NEWS: racing

Tiz the Law makes it look easy in Travers

Saturday, August 8th, 2020

Tiz the Law and Manny Franco roll to victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Travers. NYRA/Susie Raisher Photo.

By Paul Halloran/The Saratoga Special

Ever the pragmatist, Barclay Tagg had 535,000 reasons why he was just fine with winning the Travers Stakes in front of a pandemic-restricted gathering of horsemen, owners and media.

“The purse is the same,” Tagg quipped, after Tiz the Law joined the $2 million earners’ club with an effortlessly dominant performance in Saratoga Race Course’s signature race, becoming only the third New York-bred ever to win it (Ruthless 1867, Thunder Rumble 1992). Tiz the Law moved into 10th place in career earnings among New York-breds, with $2,015,300 banked from six wins in seven starts.

Sackatoga Stable operating manager Jack Knowlton, while equally thrilled with the result, would have much preferred to have a typical Travers Day crowd share in the hometown hero’s glory.

“I wish there were 50,000 people here to see this performance live,” said Knowlton, whose modest outfit that focuses on New York-breds has now struck lightning twice. Seventeen years after Funny Cide – the leading New York-bred earner with $4,279,566 – won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, but was forced to scratch from the Travers, Sackatoga is back with a horse that can only be considered a monster. Or perhaps a magician.

“I was getting closer to Tiz the Law at the quarter pole,” said Javier Castellano, who rode Caracaro to a very respectable second-place finish, “and he disappeared.”

The final margin was 5 1/2 lengths in 2:00.95, the fastest winning time since Arrogate’s 1:59.36 in 2016. It almost certainly could have been faster if jockey Manny Franco didn’t gear him down in the final sixteenth, fully realizing that the delayed Kentucky Derby will be run in four weeks.

“I think there’s a lot more in the tank,” said Franco. “I tried to save some horse.”

Franco had Tiz the Law positioned just outside Bob Baffert’s next would-be super horse, Uncle Chuck, and 77-1 shot Shivaree as they ran down the backstretch after a quarter mile in :23:65. As they entered the far turn after a half in :48.36, Luis Saez was already asking Uncle Chuck, while the most movement coming from Franco was a glance behind him as he pulled ahead.

“Going from the half-mile pole to the three-eighths pole, I was trying to wait, because I knew I had him,” Franco said of Uncle Chuck, the 5-2 second choice who faded to sixth. “I was worried about the horses behind me and I was trying to save some horse before I made my run.”

As it turned out, Franco’s biggest worry was needing to hustle back to the jockey’s room after the winner’s circle presentation in time to ride Blitchton Lady, another New York-bred whom he rode to victory in the finale.

“It gave me chills,” said Franco, who picked up his first Triple Crown race win when he piloted Tiz the Law to a Belmont Stakes victory June 20. “When I pushed the button, he took off.”

Not bad for a $110,000 purchase at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. By Constitution out of the Tiznow mare Tizfiz, Tiz the Law was bred by Twin Creeks Farm and sold by Sequel New York. It was another bargain for Knowlton and Sackatoga, who paid only $75,000 for Funny Cide.

“We’re getting redemption 17 years later,” Knowlton said of Funny Cide missing the Travers. “Tiz won the Belmont and now he won the Travers. It’s quite an accomplishment for our little stable of New York-breds.”

Knowlton has 35 partners in the Tiz the Law ownership group, including Bill Evans of Philadelphia, who was introduced to Knowlton by a mutual friend 11 years ago and has bought into 17 Sackatoga horses.

“This one turned out to be the charm,” Evans said.

Maybe because of the pandemic, and certainly due to fans not being able to attend the races, Knowlton has not yet sensed the widespread fervor for Tiz the Law that he saw with Funny Cide. Saturday’s win figures to change that.

“We had Funny Cide Mania, in this town and everywhere,” he said. “There was a Funny Cide store and everything. It’s taken a little time for Tiz to get to that point. I really believe after this race he is going to be adopted by not only Saratoga, but even more so New York and hopefully the country.”

