Blindwillie McTell rockets over the slop to break maiden in NYSSS Great White Way

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

A miserable rainy Sunday at Aqueduct turned out to be a very bright day after all for Jerry Zaro when his Linda Rice-trained homebred Blindwillie McTell (Posse) broke his maiden second time out in the featured $150,000 Great White Way Division of New York Stallion Series (NYSSS). The annual six-furlong sprint is restricted to juveniles sired by eligible New York stallions. In 2019 the race will have a purse of $500,000 along with its “sister” race, the Fifth Avenue Division, making the pair the richest sire stakes in the country.

Pre-race, bettors apparently felt that there was plenty to like about Blindwillie McTell’s debut on November 17. The Posse colt was fast out the gate in a full field, raced with the vanguard and, in the stretch, overtook Great White Way rival Kadens Courage, to finish second. Granted, he finished 11-plus lengths behind the winner, but that winner was Le General, an extremely promising New York-bred juvenile by Lemon Drop Kid who came right back on December 9 to dominate an allowance field in his first try against winners. Accordingly, the wagering public sent off the maiden second-time starter as the 2-1 second choice in the competitive and intriguing Great White Way field of 11.

Blindwillie McTell exited post six under Dylan Davis as if he were shot out of a cannon and, in no time, established a 1 1/2-length lead. As Davis reported after the race, “Most importantly, I wanted to break sharp and this horse knew what he needed to do coming out of the gate. We got great position.”

Immediately Kosciuszko (Smart Bid), the 2-1 post time favorite, hustled up the rail to hook up with Blindwillie McTell and the pair battled through a 22.70 opening quarter-mile and into the far turn. Meanwhile Thorny Tale (Forty Tales), a lackluster fourth in the Notebook Stakes on November 25, made a four-wide move on the bend to join the fray.

Kosciuszko faded after a half in 46.79, but Thorny Tale made a menacing run at Blindwillie McTell in upper stretch – but to no avail. The Posse gelding shrugged off the challenge and ran straight as an arrow to the wire over the gooey going without any of the late-stretch greenness apparent in his first start. He hit the wire a 2 1/2-length winner in a final time of 1:11.80 on the sloppy (sealed) surface.

Thorny Tale in second, finished 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Kadens Courage, who was in contention throughout. Completing the order of finish were Invaluable Will, Riken, Kosciuszko, Lost in Manhattan, Bustin Hoffman, Bebe Banker, first-time starter Dark Money and Chicken Valley Rd. Scratched from the Great White Way was filly Cartwheelin Lulu, who finished third Saturday in the Fifth Avenue Division of the NYSSS on Saturday won by Forgotten Hero. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Davis said his mount took everything in stride after the sharp break: “He wasn’t really bothered by the early pressure, but once I asked him, he went on and really handled the sloppy track well.”

Linda Rice confirmed that the “fast break” strategy was Plan A, and already has in mind a possible next step for Blindwillie McTell. “I told Dylan we had a big field here in the slop, so I wanted him to hustle him out of there,” Rice said. “He broke so sharp, he ended up on top and he went with it. It turned out well. Going forward, I think he can get a mile. We’ll see how he comes out of this win, but we’ll keep [the $100,000 Damon Runyon on December 31] in consideration going forward.”

Blindwillie McTell, who was foaled at Rockridge Stud in Hudson, is out of Bold Child, a Pennsylvania-bred Flatter mare who owns a runner-up finish in Monmouth’s 2007 Sorority Stakes in her second career start for trainer Tim Hills and Zarba Hills Stables. Bold Child has produced five winners from five foals to start including another to earn black-type: Young Anna Lee, a full sister to Blindwillie McTell, who was second in the Lynbrook Stakes in 2015.

Bold Child, who was originally purchased by Hills for $30,000 at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic selected yearling sale, has also produced a yearling full brother to Blindwillie McTell named Blackjack Davey, a weanling colt by Freud named Thunderbird Café and has been bred back to Freud this year.



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