NEWS: racing

‘Big’ things for New York’s top sire and other leaders in 2020

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Champion and dual classic winner Big Brown topped New York’s general sire list in 2020. Susie Raisher Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Five years after moving to New York, champion and dual classic winner Big Brown added another accomplishment to his lengthy resume when taking home the Empire State’s leading sire title for 2020.

The sire of 57 winners in 2020, Big Brown had a narrow $167,562 lead on Central Banker when the clock clicked over to 2021 to secure his first leading sire title. For Bill Leak, Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions’ stallion manager, it was satisfying to see Big Brown on top.

“To be with this horse every day for the past several years and getting to know him as well as we do, it’s really nice to see something like this happen for him,” said Leak. “He’s just such a classy horse. He’s had very interesting history and for him to get here to leading sire in New York, it’s really a great milestone for him. We’re so happy to see it for him.”

Big Brown’s march to the title was led by Somelikeithotbrown from his first New York-sired crop in 2016. Multiple graded stakes-placed at 2 and a graded winner at 3, Somelikeithotbrown stepped up even more as a 4-year-old in 2020 with $277,860 in earnings. Finishing on the board in six of nine starts, Somelikeithotbrown proved that Big Brown could sire a top turf horse when he won the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.

Big Brown shows off at Irish Hill & Dutchess Views. Susie Raisher Photo.

Somelikeithotbrown wasn’t the only one from that crop to represent his sire in stakes company, with Funny Guy adding to the haul with three stakes wins on dirt.

Funny Guy won the Commentator at Belmont Park, John Morrissey at Saratoga and a division of the New York Stallion Series at Aqueduct, and held his own in open company in two attempts at the level. He finished second in the Grade 2 Vosburgh at Belmont and fourth in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga against some of the top sprinters in the country.

Leak said those two from the 2016 from helped Big Brown’s book in 2020 and it already looks like he’ll be even more popular this year.

“He had good 2-year-olds [in 2019] and people were happy about that so he had a good book,” he said. “Then [in 2020], the older horses stepped it up with Somelikeithotbrown and Funny Guy – Somelikeithotbrown doing it on the turf and Funny Guy doing it on the dirt, people like to see that. It’s still early in the year to tell but as far as December numbers go and people looking to book to the horse, it’s definitely been strong.”

Big Brown ended 2020 with $2,761,404 in progeny earnings and four stakes horses from three different crops, including multiple stakes placed 3-year-old Big Q and 2-year-old Tepin Stakes third Big Time Lady.


State Leaders 

New York-bred champion and 2020 Belmont Stakes and Travers winner Tiz the Law, who figures to be among the finalists for Eclipse Award honors, topped the list of New York-bred earners in 2020. The now 4-year-old son of Constitution won four of six starts last year and banked $2,388,300 to finish well clear of Ny Traffic ($494,900) and Simply Ravishing ($414,200) on the state’s earnings list.

New York stalwarts Chester and Mary Broman enjoyed another good year in 2020 and runners bred by the couple won a state best 58 races and hit the board at a 46.3 percent clip from 310 starts. The Bromans finished 20 winners ahead of McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds and Barry R. Ostrager, who tied for second.

The Bromans also led all breeders by stakes winners with four and finished fifth as owners with their runners winning 15 of 60 starts.

Known for racing many of their homebreds, the Bromans saw their own Mr. Buff win two races to start a year before adding another victory in the Empire Classic Handicap in late October. He was joined by another homebred runner in Spin A Yarn, who won five of seven starts and finished second in the Park Avenue division of the New York Stallion Series.

The Broman’s other three stakes winners proved that the breeders aren’t averse to selling top foals from their program.

Team Hanley’s Broman-bred Captain Bombastic won two New York-bred stakes and finished fourth in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga for five top three finishes in seven starts and $175,200 in earnings. He finished as the Broman’s second highest earner after Mr. Buff ($307,500).

Chestertown, a $2 million 2-year-old in 2019 and winner of the Albany last summer at Saratoga, played big part in another strong season for Chester and Mary Broman in 2020. NYRA Photo.

Sold as a 2-year-old in 2019 for $2 million, Chestertown was another successful stakes winner from their breeding program. Co-owned by the Bromans, West Point Thoroughbreds, Woodford Racing, Siena Farm and Robert Masiello, the then 3-year-old finished first or second in five of his eight races in 2020 including a victory in Saratoga’s Albany Stakes.