While Tagg fittingly credited his team that includes assistant/partner Robin Smullen, exercise rider Heather Smullen and groom Juan Barajas, he had a one-word explanation when asked what makes Tiz the Law so good.

“God,” said Tagg, who won’t get an argument from anyone who watched the 2020 Travers.


Tiz the Law set for next challenge

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Tiz the Law poised to become third New York-bred winner of Saratoga’s Travers Stakes. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law and Sean Clancy

Spectators won’t see fan favorite Tiz the Law make his run at history in Saturday’s 151st running of the Travers but that won’t stop the parties or the diminish the pressure.

“He’s a good horse, doing well and in very capable hands,” a horseman without an iron in the fire remarked Friday morning while a light rain fell during training hours at Saratoga Race Course. “But boy, he sure will have a lot of weight on his shoulders.”

Indeed.

Tiz the Law not only carries the hopes of his connections – owners Sackatoga Stable, trainer Barclay Tagg, jockey Manny Franco and his growing legion of fans in and around Saratoga and beyond in the $1 million Travers. He also carries the dreams of his breeder, Randy Gullatt and the team at Twin Creeks Farm who produced the colt mating the Tiznow mare Tizfiz to popular young sire Constitution; and New York state’s breeding industry at large.

Tiz the Law, already the winner of the Grade 1 Champagne at 2 and Grade 1 Belmont Stakes and Florida Derby at 3, will try to become the first New York-bred to win the Travers since Thunder Rumble in 1992 and just the third in the 151-year history of the Saratoga’s signature race.

“It’s a little daunting having an even-money favorite in the Travers but I’d rather be there than 15-1, he’s just got to go out there and do it,” said Jack Knowlton, who heads up the Sackatoga group that bought Tiz the Law for $110,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale in 2018. “All the signs are that he can and he will. He’s not been pushed this year, Manny hasn’t had to dig down and really ask for something that he hasn’t given him readily.

“I’d love to get through this race the same way, but I do think if Manny needs to get more out of him, I think it’s there, based on the way I see him train and the way I see him finish his races. Barclay’s got all the confidence, he was wanting the Belmont to be a mile and a half so a mile and a quarter I’m not too concerned about.”

Tiz the Law already made history winning the Belmont, joining Ruthless as New York-bred winners of the American classic. He’ll try to join Ruthless again winning the Travers; she did in 1867.

Tagg, who completed a personal Triple Crown winning the Belmont after training New York-bred and Eclipse Award champion Funny Cide to victories in the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, relishes the next opportunity.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We’ve been very fortunate,” Tagg said Wednesday. “I don’t think any distance makes a difference for this horse. From what I’ve seen, I just don’t have any feeling that he can’t handle it. It would be nice to win it if we could.”

Tiz the Law meets a few old foes but mostly new shooters in the Travers. He won the Belmont by 3 3/4 lengths over Dr Post with Max Player another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. Max Player returns for another run at Tiz the Law for trainer Linda Rice and is the 6-1 co-third choice on the line with Grade 3 Peter Pan winner Country Grammer.

Shivaree, a homebred for Fred Brei and trainer Ralph Nicks at 30-1 on the line came within 4 1/4 lengths of Tiz the Law in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park March 26. He’s run twice since, finishing third in an optional claimer at Gulfstream and 11th in the Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland.

The others in the field of eight for the Runhappy Travers are fresh faces, at least to Tiz the Law and his connections.

Bob Baffert ships the 2-for-2 Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby winner Uncle Chuck from his summertime Del Mar base seeking his fourth win in the Travers. The son of Uncle Mo looks to join Point Given, Arrogate and West Coast as Baffert’s Travers winners, but the Hall of Fame trainer respects Tiz the Law and his team.

“I’ve been very impressed with him,” Baffert said. “They’ve managed them really well. They picked the right spots with him, they had one hiccup when they went to Churchill Downs and … he was in a tough spot the whole way around there. Since then they’ve kept them out of trouble and that’s the thing, you know, these riders … keep these good horses out of trouble.

“He’s progressed perfectly. And he’s definitely the best 3-year-old in the country right now. I’ll get an idea if I can run with him or not. It’s going to be going to be exciting. I’m hoping we’re as good as he is and that’s why we’re going over there.”

