Laoban filly Yo Cuz earns first win in NYSS Fifth Avenue

Saturday, December 18th, 2021

Dream Maker Racing’s Yo Cuz gives the late Laoban back-to-back winners in the Fifth Avenue division of the NYSS Saturday at Aqueduct. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Yo Cuz learned plenty in her first start.

The lessons – overcoming a slow start and settling early, making a solid middle-move and mounting a rally in the stretch while in tight quarters on multiple occasions – served the Laoban filly well for her second start Saturday at Aqueduct. She broke much better, relaxed on the lead and kicked clear in the lane for a maiden-breaking score in the $500,000 Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes.

“Last time [Nov. 21 maiden] cost her the race for sure. She was squeezed out of there and she was very green, too. I just sat patiently and tried to teach her some stuff. I didn’t want to rush her,” said Jose Ortiz, who rode the winner for owner Dream Maker Racing and trainer Bill Mott. “She’s a big filly and she closed well last time. I was very happy with the race. I knew second time she was going to be a lot better.

“I expected she was going to win a maiden; I didn’t know she was going to run in here. I knew this race was going to be a little bit tougher, but she proved that she belongs.”

Gallo figured back in May, when he bought the filly for $125,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale of 2-year-olds in training, that the Fifth Avenue would be a good spot for the New York-bred filly. He just needed the stamp of approval from her Hall of Fame trainer.

“When we first gave Bill the horse, we had this race in mind,” Gallo said. “When I mentioned it to Bill, he looked at me and laughed a little bit because he had just got her. But then she started to breeze at Saratoga and was training really well. We wanted to get one race in her before this and she ran fifth about four weeks ago. She broke bad, trailed the field but then weaved her way between horses and galloped out past the leader.

“When we spoke to Jose Ortiz after the race, he said that he really liked the horse. It’s nice to have continuity because he knew her.”

Yo Cuz capped big two-day stretch for jockey Jose Ortiz in the NYSS Fifth Avenue. Joe Labozzetta/NYRA Photo.

Ortiz, who won two other races on Saturday’s card after a three-win night at Remington Park in Oklahoma Friday, rode Yo Cuz to a 1 ¾-length score over even-money favorite Morning Matcha with 43-1 longshot Laochi, another daughter of Laoban, third in the field of 11.

Yo Cuz won in 1:25.34, slightly faster than the 1:25.88 that Geno needed to win the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series two races prior.

“It was a great training job by Bill, as always. She was ready today. She broke well today and he worked on what she needed – breaking better, which she did,” Ortiz said. “I just held on and was a passenger. She broke very clean and when I went to take position and looked around me, nobody could keep up with me in the first quarter. So, when I took [the lead] I slowed it down nicely and she was very relaxed.”

Yo Cuz earned $275,000 for her connections, not including open company awards, and also gave the late Laoban, who formerly stood at Sequel Stallions New York in Hudson, back-to-back winners of the Fifth Avenue after eventual New York-bred champion finalist Laobanandaprayer won in 2020.

Bred by Seidman Stables LLC, Yo Cuz is the second foal out of the winning Tale of Ekati mare Steve’s Philly. A $50,000 purchase by Seidman Stables at the 2015 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training, Steve’s Philly is out of the Gone West mare Striking Wonder, who is out of multiple Grade 1 winner Wonder Again from the family of Grade 1 winners Colonel Liam, Tribulation and Graceful Darby. Steve’s Philly is also the dam of the 3-year-old New York-bred Palace Malice gelding Uncle Jerome, who is in training in New York with owner and trainer Michael Gorham; and a soon-to-be New York-bred yearling full brother to Yo Cuz.

Yo Cuz sold as Hip 209 at the Midlantic May sale, out of the Hidden Brook consignment for Seidman Stable. She didn’t breeze in presale workouts over the Timonium Race Course track, another selling point for Gallo.

“The thing that stood out for us was that she was one of the few in that sale who galloped and didn’t breeze,” he said. “We like when people take time with their horses. The fact that she was a good size and came out of a good consignment was appealing.”

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