NEWS: racing

Tiz the Law, Simply Ravishing fly NY flag at Breeders’ Cup

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Tiz the Law, winner of the Belmont and Travers this summer, is among 11 pre-entered for next month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

New York-bred Grade 1 winners Tiz the Law and Simply Ravishing are among the 201 horses pre-entered for the 2020 Breeders’ Cup and both figure prominently in their respective races on the Nov. 6-7 World Championships card at Keeneland Race Course.

Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law, winner of the Belmont Stakes and two other Grade 1s in 2020, is among 11 pre-entered for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. The 3-year-old son of Constitution finished second in the Kentucky Derby in his most recent start, which came four weeks after his victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

Bred by Twin Creeks Racing and foaled at Sequel Stallions in Hudson, Tiz the Law brings a record of 6-for-8 to the Classic for trainer Barclay Tagg. He’ll attempt to become the third Breeders’ Cup winner bred in New York, joining 2017 Filly and Mare Sprint winner Bar of Gold, 2014 Filly and Mare Turf winner Dayatthespa and 2013 Marathon winner London Bridge.

Eight New York-breds have run in the Classic – Thunder Rumble, L’Carriere, Gander, Funny Cide, Effinex Haynesfield, Zivo and Mind Your Biscuits. Two finished second– Effinex to American Pharoah in 2015 at Keeneland and L’Carriere to Cigar in 1995 at Belmont Park.

The 1 ¼-mile Classic attracted the other two winners of Triple Crown races in 2020 in Kentucky Derby winner Authentic and Preakness-winning filly Swiss Skydiver, who is cross-entered in the $2 million Distaff. Others pre-entered for the Classic are By My Standards, Global Campaign, Higher Power, Improbable, Maximum Security, Tacitus, Title Ready and Tom’s d’Etat.

Simply Ravishing, dominating winner of the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes on Opening Day of the Keeneland fall meeting, is pre-entered in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Owned by the partnership of Harold Lerner, Sherri McPeek’s Magdalena Racing and Nehoc Stables and trained by Kenny McPeek, Simply Ravishing was entered with a first preference for the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies on the main track. A 2-year-old daughter of former New York-based freshman stallion Laoban, Simply Ravishing brings a record of 3-for-3 to the Breeders’ Cup along with a turf maiden win and an off-the-turf victory in the P. G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga.

Bred by Meg Levy and foaled at Stonegate Stables in Fort Edward, Simply Ravishing figures to either be favorite or second choice in the Juvenile Fillies along with fellow unbeaten Princess Noor.

Seven other New York-breds have contested the Juvenile Fillies – Artemis Agrotera, Cadillac Women, Doremifasollatido, Miss Iron Smoke, Shesastonecoldfox, Weemissfrankie and Wonder Gal. Three finished third – Cadillac Women in 1991 at Churchill Downs, Weemissfrankie in 2011 at Churchill and Wonder Gal in 2014 at Santa Anita Park.

If her connections opt for the 1-mile Juvenile Fillies Turf, Simply Ravishing will join other New York-breds Dayatthespa, Freedom Rings, Pure Gossip and Royal Bonnie to start in the race. Pure Gossip owns the best finish in the Juvenile Fillies with a seventh in 2011 at Churchill.

Blue Gator rolls in New York Breeders’ Futurity

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Blue Gator runs record to 2-for-2 in Monday’s New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes. SV Photography.

By Tom Law

Blue Gator added his name to the mix of top New York-bred 2-year-olds of 2020 with a professional victory Monday in the 58th edition of the $218,075 New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes.

Shipping upstate out of trainer Mike Maker’s string at Belmont Park, the son of Liam’s Map ran his record to 2-for-2 with a 4 1/2-length victory over Our Man Mike with 7-5 favorite and multiple stakes winner Thin White Duke a troubled third in the field of six.

Owned by the Wycoff family’s Three Diamonds Farm, Blue Gator collected $130,845 for winning the 6-furlong Futurity over the sloppy and sealed track in 1:12.62 under Reylu Gutierrez.

Blue Gator, the 9-5 second choice off a 1 1/2-length maiden victory going the same distance at Belmont Park Sept. 25, raced off the pace set by the filly Blame It On Mary in the early stages. The filly led Blue Gator by 2 1/2 lengths through the opening quarter-mile in :22.73, while Thin White Duke lagged well behind the field after walking out of the gate and spotting the field at least 5 lengths.

Blue Gator inched closer leaving the backstretch and around the far turn, cutting into Blame It On Mary’s lead and the two were on even terms after a half in :46.39, about 4 lengths in front of Aspirant runner-up Our Man Mike in third. Thin White Duke, winner of the Aspirant and Funny Cide in his last two starts for trainer, breeder and co-owner Phil Gleaves, passed two back markers at that point but still had a lot to do approaching the stretch.

Gutierrez and Blue Gator swept past the pacesetter straightening for home and darted to the inside fence. Gutierrez kept the eventual winner busy with a few left-handed cracks of the whip while the opened up. Our Man Mike slipped past Blame It On Mary inside the final eighth while Thin White Duke did the same inside the final sixteenth for the placings.

