NEWS: racing

Spruce Lane-bred Rawy upsets 2,000 Guineas Trial at Meydan

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Rawy, a son of Frosted bred by Spruce Lane Farm and partners, upsets Friday’s UAE Guineas Trial at Meydan. Dubai Racing Club Photo.

By Tom Law

Rawy, a New York-bred colt by Frosted who impressed before last year’s OBS March sale of 2-year-olds in training, scored a surprise victory in Friday’s UAE 2000 Guineas Trial Presented By Al Furjan By Azizi at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

Coming into the 7-furlong Guineas Trial off back-to-back seconds in his only two starts Dec. 23 and Jan. 15 at Meydan, Rawy took command almost from the start under Mikael Barzalona. They continued to lead throughout and gave the field, which included 5-6 favorite and 2021 Grade 1 Summer Stakes winner Albahr, the slip turning for home.

Rawy opened up in the stretch while the South American-bred duo of Quality Boone and Kiefer tried to mount a rally. Rawy held that pair clear to win by 2 lengths in 1:24.32. Fellow American-bred Mujeer finished fourth with Albahr, perhaps best remembered in the U.S. for being a late scratch prior to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf won by his stablemate Modern Games running controversially for purse money only, fifth of seven.

Rawy became Graceful Rage’s second winner from as many starters in Friday’s UAE Guineas Trial. Dubai Racing Club Photo.

Bred by Mike and Natanya McMahon’s Spruce Lane Farm and partners and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, Rawy is the second foal out of the winning Tiznow mare Graceful Rage. A half sister to Grade 2 winner Tip Tap Tapizar and the stakes-placed Divine Music, Graceful Rage was purchased by McMahon and Hill Bloodstock for $80,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Graceful Rage, who descends from the family of Canadian champion Peaks and Valleys, Alternate and Alternationl nurtured by the late Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stud, produced her first foal in 2018 with the New York-bred Constitution filly Constitutionalrage. Also bred by Spruce Lane and partners and sold as a weanling through the McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds consignment for $44,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale, Constitutionalrage is 1-1-1 in 11 starts with $52,848.

Rawy passed through the auction ring three times before landing with RRR Racing and trainer Salem bin Ghadayer. Kirk Wycoff purchased the colt first, going to $75,000 to buy the gray or road offered as Hip 1904 at the 2019 Keeneland November sale. He was resold for $40,000 as a yearling at the 2020 Keeneland September sale, purchased by Colin Brennan, agent.

Consigned by Niall Brennan Stables and offered as Hip 528 at last year’s OBS March sale, Rawy breezed an eighth in :10 and was purchased for $240,000 by Cromwell Bloodstock.

Graceful Rage is also the dam of an unnamed 2-year-old New York-bred filly by Hard Spun who sold out of the McMahon of Saratoga consignment for $75,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale, and a New York-bred yearling filly by Tapizar that sold through Hidden Brook for $25,000 as a weanling at the 2021 Keeneland November sale. Graceful Rage was bred last season to Complexity.


Barese returns a winner in Rego Park

Sunday, January 9th, 2022

Barese, off since winning a 5-furlong maiden May 21 at Belmont, wins Sunday’s $100,000 Rego Park at Aqueduct. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Barese didn’t take long to give Dylan Davis a favorable impression Sunday at Aqueduct.

“I liked what I saw in the paddock; big boy, big stride,” Davis said.

About 15 minutes later, Barese ran to his looks and came from off the pace to win the $100,000 Rego Park for newly turned 3-year-old New York-breds in his first start in almost eight months. The son of the late New York-based leading freshman sire Laoban won the 6 ½-furlong Rego Park by 2 3/4 lengths over Agility with Daufuskie Island third and Unique Unions fourth in the field of nine.

“He’s a big boy and coming off the layoff, I was just trying to get a nice, comfortable break and that’s what he got,” Davis said. “They ran away from him, which I thought would happen, but he was handling the kickback well.”

“Nearing the five-eighths pole, he started getting a little aggressive with me and I thought it was better to not keep him behind those horses. I gave him a nice, clear spot in the four-path and just let him do his thing into the turn. Turning for home, he had plenty left and his big stride was able to keep going and going. He might want to handle more distance, but he handled this great.”

Owned by Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher and trained by Mike Maker, Barese hadn’t been out since winning a 5-furlong state-bred maiden May 21 at Belmont Park. He raced in midpack that day and won by a half-length over fellow Rego Park entrant Bali’s Shade as the even-money favorite.

