Another sweet win for Senbei in Notebook

Sunday, November 21st, 2021

Senbei improves to 4-for-5 in the Notebook Stakes at Aqueduct. Dom Napolitano/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Christophe Clement continued his magical November and Senbei improved to 4-for-5 in his young career in Sunday’s $97,000 Notebook Stakes at Aqueduct.

Senbei, a 2-year-old son of Candy Ride who races for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Darlene Bilinski, rolled to his second straight stakes victory and third overall in his 8 1/4-length score in the 6-furlong Notebook. He also gave Clement his fourth stakes victory of the month, including the Nov. 5 double of Pizza Bianca in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar and Classic Lady’s win in the Ticonderoga Stakes at Aqueduct.

Senbei came into the Notebook the only stakes winner in the original field of six and stayed that way, shrugging off mild pressure early on the way to victory in 1:11.49 under Manny Franco.

“I was confident because the jockey looked so comfortable on him,” said Clement, the winner of nine races overall so far in November. “When (Kendrick) Carmouche (aboard Bustin Pietre) came to him at the three-eighths, I was a little anxious, but at soon as he shook him up at the quarter-pole, I thought he looked comfortable and he won going away. He’s a nice horse.”

Bred by Dr. Jerry Bilinski and foaled at his Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, Senbei added the Notebook to his victory last time out in the New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes and the Funny Cide Stakes in late August at Saratoga Race Course. His lone defeat was a second to Shipsational in the 7-furlong Bertram F. Bongard Stakes in late September at Belmont Park.

“He’ll have a break now,” Clement said. “We’ve been squeezing him a little bit. He’s had five starts. He’s a good horse and a fast horse. It will be interesting to see if he can come back next year and stretch his speed a little bit.”

Senbei went to the post 1-5 against his four opponents – Kenner was a late scratch at the gate before running loose and causing a 10-minute delay – and took control from the start. He and Franco led debut maiden winner Bustin Pietre by a length through the opening quarter-mile in :23.03 with Cool Laoban and Daufuski Island not far back.

Manny Franco loved what he felt from Senbei early and late in Sunday’s Notebook Stakes at Aqueduct. Janet Garaguso/NYRA Photo.

Franco, aboard for each of Senbei’s first four starts, liked what he felt early.

“As soon as I made the lead, I didn’t feel too much pressure,” he said. “I was able to slow down the first part and I knew after that I was going to be tough.”

Bustin Pietre cut into the lead around the far turn and got within a half-length after a half in :46.59, but Senbei shrugged off that challenge in the stretch. He opened up at the eighth pole, past 5 furlongs in :58.81 and the margin grew inside the final sixteenth. Bustin Pietre, a homebred for Roddy Valente also foaled at Waldorf Farm, held second by a half-length from 5-1 second choice Daufuskie Island with Bali’s Shade fourth and Cool Laoban fifth.

“He’s a very nice sprinter,” Franco said. “I wanted to break good and then he did the rest. My plan was to go to the lead and slow down the pace if I could. That’s how he likes to run.”

Named by Clement’s future daughter-in-law and NYRA racing analyst Acacia Courtney after the sometimes savory and sometimes sweet Japanese cracker by the same name, Senbei is one of five winners out of the winning Western Cat mare Sweet Aloha. Clement credited his son and assistant Miguel with picking Senbei out of the 2020 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale – where he sold as a weanling for $280,000 out of Stuart Morris’ consignment.

Sweet Aloha is also the dam of New York-bred stakes winners Filibustin and Indy’s Lady, along with the stakes-placed winner Man O Manassas. She also produced Screen Door, a New York-bred yearling colt who sold for $60,000 at the recent Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale; and the unraced 3-year-old New York-bred Bustin Stones filly Aloha From Haiku, who sold in foal to Higher Power for $10,000 Friday at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Senbei earned $55,000 for his latest victory and boosted his bankroll to $364,857, the second most of any New York-bred 2-year-old in 2021. Dakota Gold, a son of Freud also campaigned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, leads that group with $385,000.

Clement also came into the week as the leading trainer of New York-breds in 2021 with purses of more than $2.6 million.

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