Bred by Morera Breeding and Racing LLC, Blue Gator is the third foal produced by the winning Langfuhr mare Candy Cat Can. Her first is the 6-year-old Lemon Drop Kid gelding Escape Velocity, the winner of 10 of 30 starts and $137,606; and the second is the winning 4-year-old Verrazano gelding Heungbok Dream, purchased by Korean interests for $40,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Candy Cat Can, a half-sister to 2018 Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap winner Bee Jersey, produced Blue Gator in late January 2018 at Hidden Lake Farm in Stillwater. He sold to Bluewater Sales, Meg and Michael Levy’s operation with a longtime association with Three Diamonds, later that year for $80,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale. Bluewater offered the colt at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale but he went unsold on a final bid of $85,000 and he also didn’t sell at this year’s OBS Spring 2-year-olds in training sale out of the Wavertree Stables consignment on a bid of $110,000.

Candy Cat Can, an RNA for $40,000 with Blue Gator in utero 2017 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, is the dam of a yearling colt by Central Banker, a weanling filly by Palace and was bred to Enticed in 2020.

Big flex: Broman homebred Mr. Buff defends title in Empire Classic

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Mr. Buff all business winning second straight Empire Classic Handicap Saturday to highlight Empire Showcase Day card at Belmont Park. NYRA Photo.

By Paul Halloran

It’s amazing how much value you can get for $1.

Chester and Mary Broman campaigned Friend or Foe, a son of Friends Lake who won the Empire Classic 10 years ago, but weren’t interested in keeping him as a stallion. They sold him for $1 to a woman in Virginia, with the only stipulation that she register him as a Thoroughbred stallion.

Broman sent three mares to breed to him and one of the three horses in his first crop was Mr. Buff, who one-upped his father by winning the Empire Classic for the second year in a row Saturday to close the rich Empire Showcase program at Belmont Park.

“When he switched to his outside lead at the top of the stretch, I knew it was over,” winning trainer John Kimmel said. “There was no way they were going to beat him.”

Mr. Buff, a 6-year-old gelding who already boasted a seven-figure bankroll, led every step of the 9-furlong stakes, keeping Sea Foam at bay in the early stages and leaving plenty in the tank to hold off Bankit. Mr. Buff increased his earnings to $1,210,786 from 15 wins in 40 starts, and Kimmel has no intention of calling it quits with the gelding.

“For sure,” he said when asked if Mr. Buff would run as a 7-year-old.

“He’s a gelding and he’s a happy horse,” said Kimmel, who has won the Empire Classic three times. “He loves the winter here. He’ll have them over a barrel (at Aqueduct).”

Kimmel had put Mr. Buff in the deep end by running in the Grade 2 Suburban and Grade 1 Whitney this past summer, but the return to state-bred company was just what the doctor ordered.

“He hadn’t come back to the form he showed last spring,” Kimmel said. “He was breezing very well, but whether he can do it in the afternoon can be trying on your nerves.”

The way it turned out Saturday, there was nothing to fret about. Mr. Buff set reasonable fractions of :23.50, :47.56 and 1:11.50 under Junior Alvarado, who had plenty of horse in the stretch.

“Junior let him out a notch and he looked like he was real comfortable,” Kimmel said.

Kimmel, who has a long and productive history with the Bromans, was pleased to win this race for them again.

“They have taken breeding in New York to another level,” he said.

Mr. Buff, who was foaled at the Broman’s Chestertown Farm in Chestertown, stands 17.2 hands.

He’s out of the graded stakes-placed Speightstown mare Speightful Affair, who was purchased by the Bromans purchased Speightful Affair for $80,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale.

She was not in foal at the time and Mr. Buff was her second foal, after the winning Sir Whimsey gelding Organic Gemini for former owners Turtle Bird Stable.

Speightful Affair produced two full siblings to Mr. Buff in 2015 and 2018, the winning 5-year-old horse Cain Is Abel and unraced 2-year-old filly Miss Buff. She’s also the dam of the two-time winning 4-year-old Scat Daddy gelding Daddy Knows and a weanling colt by Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate born in late April.

New York-sired duo win Showcase Day sprint stakes

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Collegeville Girl scores first stakes victory in Iroquois upset. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

They may have beaten the logical Central Banker progeny in the $125,000 Iroquois Stakes Saturday on Empire Showcase Day, but they couldn’t prevent the productive New York stallion from being represented in the winner’s circle in the sprint stakes for fillies and mares.

Collegeville Girl, a daughter of Central Banker out of the Vindication mare Lifelong, came from last and mowed them down in the stretch to win the Iroquois by a half-length at 23-1 odds.

“She deserved another shot here,” said winning trainer Richard Vega, who bought the filly for $18,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale for Robert Brittingham, Salvatore De Bunda and Wire to Wire Stable. “She only got beat 1 length in the stakes race (Union Avenue) at Saratoga.”

Coming off an even third in an optional claimer at Parx Racing, Collegeville Girl got the setup that she and jockey Joel Rosario wanted, closing into a fast pace of :45.54 for the half-mile. Bertranda and Spin a Yarn contested the fractions, with Timely Tradition sitting third. Dylan Davis took Timely Tradition to the lead in the stretch, but could not hold off the closers. Prairie Fire ran second to complete a $414 exacta. Timely Tradition finished a neck back in third with 5-2 favorite Newly Minted ninth of 10.

