Senbei returns with victory in Gold Fever

Sunday, May 15th, 2022

Senbei improves to 5-for-6 with victory over open company in the $100,000 Gold Fever Sunday at Belmont Park. NYRA Photo.

Senbei returned from almost six months on the sidelines with his fourth stakes victory – and first in open company – in Sunday’s $100,000 Gold Fever at Belmont Park.

Squared off against open company for the first time and the 9-5 second choice in the field of six 3-year-olds, Senbei hung tough to hold off a late inside run from 7-5 favorite Provocateur to win by a neck. Senbei won the 6-furlong Gold Fever for owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Darlene Bilinski in his first start since taking the Notebook Stakes at the same distance Nov. 21 at Aqueduct.

Trainer Christophe Clement prepped Senbei for his 3-year-old debut with his string at Belmont Park, where he breezed eight times before the Gold Fever. The last four works came at 5 furlongs on Belmont’s main track, including a bullet 1:00.63 April 23 and a 1:02.12 tightener last Monday.

“He had the whole winter off,” Clement said. “We brought him back and he trained very well. He actually trained with Listentoyourheart, who won the two-other-than on Saturday. They trained together the last three breezes and he trained well.”

Senbei and jockey Manny Franco, aboard for many of those works, didn’t break on top but weren’t behind any of their five rivals for long in the Gold Fever. Franco guided Senbei to front outside of Provocateur, winner of the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park in his most recent start, and were in front by a length over Don’t Wait Up through the opening quarter-mile in :22.51.

“He has speed out of the gate and we weren’t going to change anything today,” Franco said. “I let him break out of there and do his thing.”

Senbei continued along on the lead around the far turn, holding that length advantage over Provocateur, Fluid Situation and Don’t Wait Up after a half in :45.85.

“Manny knows him very well and rides him very well,” Clement said. “My only instructions to Manny (were) to break well and work it out.”

Senbei (outside) holds off Provocateur to win Sunday’s Gold Fever. NYRA Photo.

Provocatuer and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. made a run up the inside the eighth pole but couldn’t get past Senbei, who won in 1:10.58. Runninsonofagun finished 2 1/2 lengths back in third.

Senbei improved to 5-for-6 with $419,857 in earnings. He also won last year’s New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes and Funny Cide Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, with the line defeat a second to Shipsational in the 7-furlong Bertram F. Bongard Stakes at Belmont.

“He’s a very good New York-bred and Christophe does a great job with him,” Franco said. “I’m just glad to be on him.”

Bred by Dr. Jerry Bilinski and foaled at his Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, Senbei sold as a weanling for $280,000 at the 2020 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale. Clement’s son and assistant Miguel picked the colt out of the January sale.

Senbei is one of five winners out of the winning Western Cat mare Sweet Aloha. She’s also the dam of New York-bred stakes winners Filibustin and Indy’s Lady, along with the stakes-placed winner Man O Manassas. Screen Door, a 2-year-old New York-bred colt by Union Rags, sold for $60,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale and is in training at Monmouth Park.

Clement said he’d come up with a plan for Senbei’s next start after enjoying the colt’s latest success.

“No plan for the future,” he said. “We’re going to enjoy this and do the right thing. I’m very, very grateful to Mr. Reeves. He has some good horses with us.”

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