Waldorf-foaled Senbei, November Rein win Showcase Day juvenile stakes

Friday, August 27th, 2021

Senbei adds Friday’s Funny Cide on New York Showcase Day to maiden victory earlier in the Saratoga meet. NYRA Photo.

By Mary Eddy

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s and Darlene Bilinski’s Senbei remained perfect in Friday’s $200,000 Funny Cide Stakes on New York Showcase Day at Saratoga Race Course. A debut winner in a maiden special weight July 18 for trainer Christophe Clement, Senbei added a second victory with a front-running effort in his stakes debut.

“I was surprised he was 8-1,” said Clement. “He has trained well and he’s a good-looking horse. He always showed speed. The only instructions I gave to Manny (Franco) was to break well and then be comfortable. I thought he did pretty good. He’s not just a horse, he’s a nice horse.”

When asked by Franco, the 2-year-old son of Candy Ride took the lead a few strides from the gate and was challenged by Rick Violette Stakes winner Run Curtis Run. After running the half-mile in :44.88, Run Curtis Run began to tire as the pair reached the top of the stretch. Eventual runner-up Montebello put in his bid on the outside, but Senbei rebroke and stayed clear to win by 2 3/4 lengths. The final time was 1:18.09.

“He tried to break so fast, he bobbled a little bit, but he’s fast and I was able to make the lead,” Franco said. “When I passed the half-mile pole, he picked his ears up a little bit and I said, ‘I’ve got horse.’ I was a little worried because I knew I was going a little faster, but as I told the trainer and owner, that’s the way he can get it done.”

The win with Senbei added to a big day for Dr. Jerry and Darlene Bilinski’s Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, which was also the birthplace of Seeking The Ante winner November Rein.

“I was nervous and decided to say my prayers and not bet and the combination made the whole thing happen,” Jerry Bilinski joked. “This is the ultimate. To have a horse like this go wire-to-wire was amazing. He blew them all away.”

A top breeder in New York, Waldorf Farm stands first-year sire Mr. Monomoy and top New York stallion Bustin Stones. Bilinski said the success he has seen in the racing industry wouldn’t be possible without the programs offered in New York.

“Because of Showcase Day and the New York-bred program, I’m still in the business,” he said. “We produce a lot of income for a lot of feed companies and other entities that pay taxes, so it’s a great program for the state, too. As a breeder, getting breeder awards is what keeps us afloat. It’s fantastic.”

Out of the winning Western Cat mare Sweet Aloha, Senbei is a half-brother to dual stakes winners Filibustin and Indy’s Lady and stakes-placed Man O Manassas. Bilinski recalled the mare’s other foals and compared Senbei to his half-siblings.

“His mother has produced a number of other stakes horses, but this is probably the best one,” Bilinski said. “We’re very happy about that.”

Ron Lombardi’s homebred November Rein cruises to victory in Friday’s Seeking the Ante at Saratoga. NYRA Photo.

• November Rein improved to 2-for-3 when she won the $200,000 Seeking The Ante to kick off the six stakes. Trained by Kelly Breen, November Rein overcame a stumble at the start to win her first stakes for owner/breeder Ron Lombardi’s Mr. Amore Stables.

November Rein was hurried to the front after the troubled start by Jose Ortiz to set the pace for the 6 1/2-furlong stakes over the main track. As Velvet Sister tracked 2 lengths behind in second, November Rein rolled through a half in :45.98. Velvet Sister tried to make a run at the top of the stretch but could not pass the daughter of Street Boss, who won by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:17.74.

“She recovered quickly (after the start) and it was a short field, so I let her run through the chute and ended up on the lead anyway,” Ortiz said. “She was very good. She relaxed well and when I asked her, she was there for me.”

Relieved that she recovered well from her poor start, Breen said the filly can often be temperamental in the barn and for her handlers.

“She’s very quirky,” he said. “Until she’s loaded in and they open the gate, believe me, I’m nervous. … Jose has formed a perfect bond with her. To get her here to win a stakes race with her, plus being a homebred for Ron Lombardi is amazing. It takes a village to get to the winner’s circle.”

Lombardi, who has seen success at the highest level of racing with horses like multiple Grade 1 winner Firenze Fire, said winning with horses like November Rein is always memorable.

“Winning once at Saratoga is special, but winning twice with the same horse, it doesn’t happen often,” he said. “I’ve been up here for years and you don’t win them all. Kelly’s been really high on her and she showed it again today. I expected her to do well, but how she ran today was just tremendous.”

November Rein was also foaled at Waldorf Farm, where Lombardi keeps his broodmares.

“I’m up to 23 mares. I stockpiled them to breed to Firenze Fire, but I decided to get them out to New York stallions first,” Lombardi said. “The New York-breds are so great. It’s a great program. It’s one of the best.”

With another win and a second to her credit, November Rein’s earnings have increased to $171,750. She is the first winner out of the multiple stakes-winning Gators N Bears mare Ju Ju Eyeballs.

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