Country Grammer won the Peter Pan by a neck over Caracaro, who also returns in the Travers. Trained by Chad Brown for Paul Pompa Jr., Country Grammer is 2-for-5 and will be ridden by Saratoga’s leading rider Irad Ortiz Jr.

The others in the field are double-digit longshots – late July maiden winner First Line at 30-1, Shivaree, Caracaro at 10-1 and Ohio Derby runner-up and recent private purchase South Bend at 15-1.

The Travers goes as the 11th of 12 races Saturday at Saratoga with a post time of 6:15 p.m. The race will air on the FOX broadcast network as part of a 1 ½-hour broadcast from 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday.


Jolting Joe clips competition in Cab Calloway

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

Jolting Joe, son of New York-based sire Mission Impazible, scores maiden victory in Cab Calloway division of New York Stallion Series. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Second in his first four starts, Jolting Joe timed his maiden-breaking victory to perfection Thursday in the Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

Already stakes-placed in his second start, the 3-year-old colt by the Sequel New York-based Mission Impazzible broke strong in the 1 1/16-mile turf race and slotted into third under Tyler Gaffalione as the favorite. Bellamy Road’s Stuy Town Baby set the pace when covering the first quarter in :25.19 before feeling some pressure from Dream Bigger when stopping the clock in :49:24 for the half.

Stuy Town Baby yielded the lead around the far turn as Jolting Joy swung ride to try and chase down Dream Bigger. It turned into a three-way battle with Dream Bigger, Jolting Joe, and Turbo Drive dueling down the stretch until the final sixteenth. Finding another gear, Jolting Joe broke away from his rivals and started to pull away in the final stage to cross the line 1 3/4 lengths in front with a final time of 1:43.07.

The victory led to a 1-2 finish for Mike Maker with the trainer’s Turbo Drive finishing second and three-quarters of a length in front of Zipalong.

“With a short run into the first turn, I was trying to be a bit more forwardly placed but we didn’t get away the cleanest,” Gaffalione said. “I looked to my inside and there were two going at it, so I figured I would just sit behind them and let them do the dirty work. He was traveling nicely throughout, and when I asked him for run at the top of the lane he gave me an extra punch. I still think there’s more in the tank. We haven’t seen the best of him yet. Hopefully, he just keeps improving.”

A Kentucky-bred half-brother to New York-bred champion and fellow Mike Maker trainee Somelikeithotbrown, Jolting Joe is the second stakes winner of the Saratoga meet for Marilyn Monroan alongside his half-brother who took the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch July 26.

Jolting Joe, a 3-year-old Mission Impazible son bred by Hot Pink Stables, races for his breeder and Skychai Racing. Skychai co-owns Somelikeithotbrown and co-owned their dam with Hot Pink Stable and Sand Dollar Stable during her racing career.

A $255,000 weanling, Marilyn Monroan’s family is headlined by U.S. champions Stevie Wonderboy and Big Blue Kitten. The mare has an unnamed 2-year-old Temple City colt, a yearling Palace Malice colt and had a Hard Spun filly in April. She was bred to Mendelssohn in 2020.

 


Cross Border adds Grade 2 on quick turnaround

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

Cross Border (right) earns Bowling Green victory after the DQ of Sadler’s Joy Saturday at Saratoga. Joe Labozzetta/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law/The Saratoga Special

The connections of Cross Border weren’t crazy about the idea of running the son of English Channel back on short rest in Saturday’s Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

He’d just won, like just won, the inaugural Lubash Stakes 10 days before the 11-furlong Bowling Green and Kirk Wycoff didn’t mince words in the race preview that ran in Saturday’s edition of The Saratoga Special.

“We’re not big fans of running back on short rest but he ran very well in the Lubash and it wasn’t a particularly tough race,” Wycoff said.

Wycoff said much the same Saturday after Cross Border survived a tough race this time and emerged victorious in the Bowling Green after crossing the finish behind Sadler’s Joy before being elevated to the win via disqualification.