Sent off the 9-2 second choice behind 3-5 choice G Munning, Barese raced sixth early while Unique Unions led uncontested through the opening quarter-mile in :22.64. Daufuskie Island, Bali’s Shade and G Munning chased to that point and Unique Unions continued on the lead into and around the far turn.

Jockey Dylan Davis couldn’t have been happier with Barese in the Rego Park, saying He might want to handle more distance, but he handled this great.” Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

Unique Unions still led through the half in :46.91, cut the corner in front and still by a length led with a furlong to run. Agility, Daufuskie Island and Barese cut into the lead in midstretch and the latter fared the best while widest, taking the lead at the sixteenth pole and drawing off to win in 1:19.13 over the good and harrowed main track.

Bred by Becky Thomas’ Sequel Thoroughbreds and Lewis Lakin’s Lakland Farm, foaled at Sequel Thoroughbreds in Hudson and the third foal out of the unraced Successful Appeal mare Right Prevails, Barese was purchased by Maker for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale of 2-year-olds in training. Selling as Hip 6 and the second horse through the ring, the colt had breezed a furlong in :10.3 during presale workouts.

Barese prepped for his winning debut after the sale with Maker’s string at Churchill Downs’ off-site training center Trackside Louisville. He stayed in New York after his win, breezed once at Belmont in early June and once in early July at Saratoga Race Course before going to the sidelines. Barese returned to the work tab in early November, breezing five times at Trackside before returning to New York and breezing three times over Belmont’s training track in preparation for the Rego Park.

Right Prevails, a full sister to Grade 3 winner and 2005 Kentucky Derby runner-up Closing Argument, had produced one winner from two starters at the time of the Gulfstream sale. Her first winner, Barese’s 4-year-old full sister Breakfastatbonnies, improved to 3-1-1 in five starts with a 7 3/4-length victory in a 6-furlong allowance-optional Dec. 11 at Aqueduct. An $80,000 purchase by OWL Stable at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training, Breakfastatbonnies has earned $152,140. Thomas’ Sequel Bloodstock sold Barese and Breakfastatbonnies.

Right Prevails is also the dam of a filly by The Lieutenant and a New York-bred yearling colt by Mission Impazible, both bred in New York and co-bred by Sequel and Lakland.

Lobsta adds second straight stakes win via DQ

Saturday, January 8th, 2022

Team Lobsta celebrate another victory for the son of Emcee, this one by DQ in the Say Florida Sandy Saturday at Aqueduct. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Lobsta found himself in a duel for the second straight race and it paid off when the 4-year-old Emcee colt won Saturday’s $100,000 Say Florida Sandy Stakes at Aqueduct even though he didn’t cross the line first.

Racing wide among the leading trio from the start with the rest of the field a few lengths behind back in the 7-furlong stakes, Lobsta was always prominent as through strong early fractions of :22.84 and :46.41.

As the field tightened up around the stretch, the race was on and Lobsta was among the five runners battling for the lead around the turn and half way down the stretch. The Say Florida Sandy turned into a two-runner affair in the final furlong when his regular rival My Boy Tate engaged Lobsta from the rail. The race was already lost for that runner, however, after he’d caused Chestertown to violently check earlier in the stretch. Lobsta originally looked like he’d have to settle for second by a neck to My Boy Tate.

My Boy Tate’s interference with Chestertown led the latter to finish fourth. When the dust settled after a lengthy stewards inquiry and jockey’s objection, Lobsta was declared the winner. Battle Station, 4 lengths back in third, was elevated to second and Chestertown was moved to third. My Boy Tate was placed fourth, after hitting the finish first in 1:25.63 over the fast track.

Lobsta, now the winner of four of nine starts, added his 2022 opening stakes victory to his 2021 close-out stakes victory in the Thunder Rumble division of the New York Stallion Series. Running exclusively in New York with all but one of his six stakes starts coming in New York-bred company, Lobsta has earned $276,400 in just over a year of racing.

Bred by and foaled at John Jayko’s Fedwell Farm in Saratoga Springs, the colt is trained by Gary Sciacca for Eddie F’s Racing.

One of three winners for his New York-bred winner Salty Little Sis, Lobsta is a year-younger full brother to the stakes-winning Chowda. Finishing second in an allowance earlier on the Aqueduct card, Chowda is also campaigned by the same connections as his brother.

“He ran huge off the 95 [Beyer in the Thunder Rumble],” said Eddie F’s Racing’s Eddie Fazzone. “There was always a chance for him to bounce, but he didn’t. He showed he was the real deal. Chowda ran a great race today, too, so we have some real nice horses here. Hopefully, they both continue to do well.

