Bankit runs away with Alex M. Robb

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Bankit rolls to victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes at Aqueduct. Elsa Lorieul/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Jose Lezcano took the call aboard Winchell Thoroughbreds’ and Willis Horton Racing’s Bankit for Saturday’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes at Aqueduct and went to work.

“I watched a couple replays and it looked like sometimes he hangs a little bit,” Lezcano said after riding the consistent 4-year-old son of Central Banker in the 9-furlong New York-bred stakes.

Bankit might have shown that tendency – he’d finished on the board in seven of 11 starts this season without winning – but he’d also shown plenty of ability over the past three seasons. He and Lezcano put it together Saturday and ran down Mr. Buff to win the Alex M. Robb by 4 3/4 widening lengths, likely landing a third consecutive finalist nod for New York-bred divisional championship honors.

A finalist for 2-year-old male and 3-year-old male honors the past two seasons, Bankit improved to 4-for-26 in the Robb and boosted his bankroll to $816,675.

“Today he broke well and I had him behind the two horses I thought we had to beat,” Lezcano said. “When I asked him, he gave me everything he got.”

Bankit ran the 9 furlongs in 1:51.59 in a relatively short turnaround after finishing third in the Thunder Rumble division of the New York Stallion Series going 7 furlongs at Aqueduct Nov. 22. He also became a stakes winner for three consecutive seasons, adding the Robb to victories in the 2018 Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park and 2019 New York Derby at Finger Lakes.

A frequent member of trainer Steve Asmussen’s New York string under the supervision of Toby Sheets, Bankit also turned the tables on Mr. Buff after finishing second to that rival in the Empire Classic Handicap two starts back on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont.

“He had a nice pace set up and Jose [Lezcano] put him in a good spot,” Sheets said. “He got good position and ran a good race.”

A son of the McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds-based Central Banker out of the Colonel John mare Sister in Arms, Bankit was purchased by Winchell Thoroughbreds for $260,000 at the 2018 OBS March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training sale. He breezed an eighth during presale workout in :10 2/5.

Asmusssen always includes two words when he describes a good horse. Beautiful. Fast.

During the 2018 Saratoga meet Asmussen used both of those go-to terms after Bankit throttled six other 2-year-old New York-bred maidens to win by 6 ¾ lengths in his second start.

“He’s a beautiful, fast horse,” Asmussen said that day. “That’s a pretty good combination for racing.”

Bankit raced in 22 stakes in his next 23 starts – the lone holdout an optional on Arkansas Derby Day when he finished to Endorsed going 1 1/16 miles. He won or placed in 10 of those stakes, including a third in the Grade 3 Razorback and a third behind Tom’s d’Etat and Improbable in the Oaklawn Mile this year.

Sent off the 5-2 second choice in the field of six behind 7-5 choice Mr. Buff, Bankit stayed settled in the gate from post 6 when City Man broke through the gate before the start from post 3. Mr. Buff, alongside City Man in post 4, didn’t handle the early ruckus as well.

“My horse broke bad because the horse inside [No. 3, City Man] acted up a little and broke through the gate,” said Mr. Buff’s rider Kendrick Carmouche. “He got a little fussy in there and broke a step slow.”

Carmouche said he was able to get Mr. Buff into a position he wanted – just behind the early speed expected from Sea Foam, who led through early splits of :24.16 and :48.47. Mr. Buff, running back on seven days rest after a fifth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap Dec. 5, took command inside the three-eighths pole, went past 6 furlongs in 1:12.66 and led into the lane.

Bankit continued on well outside of Mr. Buff in the lane, took control approaching the eighth pole and drew clear in deep stretch. Mr. Buff held second, 3 lengths clear of 17-1 outsider Yankee Division with Sea Foam third.

Bred by Hidden Brook Farm LLC and Blue Devil Racing and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Bankit is the first foal out of Sister in Arms. Blue Devil Racing purchased Sister in Arms for $125,000 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale and she won two of six starts before heading to the breeding shed.

Bankit is Sister in Arms’ first foal and he originally sold as a yearling out of the Hidden Brook consignment to SGV Thoroughbreds for $85,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale.

Sister in Arms also produced an Awesome Again colt named Clifton Park, who sold for $75,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale and has won two of 14 starts and $28,384. He’s entered in claiming race Tuesday at Remington Park. Her third foal, the 2-year-old Animal Kingdom filly Aunt Mary, is entered to make her fifth start Thursday at Laurel Park.

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