Mr. Buff manhandles Haynesfield rivals in a dazzler, turns millionaire

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

NYRA/Susie Raisher

By Sarah Mace

Chester and Mary Broman’s 17.2-hand homebred Mr. Buff has steamrolled every New York-bred stakes foe dating back to last June’s Saginaw Stakes at Belmont Park, winning four state-bred contests for older dirt males in four tries (including his second Alex M. Robb), and — for good measure — dominating the open Jazil for the second year in a row last out on January 25.

Favored at odds of 1-5 to win Saturday’s $100,000 Haynesfield Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, the 6-year-old juggernaut turned in a dazzling performance in the one-turn mile that made his post time odds look like a bargain while earning him a place in racing’s millionaire’s club.

Race previews and pre-race prattle left analysts grasping at straws while seeking possible chinks in the short-priced favorite’s armor. The consensus was that cutting back one furlong from his favored nine-furlong distance and going from two turns to one could leave Mr. Buff vulnerable. Trainer John Kimmel dismissed this factor at the time of the draw (“I think he’ll handle the mile just fine.”).

Launched aggressively from the inside stall by regular jockey Junior Alvarado, Mr. Buff’s first task was to discourage Syndergaard, who challenged from the bell off a nine-month layoff.  Mr. Buff established a half-length lead by the first point of call and extended it to one length by the second, as he put up competitive early fractions of 23.22 and 45.76.

By this point the three main contenders – Mr. Buff, Syndergaard (5-1) and Honor Up (4-1) – had separated themselves by more than 13 lengths from Twisted Tom (13-1) and Fleet Irish (42-1) at the rear.

In the turn, Honor Up made his own bid to menace the leader, advancing into second and briefly hooking Mr. Buff, but was immediately repelled.

Mr. Buff led by 4 1/2 lengths at the quarter pole, completing six-furlongs in 1:10.15, but, paradoxically, the most exciting part of the race was yet to come.

Without apparent effort, Mr. Buff was suddenly more than 10 lengths ahead with a furlong to go. With his high cruising speed, he doubled that margin by the finish line, coasting under the wire with ears pricked to register a 20-length victory in an impressive final time of 1:36.22. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Trainer John Kimmel commented, “He really put that group away easily. I don’t know what the speed figures will be, but he was geared down right to the wire. I haven’t seen a mile race run in 1:36 in a while.”

Honor Up finished second, one length ahead of Syndergaard in third. A length back Twisted Tom and Fleet Irish completed the order of finish. I Love Jaxson was scratched from the race about 50 minutes before the post after reportedly shipping poorly over from Belmont for trainer Linda Rice.

“Just because it’s a mile race, I was going to get out of there gunning,” said jockey Junior Alvarado. “I was going to go no matter what [post] position I was in at the beginning. Coming from a mile and an eighth race, I didn’t want him to fall into a slow rhythm at the beginning. I just wanted to make sure I got him sharp out of there. He’s such a cool horse and knows what to do. You just nudge him a little out the gate and he knew what he was supposed to do. At the quarter-pole, I asked him a little and he took off again. He gave me the extra kick. He’s just a fast horse. It’s simple.”

As dominant as Mr. Buff has been in the older New York-bred dirt male division, deeper waters have proved a challenge. He turned in a head-scratcher in the Grade 2 New Orleans H. last March when basically eased out of the race. He then finished unplaced in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga and Grade 1 Clark on November 29, where he set a torrid pace for the first three-quarters of a mile before fading to tenth.

Kimmel revealed that he declined an invitation for Mr. Buff to contest the Group 2, $1 million Godolphin Mile. On his radar instead are the Grade 3, $200,000 Westchester on May 2 at Belmont Park, or the Grade 2, $1 million Oaklawn Handicap on April 16 at Oaklawn Park.

“We’ll see how the numbers come back and evaluate the time frame,” Kimmel said. “Every time I took him out of town, I wasn’t happy with what happened, but right now he seems to be very well.”

The extra icing on the cake of Mr. Buff’s stylish victory is that the winner’s portion of the purse ($59,125) carried his earnings over the seven-figure threshold to $1,051,536. Mr. Buff has won 14 of 36 starts, led by eight stakes victories (six state-bred and two open), with six seconds and four thirds.

Mr. Buff is a third generation homebred for Chester and Mary Broman through the male line. He is sired the Bromans’ multiple stakes winning homebred Friend or Foe, who is by Friends Lake, winner of 2004 Florida Derby for the Bromans.

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 in 2019, she was bred to Accelerate last year.

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