They were joined by another former 2-year-old sales graduate in Newly Minted, who rounded out the quartet of stakes winners. The winner of the Union Avenue Handicap and second in two other stakes from her four 2020 starts, Newly Minted was sold in November for $180,000 to OXO Equine after earning $97,125 in 2020 for Beach Haven Thoroughbreds.

Twin Creeks Farm, breeder of Tiz the Law, finished atop the list of leading earners with more than $2.9 million.

Another prolific breed-to-race owner, Patricia Generazio, saw her New York-bred runners win 20 of 116 starts with those runners also hitting the board 37 percent of the time. As a breeder, Generazio saw her New York-breds win 18 of 116 starts, good enough for seventh on the breeder leaderboard by wins.

Winning 31 races nationally in 2020 as an owner, three of her top five horses by earnings were New York-breds with Maxwell Esquire leading the way. The earner of $133,520 in 2020, the then 3-year-old colt won three of seven starts with two other on-the-board finishes. Those victories included three wins in four starts from July to October. He earned just over $300 more than Generazio’s stakes-winning Mischievous Dream. She broke her maiden on debut at Saratoga before going on to win the Sorority Stakes and finish second in the Nownownow Stakes at Monmouth Park in her five 2020 starts.

Perfect Munnings makes it 2-for-2 in Rego Park

Sunday, January 10th, 2021

Perfect Munnings stays that way winning Sunday’s Rego Park at Aqueduct. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Perfect Munnings earned his way into the first 3-year-old New York-bred stakes of 2021 in two ways – a handy debut maiden victory late last November and subsequent productive morning training.

The son of Munnings showed he deserved that placement Sunday with a win over seven other freshly turned sophomores in the $100,000 Rego Park Stakes at Aqueduct. Perfect Munnings ran his record to 2-for-2 for owner JP Racing Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher in the 6 1/2-furlong Rego Park, defeating stablemate Storm Shooter by 2 lengths.

“We were pretty optimistic because of the way he breezes on the dirt,” said Byron Hughes, Pletcher’s assistant. “He showed that ability today. He had a good post and Manny [Franco] kept him in the clear and he ran well. Obviously, he’s won on turf and dirt. We’ll keep him up here for now and then we can go back to turf if we have to.”

Perfect Munnings, who won in 1:20.24 on the fast track, came into the Rego Park off a 2-length win going 6 furlongs on the grass Nov. 29 at Aqueduct. He’d breezed on the grass prior to that win – in October at Saratoga Race Course over the Oklahoma Training Track’s turf course – but mainly breezed on the dirt.

Perfect Munnings breezed three half miles over Belmont Park’s training track after his maiden win before the Rego Park and was ready for his main-track debut.

Dismissed as the 7-2 third choice behind another stablemate and fellow debut winner Uno and New York Breeders’ Futurity winner Blue Gator, Perfect Munnings tracked in third behind Storm Shooter and Lookin for Trouble after the break and through the opening quarter-mile in :23.35.

Franco kept him third and out of trouble into the turn and they were just 1 ½ lengths back through Storm Shooter’s half in :47.81. He asked Perfect Munnings for a bit more at the quarter pole, swung him wide into the lane and got a sustained response through the stretch.

“I felt confident about the post,” Franco said. “I was really happy stalking the two horses and when I asked my horse to go before the quarter-pole, he started running for me.”

Perfect Munnings drew off late while Storm Shooter held his spot in second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Lookin for Trouble, who edged 6-5 favorite Uno by a nose and narrowly denied a Pletcher-trainee trifecta.

Bred by Tammy Klimasewski and Robert Klimasewski and foaled at their Legend Land Farm in Shortsville, Perfect Munnings is the fifth foal out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Our Perfect Ten. A $370,000 purchase at the 2009 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale, Our Perfect Ten was winless in two starts before heading to the breeding shed for Twin Creeks Farm. The mare’s first two foals – the Curlin gelding Kenyan and the Mission Impazible colt Jaime’s Angel – were bred by Twin Creeks and already winners when Perfect Munnings went through the ring at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale.