“I know she has a closing kick,” said Vega. “Rosario told me he lost his whip; he did it all with his arms. She carried him all the way to the wire.”

“I could see there was a lot of speed in front of me and I thought some of that speed would come back to me and we could hit the board, but she put in a really good run in the last part and really impressed me with her performance,” Rosario said.

Collegeville Girl, bred by Andy Beadnell and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, became Central Banker’s second-leading earner in 2020 with $155,258. Her career earnings improved to $270,526.

Central Banker, who stands at McMahon of Saratoga, ranks second among New York stallions in progeny earnings in 2020, just behind Big Brown.

“He’s a good stallion and good stallions can stand anywhere, but we choose to keep him here because New York needs a good stallion like that,” Joe McMahon said earlier this year. “If he can continue to get 100 mares a year, that’s good business for our farm.”

Central Banker, a 10-year-old Grade 2-winning son of Speightstown, was bred to 114 mares in 2020 according to the Report of Mares Bred released Friday by The Jockey Club. – Paul Halloran


Bustin Stones gelding Tribecca scores in Hudson

Ronald Brown’s Tribecca bided his time in the allowance ranks since his last stakes appearance in October 2019 but when he returned in the Hudson Handicap he was up to the task to add a second stakes win to his resume.

The Chris Englehart-trained gelding out-broke the field and was quickly away with the lead in the 6 1/2-furlong stakes. Pressured throughout by Arthur’s Hope, Tribecca found another gear in the stretch and quickly put away that rival. He built his lead from there and scored by 3 lengths in 1:16.01.

“I love Tribecca. I rode him first time out four years ago and he won and he seems to find his way back to me,” winning jockey Kendrick Carmouche said. “He tries so hard. He proved today that if he can break out of there and get him to a slow pace, I know he’ll want to go from there. I’d like to thank Chris and Ronald Brown and now we’re in the winner’s circle.”

Bred by Laurel Least and Joseph Lech, who privately acquired Tribeca’s dam Heck after her racing career, Tribecca was foaled at Foggy Bottom Farm in Geneseo and a $10,000 purchase at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale.

Bought by Gary Sciacca from the Foggy Bottom Farm consignment, Tribecca was claimed a few times throughout his career before Englehart dropped a slip for $25,000 at Saratoga in 2019 on behalf of Brown.

The gelding won that race and hasn’t looked back, earning his first stakes victory two months later in the Leon Reed at Finger Lakes. A winner of three of his five starts in 2020, the Hudson Handicap took Tribecca over the $600,000 career earnings mark.

Tribecca is one of three winners from three to race out of the three-time winning Heck. That New York-bred mare is also a half-sister to the stakes winning New York-bred Socialsaul and two other stakes placed runners. Heck also has a Revolutionary yearling filly that sold for $10,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga fall mixed sale to Tribecca’s owner and visited Bustin Stones for a full sibling to Tribecca this year.

Bustin Stones, a 16-year-old son of City Zip who bred 40 mares in 2020, stands for $5,000 at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham. – Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Lucky Move strikes in Empire Distaff Handicap

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Lucky Move, a $30,000 claim by Marshall Gramm’s Ten Strike Racing in April 2019, adds another stakes victory in Empire Distaff Handicap. Janet Garaguso/NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

It isn’t every day that you have both a horse you bred and a horse you claimed in the same stakes race, but that’s exactly how it played out for Ten Strike Racing in Saturday’s $175,000 Empire Distaff Handicap at Belmont Park.

In the end, age and experience won out with 6-year-old Lucky Move – claimed by Ten Strike Racing’s Marshall Gramm last year in Kentucky – coming out the winner and 3-year-old homebred Critical Value struggling through a tough race.

The decision to even put Lucky Move in the race was an audible after trainer Carlos Guerrero was approached by jockey’s agents that included Irad Ortiz Jr.’s agent, Steve Rushing.

“We were looking for a two-other than allowance and jockeys’ agents kept calling my trainer,” Gramm said of the decision to enter the Lookin At Lucky mare. “Once Irad’s agent called we’re like ‘it must not be much of a field’ and looked at it more closely and realized we had to go for the money. We were really hoping for a class relief spot and this turned out to be that spot.”

Lucky Move raced toward the back of the field for much of the 1 1/16-mile race before making her move in the stretch. Gramm said the mare loves to grind out her races and that was exactly what she did to score a 1 3/4-length victory over Mrs. Orb for her second stakes win. Makingcents finished third with defending Empire Distaff winner Ratajkowski fourth and Critical Value last of seven.

Gramm claimed Lucky Move for $30,000 late last April at Churchill Downs. He immediately wanted to take advantage of the mare’s New York-bred status and that move paid off when she won an allowance-optional at Saratoga Race Course two starts later.

“I had been following her for a long time, I’m a huge fan of Lookin at Lucky,” Gramm said. “I’ve owned about a dozen of them, either claimed them or bought them in sales. I claimed her in the spring [with Bentley Combs] and circled the state-bred allowance optional claimer going two turns at Saratoga. The mile and an eighth plays very long [at Saratoga] and I really thought that would be the race. We shipped up and we won that race last summer and I was there. It was great to be in the winner’s circle at Saratoga and then she continued to develop and she’s talented, she can run all day.”