“Lobsta is getting better with every start. My Boy Tate is a great horse. Take nothing away from him, he’s a game horse and never runs a bad race.”

Lobsta and Chowda have already sparred on the track with the younger of the duo winning the $150,000 Thunder Rumble and Chowda settling for fourth. The horse finishing directly behind Lobsta in that race? Saturday’s first past the post, My Boy Tate.

Sciacca’s shedrow is a family affair of shorts for Salty Little Sis’s runners. In addition to Lobsta and Chowda, he also trains their 3-year-old half-brother Salty Heir for My Mary Stables. It’s likely another stall in the barn will open for Salty Heir’s 2-year-old full brother later this year with that one purchased privately by Eddie F’s Racing, just like his half-brothers.

“This is our third stakes win,” Fazzone said. “We’re a small stable with nine horses and it seems like it just gets better and better. I’ve got his half-brother Oysta who just turned 2, so hopefully we see him in the spring or summer. Hopefully we continue the great ride.”

Salty Little Sis didn’t have a foal for the connections to purchase last year but she was bred to former Rockridge Stud stallion Leofric in 2021.

Bank Sting grinds out La Verdad to kick off 2022

Sunday, January 2nd, 2022

Bank Sting collects her third stakes victory in Sunday’s La Verdad at Aqueduct. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Bank Sting barely missed a beat in 2021 – winning five of her six starts – and picked up where she left off Sunday at Aqueduct with a workmanlike victory in the $97,000 La Verdad Stakes.

Four weeks removed from a victory in the Staten Island division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes, Bank Sting started her 5-year-old campaign with a neck victory over Eloquent Speaker in the 7-furlong La Verdad as the heavy favorite. Sent to the post 1-5 against four other older New York-bred mares, Bank Sting and jockey Dylan Davis won in 1:25 for her sixth win in eight starts for owners Hidden Brook Farm and Joe and Anne McMahon.

Bred and foaled by the McMahons at their McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, Bank Sting helped propel her sire, Central Banker, to the top of New York’s general sire list for the first time in 2021. She added another feature to the cap of the son of Speightstown, who will stand this year for $6,000 at McMahon of Saratoga.

“I was coming in here thinking that she was going to duplicate her last effort and today she had a challenge,” Davis said. “I liked what I saw. She was digging in and was able to find a little extra in that last sixteenth of a mile and give me what we needed for the win. She’s a nice filly and I see a lot more from her. I wish for continued success and I like what I see right now. She’s going to be competitive this year.”

Eloquent Speaker made the La Verdad much more competitive than the gamblers expected.

Bank Sting broke well from post 4 and took the lead early, just ahead of 6-1 third choice Eloquent Speaker and 6-1 second choice Letmetakethiscall. Eloquent Speaker and jockey Eric Cancel slipped through the inside to get on even terms with the favorite through the opening quarter in :23.01.

Bank Sting and Eloquent Speaker continued to battle through the half in :47.08. Eloquent Speaker, in receipt of six pounds from the favorite, cut the corner turning for home and opened up a half-length lead in upper stretch and held that advantage to the eighth pole before Davis and Bank Sting rallied inside the final furlong.

Eloquent Speaker, a $45,000 claim by owner and trainer Natalia Lynch Dec. 11 at Aqueduct and winner of an open-company allowance race six days later, held second and 9 ¾ lengths clear of third-place finisher Courageous Girl. Letmetakethiscall and Awillaway completed the order of finish.

The husband-wife team of John and Tonja Terranova teamed with Dylan Davis to win Sunday’s La Verdad with Bank Sting. NYRA Photo.

“The inside has been pretty good today and she [Lynch] has done well with [Eloquent Speaker] off the claim. You never know where one is going to come up from,” winning trainer John Terranova said. “We gave a little bit of weight, but I’m not going to make any excuses for her. I may have gone a little too easy on her in between races. Dylan thought maybe where she was, she didn’t quite dig in as much as she could have, so she had to work a little harder. I probably went a little too light on her in between races, but I’ll know better for next time. She does everything so well. She won her race pretty easy last time.”

Terranova said Bank Sting could venture out of the state-bred ranks and out of the Empire State for the first time in her next start in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie Stakes Feb. 19 at Laurel Park. The $100,000 Biogio’s Rose at 1 mile March 6 at Aqueduct is another option for the mare.

