Mr. Buff aims high in Grade 1 Whitney

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

Mr. Buff, champion New York-bred older male and winner of the Empire Classic in 2019, bids for upset win in Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog/The Saratoga Special

Mr. Buff will attempt to make history as only the fourth New York-bred to win Grade 1 Whitney when he takes on four opponents Saturday at Saratoga Race Course as the longest shot in the field if the morning line holds true.

An impressive winner in three straight New York-bred races over the winter, 12-1 shot Mr. Buff will be trying to prove his doubters wrong nearly a month after he finished fifth in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes at Belmont Park.

Trainer John Kimmel admits that Mr. Buff might give people pause, but he’s confident that the 6-year-old gelding will take to Saratoga the way he handled Aqueduct’s surface over the winter. That could be a scary thought to rivals, with Mr. Buff winning three starts by a combined 32 1/2 lengths, including a 20-length romp in February’s Haynesfield Stakes.

“We’ve got a racetrack here now with the crushed stone base that’s very similar to the Aqueduct track, where he’s been phenomenal,” Kimmel said. “The other thing is, there are no more New York-bred races this year so basically this horse was going to be sitting on the fence for the whole summer unless we ran in this race. He’s out of conditions, obviously. The horse is a very good horse and someday, maybe just like Bar of Gold, they show up on the right day at the right time and knock the hell out of the odds.”

Kimmel and Mr. Buff’s owners and breeders Chester and Mary Broman aren’t strangers to upsetting big race with the trio winning the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint with Bar of Gold at odds of nearly 67-1.

Kimmel said it makes sense to give the Whitney a try since the gelding had an excuse for his Suburban defeat and looks to stack up well against the competition.

“This horse in his last race actually had a little bone bruise in his foot,” Kimmel said. “We went into it thinking he was OK, but I definitely think it bothered him. The blacksmith after that race cut out a little area and he had a little area of blood and some damage and since we have re-shod him, he has been a very happy horse here. People might look at his last race and just kind of think that he’s a little bit off form. But this horse has run commensurate numbers with all the horses in this race when he’s been running against New York-bred company.”

If Mr. Buff can spring the upset Saturday, he’ll be the second New York-bred in three years to visit the Whitney winner’s circle after Diversify in 2018. The other New York-bred Whitney winners were Commentator in 2005 and 2008 and legendary Finger Lakes shipper Fio Rito in 1981.

A third generation homebred on the male line for Chester and Mary Broman, Mr. Buff is by the Broman’s multiple stakes winning homebred Friend or Foe, who is by the Broman’s homebred and Florida winner winner Friends Lake.

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 produced a colt by Accelerate April 25 at the Broman’s Chestertown Farm in Chestertown.

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