“This is just a gutsy New York bred and its good for the game that they can breed a New York-bred that can win a Grade 2 at Saratoga,” said Wycoff, the head of his family’s Three Diamonds Farm. “We love the Bowling Green. We were second in it three years ago with Bigger Picture. It was a calculated risk to come back in 10 days and we weren’t all in agreement, but Mike Maker made the decision and obviously it was the right one.”

The stewards made the decision to disqualify Sadler’s Joy from first to fourth after he and Javier Castellano caused interference in the stretch that affected Cross Border and fourth-placed finisher Channel Maker. After a long review, which also included a trainer and jockey objection from Mike Maker and Jose Ortiz, respectively, Cross Border’s number went up and he improved his Saratoga record to 5-for-5.

The victory also kept Three Diamonds atop the owner standing at Saratoga, providing a fifth win from 11 starts. They lead defending champ Klaravich Stable by one win and have two on Waterford Stable and Noda Brothers LLC heading into Sunday’s card.

“Look, we just love winning at Saratoga,” Wycoff said. “The first year back up here with any meaningful horses, we won seven and thought it was easy. Two years ago, we won zero. We’re thankful for every one. It’s impossible, really, for a small owner to compete for the owners’ title but we’ll make our mark.”

In its 13th consecutive season at Saratoga, the family-run stable has marked its way to the top.

The winners encompass Three Diamonds’ diversified approach to the sport.

Turbo Drive, an $80,000 2-year-purchase in 2019, paid $36.60 in a New York-bred allowance on the grass. Favorite Turn Of Events, a $50,000 horses-in-training sale recruit in 2019, won a New York-bred maiden claimer on the grass. Cross Border, a $100,000 horses-in-training purchase, dominated New York-breds in the Lubash and added the Bowling Green. Escape Fund, a $105,000 purchase at a 2-year-old sale in 2019, returned $71 in her debut in open company on the dirt.

Cross Border proved to be a project for Three Diamonds and Wycoff after they bought him at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July horses of racing age sale. He’d been off for more than a year before returning in late June 2019.

Cross Border finished second in his comeback going 6 furlongs on the grass at Belmont then shipped to Saratoga with Maker’s string and won three at the 2019 meet – a starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles July 19, state-bred allowance at 9 furlongs Aug. 11 and a state-bred optional at 9 furlongs again Aug. 29.

His state-bred conditions exhausted, Cross Border ventured mostly into graded stakes from there, finishing a close fifth in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont, sixth in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale in mid-December at Gulfstream and second in the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight at Gulfstream in late January in three of his next four before another break.

“It took a year. He was pretty tired coming out of Woodbine,” said Wycoff. “Like we do with all our older horses – we like to run them at 5, 6, 7 – he got a year off, he got the best treatment he could get at Bluewater in Kentucky and said when he was ready to run he was obviously ready because he won three at Saratoga last year.”

Wycoff said Cross Border could return for a third start again at Saratoga, possibly in back against New York-breds in the West Point Handicap on the Saratoga Showcase card late in the meet.

Foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Cross Border is out of the unraced Empire Maker mare Empress Josephine. Co-bred by Berkshire Stud, Empress Josephine produced two other foals – the 7-year-old winning Flatter mare Votre Coeur and the unraced 5-year-old Blame mare Blame Me Forever.

 


Funny Guy keeps Big Brown hot in John Morrissey

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Funny Guy shortens up from Commentator victory with John Morrissey score. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog/The Saratoga Special

Consistent New York-bred stakes winner Funny Guy continued Big Brown’s successful week at Saratoga Race Course Thursday when providing him a John Morrissey Handicap victory.

Coming four days after Somelikeithotbrown won the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap for the Irish Hills Century-Duchess Views Stallions-based sire, Funny Guy went off as the second choice in the 7-furlong Morrissey. An early leader out of the gate, Funny Guy yielded by a length to odds-on favorite Amundson shortly after they left the chute and settled in second. Racing a few paths off the rail, Funny Guy was attended by T Loves A Fight as Amundson continued his pace-setting duties by nearly a length until midway through the far turn.

With the half run in :46.29, Funny Guy moved up to challenge the frontrunner for the lead. Amundson put up a good fight but yielded just outside the final furlong as Funny Guy made it clear his victory would be no joke.