“As long as she’s good and healthy, we’ll space her out and see what’s next,” Terranova said. “We’ll let her tell us and go from there. … We had thought about [the Barbara Fritchie] beforehand, too. I guess we’ll see how things unfold out of this race. She’ll be nominated and we’ll keep it in the back of our minds. We always have the New York-bred race in March if we need more time. We’ll see what the winter brings, we’ve been lucky with the weather.”

Bank Sting is the fifth foal – and one of two stakes performers and five winners overall – out of the stakes-placed New York-bred Precise End mare Bee in a Bonnet. She’s also the dam of Harlem Rocker’s Busanda Stakes-placed Liberty Island.

The McMahons bred Bee in a Bonnet to Central Banker multiple times since Bank Sting was born. Bee in a Bonnet is the of the winning 4-year-old Central Banker filly Lot of Honey and a newly turned unnamed 2-year-old by New York’s leading sire. Bee in a Bonnet is also the dam of a yearling colt by the late Laoban and was bred to McMahon’s Solomini last season.

Bank Sting earned $55,000 for her third stakes victory – along with the NYSS Staten Island and Critical Eye at Belmont Park last year – to boost her career bankroll to $406,300.

Sea Foam closes 2021 with victory in Alex M. Robb

Friday, December 31st, 2021

Sea Foam and Kendrick Carmouche close the 2021 season in New York with victory in Friday’s Alex M. Robb at Aqueduct. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Danny California tried to spoil the party in Friday’s edition of the $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes at Aqueduct but even-money favorite Sea Foam wasn’t to be denied and held off the challenger by a half-length at the wire.

Sea Foam continued to prove that the $45,000 claim his connections made in July at Saratoga Race Course was a good one, taking home two stakes victories and placing third in the Empire Classic Handicap since.

Sea Foam came into the 2021 stakes finale on the NYRA circuit on a two-month freshening since the Empire Classic but didn’t appear to gather any rust before Friday’s stakes. He and Captain Bombstastic opened up 5 lengths on the field almost immediately in the 1 1/8-mile race before slowing down the tempo up the backstretch. Though the field tightened up at that point, Sea Foam continued to keep the lead and only a few challengers stuck with him around the turn.

Sea Foam kept Our Last Buck at a safe distance into the stretch and looked on his way to a clear win before the late-closing Danny California made his run. The finish post came just in time for Sea Foam, who won in 1:52.17.

“He’s a one-trick pony,” winning jockey Kendrick Carmouche said. “You just got to get him to the lead and let him keep rolling. [Trainer Michelle Giangiulio] had him ready off that last race at Belmont. I just had to get him to the lead and manage him from there. Every time they ran up to him, I asked him, and he gave me more, gave me more.”

Campaigned by Ten Strike Racing, Four Corners Racing Stable, Broadview Stables and Corey Moelis Racing, Sea Foam was the first winner for his trainer in the Evan Shipman Stakes Aug. 11 and became her fifth winner in the Alex M. Robb.

“It’s hard to comprehend how well I’ve been doing,” said Giangiulio. “I was always confident in myself as a trainer, but it’s hard to even think about what I’ve accomplished. I’ve put many years into this, so it’s not like it happened overnight. I’m just so happy and thrilled it’s worked out the way it has for some really good people, too. It’s been great.”

Sea Foam, who gave trainer Michelle Giangiulio her first win in August at Saratoga, added another stakes win Friday in the Alex M. Robb. Joe Labozzetta/NYRA Photo

Racing in New York for all but two of his 26 starts, Sea Foam hasn’t strayed far from Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, where he was foaled for breeders Dick Leahey and John Meriwether’s Waterville Lake Stables. The 6-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro has been a model of consistency with 16 top-three finishes and $774,745 in earnings.

Trainer Christophe Clement bought Sea Foam’s dam on behalf of Waterville Lake Stables as a yearling for $350,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale of selected yearlings. Strike It Rich paid off the price in spades both on the track and in the breeding shed, winning the 2010 Grade 3 Boiling Springs Stakes, one of two stakes victories for the Unbridled’s Song mare. Joining her owner’s broodmare band after her racing career, she’s produced five winners from seven to race with the group that also includes 2021 Manila Stakes third Straw Into Gold.

Strike It Rich has a 2-year-old New York-bred Kitten’s Joy filly named Waterville, who broke her maiden for her breeders and Clement in August at Saratoga. After two barren years, the mare was bred to 2020 Horse of the Year Authentic in 2021.