Consigned by Vinery Sales, agent for Legend Lane Farm, and selling as Hip 553, the colt brought a $50,000 bid from Ralph Bianculli.

Our Perfect Ten sold the previous year, bringing $5,000 while in foal to Uncle Lino, at the 2019 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. The subsequent foal, now a 2-year-old colt, was born in Pennsylvania and remains unnamed.

Our Last Buck scores first stakes win in Say Florida Sandy

Saturday, January 9th, 2021

Our Last Buck wins stakes debut in Saturday’s Say Florida Sandy. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Our Last Buck showed up in Michelle Nevin’s barn in the fall of 2019 with some, how shall we say, interesting traits for an older gelding.

“When we first got him, he was a very silly and nervous type of horse,” Nevin said. “But steadily over time he just has become more manageable and more relaxed. That’s really what’s helping him today.”

Our Last Buck showed just how much it helped Saturday at Aqueduct when he rallied from off the pace to win the $100,000 Say Florida Sandy in an upset of odds-on favorite Funny Guy. Kendrick Carmouche rode J and N Stables’ 7-year-old homebred son of Courageous Cat to a 3 3/4-length victory in the 7-furlong stakes.

“I was a winner when I left the gate,” Carmouche said. “My horse broke sharp. I just wanted to make sure I stayed close to the favorite [Funny Guy] and he had me in a stalking position the whole time.

“Michelle didn’t give me any instructions, she just said, ‘do what’s best’. The horse ran his race. I’m just very pleased with him at the age of 7 competing against these young boys. He showed that he can still do it. He’s a consistent horse, so I just had to ride him to his ability.”

Coming off a win in an open-company allowance Dec. 12 at Aqueduct, Our Last Buck showed no signs of nerves in the Say Florida Sandy. He raced fourth early while Runningscissors set the pace through the opening half-mile through splits of :22.96 and :46.93 ahead of fellow Nevin trainee My Boy Tate. Funny Guy, the 4-5 favorite coming in off a strong season in 2020 that featured three restricted stakes wins, tracked in third through the half with Our Last Buck fourth and just 3 lengths back.

Carmouche kept Our Last Buck close to the rail around the far turn and angled the gelding out turning for home. They took command a furlong from the finish, past 6 furlongs in 1:12.41 and edged clear while Funny Guy got up for second, 3 ¾ lengths clear of Runningwscissors. Our Last Buck won in 1:25.11

“Kendrick gave him an awesome ride,” Nevin said. “You could see around the far turn that he still had plenty of horse. When he pulled him out, he really fired for him.”

Our Last Buck improved to 6-for-18 with earnings of $273,990 after his first stakes victory. He won four of eight starts last year to go with two seconds. In 10 starts for Nevin, who took over training Our Last Buck from George Weaver in late 2019, he’s only finished worse than fourth once.

“He’s run on several different types of tracks,” Nevin said. “He always just seems to put up a big effort.”

Bred by Gerardus Jameson and foaled at Sundial Farm in Amsterdam, Our Last Buck is out of the Prosper Fager mare Buck Mountain.

Buck Mountain won four of 30 starts, placed in two stakes and earned $218,001 for Jameson. She’s produced seven winners from her seven that have started, including Our Last Buck’s 5-year-old full sibling Escrow Finnidilly.

Mrs. Orb upsets Sharp Starr in La Verdad

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021

Mrs. Orb, slated to sell in next week’s Keeneland January sale, wins Sunday’s $100,000 La Verdad. NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

A shade more than a year removed from becoming a stakes winner on the final weekend of 2019, Mrs. Orb ended a run of seconds and collected her second stakes victory on the first weekend of 2021 in Sunday’s $100,000 La Verdad Stakes at Aqueduct.

Mrs. Orb and jockey Dylan Davis, who teamed up in late 2019 to win the Bay Ridge in the now 6-year-old Orb mare’s stakes debut, upset odds-on favorite Sharp Starr in the 7-furlong La Verdad. Mrs. Orb won by a length from Sharp Starr in 1:24.54.

The La Verdad, reduced to a field of four with the scratches of Timely Tradition and Sadie Lady, ended Mrs. Orb’s run of five straight runner-up finishes. Long or short; Aqueduct, Belmont Park or Saratoga Race Course, it didn’t matter in 2020 as Mrs. Orb finished second in the Critical Eye, Union Avenue, Empire Distaff, Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm and Bay Ridge.