The 4-year-old colt was left alone by Joel Rosario as he pulled away from the field and won by a wrapped up 2 lengths over T Loves a Fight with My Boy Tate in third.

Trained by John Terranova II for Gatsas Stables, R.A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable, Funny Guy is the second stakes winner in two days for Rosario. It was also the second straight stakes victory for Funny Guy, who beat Grade 1 Whitney runner Mr. Buff last time out in the Commentator.

“It surprised me a little bit that he jumped out to the lead, but he’s a good colt,” said Terranova. “He’s versatile. He’s won at different distances and won on both surfaces and seems to handle any kind of track. Shortening up to seven-eighths was fine. He’s fresh still. He’s been really sharp since the Commentator.

“That was a big race off a long layoff, and he ran like he’s been training. He’s really stepped up as a 4-year-old, gotten a lot stronger, and he’s just got gears. He can turn it on, turn it off, whenever you need him and he’ll wait. He’ll do anything. He’s real kind for a jock to ride and he’s got a lot of heart.”

Funny Guy’s connections wavered between going to the John Morrissey and Saturday’s Whitney, and Terranova said open company is on the radar.

“I know this colt can win open company,” he said. “He’s got a race with his name on it somewhere. I just didn’t want to jump into it too soon. He’s a fresh horse this year, we’ve got the fall and hopefully we continue racing and everything goes well and there will be some spots with him. Distance-wise, he’ll turn it on or turn it off. He’ll do whatever. There’s a big one down the road for him, hopefully.”

Out of five-time stakes winner Heavenly Humor, Funny Guy is one of two stakes winners and eight winners from eight to race out of his dam. Also the dam of last season’s Bertram F. Bongard Stakes second Three Jokers, Heavenly Humor had a New York-bred Overanalyze filly last year and was bred to Hard Spun this season.

Heavenly Humor is herself out of stakes-placed Call From Heaven, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Heavenly Ade and granddam of Grade 3 winner Devil’s Honor with Heavenly Humor’s fourth dam top broodmare and Group 1 Epsom Oaks runner-up Monsoon.

Bred by Hibiscus Stable, Funny Guy was in utero when his breeder bought Heavenly Humor for $25,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga fall mixed sale. Funny Guy was sold for $10,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale then pinhooked for $45,000 at the OBS April 2-year-olds in training sale when purchased by Gatsas Thoroughbreds.


Classic Lady extends Clement hot streak at Saratoga

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

Classic Lady (right) holds off War Canoe in Wednesday’s Dayatthespa Stakes at Saratoga. NYRA Photo/Susie Raisher

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Making a case this season for Saratoga Race Course to be renamed Clement Race Course, Christophe Clement won his third stakes race of the meet – and second in a New York-bred stakes – with Classic Lady in the Dayatthespa Stakes Wednesday.

The 5-year-old Classic Lady has taken a major leap in form this year when stepping up to stakes class in her only two 2020 starts.

Entered in the Mount Vernon Stakes for her seasonal debut, she lost by a nose to multiple stakes winner and New York-bred champion Fifty Five at Belmont Park over a mile July 2. An extension to 1 1/16 miles on Wednesday meant she had a few noses to spare when securing her first stakes success by a neck in the Dayatthespa.

Classic Lady made it clear she was going to be a threat from the start when racing in second with Joel Rosario aboard. It was an easily run race for the field with the first half run in :51.69 as the leading Vortex Road opened up 2 ½ lengths on the field with Classic Lady more than five ahead ahead of the third position.

Getting a breather through most of the early stages prepared Classic Lady for the duel she was about to enter racing into the stretch.

First focused on running down Vortex Road, Classic Lady was able to reach the longtime leader by the eighth pole but War Canoe was gaining. Those two entered a knockout battle with Classic Lady seeing her margin shrink to only about a head. The mare made one last burst to get her neck fully in front near the line when stopping the clock in 1:44.36.