Maiden Beauty scores quick turnaround win in Bay Ridge

Thursday, December 30th, 2021

Maiden Beauty and Kendrick Carmouche went all the way on the lead in Friday’s Bay Ridge Stakes. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Maiden Beauty did her own version of one door closes, another door opens Friday at Aqueduct.

Last seen winning an open company allowance-optional on the Big A’s final day of racing before the holiday break, Maiden Beauty returned on 10 days’ rest and on the first day after the festivity pause with a victory in the $97,000 Bay Ridge Stakes. The 5-year-old Revolutionary mare won the 9-furlong Bay Ridge all the way on the lead under Kendrick Carmouche for her fifth victory in 10 starts in 2021.

“That filly always runs one way for me – she runs really good on the lead,” Carmouche said. “The question today was going to be the mile and an eighth coming back so quick, but with a short field I pretty much dominated the race from the beginning. She did most of the work. She ran awesome.”

Carmouche wasted no time putting Maiden Beauty on the lead over the sloppy and sealed main track, where she won that 1-mile open race Dec. 19 and another at the same distance Sept. 19 at Belmont Park, and the two were ahead by a length over favored Ice Princess through a comfortable quarter mile in :24.74.

Maiden Beauty and Carmouche continued on their relaxed lead through the half in :49.76 with Ice Princess still tracking and just ahead of Fleet Indian winner Byhubbyhellomoney and Empire Distaff winner Sharp Starr just behind. Ice Princess edged closer on the far turn as Maiden Beauty passed 6 furlongs in 1:14.11.

Maiden Beauty cut the corner turning for home, opened up, ran past the eighth pole 2 1/2 in front and cruised to the finish 3 3/4 lengths clear of Ice Princess. Sharp Starr was another three-quarters of a length back in third with Byhubbyhellomoney and Amity Island completing the field. Maiden Beauty won in 1:51.76 for trainer Robert Falcone Jr. and owner John Grossi.

“I’m just glad she got to repeat that effort off of the flat mile race,” Carmouche said. “Rob brought her into the race good and I’m very happy that we went in this spot and made us all a winner before the first of the year.”

Falcone and John Grossi’s Racing Corp. claimed Maiden Beauty for $45,000 off Tony Dutrow and Timothy O’Toole when she finished second in a 7-furlong optional June 17 at Belmont. She finished second in her first start for her new connections in her next start, the $97,000 Saratoga Dew Stakes midway through the Saratoga Race Course meeting before her mid-September victory at Belmont.

Maiden Beauty finished sixth, beaten 9 1/2 lengths by Sharp Starr on a sloppy track, in the Empire Distaff before rebounding with her victory Dec. 19.

“John Grossi is a really great owner. I said we could run in this race after she came back good [from Dec. 19], but she may not run until February after this. I don’t like running horses back that quick, usually,” Falcone said. “She came back out of the race really good. The way she ran, that’s how she acts around the barn – she’s laid back and relaxed, but once she gets the lead just goes around there. That’s how she acts. She wasn’t blowing after that race, cooling out. She actually had more energy than she usually does the next few days when we took her back into training. We knew this race was coming up light and we decided to take a shot.”

Maiden Beauty improved to 5-for-10 in 2021 with her second career stakes victory Friday in the Bay Ridge. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

Falcone and Grossi considered Sunday’s $100,000 La Verdad, also against New York-breds and at 7 furlongs, for Maiden Beauty but figured the mare would have an easier time getting to the front going longer in the Bay Ridge.

“She’s just completely different on the lead. It’s just that simple with her,” Falcone said. “If you look at her past performances – and now you can add this one on – the last five times she won, she’s on the lead. If she doesn’t get the lead, she doesn’t win.”

The Bay Ridge was Maiden Beauty’s second stakes win. She won the $100,000 Lynbrook Stakes for 2-year-olds in her career debut in July 2018 for trainer Gary Contessa and owners Pines Stables, John Irwin, Paul Zysset and Sam Arci. Pines Stables bought the filly for $40,000 at the 2018 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training. She previously sold as a weanling for $15,000 to Cicada Stable at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale.

Bred by Sandy Glenn Stables LLC and foaled at Stonegate Stables in Fort Edward, Maiden Beauty is the second foal out of the Eddington mare Alpha Charlie. Her first foal, the New York-bred Stay Thirsty mare Parlapiano, won three of 34 starts and earned $126,983.

