General Banker gives Seacoast Thoroughbreds big win in Great White Way

Saturday, December 17th, 2022

General Banker picks the right day to break his maiden, taking the $500,000 Great White Way division of the NYSS at Aqueduct. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

By Paul Halloran

Prior to Saturday, John Forma’s biggest thrill in a half-century in horse racing was when his Take the El Train won at 128-1 odds at Aqueduct in 2013. The winner’s share of $21,600 was nice, but Forma recalls collecting even more at the mutuel window.

“That was my biggest accomplishment,” said Forma, who races under Seacoast Thoroughbreds of New England.

Make that second-biggest.

General Banker, a homebred son of leading New York sire Central Banker, made a sweeping move on the far turn and pulled away to an 8 1/2-length win in the $500,000 Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes at Aqueduct. The $275,000 winner’s share brought his career earnings to $345,600.

The Great White Way was the first win in eight starts for General Banker, who is out of Seacoast’s broodmare Elusive Jozi and was bred and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs.

“Imagine, breaking your maiden for half-a-million dollars,” Forma said. “That’s crazy.”

Crazy good, that is.

Trained by Jimmy Ferraro and ridden confidently by Eric Cancel, General Banker sat off a pace set by longshot Playingwithmatches and favorite Vacation Dance, went five-wide on the turn and took the lead at the stretch call before running up the score. The winning time was 1:25.49 for 7 furlongs over the muddy and sealed surface.

“I thought he was in a great spot,” Ferraro said. “Those Central Bankers love the mud. At Saratoga, he was still really green. He’s still learning things.”

He gets a straight-A for his performance Saturday, much to the delight of his owner, a Brooklyn native who has lived in Portsmouth, N.H., for 25 years and named his stable accordingly.

“I told the trainer to get him a massage and let him feel great (after his last race),” Forma said. “Between the blinkers (added three races back), the massage and good training, we got the win.”

It was a 1-2 finish for McMahon of Saratoga stallions as Ramblin’ Wreck, a son of Redesdale, finished second.

“Central Banker has been so much fun,” Joe McMahon said. “His oldest horses are 5 now and he just keeps coming up with nice horses. It’s a real credit to our syndicate, our help, and everybody. We’re having a great run.

“And Redesdale, too. A Redesdale ran second in the other race [Midtown Lights in the NYSSS Fifth Avenue] as well. He’s a very well-bred stallion. He won 3-of-4 starts and all four Beyers over 90. I’m glad to see his book picking up as well.”

Forma claimed Elusive Jozi for $20,000 at Belmont Park in 2013 with the intention of turning her into a broodmare. She had her first foal in 2016, Wailin Josie, also by Central Banker, who earned $249,863 in 42 starts and will become a broodmare next year, Forma said. Olivers Fortune, a 4-year-old gelding by Laoban, has won twice in 29 starts. General Banker was the third foal for Elusize Jozi, who died earlier this year.

“I own some shares in Central Banker with Joe McMahon so all my horses are bred in-house,” Forma said. “I have a lot of Central Bankers. I have four on the track now.”

Forma is a longtime participant in the New York breeding program and wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I don’t know if I’d want to be in Thoroughbred racing if not for the New York breeding program,” he said. “It gives you such an edge. The residual income (from breeder awards) makes a big difference.”





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