Bred by Maltese Cross Stables and Stonegate Stables, Lucky Move had been sold for $37,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale and spent most of her early career shipping between Louisiana and Kentucky.

Her Saratoga return last season marked just the second time she’d raced in New York to that point. Since then she’s raced primarily in New York, along with starts at Churchill, Parx Racing, Delaware Park and Monmouth Park, and boosted her bankroll to $374,759.

Finishing second in a pair of New York-bred stakes over the winter and third in one last summer at Saratoga, Lucky Move broke through at the stakes level in the Obeah Stakes at Delaware in June. She became the first stakes winner for her six-time winning dam Quiet Mover, who has exclusively produced New York-bred foals since her retirement in 2012 after being claimed by Maltese Cross Stables during her racing career.

Quiet Mover’s youngest is a Tapiture 2-year-old colt named Double David.

While Gramm is leaning toward racing Lucky Move another year, he’s also toying with retiring her depending on how she runs this winter. Her plans currently include trying to go one better in both the Bay Ridge Stakes and Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct – two races she finished second in last winter.

If she does retire and stays in Ten Strike Racing’s breeding program there is a chance she’ll play a part in the next generation of New York-breds with the operation having mares at Keene Stud in Amenia.

“I’ve dropped plenty of foals in New York, it’s an excellent program,” he said. “I have two homebreds running right now that are New York-breds. I only own four or five mares so it’s just an honor to have two homebreds that are participating in the Empire Showcase Day and Lucky Move, who I didn’t breed but I claimed. I’m always looking to claim a New York-bred to run in New York. I love the program, I bred to Central Banker this year and I have another mare up there that’s in foal to Twirling Candy.”

Homebreds Myhartblongstodady, Somelikeithotbrown score Showcase turf stakes wins

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Myhartblongstodady adds Ticonderoga to growing resume for owner and breeder Lawrence Goichman. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Myhartblongstodady kept her 2020 record unblemished with a gate-to-wire win of the Ticonderoga Stakes Saturday at Belmont Park and had owner-breeder Lawrence Goichman breathing a sigh of relief.

The 5-year-old Scat Daddy mare drifted to the center of the track for a few strides in the stretch but made it clear she was going to win well before the wire on the way to a 3-length victory. Goichman thought Myhartblongstodady had a good chance at crossing the line first but the worrying wasn’t over when she straightened up.

“I just said “thank God” and I was hopeful that nobody else showed great energy and determination,” he said of the closing stage of the race. “You do hold your breath when you’re ahead, believe me. You don’t take anything for granted, you never know what will happen.”

For Myhartblongstodady’s owner and breeder, the victory was a culmination of years of work that started when he brought her granddam from Juddmonte Farm.

“It’s what people who breed horses dream about,” Goichman said. “When you plan pedigrees you say ‘can I get in the winner’s circle, can I win a stakes race?’ She’s just been awesome. She’s been a really terrific horse for us, I bought her granddam from a Juddmonte dispersal in England a number of years ago and I’ve done well.”

The victory is the fourth straight for Myhartblongstodady, who broke her maiden on debut in 2018 and had been close to another win in four starts since that race but didn’t secure it until last November. Off for eight months after that win, Myhartblongstodady moved to trainer Jorge Abreu’s barn and Goichman thinks that may have played a big part.

“Jorge Abreu has done a wonderful job getting her to relax, be comfortable,” he said. “He’s got some grooms that get along with her and they make her feel very happy and comfy. She comes out, she loves her job, she’s not stressed. You can see her body language and that she’s really comfortable and she’s not fretting and rearing up and doing anything stupid in the paddock.”

While Goichman cautioned that things can change, right now he is leaning toward bringing her back next year with hopes of adding another mark on the family’s resume.

“I enjoy the family and I’d like to see them win a graded stakes, that’s everyone’s dream here,” he said. “So far she’s definitely stepped up her game. She’s shown a dimension she didn’t before where we didn’t see her ever try to take the front. Now she plays the break and if the pieces come her way, she’ll take the front. Once upon a time we might take her back and now we just let her have fun.”

Foaled at Edition Farm in Hyde Park and a second generation homebred for Goichman, she is out of his stakes placed New York-bred mare Elusive Rumour. Goichman also bred Elusive Rumour’s stakes-winning half-sister Beebe Lake and her own stakes-placed daughter Roses for Romney.

Elusive Rumour also has a 3-year-old gelding named Scuttlebuzz who is racing in New York, a 2-year-old filly by Flintshire named Runaway Rumour, a yearling colt by More Than Ready and a weanling colt by Oscar Performance with her foals keeping their proud New York-bred tradition alive. Elusive Rumour was covered again this year by Oscar Performance.


Somelikeithotbrown continues climb toward another title

Already a New York-bred champion 2-year-old and 3-year-old, Somelikeithotbrown made it clear he is searching for another trophy this year with a win in the Mohawk Stakes.

Battling with Rinaldi for the lead as they ticked off early fractions of :23.72 and :47.67 early in the 1 1/16-mile Mohawk, owner and co-breeder Skychai Racing’s Harvey Diamond was worried it may be too fast for the son of Big Brown. However, when the 4-year-old colt had a second to relax around the turn it played to his strength.

