to the inside of speedy X Y Jet, which posed a different set of challenges. The 5-year-old was also looking to snap a four-race winless streak, having had his picture last taken when he won the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Stakes last July 8.

Sent off at odds of 4-1, Mind Your Biscuits was tardy out of the gate and settled in last while Jorden Sport showed the way in the early stages. Still in last and shaken up by Rosario rounding the far turn, Mind Your Biscuits wasn’t even on the screen for majority of the stretch run.

Advancing into fifth position and well out into the middle of the course, with 200 meters to go Mind your Biscuits had at least six lengths to make up on new leader X Y Jet.

Up into third well inside the 100-meter grounds, Mind your Biscuits set his sights on X Y Jet and sprint champion Roy H, who stood between him and victory. Gobbling up the ground at the end, he passed those formidable rivals and hit the wire first with a head to spare. The clock stopped in a course record time for 1200 meters of 1:10.21.

Dubai Racing Club

“I have a lot of faith in this horse every time I ride him,” Rosario said. “I just let him be ‘Biscuits’ and do what he wanted. He always gives 100%. I’m so happy, Chad did a very good job.”

Chad Summers said, “We had lost four in a row but we had reasons for all four. He’s a horse that knows where the wire is and he just never gives up. For my staff in New York and Florida and internationally it’s such an unbelievable thing for them – the team that gets everything done. It’s never about the trainer and never should be about the trainer. For the horse, it’s important he showed who the real Mind Your Biscuits was.”

Added Summers, “We respect the international community so much. We’ve seen what Wesley Ward has done as an ambassador for the sport and not be afraid to ship out.  To ship and do it and overcome everything, and Lasix free, it’s important. To have a horse peak on the right day and the right time, this is the race we pointed for and it took to the wire but he came through for us.”

Mind Your Biscuits’ star began to rise with his original trainer Robert Falcone Jr. for whom he broke his maiden on April 5, 2016, won the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes at the Spa that season, finished a strong third (placed second) in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and scored his first Grade 1 victory in the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on December 26. For Summers he has twice won the Golden Shaheen and the Belmont Park Sprint Stakes, and placed in the Cigar Mile and 2017 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. His race record stands at seven wins, eight seconds and three thirds from 21 starts.

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

Mind Your Biscuits was purchased as a short yearling by Machmer Hall at the 2014 Keeneland January sale for $47,000. After 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’ ownership group, which also includes Dan Summers and Scott Summers.


Summersault coasts home a winner in Gulfstream Park’s Soaring Softly

Friday, March 30th, 2018

Coglianese Photo/Lauren King

By Sarah Mace

Seeking to break an eight-race win-drought, William Parsons, Jr. and David S. Howe’s homebred turf mare Summersault (Rock Hard Ten) got a chance Friday to remind us of what she is capable of when she sailed home a decisive winner in Gulfstream Park’s $75,000 Soaring Softly at 1 3/8 miles on turf.

Over the last 12 months, Summersault has been involved in some close decisions, but the classy mare’s last trip to the winner’s circle came on April 1 of last year in Gulfstream’s Grade 3, $200,000 Orchid Stakes. In her first two starts of 2018 — the Grade 3 La Prevoyante in late January and Grade 3 The Very One Stakes on March 3 – she finished unplaced.

Still, the Soaring Softly appeared to be right in Summersault’s wheelhouse. She had won three of eight starts at this venue and successfully navigated the 1 3/8-mile distance once before. Also in her corner, was a jockey switch to John Velazquez, who had not ridden the mare since a trio of starts in early 2015.

Biding her time through three-quarters of a mile, Summersault loped along in fifth position hugging the rail. Up front, early leader No Sweat yielded the top spot on the backstretch to an eager Empressof the Nile.

Asked for more in the far turn, Summersault came off the fence and spun into the lane three-wide while advancing into third.

Coglianese Photo/Lauren King

Rallying in the clear, Summersault gained second with a furlong to go, bore down on Empressof the Nile and swept past her rival in the final sixteenth. She crossed the finish line a 1 1/2-length winner on cruise control.

Empressof the Nile checked in second, while longshot Shezaprado collected the show. The final time for the race over the firm turf course was 2:13.05.