Until Sunday’s La Verdad.

“She’s a hard-trying filly,” Davis said. “I’m just happy that I could get to win with her again.”

Davis let Mrs. Orb gallop at the back in the early stages, never far back but not mixing it up on the lead up the backstretch while Prairie Fire led Sharp Starr through the opening quarter-mile in :24.16. Mrs. Orb continued in fourth behind Prairie Fire, Sharp Starr and Espresso Shot through the half in :47.95.

Sharp Starr, coming off back-to-back victories in an allowance and the Grade 3 Go For Wand for Horacio DePaz, cut into Prairie Fire’s lead turning for home while those two came wide into the lane. That opened up a gap to the inside for Espresso Shot, who surged through briefly while Davis kept Mrs. Orb rolling on the outside almost eight paths off the rail.

Mrs. Orb and Sharp Starr battled inside the final furlong with the former edging away late to win for the sixth time in 23 starts, to go with eight seconds and three thirds for $439,520 in earnings.

Bred by Rhapsody Farm and a $30,000 purchase at the 2017 OBS June 2-year-olds in training sale, Mrs. Orb could wind up running for new connections of heading to the breeding shed after her latest victory. She’s cataloged to sell in the first session of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale that begins Monday, Jan. 11.

“That’s still the intention,” said winning trainer Mike Miceli, who co-owns the mare with Ruggeri Setable, Richard Coburn, Script R Farm. “Things can always change, but right now that’s still on.”

Davis, aboard Mrs. Orb for 11 of her last 12 starts dating back to a Belmont turf allowance in September 2019, tipped his cap to the consistent mare.

“If that’s her last race, that’s very nice and Mike has done a good job with her throughout her career,” he said. “I’m just happy to be aboard her and get the job done today.”

Mrs. Orb, the second foal out of the Silver Train mare Gypsy Angel, is a half sister to Kentucky-bred winner One Call Away, a 7-year-old by Central Banker. Gypsy Angel is also the dam of 4-year-old Central Banker filly Quantitativbreezin, 3-year-old Anchor Down gelding Transport and an unnamed 2-year-old filly by Bird Song.

Lucky Move turns tables on Mrs. Orb in Bay Ridge

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

Lucky Move turns tables on Mrs. Orb to win Sunday’s $100,000 Bay Ridge at Aqueduct. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Vengeance was sweet for Lucky Move when she turned the tables on Mrs. Orb to win Sunday’s $100,000 Bay Ridge Stakes, defeating that rival a year on from losing by a nose to the same horse in the same New York-bred stakes.

The 9-furlong Bay Ridge was the second straight stakes victory for the 6-year-old Lookin At Lucky mare, who was last seen winning the $175,000 Empire Distaff Handicap on Empire Showcase Day Oct. 24 at Belmont Park.

Breaking from the inside post, Lucky Move raced a few lengths off the leading Singular Sensation in the four-horse field. Only a few lengths covered the lot as Lucky Move raced alongside Firenze Freedom down the backstretch. As they turned into the stretch Lucky Move was searching for a hole behind the dueling duo of Singular Sensation and Mrs. Orb. As Firenze Freedom came back from her own challenge to the leaders, Kendrick Carmouche piloted her through the gap that was created to make her own move.

In what must have been deja vu for Lucky Move’s connections, she was given the task of chasing down Mrs. Orb again as Singular Sensation started to fade. Time was running out for Lucky Move as they approached the line but she was able to get up in the final strides to win by half-length. Singular Sensation finished 1 1/2 lengths back in third and three-quarters in front of Firenze Freedom. Lucky Move won in 1:56.54 over the fast track.

“It was a different result this year,” Carmouche said after being aboard for last year’s loss. “I had that nose in mind from last year when I lost this race. I knew it was going to be slow up front. I just had to sit, wait and bide my time. My horse ran very well. [Trainer] Juan Carlos Guerrero had this horse ready to run.”

Claimed by Ten Strike Racing’s Marshall Gramm in late April 2019, Lucky Move has thrived in the New York-bred program. Finishing third in her first stakes attempt in August 2019, she’s been a consistent runner in the stakes program, finishing first or second in all her attempts at the level since that run in the Saratoga Dew Stakes.