“I was very surprised. The half went in 47 and change and I thought maybe that was a little fast for him but it really wasn’t,” Diamond said. “He kind of took a breather on the turn, he got in to the stretch a length or so on the lead and changed leads and took off.”

While Rinaldi would fade to finish last, Somelikeithotbrown went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Therapist. Not able to attend the New York Thoroughbred Breeders’ Annual Awards Dinner this year, Diamond is hopeful they’ll get to take home another trophy this year. Cross Border, who like Somelikeithotbrown is trained by Mike Maker, finshed third in the Mohawk to boost Diamond’s hopes.

“He was named 2- and 3-year-old of the year the last two years of New York-bred horses and we didn’t get to come up this year to Saratoga because of COVID-19,” Diamond said. “Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to come to Saratoga in April. I think Cross Border was a close contender [for divisional awards] and I think this race did it. I kind of thought this was the race for the championship for the older horses.”

Diamond said that as long as all goes well Somelikeithotbrown would return next year.

Bred by Hot Pink Stables and Sand Dollar Stables and foaled at Sequel Stallions New York in Hudson, Somelikeithotbrown has been special to the Skychai team from the start. They named him as a weanling, with his moniker a play on both his dam, the Tapit mare Marilyn Monroan, and Kentucky Derby and Preakness-winning sire.

“We named him after the movie Some Like It Hot, one of [Marilyn Monroe’s] best movies and then we added on the brown and it kind of goes along with Hot Brown, which is one of the sacred foods here in Louisville,” Diamond said. “[Partner Jim Shircliff] and I went up to the farm to see him as a weanling and as soon as we saw him Jim said Somelikeithotbrown so he was named as a weanling, which is very unusual for us.”

Racing for Skychai Racing and David Koenig, Somelikeithotbrown is one of two stakes winners for Marilyn Monroan and Skychai Racing alongside 3-year-old Jolting Joe. Skychai races that colt with Sand Dollar Stable with the pair also racing Marilyn Monroan alongside Hot Pink Stable.

Velazquez sweeps juvenile races to open Showcase Day

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Brooklyn Strong, a $5,000 buy this year bred on a modest stud fee, rolls to victory in Saturday’s Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Paul Halloran

What happens when you match a chemist with a dentist? You get the breeders of a New York-bred stakes winner.

In deciding to whom they should breed their Medaglia d’Oro mare Riviera Chic, Cheryl Prudhomme and her dentist husband Dr. Michael Gallivan landed on Wicked Strong due to his imposing physical traits.

“I put a lot of time and effort into the breeding selection,” Prudhomme said from Shamrock Hill Farm in Fort Edward, after watching Brooklyn Strong roll to a 2 1/4-length win in the $150,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park Saturday. “I wanted a big stallion, with leg and size. I liked Wicked Strong.”

The modest $5,000 stud fee also worked for Prudhomme and Gallivan, who have been breeding horses in New York for 18 years and currently have about 10 broodmares on their farm located about 15 miles northeast of Saratoga.

“We don’t go to expensive stallions,” Prudhomme said.

They sold Brooklyn Strong, who was foaled at Shamrock Hill, as a weanling for $30,000 in the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale. The colt was a two-time RNA (for $42,000 and for $6,000) as a 2-year-old, before Mark Schwartz bought him for $5,000 at the OBS April sale.

“The bidding started at $50,000, went down to $1,000 and I got the horse for $5,000,” a jubilant Schwartz said in the Belmont winner’s circle after the race. “This is very exciting for me. I enjoy horse racing so much.”

A New York native who relocated to Florida, Schwartz named the gelding for his favorite borough.

“I grew up in Brooklyn and I love it. Brooklyn will always be right here,” he said, pointing to his heart.

Brooklyn Strong, coming off a third in the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes, sat fourth off a pace set by Eagle Orb. Jose Ortiz made his move on the turn and went by Eagle Orb in the stretch, covering the mile in 1:37.16. Breadman ran third.

The win completed a natural daily double for trainer Danny Velazquez, who also saddled Laobanonaprayer, an easy winner of the $150,000 Maid of the Mist Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Bred by Christina Deronda and foaled at her Moonstar Farm in Hopewell Junction, Laobanonaprayer is by red-hot freshman sire Laoban, out of the Raffie’s Majesty mare Raffie’s Chance.

Laobanonaprayer sold for $17,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga October mixed sale. Velazquez bought him for $15,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale this year.

“She kind of fell into our lap,” he said.

Velazquez owns the filly in partnership with Schwartz and Larry Rush. The victory was the first stakes win in a career that has seen him saddle 170 winners with earnings of $4.3 million. He only had to wait about 35 minutes for his second.

“I went in with high expectations,” said Velazquez, who has spent the majority of his career at Parx Racing, but took a string to Delaware Park earlier this year. Laobanonaprayer had been beaten in two maiden races at Delaware. “I knew I was live, but I thought, ‘am I really going to win two stakes races?’ I was very confident in both horses.”

