Mr. Buff polishes off rivals for second Alex M. Robb win

Saturday, December 28th, 2019

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

By Sarah Mace

Chester and Mary Broman’s Mr. Buff capped his outstanding 5-year-old campaign Saturday with a second consecutive victory in Aqueduct’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes for older New York-breds at 1 1/8 miles. The winner of last year’s edition by just a nose over repeat contender Twisted Tom, Mr. Buff left no doubt about the outcome this year, opening up daylight on the field in the stretch after a stalking in the early stages.

Mr. Buff came into the Alex M. Robb having already notched four stakes wins in 2019 for trainer John Kimmel. Kicking things off in January by winning the open Jazil Stakes at Aqueduct, he added state-bred stakes wins in the Saginaw at Belmont in June, the Evan Shipman at Saratoga in August and Empire Classic on Belmont’s Showcase Day in the fall.

Mr. Buff’s connections were not shy either about testing the massive gelding’s mettle against the upper tier of his division this year. Even though deeper waters proved a challenge, he took a shot in the Grade 2 New Orleans H. in March, the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga and, most recently, the Grade 1 Clark on November 29 where he set a torrid pace for the first three-quarters of a mile before fading to tenth.

It was no surprise that Mr. Buff was bet down to 2-1 favoritism for the Robb as he returned to state-bred competition with regular rider Junior Alvarado in the irons. Mr. Buff was also the ideal “horse for the course.” He had won five of 10 prior starts at Aqueduct, and seven of 11 tries at his preferred 1 1/8 mile distance. As the field’s highweight at 126, he spotted the rest five pounds.

Exiting post five, Mr. Buff set up shop outside pacesetter Gio D’Oro, who broke on top from the rail post and led by 1 1/2 lengths through the first half-mile, clocking comfortable splits of 25.01 and 50.59.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By the approach to the far turn, Mr. Buff took matters into his own hands. He drew even with Gio D’Oro under his own power and cruised past. By the time he hit the quarter pole, he had cemented his lead for good.

Following Mr. Buff’s move in the turn was Dynamax Prime (4-1), who moved up two-wide from fourth to second, and 56-1 longshot Fleet Irish, who advanced in the same lane from sixth.

The order of the top three remained unchanged for the length of the stretch, but the margins did not. Shaken up in upper stretch, Mr. Buff widened his advantage to four lengths. Then, under a drive late and before being geared down in the final 70 yards, he opened up his winning margin to 7 1/2 lengths.

Dynamax Prime in second finished two lengths ahead of Fleet Irish and more than ten lengths back, the remaining three finished in a cluster. Twisted Tom captured fourth a nose a head of Big Gemmy and Gio d’Oro brought up the rear another half length back. The final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:52.84. [VIDEO REPLAY]

The race unfolded pretty much the way Junior Alvarado had planned. “I expected [Gio d’Oro], being in the one-hole, to use that to his advantage. I just rode [Mr. Buff] like he was the best horse,” he said. “I wasn’t taking anything away from him and I wasn’t sending him either. I knew how much horse I was going to have at the end, so I just let him move along. At the half-mile pole, he felt like he wanted to go on and start picking things up and after that he just carried me all the way to the wire.”

Alvarado added, “John [Kimmel] has done an unbelievable job keeping him healthy and sound the entire year. I don’t think he’ll have any problems next year either. As long as we keep picking the right spots for him, he should be able to continue to dominate these horses.”

Mr. Buff has won 12 of 34 starts in all, with six seconds and four thirds. He is closing in on the $1 million mark with $933,286 in earnings.

Besides his imposing size and outsize achievements, Mr. Buff also has the distinction of being a third generation homebred for Chester and Mary Broman through the male line. His sire is the Bromans’ multiple stakes winning homebred Friend or Foe. He, in turn, is a son of Friends Lake, who took the couple to the Kentucky Derby in 2004 after winning the Florida Derby.

Mr. Buff’s dam Speightful Affair is a graded stakes-placed Ontario-bred by Speightstown, who was purchased by the Bromans for $80,000 at the Fasig-Tipton 2013 winter mixed sale.

In 2018 Speightful Affair produced a full sister to Mr. Buff named Miss Buff. With no surviving foal last year, she has been bred to Accelerate.

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