Lucky Move, a $57,000 purchase at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale, boosted her earnings to $429,759 Sunday. Lucky Move also posted her third stakes victory in six months, along with the listed Obeah Stakes in June at Delaware Park.

Bred by Maltese Cross Stables and Stonegate Stables LLC and foaled at Stonegate Stables in Fort Edward, Lucky Move is out of the winning Quiet American mare Quiet Mover. Quiet Mover has spent her whole broodmare career foaling New York-breds. That mare’s youngest is a Tapiture 2-year-old named Double David, who made his debut only 15 minutes before his half-sister won the Bay Ridge Stakes.

Lucky Move could be out to get more revenge next month with Gramm saying after the Empire Distaff that she would also be pointed to the Ladies Handicap this winter.

Niko’s Dream kicks off strong run for sire in My Charmer

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Niko’s Dream and Junior Alvarado storm home to win My Charmer Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Lauren King/Gulfstream Photo.

By Tom Law

Sackatoga Stable’s Niko’s Dream kicked off a strong 10-minute stretch for Central Banker with an upset victory in Saturday’s $75,000 My Charmer Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

The 4-year-old filly became a stakes winner with her 1 1/2-length score of Tuned in the 1 1/16-mile My Charmer, just before Central Banker’s son Bankit won the $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes at Aqueduct. Central Banker, a 10-year-old son of Speightstown who stands at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, came into the day second on New York’s general sire list. He’s scheduled to stand the 2021 season for $6,000.

Niko’s Dream, third last time out in the Ticonderoga Stakes on Empire Showcase Day Oct. 24 at Belmont Park, improved to 2-for-7 with a second and a third on the season for $108,690 in earnings. She’s won four of 17 overall and earned $280,900 for trainer Barclay Tagg.

Jockey Junior Alvarado settled Niko’s Dream into fifth position early as Piedi Bianchi ran a quarter-mile in :23.41 and a half in :46.79 pressed by 2019 Tropical Park Oaks winner Our Bay B Ruth with 3-2 favorite Lady Lawyer and 35-1 longshot Great Sister Diane also in the top group.

Niko’s Dream found herself surrounded by Grade 3-placed Art of Almost to the inside and Tuned on her right midway on the far turn when she kicked into high gear. Steered to the far outside by Alvarado, Niko’s Dream collared Art of Almost at the top of the stretch and edged clear with plenty left to hold off a late bid from Tuned. The winning time was 1:41.82 for 1 1/16 miles over the good turf.

“I had a great trip. The whole way around, I was happy where I was,” Alvarado said. “I made my move when I wanted to and had to make sure she was in the clear on the outside. I’ve been riding her for a while, so I knew she likes to make a nice move on the outside. It worked out perfect today.”

Tuned finished a half-length clear of Art of Almost for second, followed by Piedi Bianchi another 2 lengths back in fourth.

Bred by Nick Peros and foaled and raised at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Niko’s Dream and out of the Wild Desert mare Adriatic Dream, Niko’s Dream is the first of three full sisters produced by the mare by Central Banker. Sackatoga Stable owns and Tagg trains the 3-year-old Adriatic Holiday, second in a Saratoga maiden-claiming race July 22 in her most recent start. Trainer David Donk owns the 2-year-old Adriatic Rose, unplaced in two starts so far and in training at Belmont.

Adriatic Dream is the dam of a yearling colt by Laoban, co-bred by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds and Peros, who sold for $37,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale in late September. The mare did not produce a foal in 2020 but was bred to Solomini.


Bankit runs away with Alex M. Robb

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Bankit rolls to victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes at Aqueduct. Elsa Lorieul/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Jose Lezcano took the call aboard Winchell Thoroughbreds’ and Willis Horton Racing’s Bankit for Saturday’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes at Aqueduct and went to work.

“I watched a couple replays and it looked like sometimes he hangs a little bit,” Lezcano said after riding the consistent 4-year-old son of Central Banker in the 9-furlong New York-bred stakes.

Bankit might have shown that tendency – he’d finished on the board in seven of 11 starts this season without winning – but he’d also shown plenty of ability over the past three seasons. He and Lezcano put it together Saturday and ran down Mr. Buff to win the Alex M. Robb by 4 3/4 widening lengths, likely landing a third consecutive finalist nod for New York-bred divisional championship honors.