“It was a perfect trip,” said Rosario. “I was just following the horse on the lead and I just wanted to take my time. She looked like she was there for me nicely, and I just waited for the right time to start going forward. She was very comfortable and happy where she was, and I was just following the horse on the lead waiting for the time when she was ready to go on.”

Classic Lady and War Canoe gave Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables something to celebrate with the pair owning both mares, along with Madaket Stables in War Canoe. The Chad Brown-trained War Canoe also split stablemates Classic Lady and Wegetsdamunnys to give Clement another big stakes result.

Dubb and trainer Jorge Abreu claimed Classic Lady for $50,000 at Gulfstream Park in January 2019 and she won twice in New York-bred allowance company before moving to Clement’s barn for 2020. Likewise, War Canoe was claimed by Dubb and trainer Jason Servis out of a win in November 2019. Moved to Brown’s barn, she opened her 2020 campaign with a third in the Mount Vernon.

“I like turf horses. I think often they peak by the time they’re five or even six,” Dubb explained. “I thought she had a future and had the right running style. We lost to Fifty Five by a nose last time, so Christophe really did a good job with her. War Canoe is an interesting mare. She’s seven years old. The owners last year put her [up for a claim] in November and I’m a patient guy, so I knew that if I paid the money and took my time, she would be able to compete at Saratoga in the summertime. It was a bit of advanced planning and she ran lights out.”

Crossing the $250,000 earnings mark with the victory, Classic Lady is the highest earning foal out of three to race from the stakes-placed Elle Tish Slew. Bred by Seth Gregory and Robert Barney, the Dayatthespa winner is far from her dam’s only successful racehorse, as Elle Tish Slew has also produced last year’s New York-bred Arctic Queen Stakes runner-up Forever Changed and 10-time winning New York-bred Calzini Rossi. Gregory purchased Elle Tish Slew at Keeneland November in 2010, and sold Classic Lady for $22,500 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale in 2016.


Mr. Buff aims high in Grade 1 Whitney

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

Mr. Buff, champion New York-bred older male and winner of the Empire Classic in 2019, bids for upset win in Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog/The Saratoga Special

Mr. Buff will attempt to make history as only the fourth New York-bred to win Grade 1 Whitney when he takes on four opponents Saturday at Saratoga Race Course as the longest shot in the field if the morning line holds true.

An impressive winner in three straight New York-bred races over the winter, 12-1 shot Mr. Buff will be trying to prove his doubters wrong nearly a month after he finished fifth in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes at Belmont Park.

Trainer John Kimmel admits that Mr. Buff might give people pause, but he’s confident that the 6-year-old gelding will take to Saratoga the way he handled Aqueduct’s surface over the winter. That could be a scary thought to rivals, with Mr. Buff winning three starts by a combined 32 1/2 lengths, including a 20-length romp in February’s Haynesfield Stakes.

“We’ve got a racetrack here now with the crushed stone base that’s very similar to the Aqueduct track, where he’s been phenomenal,” Kimmel said. “The other thing is, there are no more New York-bred races this year so basically this horse was going to be sitting on the fence for the whole summer unless we ran in this race. He’s out of conditions, obviously. The horse is a very good horse and someday, maybe just like Bar of Gold, they show up on the right day at the right time and knock the hell out of the odds.”

Kimmel and Mr. Buff’s owners and breeders Chester and Mary Broman aren’t strangers to upsetting big race with the trio winning the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint with Bar of Gold at odds of nearly 67-1.

Kimmel said it makes sense to give the Whitney a try since the gelding had an excuse for his Suburban defeat and looks to stack up well against the competition.

“This horse in his last race actually had a little bone bruise in his foot,” Kimmel said. “We went into it thinking he was OK, but I definitely think it bothered him. The blacksmith after that race cut out a little area and he had a little area of blood and some damage and since we have re-shod him, he has been a very happy horse here. People might look at his last race and just kind of think that he’s a little bit off form. But this horse has run commensurate numbers with all the horses in this race when he’s been running against New York-bred company.”

If Mr. Buff can spring the upset Saturday, he’ll be the second New York-bred in three years to visit the Whitney winner’s circle after Diversify in 2018. The other New York-bred Whitney winners were Commentator in 2005 and 2008 and legendary Finger Lakes shipper Fio Rito in 1981.

