Mr. Buff makes it look easy in Saginaw Stakes

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

NYRA/Else Lorieul

By Sarah Mace

Mr. Buff, a third generation homebred for Chester and Mary Broman through the male line, made winning Sunday’s $100,000 Saginaw Stakes for older New York-breds look like a walk in the park. Leading a field of five through temperate fractions, the big chestnut gelding prevailed over four rivals in the 1 1/16-miles contest by 6 1/4 lengths geared down.

Last fall and winter 5-year-old Mr. Buff attained peak form for trainer John Kimmel, stringing together four straight wins between November and January, including victories in the Alex M. Robb on December 29 and open Jazil Stakes, which he won by 5 1/4 lengths on January 26. To Mr. Buff’s connections, it seemed like the time was ripe to test graded waters. Making the trip to the Big Easy with jockey Junior Alvarado, who was aboard for the Jazil win, Mr. Buff gave the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap a try, but it was not his day and he was eased out of the race.

Two months later Mr. Buff proved that his New Orleans performance was, for all practical purposes, a toss-out. Returning on May 27, for a highly competitive renewal of the Commentator Stakes for state-breds, he set a testing pace and hung tough to finish a close third behind Pat On the Back, a talented horse in career form, and Giant Expectations, who has spent his career contesting, and in some cases winning, graded stakes.

Drawn at the rail and the odds-on betting favorite, Mr. Buff did not have the smoothest of breaks in the Saginaw, stutter-stepping when the gate opened and needing a few strides to get his feet properly underneath him.

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

Once up to cruising speed, Mr. Buff quickly took over the top spot from Sea Foam, who got the jump on the field at the bell. Setting moderate early fractions of 24.03, 47:66 and 1:11.15, he led Sea Foam in the two-path by a length and Mo Diddley, who pursued three-wide.

Just in advance of the quarter pole Sea Foam got within three-quarters of a length of Mr. Buff, but the pacesetter wasn’t having any of it.

Mr. Buff widened his lead to around eight lengths in the stretch before cruising across the finish-line geared down to win by 6 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:41.21.

Dynamax Prime, the most likely horse on paper to have had first run on the leader, closed from a tracking fourth to get second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Sea Foam in third. Completing the order of finish were Twisted Tom and Mo Diddley. Runaway Lute was scratched. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Alvarado had the tale to tell of an ideal outing. “He’s a big horse that likes to be on the lead. He’s a fighter,” the jockey said. “Today, he got the lead and we were able to control the race the way we wanted to. From the three-eighths pole, I knew how much horse I had. When I started to feel Sea Foam coming at me, I just let him get loose. At that point, I knew I still had a lot of horse.”

Kimmel seconded Alvarado’s account. “He’s big. He’s 17.2 hands and probably every bit of 1,100 pounds. He’s just a big, strong horse and has some natural talent. Today, he laid over that group of horses. Junior said he lost a little bit of focus turning for home because there was nobody near him. Junior asked him to get going and I think if he had felt a little bit of pressure, he had a lot more in the tank.”

Kimmel has by no means ruled out a return to graded company in the future for Mr. Buff. Quite the contrary.

“It was a good effort and it sets him up well,” he said. “One of these days, he’s going to show up on a big race day – maybe the [Grade 1, $1 million] Whitney [on August 3]. He loves two-turn races and he’s run very well at Saratoga. So, we might show up there.”

The Saginaw was Mr. Buff third stakes win and ninth career victory in 29 starts. A consistent check-collector with six additional runner-up finishes and four thirds, he has earned $623,786.

Mr. Buff’s sire is Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred multiple stakes winning homebred Friend or Foe, who is, in turn, a son of Friends Lake, their homebred graded stakes winner who took them to the Kentucky Derby in 2004  after winning the Florida Derby. Mr. Buff’s pedigree page speaks volumes about the couple’s breeding program.

Historically, the Bromans have also periodically injected new blood into their broodmare band, and Mr. Buff’s dam Speightful Affair is no exception. A graded stakes placed Ontario-bred by Speightstown, Speightful Affair was purchased by the couple for $80,000 at the Fasig-Tipton 2013 winter mixed sale.

In 2018 Speightful Affair produced a full sister to Mr. Buff. Unfortunately, her 2019 foal by Friend or Foe, who stands at Smallwood Farm in Virginia, was stillborn.


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