A finalist for 2-year-old male and 3-year-old male honors the past two seasons, Bankit improved to 4-for-26 in the Robb and boosted his bankroll to $816,675.

“Today he broke well and I had him behind the two horses I thought we had to beat,” Lezcano said. “When I asked him, he gave me everything he got.”

Bankit ran the 9 furlongs in 1:51.59 in a relatively short turnaround after finishing third in the Thunder Rumble division of the New York Stallion Series going 7 furlongs at Aqueduct Nov. 22. He also became a stakes winner for three consecutive seasons, adding the Robb to victories in the 2018 Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park and 2019 New York Derby at Finger Lakes.

A frequent member of trainer Steve Asmussen’s New York string under the supervision of Toby Sheets, Bankit also turned the tables on Mr. Buff after finishing second to that rival in the Empire Classic Handicap two starts back on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont.

“He had a nice pace set up and Jose [Lezcano] put him in a good spot,” Sheets said. “He got good position and ran a good race.”

A son of the McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds-based Central Banker out of the Colonel John mare Sister in Arms, Bankit was purchased by Winchell Thoroughbreds for $260,000 at the 2018 OBS March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training sale. He breezed an eighth during presale workout in :10 2/5.

Asmusssen always includes two words when he describes a good horse. Beautiful. Fast.

During the 2018 Saratoga meet Asmussen used both of those go-to terms after Bankit throttled six other 2-year-old New York-bred maidens to win by 6 ¾ lengths in his second start.

“He’s a beautiful, fast horse,” Asmussen said that day. “That’s a pretty good combination for racing.”

Bankit raced in 22 stakes in his next 23 starts – the lone holdout an optional on Arkansas Derby Day when he finished to Endorsed going 1 1/16 miles. He won or placed in 10 of those stakes, including a third in the Grade 3 Razorback and a third behind Tom’s d’Etat and Improbable in the Oaklawn Mile this year.

Sent off the 5-2 second choice in the field of six behind 7-5 choice Mr. Buff, Bankit stayed settled in the gate from post 6 when City Man broke through the gate before the start from post 3. Mr. Buff, alongside City Man in post 4, didn’t handle the early ruckus as well.

“My horse broke bad because the horse inside [No. 3, City Man] acted up a little and broke through the gate,” said Mr. Buff’s rider Kendrick Carmouche. “He got a little fussy in there and broke a step slow.”

Carmouche said he was able to get Mr. Buff into a position he wanted – just behind the early speed expected from Sea Foam, who led through early splits of :24.16 and :48.47. Mr. Buff, running back on seven days rest after a fifth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap Dec. 5, took command inside the three-eighths pole, went past 6 furlongs in 1:12.66 and led into the lane.

Bankit continued on well outside of Mr. Buff in the lane, took control approaching the eighth pole and drew clear in deep stretch. Mr. Buff held second, 3 lengths clear of 17-1 outsider Yankee Division with Sea Foam third.

Bred by Hidden Brook Farm LLC and Blue Devil Racing and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Bankit is the first foal out of Sister in Arms. Blue Devil Racing purchased Sister in Arms for $125,000 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale and she won two of six starts before heading to the breeding shed.

Bankit is Sister in Arms’ first foal and he originally sold as a yearling out of the Hidden Brook consignment to SGV Thoroughbreds for $85,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale.

Sister in Arms also produced an Awesome Again colt named Clifton Park, who sold for $75,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale and has won two of 14 starts and $28,384. He’s entered in claiming race Tuesday at Remington Park. Her third foal, the 2-year-old Animal Kingdom filly Aunt Mary, is entered to make her fifth start Thursday at Laurel Park.

Hold The Salsa bounces back in Great White Way

Sunday, December 6th, 2020

Hold The Sale digs in to defeat It’s Gravy in Sunday’s $250,000 Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Series at Aqueduct. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Those who love hunch bets based on food scored big at Aqueduct Sunday afternoon when Hold Me Back’s son Hold The Salsa just edged out It’s Gravy in the final strides of the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Series.