A third generation homebred on the male line for Chester and Mary Broman, Mr. Buff is by the Broman’s multiple stakes winning homebred Friend or Foe, who is by the Broman’s homebred and Florida winner winner Friends Lake.

Mr. Buff’s dam Speightful Affair is a graded stakes-placed Ontario-bred by Speightstown, who was purchased by the Bromans for $80,000 at the Fasig-Tipton 2013 winter mixed sale.

In 2018 Speightful Affair produced a full sister to Mr. Buff named Miss Buff. With no surviving foal in 2019, she produced a colt by Accelerate April 25 at the Broman’s Chestertown Farm in Chestertown.


Somelikeithotbrown adds another resume highlight

Monday, July 27th, 2020

NY-bred champion Somelikeithotbrown adds another graded stakes to resume in Bernard Baruch. NYRA Photo.

Melissa Bauer-Herzog/The Saratoga Special

Since breaking his maiden at Saratoga Race Course as a 2-year-old, Somelikeithotbrown has proven to be one of the most consistent horses in training.

A Kentucky Derby prep winner and New York-bred champion 3-year-old last year has already put together a resume most could only dream of and Sunday he added to it with a victory in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga.

Third last time out behind Instilled Regard in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy at Belmont Park, Somelikeithotbrown showed that he deserved another chance at this level and his connections obliged.

In his first run at Saratoga since finishing second over this same turf course and distance in the Grade 3 With Anticipation as a 2-year-old, Somelikeithotbrown went straight to the lead and never looked back. Racing in distinctive orange blinkers, he opened a length lead going around the clubhouse turn with Halladay the closest threat.

Somelikeithotbrown pulled away down the backstretch to add another half-length to his margin on Halladay but that lead shrunk as they went into the far turn with a challenge. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione started scrubbing on the 4-year-old as they raced down the stretch and Somelikeithotbrown responded, opening back up on the field. A few rivals looked to threaten but Somelikeithotbrown put that to rest in the final sixteenth and won in 1:41.32.

“I was a little surprised down the backside when I was all by myself,” Gaffalione said. “I thought there would be a little more pressure, but I was happy with where I was and how he was running. All the credit to Mike [Maker, trainer] and his team, they had him ready. Every time I reached back and threw a cross and when I got into him a little bit, he kept on responding and giving me more, so I was pretty confident coming to the wire.”

From the first New York-sired crop of dual classic winner Big Brown, Somelikeithotbrown broke the $500,000 mark with the victory taking his earnings to $546,838. Now a three-time stakes winner with five wins and five other top three finishes overall in 13 starts, he races for Skychai Racing and David Koenig.

Bred by Hot Pink Stables and Sand Dollar Stables, Somelikeithotbrown is also a half-brother to Mission Impazible’s stakes-placed Jolting Joe. Foaled at Sequel Stallions New York, Somelikeithotbrown is out of the Tapit mare Marilyn Monroan, who raced for Hot Pink Stable, Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable in her eight-start career. Purchased for $255,000 as a weanling in 2010, Marilyn Monroan is from the family of champions Stevie Wonderboy and Big Blue Kitten.


Fresco keeps Clement barn clicking in NYSS

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Fresco scores maiden-breaking victory in $100,000 Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Series. Susie Raisher/NYRA

By Tom Law

How well are things going for Christophe Clement these days at Saratoga Race Course?

So well he’s winning stakes with maidens.

Well, truth be told, Fresco was no ordinary maiden heading into Thursday’s Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Series but just the same, winning a $100,000 restricted stakes with a winless and lightly raced filly is nothing to dismiss.

Fresco, a 3-year-old daughter of Freud and full sister to multiple stakes winner Therapist, played a part in keeping Clement’s barn clicking early into the 2020 Saratoga meet with a 1 ¾-length victory over Dixie Cannon in the Statue of Liberty. A homebred for Dick Leahy’s Oak Bluff Stables, Fresco won the 1 1/16-mile event in 1:45.43 over the course listed firm but with some cut thanks to rain Wednesday and Thursday morning in upstate New York.