Laobanonaprayer had only one horse beaten down the backstretch, but Kendrick Carmouche asked for run on the turn and the filly answered, swinging six wide and going by favorite Frost Me and Chasing Cara in the stretch. The winning margin was 5 1/2 lengths in 1:38.06.

“What a way to break her maiden,” Velazquez said. “We added blinkers and that made all the difference. I was very confident that she would love the one-turn mile.”

Laobanonaprayer’s dam, Raffie’s Chance, is the dam of a yearling filly by Algorithms and a weanling colt born May 2 by Central Banker.

The Showcase Special

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Ratajkowski, winner of the Critical Eye in her 2020 debut, looks to defend crown in Saturday’s Empire Distaff. NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

The biggest day of the year for New York-breds arrives Saturday with the Empire Showcase at Belmont Park and the crew from The Saratoga Special is proud to roll out a special edition of The Showcase Special for the occasion.

Wow, that’s a lot of special but deservedly so considering an 11-race card worth $1,412,000. Showcase Day features eight stakes for horses bred in the Empire State worth $1.2 million, including the co-featured $175,000 Empire Classic and $175,000 Empire Distaff.

The Showcase Special goes race-by-race, providing the perfect primer and follow-along guide for horsemen, breeders, owners and fans of the New York Thoroughbred. And you can watch the whole card during Saturday’s America’s Day at the Races program that runs from noon to 5:30 p.m. ET on FS2 and MSG+.

Here’s the primer for Saturday, Oct. 24. Safe trips to all and good luck.

Race 1. $70,000 maiden special weight. Noon. Full field of 12, along with three on also-eligible list and a main track only, for $70,000 turf maiden for 2-year-olds. John McClutchy’s homebred Arrowheart chased Breadman last time out and that one goes in stakes later in the card. Cotton hasn’t done a thing wrong in his three starts for trainer Mark Casse while Christophe Clement (Swashbuckle), Mike Maker (Vodka Lemonade), Jonathan Thomas (He’s a Lucky Devil) and Ray Handal (Humpday) send out well-meant firsters.

Race 2. $150,000 Maid of the Mist Stakes. 12:40 p.m. Party At Page’s overcame some trouble winning her second straight in the Lady Finger Stakes last time and needs to bounce back quick off 19-day turnaround. Chasing Cara might have been best in the Joseph A. Gimma last time. She lost all chance when she jumped at the start and still managed to finish third for owner-breeder Richard Greeley and trainer Mitch Friedman, who also send out Cara’s Dreamer in 1-mile test.

Race 3. $150,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes. 1:15 p.m. Owner, breeder and trainer Richard Lugovich said he “expected to win” the Bertram F. Bongard with Hold the Salsa last time out and the Hold Me Back colt delivered on his expectations. Off the board in back-to-back stakes tries at Saratoga, Hold the Salsa ran his record to 2-for-2 at Belmont and looks to make it three here against impressive maiden winner Breadman, two he beat in the Bongard and three others.

Race 4. $150,000 Ticonderoga Stakes. 1:49 p.m. Lawrence Goichman’s homebred Myhartblongstodaddy made it look easy all the way on the lead winning the Yaddo last time for trainer Jorge Abreu. No doubt jockey Jose Lezcano will try similar tactics in 1 1/16-mile turf stakes against familiar foes Wegetsdamunnys and War Canoe.

Race 5. $70,000 maiden special weight. 2:22 p.m. Shorter trip – 7 furlongs – for this 2-year-old filly maiden that also drew a full field plus two AEs and 2 MTOs. Mark Casse sends out Hard Spun firster Pretty Clever, bred by Chester and Mary Broman and a $240,000 buy at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. Christophe Clement also runs a first-time starter bought at the same sale – for $230,000 – in the Shanghai Bobby filly Home for Christmas.

Race 6. $175,000 Empire Distaff Handicap. 2:53. Ratajkowski returns to defend her title in the co-feature against six other fillies and mares. Six-year-old Drosselmeyer mare didn’t get the cleanest of trips last time as the 6-5 favorite in the Union Avenue, finishing fifth, but she’s back to a more favorite distance of 1 1/16 miles. Jeremiah Englehart holds strong hand with last year’s New York-bred champion 2-year-old filly Critical Value and Fleet Indian Stakes winner Makingcents. The latter handled older foes back in June while the latter exits a prep going 1 mile against older open-company rivals. Mrs. Orb just missed in the Union Avenue and could continue strong year for trainer Mike Miceli.

Race 7. $125,000 Hudson Handicap. 3:26. Time to sprint. Nine line up for 7-furlong test, including trio of Big Engine, Tribecca and T Loves a Fight. They prepped for this finishing 1-2-3 in open optional Sept. 26. Arlington shipper Dugout makes his return to New York, where he won the Funny Cide at Saratoga and New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes as a 2-year-old.

Race 8. $150,000 Mohawk Stakes. 3:59. Back to the grass and a West Point rematch between Rinaldi, Dot Matrix and Therapist. They were the first three under the wire that day, with Rinaldi doing it all the way on the lead. Expect similar tactics here for trainer Jim Bond and jockey Luis Saez but they face a tall order against Mike Maker’s Somelikeithotbrown and Cross Border. If either of those two, winners of graded stakes this summer at Saratoga, win it could pave the way to a New York-bred championship. Somelikeithotbrown already has one of those titles, last year’s 3-year-old male honor.