Hold The Salsa has won half of his six career starts and he’s made those wins count with the Great White Way his second stakes win in his last three starts. Making another trip to New York from his breeder, owner and trainer Richard Lugovich’s base at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, Hold The Salsa was looking to bounce back from a loss in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes. He finished fourth in the Sleepy Hollow behind a trio that included future Grade 2 Remsen winner Brooklyn Strong and Notebook Stakes winner Eagle Orb.

The Great White Way went much differently than that race for Hold The Salsa, who made a huge move coming into the turn of the 7-furlong restricted stakes. In less than a furlong, the 2-year-old switched from being a mid-pack runner to just behind leaders by the top of the Aqueduct stretch.

Hold The Salsa finally got his hard-fought lead in the final sixteenth but had to dig even deeper with It’s Gravy making a late charge. The wire came just in time for Hold The Salsa, who held off It’s Gravy by a neck to give those hunch bettors a $56.50 exacta with Market Alert running third.

“When he’s good, he takes me there,” said jockey Junior Alvarado. “By the five-sixteenths, I was very happy with where he was and the way he was traveling. I knew he was going to have a little something left at the end. He showed up today.”

Lugovich is extremely familiar with Hold The Salsa’s family with the colt being a third generation Lugovich-bred. He said the future may see Hold The Salsa trying new things, noting his pedigree calls for a different division of racing.

“It’s interesting because if you look at his breeding, he’s probably a mile-and-a-quarter horse on the grass,” he said. “He’s only a 2-year-old, so he could see that eventually. I’ll see what we can do with him next year and see how he comes up. I’m in no rush with him.”

The owner-breeder-trainer purchased Hold The Salsa’s third dam Northern Nymph for $2,700 at the 1997 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale in foal to Four Seasons, with that foal becoming Hold The Salsa’s second dam Northern Sprite. That mare saw a page upgrade before she even hit the track when her half-brother Jestakick placed in multiple stakes to give Northern Nymph a stakes horse.

After time at the track that saw her make one start, Northern Sprite went on to join her dam in the broodmare band at Northway Farm and foaled Northern Mambo in 2009. While that mare never raced, Northern Mambo followed in her dam and granddam’s footsteps by foaling Hold The Salsa at the same farm.

“We’re just over the Saratoga line, close to Joe McMahon’s. He’s a good friend of mine,” Lugovich said earlier this year. “We’ve had some good horses come off the farm. Copper Chalice (a maiden winner June 5 at Belmont), that’s my son’s horse. Mambonick, he finished fourth going a mile on the grass (Sept. 26 at Belmont). They were all born there.”

The Great White Way provided multiple updates for Northern Mambo’s yearling filly by Freud – the sire of second placed It’s Gravy. Northern Mambo didn’t have a foal this year and was bred to Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie for a 2021 foal.

Laobanonaprayer leads 1-2 sweep for sire in NYSS Fifth Avenue

Sunday, December 6th, 2020

Laobanonaprayer makes it two straight in Fifth Avenue division of New York Stallion Series Sunday at Aqueduct. NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Trainer Daniel Velazquez showed up at Belmont Park for Empire Showcase Day confident with two live runners, but freely admitted some doubt whether he’d walk away with two stakes victories.

Laobanonaprayer and Brooklyn Strong delivered for the Mid-Atlantic-based horseman, winning the Maid of the Mist and Sleepy Hollow, respectively. Velazquez returned to New York the first weekend of December with the same pair, confident again but surely not feeling history would repeat. Right? Well, maybe not so fast.

“I knew we came prepared,” Velazquez said after Laobanonaprayer completed the back half of a weekend stakes double on the NYRA circuit in Sunday’s Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion Series.

Brooklyn Strong came equally prepared by Velazquez out of his Delaware Park string Saturday, winning the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at 7-1. Laobanonaprayer was a bit more expected and she won the $250,000 Fifth Avenue at even-money over 10 other 2-year-old fillies sired by New York-based nominated stallions.

Laobanonaprayer gave her sire, the former New York-based Laoban, a 1-2 sweep as she defeated Jill’s a Hot Mess by 8 lengths. Ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, Laobanonaprayer ran the 7 furlongs in 1:24.95 to improve to 2-1-1 from four starts and boosted her earnings to $232,400.