Fresco provided Clement with the middle victory of a three-win day. He also won the third, a 2-year-old maiden on the grass, with first-time starter Plum Ali and sixth, a 1-mile turf allowance, with Simplicity. Clement leads the trainer standings after six days with nine wins, one more than Chad Brown.

“It’s fun,” Clement said after Fresco’s maiden-breaking score. “She broke her maiden in the stakes for her owner-breeder. She has black-type so it works for the whole program.

“Usually the owner will sell his colts and keep his fillies and he has been very successful with a small broodmare band. He bred Audible, he bred Therapist and he bred this filly and I’m just lucky to be a part of the program.”

Clement sold himself a bit short actually as he co-bred Therapist, who remains in training and has eight wins in 17 starts and $534,345 in earnings. Winner of the First Defence Stakes against open company last time out at Belmont, Therapist also won the Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion Series in 2018 and five other stakes.

Clement wasn’t alone in enjoying a strong run on a humid and typical late July afternoon at Saratoga. Irad Ortiz Jr., who rode Fresco to victory, won five races on the card to get right back into the leading rider mix heading into Friday’s card.

Foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Fresco is the third winner out of the Smart Strike mare Lady Renaissance. Leahy bought Lady Renaissance for $15,000 at the 2009 Keeneland November breeding stock sale and later resold her at the 2018 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale for $52,000. In addition to Fresco and Therapist, Lady Renaissance is the dam of the winning-Gio Ponti mare Gio’s Lady.


Cross Border dominates inaugural Lubash

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

No problems for Cross Border in Wednesday’s Lubash Stakes at Saratoga. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Facing just three opponents aboard a mount perfect at Saratoga and just beaten in Grade 1 company, Jose Ortiz knew exactly what to do in Wednesday’s inaugural running of the $85,000 Lubash Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

“I just wanted to ride him like he was much the best,” Ortiz said minutes after Cross Border proved just that, dismantling the field and winning his first stakes in the process.

Cross Border, fifth in the Grade 1 Manhattan last time out and close in three other graded stakes the last two seasons, won by 6 ¼ lengths for Ortiz, trainer Mike Maker and owner Three Diamonds Farm.

The 6-year-old English Channel ridgling won for the first time four starts this season in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for New York-breds and improved to 4-for-4 at Saratoga. Named for the two-time New York-bred champion turf male who won two editions of the West Point Stakes at Saratoga, the Lubash opened the state-bred or sired stakes program at Saratoga that continues Thursday with the Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Series and runs through Saratoga Showcase Day Friday, Sept. 4.

Cross Border, co-bred by Berkshire Stud and B. D. Gibbs, could wind up on the latter program in the West Point on the same course or make a return to graded company.

“It could be against New York-breds or it could be the Sword Dancer (Saturday, Aug. 29) but it will be something up here,” Maker said. “He’s run very well up here last year and started off well here this year.”

Maker said he’d prefer something like the Sword Dancer at 12 furlongs because of Cross Border’s affinity for marathon trips. He didn’t need any extra ground in the Lubash.

Cross Border came out a bit from his inside post at the start, bumped with The J Y before Ortiz let him settle into third past the empty Saratoga stand and into the clubhouse turn. Blewitt set the pace in his first start on grass, taking the field through splits of :25.48, :48.95 and 1:12.49 over the firm ground that took a little moisture overnight and in the morning Thursday.

Ortiz tipped out around the far turn, gained ground and rolled past Blewitt in the lane. They extended the lead in deep stretch while Rapt made steady progress well out into the middle of course to nip Blewitt on the wire for the place spot. The J Y finished fourth. Cross Border won in 1:41.75.

The runner-up improved on his third in a $40,000 claiming race last time in his second start of the year.

“That’s why we were here, to run for second,” trainer Robert Ribaudo said, acknowledging the expected tall order against Cross Border.

Foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Cross Border is out of the unraced Empire Maker mare Empress Josephine. Co-bred by Berkshire Stud, Empress Josephine produced two other foals – the 7-year-old winning Flatter mare Votre Coeur and the unraced 5-year-old Blame mare Blame Me Forever.