Race 9. $125,000 Iroquois Stakes. 4:31. Newly Minted, last year’s champion New York-bred 3-year-old filly, ran lights out winning the Union Avenue and draws rail here against nine others entered in 6 1/2-furlong stakes. The winner of last year’s Bouwerie and Fleet Indian will be tough against the likes of Finger Lakes shipper Spin a Yarn, Timely Tradition, Fair Regis and Officer Hutchy.

Race 10. $175,000 Empire Classic Handicap. 5:05. The co-feature and last stakes of the day is a good one with defending champ Mr. Buff in the field with multiple stakes winner and Grade 2 Vosburgh runner-up Funny Guy, 2019 New York Derby and graded stakes competitor Bankit, 2020 Albany winner Chestertown, 2018 Albany winner Sea Foam and last-out blowout winner Evaluator. Mr. Buff has handled his peers in four of his last five starts against New York-breds, including a 20-length score in the Haynesfield and a 7 ½-length tally in the Alex M. Robb. Those were at Aqueduct, but he’s just as effective at Belmont for trainer John Kimmel and owners-breeders Chester and Mary Broman. Funny Guy, fourth in the Grade 1 Forego run in a monsoon two back, figures to be a tough challenger. Son of Big Brown has won his last three against New York-breds, including strong score in the John Morrissey at Saratoga and Commentator at Belmont for trainer John Terranova.

Race 11. $72,000 allowance. 5:35. Close the card with 7-furlong turf event for older horses. The lightly raced duo of Advanced Strategy (Jimmy Jerkens) and Uncle George  (Christophe Clement) should be tough.

Here & There – Showcase Day 2020

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Captain Bombastic, one of four winners from last year’s Empire Showcase Day card running back in 2020, goes in Saturday’s Hudson Stakes. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

The Saratoga Special

Who’s ready for Empire Showcase Day? We definitely are and put together a special Here & There Showcase Day edition for the occasion, just like what you’d see on a warm summer day in The Saratoga Special. Special thanks, too, to the communications team at the New York Racing Association.

Names of the Day

Byhubbyhellomoney, fifth race. Bad Boy Racing’s 2-year-old filly is by Effinex out of Shocking Behavior.

Caumsett, fifth race. Michael Henning’s 2-year-old filly by The Factor. Causett State Historic Park Preserve, a state park on Lloyd Neck in Long Island, is an English-style estate with sports & recreation, nature trails & historical society in a manor house.

Ratajkowski, sixth race. Empire Distaff. Gary Broad’s 6-year-old mare won the race last year and we figure she’s named for Sports Illustrated and runway model Emily Ratajkowski, who had 26.8 million followers on Instagram as of Friday morning.

Rinaldi, eighth race. Mohawk Stakes. Jim and Tina Bond like to name the family’s horses for Italian wines and this year’s West Point winner is named for the late Giuseppe Rinaldi.

Somelikeithotbrown, eighth race. Mohawk Stakes. Last year’s New York-bred champion 3-year-old male and multiple graded stakes winners is by Big Brown out of Marilyn Monroan. He’s appeared in Names of the Day in the past but we can’t get enough.


By the Numbers

1:13.20: Tiz the Law’s 6-furlong workout time Friday morning at Keeneland. The New York-bred Belmont and Travers winner galloped out 7 furlongs in 1:25.40 and got his final quarter in :23.60 as he continues to prep for the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

4: Winners from the 2019 Empire Showcase program entered back Saturday – Ratajkowski, Critical Value, Captain Bombastic and Mr. Buff.

5: Entries sired by freshman sire War Dancer on Showcase Day, one more than fellow New York-based stallions Central Banker and Big Brown.

6: Runners bred by Chester and Mary Broman entered for Showcase Day, including Mr. Buff and Chestertown in the co-featured Empire Classic.

7: Entries for Jeremiah Englehart on Showcase Day, most of any trainer and one more than both Rudy Rodriguez and Christophe Clement.

109: Total entries for Empire Showcase Day card.

1,412,000: Dollars in purse money on the line on Showcase Day.

1,002: Mares bred by 37 stallions in New York in 2020 according to statistics released by The Jockey Club Friday morning.

123: Mares bred by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds’ Solomini in his first season in 2020, the most of any stallion in New York. Central Banker, who also stands at McMahon of Saratoga, bred 114 mares and Rockridge Stud’s Leofric bred 91 mares.