Before the race trainer Mark Hennig was optimistic about Summersault’s chances, telling the DRF that she was “training better now than she has in months.”

Following the win, Hennig sounded ecstatic. “I love this filly. I was glad to see her back on the board, especially here because she likes it here. It seems like she’s taken a little more time to come around this year.”

Summersault, whose record now stands at seven wins, six seconds and three thirds from 31 starts, with $488,943 in earnings, took a while to get her career rolling. She broke her maiden at ninth asking at Saratoga in 2015 but followed up with an allowance victory in her next start. Over time, she marched steadily through her state-bred and open allowance conditions and in only her second stakes try, she won the Grade 3 Orchid.

Foaled at Cedar Ridge Farm in Pine Plains, Summersault is one of four winners from five foals to start out of Saratoga Summer, a placed Kentucky-bred turf runner by Smart Strike. Saratoga Summer last changed hands via public auction in 2009 when purchased by McMahon Bloodstock for $67,000 at the Keeneland November sale. Saratoga Summer has an unnamed juvenile filly by Mineshaft and was bred to Air Force Blue in 2017.


Split Time takes the prize in Maddie May

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

By Sarah Mace

Tic Stables’ Split Time (Take Charge Indy) made her stakes debut a winning one at Aqueduct on Saturday when she overcame a tricky trip to win the one-mile, $100,000 Maddie May Stakes for New York-bred sophomore fillies by a half-length.

A solid runner-up in a sprint debut at Aqueduct on December 6, the Linda Rice-trainee stretched out to a mile in her next two starts, winning the pair by a combined 11 1/2 lengths from just off the pace. On January 18 she beat state-bred maidens and on February 16 got the better of first-level state-bred allowance runners. Bet down to even money Saturday, Split Time had the services of jockey Junior Alvarado, who piloted her to both victories.

Following a good start, Split Time settled in fourth in the pocket along the backstretch, while Under Suspicion pressed by Breezy Gal carved out early fractions of 23.45 and 46.97. Our Super Nova raced on even terms with Split Time.

Once the field rounded the far turn and the first six furlongs ticked by in 1:12.83, Split Time and Alvarado were still penned in at the fence and would soon be in need of running room.

With the rail route proving too narrow after brief window of opportunity opened in upper stretch, and Our Super Nova on her way to overhauling pacesetter two-wide, Alvarado had to guide Split Time multiple paths off the fence to get to the outside of both main rivals.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

In the clear in late stretch, Split Time set her sights on new leader Our Super Nova and ran her rival down in the final jumps to score a nifty half-length victory in a final time of 1:38.50. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Our Super Nova in second finished 3 1/2 lengths in advance of Cause We are Loyal, who closed from last into third, leaving Under Suspicion to settle for forth. Breezy Gal, also from the Rice barn, completed the order of finish.

“It was an interesting trip,” commented Rice. “Split Time is very tactical and I thought she has more natural speed than [my other filly Breezy Gal]. I just told them whoever breaks well needs to take it and the other needs to sit off of it and settle. Split Time unfortunately was kind of in an uncomfortable spot the entire race and I was happy she finally wheeled to the outside and got up.”

Alvarado also commented on having to resort to “Plan B.” “Coming into the race, my plan was to follow Dylan [Davis] aboard [Breezy Gal] but when he didn’t initially send her, the plan had to change. By the five-sixteenths pole I was still a half-length inside and I didn’t see him move, so I had to wait a little bit longer than I wanted. It got more complicated than I would have liked, but I was still able to make another move and she was just so much the best.”

Split Time was purchased by Rice from the Sequel consignment for $62,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale. From three wins and a second, she has already earned $138,200, and her conditioner is high on the filly’s prospects.

“[Split Time]’s a nice filly. We bought her as a yearling in Saratoga and she’s won three in a row now, so we’re really excited. She had some great, easy trips in her two previous wins. Today, I was pretty impressed with her grittiness. She had a difficult trip the entire race and was never in a comfortable spot, but she managed to swing out and kick home.”

