Bankit delivers again in Commentator; Classy Edition back home to win Critical Eye

Monday, May 29th, 2023

Bankit continues his legendary career with second straight victory in the Commentator on Monday’s Big Apple Showcase Day program at Belmont Park. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law and Paul Halloran

Bankit made his ninth appearance on a New York-bred Showcase Day program Monday at Belmont Park and came away with his eighth stakes victory in the headlining $200,000 Commentator Stakes.

The 7-year-old son of leading New York sire Bankit closed the star-studded Big Apple Showcase Day card with a determined victory in the co-featured Commentator. Bankit skipped over a muddy track to win the 2021 Commentator by 13 1/4 lengths. He won the 2023 renewal by a head under Joel Rosario over a determined Olympic Dreams with Sherriff Bianco third and Dr Ardito fourth in the field of 12.

Campaigned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing LLC and trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Bankit improved to 9-12-6 in 40 starts and boosted his earnings to $1,406,405 in the Commentator. Bankit also moved up to 28th on the list of all-time leading New York-bred earners, just ahead of fellow legend Mr. Buff ($1,403,536) and just behind another in Win ($1,408,980).

Bankit also became a stakes winner for the sixth straight season, going back to his victory at 2 in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes on Empire Showcase Day in 2018 at Belmont Park. He also won last year’s Commentator on Big Apple Showcase Day and has placings in six other Showcase Day appearances – 2018 Funny Cide, 2019 Mike Lee and Albany, 2020 Commentator and Empire Classic and 2022 West Point. The 2021 victory in the Commentator helped propel Bankit to the champion New York-bred older dirt male title.

Dismissed as the 5-1 third choice behind 5-2 favorite Ouster in his stakes debut and 5-2 second choice Dr Ardito looking to rebound from a fifth in the Grade 3 Westchester, Bankit and Rosario settled into fourth early as Sea Foam set the pace. Sea Foam clicked off strong fractions of :22.88, :46.28 and 1:10.55 in the 1 1/16-mile Commentator, which had been run at 1 mile in Bankit’s other appearances.

Bankit (white cap) readies for the stretch run in Monday’s Commentator Stakes at Belmont. Dom Napolitano/NYRA Photo.

Rosario put Bankit four paths off the fence around the far turn and took command from Sea Foam in the lane. Bankit led by a half-length at the eighth pole, with 27-1 longshot Olympic Dreams to his inside and Sheriff Bianco making a run while getting to the outside. Bankit held it together inside the final yards to win in 1:43.01.

“As soon as he took the lead, he waited on horses a little bit,” Rosario said. “Then I just had to keep riding and hopefully he would get ahead of them. That’s the way he runs, I guess.

“It set up good and I kind of had to ride him a little bit, engage him a little and keep him in the race so he didn’t pack himself in there. I got a good trip and was able to come out and he went on. It looked like we were home and going to win by a couple, but he likes to just wait a lot when he passes the last horse.”

Toby Sheets, Asmussen’s New York-based assistant, handled the saddling about an hour after the stable celebrated a comeback victory by Eclipse Award winner Echo Zulu in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs.

Bankit has trained at Belmont since last September, not long after the Saratoga meet, and Sheets sensed something big again from the horse Monday.

“He was doing really well. He does so well here,” he said. “He has a routine. He rolls in the round pen and all that good stuff. He can get a little on the muscle in the morning, but he’s very manageable. It was a great run from him and a good ride by Joel.”

Bred by Hidden Brook Farm LLC and Blue Devil Racing and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, Bankit is the first foal out of the Colonel John mare Sister in Arms. He originally sold out of the Hidden Brook consignment to SGV Thoroughbreds for $85,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale.

Bankit was purchased by Winchell Thoroughbreds for $260,000 at the 2018 OBS March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training sale.

Central Banker, a 12-year-old Grade 2-winning son of Speightstown, stands for $7,500 at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds. Central Banker topped the New York general sire list in 2022 and 2021, after a runner-up season in 2020. He led the 2023 list by a comfortable margin heading into Monday’s Memorial Day racing programs.


Classy Edition rolls into the stretch en route to victory in Monday’s Critical Eye on Big Apple Showcase Day at Belmont Park. Dom Napolitano/NYRA Photo.

• They call it Big Apple Showcase Day and, while it is a card for the entire New York breeding program to bask in the spotlight, it is common for a horse who has run at the highest levels of open company to return to the state-bred ranks for a relatively easy payday.

That happened in the Critical Eye Stakes last year, when Make Mischief, who had multiple in- the-money finishes in graded stakes, rolled to a 4-length win. And that was the case Monday, when Classy Edition, a winner of the Grade 3 Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream in February, looked like a winner every step of the way after overcoming a stumble out of the gate.

The final margin in the $200,000 stakes was 2 1/4 lengths for the 4-year-old daughter of Classic Empire out of the Bernardini mare Newbie.

“She stumbled a little bit, but she recovered quickly,” winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said. “She put me in a beautiful position and I was biding my time there. When I asked her to go, she responded very well. It worked out perfect to be honest.”

After the misstep, Ortiz guided Classy Edition to the outside for an unobstructed trip down the backstretch. Venti Valentine broke second and set the pace through a quarter-mile in :23.87, with Let Her Inspire U second on the rail and Classy Edition sitting chilly on the outside. Ortiz made his move on the turn, getting to the front while barely asking his filly for run.

Once the field straightened for home, Ortiz offered mild urging and Classy Edition responded in kind, opening a 1 1/2-length lead at the stretch call and maintaining a comfortable advantage to the wire. The winning time was 1:42.82 over the fast track, with Sterling Silver second and Timeless Journey third.

“The outside filly Venti Valentine showed some speed and can be a little keen,” Ortiz said. “I was looking to break and try to relax, and if I could sit second outside of her, that would have been perfect. It worked out perfect because before we were 100 meters out, I was in the position I wanted to be in.”

Classy Edition, bred by Chester and Mary Broman and foaled at their Chestertown farm, sold for $550,000 out of the Sequel Bloodstock consignment at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale of 2-year-olds in training, with bloodstock agent Jacob West signing the ticket for Robert and Lawana Low. She is a half-sister to multiple New York-bred stakes winner Newly Minted and the stakes-placed New Girl In Town.

Newbie is also the dam of unraced New York-bred American Pharoah colt Pharoah Lake and a yearling New York-bred colt by Vekoma bred by the Bromans. She produced the unraced Speightstown mare Colonizer, who sold for $150,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. The Bromans bought back Colonizer, in foal to Omaha Beach, for $150,000 at the 2022 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

The Bromans bought Changeisgonnacome, carrying Newbie, for $320,000 at the 2008 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Bred in Virginia by Audley Farm, that mare won the P.G. Johnston Stakes at Saratoga and was third in a Grade 2 stakes at Belmont. All five foals of her foals to race were winners.

Classy Edition started her career with three straight wins against New York-breds, including the Joseph A. Gimma and the Key Cents for 2-year-old fillies. She then ran five straight times in open company, with a placing in the 2022 Grade 2 Davona Dale and this year’s Royal Delta win her best showings. Trainer Todd Pletcher swung for the fences in the Grade 1 La Troienne on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, but she finished last of 10, making the move back to a state-bred stakes logical.

“She shipped in (from Churchill Downs) in good form and her energy level has been great,” said Pletcher assistant Byron Hughes. “She has a good coat and is a very classy filly, very consistent, and a pleasure to train.”


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