Worth Repeating

“He’s giving me every indication that he’s doing well. He’s training well and breezing well. Junior (Alvarado) gets on him for all his breezes and says he feels terrific. I can’t say anything negative about the way he’s coming into the race.”
Trainer John Kimmel on defending Empire Classic winner Mr. Buff

“It’s always nice to pick up New York-breds. The money there is really good and when you have a New York-bred you can go up there and get all the bonuses. The New York-bred program is intriguing right now.”
Mid-Atlantic-based trainer Danny Velazuez, who runs Laobanonaprayer in the Maid of the Mist and Brooklyn Strong in the Sleepy Hollow

“I’m not sure what that was because she’s never not done that [switched leads] but she’s also never had to run that hard. At Finger Lakes, it’s just a cakewalk for her.”
Trainer Chris Progno on Iroquois entrant Spin a Yarn’s runner-up effort in the Park Avenue division of the New York Stallion Series this summer at Saratoga

“She’s a missile.”
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche to Progno after breezing Spin a Yarn 5 furlongs in 1:01.22 Sunday at Belmont

“It’s a little quick back for her but we thought she wouldn’t have any issue with stretching out, so we’re going to give her a shot and go from there. A lot will depend on how the race shapes up. She’s pretty versatile and we can ask her to do different things.”
Trainer Jeremiah Englehart on Party At Page’s, who runs back on 19 days’ rest in the Maid of the Mist off her win in the Lady Finger at Finger Lakes

“The waters are going to get deeper and deeper every time, but we’ll just keep marching forward and keep our fingers crossed that he keeps getting better.”
Trainer Jim Bond on Rinaldi’s chances in the Mohawk


On the air

Empire Showcase Day will be part of Saturday’s America’s Day at the Races coverage on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. Coverage will run from noon to 5:30 p.m. ET on FS2 and MSG+.



Fields set for another strong Empire Showcase Day

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Mr. Buff returns to defend title in Saturday’s $175,000 Empire Classic Handicap at Belmont Park. NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Strong fields led by a cast of eight for the co-featured $175,000 Empire Classic Handicap were entered Wednesday for Saturday’s Empire Showcase program at Belmont Park.

Showcase Day features eight stakes that include the Empire Classic and $175,000 Empire Distaff Handicap on the card exclusively for New York-breds. The day starts at noon with the first of 11 races and the opening stakes, the $150,000 Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies, goes as the second race at 12:40 p.m.

The eight stakes are worth $1.2 million with Saturday’s overall purse distribution at $1,412,000 for the 11-race card.

“The New York-breds are showing up all over the country and doing very, very well,” said trainer Jim Bond, who runs Rinaldi in the $150,000 Mohawk and Evaluator in the Empire Classic. “A day like this, to show the rest of the world how good they are, is important. It’s usually full fields and it’s nice to show all our hard work and give the owners and breeders their due acknowledgement for all the good things they do for us.”

The 1 1/16-mile Empire Distaff drew a field of seven fillies and mares and goes as the sixth race at 2:53 p.m.

Gary Broad’s Ratajkowski, the 123-pound top weight and defending champ, will look to bounce back from her fifth last time out sprinting the Union Avenue Handicap at Saratoga Race Course. The 6-year-old Drosselmeyer mare won the Critical Eye Stakes two starts back in her 2020 debut for trainer Graham Motion.

The Empire Distaff field also includes Ten Strike Racing’s homebred Critical Value, last year’s champion New York-bred 2-year-old filly. Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, the daughter of Bodemeister seeks her second win of 2020 in the Empire Distaff along with the Bouwerie Stakes in late June.

Ten Strike also sends out the Parx-based Lucky Move, who shoulders 120 pounds seeking to end a three-race win streak. The 6-year-old daughter of Lookin At Lucky won the Obeah Stakes in mid-June at Delaware Park before off-the-board finishes in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap, Grade 3 Shuvee Stakes and Lady’s Secret Stakes.

Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred Mr. Buff makes his third appearance – seeking his second straight win – in the Empire Classic for trainer John Kimmel. Third in the 2018 edition behind Pat On the Back and Can You Diggit before locking up champion New York-bred older dirt male honors with a victory in last year’s renewal, Mr. Buff returns from a brief freshening following a fifth in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga Aug. 1.

Mr. Buff faces seven others in the 9-furlong Empire Classic, including 3-year-old and Albany Stakes winner Chestertown. The Bromans bred the son of Tapit out of their Grade 1-winning Roman Ruler mare Artemis Agrotera and sold him for $2 million at last year’s OBS March 2-year-olds in training sale. The Bromans stayed on as partners in the gray colt, who also runs for West Point Thoroughbreds, Woodford Racing, Siena Farm and Rob Masiello.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Chestertown brings a record of 2-3-1 from eight starts to his first start against older horses in the Empire Classic.

“He’s been doing well. Everyone was very excited about him at the beginning of the year and Steve has managed him very well,” said Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds. “He’s a bit of a challenge and he’s not a straightforward horse. That’s one reason why we gave him to Steve. He has a proven track record with Tapits and they can be a challenge to train.”

The Empire Classic is Race 10 with post time set for 5:05 p.m.

The Showcase Day card also includes the $150,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-olds, $150,000 Ticonderoga for older fillies and mares on the grass, $125,000 Hudson Handicap for 3-year-olds up and at 6 1/2 furlongs, $150,000 Mohawk for older horses on the grass and $125,000 Iroquois for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Englehart figures to have a busy day with seven runners entered, including Party At Pages in the Maid of the Mist, Makingcents and Critical Value in the Empire Distaff and Captain Bombastic in the Hudson. Like many of his colleagues, owners and breeders, Englehart is excited for the opportunity.

“It gives us a chance to show off some of our better New York-breds,” he said. “We focus on buying New York-breds year in and year out, so it’s always nice when you have horses that can make these races. We’ve been fortunate the last few years to have won some of these races. Hopefully, these horses will represent our team well on Showcase Day.”