“I was questioning the distance but I knew she could handle it,” said Velazquez, who also owns the filly bred in New York by Christina Deronda. “She can actually go a mile and an eighth.”

Carmouche, who clinched the Aqueduct fall meet riding title with the victory a day after winning his first Grade 1 stakes in the Cigar Mile aboard True Timber, felt confident every step of the 7 furlongs.

“I got the best position,” he said. “The best thing to do was to just watch everything go on to the inside of me and go from there. Everything set up perfect. I just had to be patient and let my horse run on.”

Foaled at Deronda’s Moonstar Farm in Hopewell Junction and sold as a weanling for $17,000 through the Moonstar consignment at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale, Laobanonaprayer caught her future trainer’s eye at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale in late June.

Velazquez landed the filly for $15,000, admittedly after “she kind of fell into our lap.” She runs in her trainer’s name and colors but he’s partners on the filly with Larry Rush and Mark Schwartz, who also owns Brooklyn Strong.

Next the trio figure to aim even higher with the filly out of the Raffie’s Majesty mare Raffie’s Chance.

“It’s fun to compete in these stakes, but we’ve got to test her against open company,” he said. “I want her to come home healthy and I’ll talk to the partners and really just see. Kendrick said she felt loaded and ready.”

Laobanonaprayer is the fourth foal out of the New York-bred Raffie’s Majesty mare Raffie’s Chance. Her first two foals – Devilry (by Into Mischief) and C U in the Circle (by Freud) – are winners and she’s the dam of a yearling filly by Algorithms and a weanling colt born May 2 by Central Banker. Deronda is the breeder of the weanling and yearling, along with Raffie’s Chance’s 3-year-old gelding by Normandy Invasion named K P Day currently in training in Southern California.

Varda caps big day for New York in Grade 1 Starlet

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

Varda, a graduate of last year’s Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale and a $700,000 buy at OBS in June, rolls in Grade 1 Starlet at Los Alamitos. Benoit Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Saturday evening in California racing wrapped up an incredible day for the New York-bred program as Varda made easy work of the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course.

The newest Grade 1 winner for the Empire State’s rich and storied program, Varda shut the curtain on a day that saw New York-breds also win a Grade 2 and Grade 3 at Aqueduct.

Second in the Grade 2 Chandelier Stakes last out in September at Santa Anita Park, Varda was ready to roll in her return. Racing more than 5 lengths behind the leader in last for much of the running of the 1 1/16-mile Starlet, the 2-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor clicked into gear on the turn to make her charge.

The race turned bittersweet for her trainer Bob Baffert right as Varda started her challenge when Varda’s stablemate, Princess Noor, took the lead and was quickly pulled up at the top of the stretch.

Kalypso inherited the lead for a brief period before Varada reached her as they entered the closing stages of the race. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke kept Varda well in hand as she easily passed Kalypso in the stretch and the race was all but over from that point. Van Dyke gave her an easy time of it to the line to give Baffert a fourth consecutive Grade 1 Starlet victory. Varda won in 1:44.53.

Varda, now 2-for-3, was a $700,000 purchase by Baoma Corp. at this year’s OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training sale in June.

Varda is also another successful graduate of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale after bringing $100,000 in 2019 when purchased by Raven Bloodstock from the Paramount Sales consignment.

The filly was bred by Masters 2013 LLC and the Distorted Humor Syndicate and is out of the winning Sky Mesa mare She’ll Be Right. Already one of three stakes horses for that mare with her Grade 2 second, Varda becomes the first Grade 1 winner from She’ll Be Right’s five winners from five to race.

The mare is also the dam of Grade 3-placed Big Family and stakes-placed Getouttamyway.

She’ll Be Right is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner and Grade 1-placed Storm Treasure.

Varda is far from the only successful stakes winner in the family with top racehorses from around the world on her page. Leading the charge is dual South African champion Overarching and Grade 1 winner Lady Of The House, in addition to Hong Kong listed winner Victory Mount. Closer to home, the family also includes Grade 1 winner Abscond and multiple graded stakes winner Cambodia.

She’ll Be Right had a New York-bred Lookin At Lucky colt last year and a Maclean’s Music colt in April, with both bred by Masters 2013. The mare visited Accelerate this year and is carrying a three-quarter sibling to her yearling.