Straight Arrow continues rise in Empire Classic; Know It All Audrey lands first stakes in Distaff

Sunday, October 29th, 2023

Straight Arrow duplicates big effort 14 days ago with victory in Empire Classic to highlight Empire Showcase Day. NYRA Photo.

Maybe the surface ultimately doesn’t matter for Straight Arrow.

Trainer Mike Dini believes his horse will be better on turf, despite his running fifth in his only try on the grass September 15. Dini entered him in a second turf race a month later, but when it was rained off, he left him in and watched him romp by 9 lengths and record a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

Off that performance, Dini opted to keep him on dirt and stretch him out to 1 1/8 miles in the co-featured $250,000 Empire Classic Stakes on New York Showcase Day Sunday at the Belmont at the Big A meeting. Sent off as the 5-2 second choice, the son of Arrogate made his trainer look smart, taking the lead at the quarter pole and rolling to an easy 2 3/4-length win on a muddy and sealed track.

“We ran him back in 14 days, but to me he’s like a 3-year-old going to the Kentucky Derby,” said Dini. “He’s lightly raced and I really don’t train hard. The meet is coming to an end and he’s a hard horse to train. It took two years to get him to the races.”

Bred by Patricia Generazio and foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Straight Arrow, out of the winning Numerous mare Lulu’s Number, was bought for $30,000 by Laura Barrish as a 4-year-old at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale. He did not debut until June at Monmouth Park, running fifth in a maiden special weight. He broke his maiden in his second start, also on the Jersey Shore, then had a win and a second in state-bred races at Saratoga Race Course.

Straight Arrow showed promise on turf and dirt heading into Sunday’s Empire Classic. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

That’s when Dini decided to get a look at the half-brother of Disco Partner on turf, and why not, as that Generazio runner was a graded stakes winner on the sod and ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint twice, while banking more than $1.4 million in an 11-win career.

“He’s Disco Partner’s brother, and he would have won that day if you watch the race,” Dini said. “[Joel] Rosario is coming up and they cut him off. That’s why I believe at some point down the road he’ll be a better turf horse. This kind of racetrack helps him because he has real flat feet and he can get a hold of it.”

Longshots Lobsta and Cicciobello won the early battle and led down the backstretch through a quarter-mile in :23.03 and a half in :46.87. Straight Arrow, Barese and Olympic Dreams were three across the track chasing the pacesetting pair, with favorite Drake’s Passage in sixth. Jockey Jairo Rendon started his move aboard Straight Arrow on the turn, collared Cicciobello on the far turn and opened up down the lane. Sheriff Bianco and Un Ojo closed for second and third, respectively. The winning time was 1:50.51.

“He’s a good horse and knows how to run, you just ask him when you’re ready to go and he gives you everything. He made my day here,” Rendon said. “I was worried a little bit because the turn is right there and we were in the outside post. We got lucky and he has some natural speed, so he put me there and other horses stayed back, so we were able to save some ground in the first turn. I sat back a little behind the speed and just waited until home and asked him. When you ask him, he’s gone.”

Straight Arrow, who increased his career earnings to $295,000 with the $137,500 winner’s share, is one of nine winners produced by Lulu’s Number, who has been bred to 10 stallions during her breeding career. In addition to Disco Partner and Straight Arrow, Bass River Road, Don Six’s Number and Fly Fly Away have all earned at least $100,000.

Paul Halloran


Know It All Audrey and Javier Castellano en route to victory in Sunday’s Empire Distaff. NYRA Photo.

• Three Player’s Stable’s and Oscar Barrera III’s consistent 4-year-old Know It All Audrey earned her first stakes victory Sunday with a victory in the co-featured $250,000 Empire Distaff Stakes on Empire Showcase Day on the final day of the Belmont at the Big A meeting.

Ichiban was first out of the gate on the muddy track with Know It All Audrey breaking close behind and settling at her tail with Sunset Louise taking up the second position to their outside. Ichiban set early fractions of :24.42 and :49.41 while a relaxed Know It All Audrey dropped back another half-length.

Javier Castellano sent Know It All Audrey closer to the leader again at the start of the turn and angled out a path as Sunset Louise dropped back. Ichiban didn’t give in easily and sill held the advantage at the top of the stretch before Know It All Audrey continued her determined run.

Know It All Audrey collared the longtime leader in the final sixteenth and pulled away to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:51.57 for the 9 furlongs on the muddy and sealed track.

“When I saw the track condition and they sealed it and the rain kept falling, I knew she was going to give us a good race because she’s always shown up every single time she’s run for us and her record on a sealed, muddy, good track has always been pretty fantastic,” said Barrera, who also trains the filly “Another thing is the distance. She can go a mile and an eighth, which gave us more confidence today because most of these horses [in this race] can’t go the mile and an eighth or they weaken after a mile. It makes a big difference for her.”

Bred by Geraldine Mazza and foaled at Song Hill Thoroughbreds in Mechanicville, Know It All Audrey boosted her earnings to $501,612 with seven wins and eight other top-three finishes in 24 starts. In her 10 starts this season, the daughter of Shackleford has finished in the top three eight times for $303,440 in earnings.

The Empire Distaff also marked the first stakes win for Barrera, who had his first starter in 2011.

Know It All Audrey’s people celebrate Sunday’s Showcase Day success. NYRA Photo.

“Emotional, happy, super excited,” he said about the milestone. “As a claiming trainer, it’s pretty tough to win stakes races with claimers, so this is definitely the topping on the cake for all of us.”

Know It All Audrey was claimed by her owners for $16,000 last September at the 2022 Belmont at the Big A fall meet when she won by 7 3/4 lengths for Rob Artras and G and A Racing Stables.

Know It All Audrey is out of the stakes-placed Midnight Lute mare Know It All Anna, whose other runner is placed. Know It All Anna herself is one of two stakes performers from six winners out of the Danzig daughter Legion Of Merit alongside the stakes-placed Street Icon.

Each of the four dams on Know It All Audrey’s page have produced at least one stakes performer with all but Know It All Anna also producing a stakes producer as well.

Know It All Anna produced an Instilled Regard colt last year who sold for $130,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale and a Lexitonian weanling filly born in March.

Melissa Bauer-Herzog

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