Inaugural Lubash Stakes honors NY-bred champion

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

Lubash (outside), two-time champion New York-bred turf male, earns stakes in his honor Wednesday at Saratoga. NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Tom Law

Michael Blowen thought he had Christophe Clement over the proverbial barrel when he bumped into him one day at Saratoga Race Course a few years back.

“Hey, how come every time we get a horse that you trained they’re always so grouchy?” the founder and head of Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, Ky., said to Clement.

Not so fast Blowen.

“The reason is because they leave the great trainer and they have to go live with you,” Clement shot back, triggering Blowen’s signature deep laugh and wide smile.

The horse Blowen specifically referred to was Lubash, honored today with the first running of an $85,000 stakes for New York-breds on the grass.

“That was funny, no doubt,” Blowen said Tuesday in between chores at Old Friends. “I’m so excited for the race tomorrow. It’s great they have a race named for him.

The Lubash, goes as the third race on Wednesday’s 10-race card with a post time of 1:54 p.m. EDT, drew a field of six led by heavy favorite Cross Border and includes a main track only runner in Yankee Division.

The 1 1/16-mile turf event honors the two-time winner of Saratoga’s West Point Handicap who competed for significant chunks of his career against fellow New York-breds King Kreesa and Kharafa. Lubash won the 2015 West Point at the immediate expense of King Kreesa, after losing to that foe the year before by a head. Lubash topped Kharafa in the 2015 Kingston Stakes at Belmont after Kharafa got the better of his rival a few months before in the 2014 Mohawk Stakes at Belmont.

We could go on and on. And now the three are together again, albeit about 800 miles from Saratoga.

“We have all three of them here, King Kreesa, Kharafa and Lubash,” Blowen said. “King Kreesa and Kharafa are best buds. Nobody gets along with Lubash. Nobody.”

Lubash, who Clement says is one of the favorite horses he’s trained, is notoriously picky. Whether it’s people, field mates, treats, anything, there’s no denying the now 13-year-old son of Freud’s tendencies.

“We try everything,” Blowen said. “We treat him like a stallion, he has to be by himself. He’s cute, but he’s very bossy. He doesn’t want to be fooled with. I put it to the tour groups, ‘Look, he doesn’t want to have roommates he just wants to have neighbors.’

“But he’s gorgeous and acts like a 3-year-old. He’s full of energy all the time. He likes to run around, keep active. Most of the other ones after they retire they settle in pretty good and just chill out. Not Lubash.”

Bred and owned by Leonard Pivnick’s Aliyu Ben J Stables, Lubash earned champion New York-bred turf male honors in 2014 and 2015. Pivnick named Lubash in honor of his childhood friend and the late respected New York Times journalist Arnold Lubasch (even though there’s a spelling error).

Lubasch the journalist covered crime at the Times for more than 30 years, writing about everything from the murder and racketeering trial of Gambino family boss John Gotti to a biography of actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. Lubasch died at age 83 in 2016, Pivnick followed at 81 in 2018 (after cheering Lubash the horse home for eight seasons).

In addition to his New York-bred championships Lubash the horse won 18 races with nine seconds and seven thirds in 54 starts to earn $1,515,139 for trainers Clement and Jim Ryerson. He won 12 stakes at ages 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, including the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap as a 7- and 9-year-old and the Grade 3 Fort Marcy as a 6-year-old.

Three Diamond Farm’s Cross Border returns to the state-bred ranks for the first time since last year’s Saratoga meet for the Lubash.

The 6-year-old English Channel ridgling finished fifth, beaten just a length by Instilled Regard, in the Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont July 4. He won each of his three starts last summer at Saratoga – July 19 at 1 1/16 miles and Aug. 11 and 29 at 1 1/8 miles.

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