Alvarado, who has come to know Split Time pretty well by now, echoed the sentiments. “She has the class. She didn’t get the best of trips but she still showed how good she is to overcome it. In the late stretch, [Super Nova] started drifting but she was just running her race. It wasn’t anything drastic. It just made things interesting for a little while until my filly really geared down. The only difference is I had the best horse. She’s an amazing filly. Ever since Linda stretched her out to a mile, it seems like the distance suits her perfectly.”

Bred by Sequel Stallions New York LLC and foaled at Sequel’s farm in Hudson, Split Time comes from a productive New York-bred family. Her winning dam Speed Dating, out of Near and Dear, is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner and $693,500-earner Saratoga Snacks. Speed Dating has an unnamed 2-year-old Alpha colt, a yearling Freud filly named Afreud of a Strorm and was bred back to the same stallion in 2017.



Fourstar Crook up in the shadow of the wire to win the Grade 2 Hillsborough

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Fourstar Crook’s seasonal debut was a thriller. The 6-year-old daughter of Freud (Sequel Stallions) uncorked a perfectly-timed rally from off the pace under Irad Ortiz, Jr. and got up in the shadow of the wire to win the Grade 2, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes for older fillies and mares at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday.

Chad Brown, who trains the mare for Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and Gary Aisquith, had the challenge of successfully preparing Fourstar Crook to go 1 1/8 miles on the grass at a new racetrack after a 5-month winter vacation. Fourstar Crook was last seen finishing third in the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor in October at Woodbine, which was run on “soft” turf which she did not much relish.

Exiting post three under Irad Ortiz, Jr. as the 7-2 third choice in the classy group of ten, Fourstar Crook raced well off the pace for the first three-quarters of a mile, saving ground at the rail. Longshot Dynatail set the fractions, clocking splits of 24.26, 49.45 and 1:13.14 while pressed along by fellow-longshot Lovely Loyree.

The pace of the race and the excitement picked up in the far turn. Fourstar Crook, who had bided her time at the fence in seventh and eighth, shifted out a path and advanced a couple of spots, then fanned out three-wide into the lane. Meanwhile upset-minded Procter’s Ledge (7-1) circled the pacesetters and took over the lead heading into the stretch.

Fourstar Crook worked her way further out into the clear in upper stretch, then unleashed her hallmark closing kick. She passed her remaining four rivals in the final sixteenth and got up just in the nick of time to edge Proctor’s Ledge (7-1) and win by a head. After one mile in 1:36.91, she stopped the clock after nine furlongs over the firm turf in 1:48.43.

SV Photography

“She broke so good and I just stayed on the rail to save all the ground I could, because I knew I had to have a good trip to beat this field,” said jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.

“She is getting better and better every time. I just saved ground and when I tipped her out, she gave me a good kick in the end. When we got to the eighth pole I didn’t know if we were going to get there, but I just kept riding my horse hard and she got the job done.”

Chad Brown reverted to the vital issue of surface. “She prefers firm turf, and it was soft [when she finished third in the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor], so I thought that was a good effort. She’s a good mare and very consistent. She ran terrific today.”

Fourstar Crook has gone from success to success since breaking her maiden on October 18, 2015 at Aqueduct. Never off the board since, she kept a winning streak going for eight races after the maiden score, while collecting stakes wins in the 2016 Yaddo and John Hettinger and 2017 Mount Vernon for New York-breds. She picked up her first graded black type in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial on July 4 at Parx Racing. Second in the Yaddo last summer at Saratoga, Fourstar Crook repeated as the Hettinger winner before her show finish in the E. P. Taylor.

Bred by Kathleen M. Feron and foaled at Akindale Farm in Pawling, Fourstar Crook sold as a yearling to Allied Bloodstock at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale for $55,000. A $70,000 buyback when offered at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton March 2-year-old sale, she was purchased by owner Michael Dubb for $110,000 at the auction company’s Midlantic sale.

Fourstar Crook is one of six winners out of the Avril a Portugal by D’Accord, who was bred by John Hettinger. Her Coaltown Legend (Jump Start) earned over $325,000.

From 10 wins, two seconds and a third in 15 starts Fourstar Crook’s earnings bankroll stands at an impressive $813,166. Two full siblings to Fourstar Crook are in the pipeline: a juvenile filly and a yearling colt.