Alpha Charlie is also the dam of two full siblings to Maiden Beauty – the 4-year-old filly Sister Beauty, who sold for $50,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale; and the 3-year-old filly Juliana’s Rose, who sold for $37,000 at the same sale in 2019, finished third in her debut Oct. 30 at Belmont Park and is re-entered in a maiden race Jan. 2 at Aqueduct.

Sandy Glenn Stables also bred a yearling filly by Ransom the Moon out of Alpha Charlie that sold for $25,000 at this year’s Keeneland September sale and a weanling filly out of the mare by Flameaway born Feb. 14. Alpha Charlie was bred to 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Spun to Run in 2021.

The Bay Ridge not only capped a strong season for Maiden Beauty, but helped her improve to 9-for-35 overall, to go with 10 placings, for career earnings of $628,912.

Cross Border adds Turfway’s Prairie Bayou to growing resume

Saturday, December 18th, 2021

Cross Border, two-time winner of the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Saratoga, added Turfway’s Prairie Bayou Stakes to his ledger Saturday. Coady Photography.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Popular New York-bred millionaire and multiple graded stakes winner Cross Border returned to the winner’s circle Saturday evening when he shipped to Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky for a victory in the $100,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes.

The tightly packed synthetic race saw Cross Border among the back markers only about 3 lengths off the leading Megacity through the first half of the 1 1/16-mile stakes. Megacity set fractions of :23.40, :47.45, and 1:12.00 as Cross Border happily raced widest of all under Alex Achard, just waiting for his time to shine.

That moment came around the far turn as Cross Border went widest of all and ranged up alongside the leaders. Achard never asked for Cross Border’s best with the English Channel gelding feeling just a few taps down the stretch. He coasted home under a hand ride in the final sixteenth to win by 1 3/4 lengths from Mr Dumas. Fellow New York-bred Hush of a Storm, winner of last year’s John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway, finished another 1 1/2 lengths back in third with 9-5 favorite Rushie fourth in the field of seven. Cross Border won in 1:43.89.

The Prairie Bayou was the fourth stakes victory and 11th stakes top-three finish for the multiple Grade 1-placed Cross Border, who is also a multiple Grade 2 winner.

Bred by Doug Koch’s Berkshire Stud and B. D. Gibbs and foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Cross Border has been a top-class runner for trainer Mike Maker and the Wycoff family’s Three Diamonds Farm since they purchased him for $100,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale of selected horses of racing age.

Cross Border improved to eight wins and 10 other top-three finishes in 25 starts since that 2018 trip through the sales ring. He’s won 11 times with 13 other top-three finishes in 39 career starts for $1,087,929 in overall earnings.

Also a $180,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase before selling for $10,000 as a 2-year-old at the 2016 OBS June sale, Cross Border is one of three winners from three to race out of the Empire Maker mare Empress Josephine.

Empress Josephine is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winning New York-bred Private Emblem and multiple stakes winning New York-bred Rhum, who is the dam of leading New York sire Central Banker.

Laoban filly Yo Cuz earns first win in NYSS Fifth Avenue

Saturday, December 18th, 2021

Dream Maker Racing’s Yo Cuz gives the late Laoban back-to-back winners in the Fifth Avenue division of the NYSS Saturday at Aqueduct. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Yo Cuz learned plenty in her first start.

The lessons – overcoming a slow start and settling early, making a solid middle-move and mounting a rally in the stretch while in tight quarters on multiple occasions – served the Laoban filly well for her second start Saturday at Aqueduct. She broke much better, relaxed on the lead and kicked clear in the lane for a maiden-breaking score in the $500,000 Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes.

“Last time [Nov. 21 maiden] cost her the race for sure. She was squeezed out of there and she was very green, too. I just sat patiently and tried to teach her some stuff. I didn’t want to rush her,” said Jose Ortiz, who rode the winner for owner Dream Maker Racing and trainer Bill Mott. “She’s a big filly and she closed well last time. I was very happy with the race. I knew second time she was going to be a lot better.

“I expected she was going to win a maiden; I didn’t know she was going to run in here. I knew this race was going to be a little bit tougher, but she proved that she belongs.”

Gallo figured back in May, when he bought the filly for $125,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale of 2-year-olds in training, that the Fifth Avenue would be a good spot for the New York-bred filly. He just needed the stamp of approval from her Hall of Fame trainer.

“When we first gave Bill the horse, we had this race in mind,” Gallo said. “When I mentioned it to Bill, he looked at me and laughed a little bit because he had just got her. But then she started to breeze at Saratoga and was training really well. We wanted to get one race in her before this and she ran fifth about four weeks ago. She broke bad, trailed the field but then weaved her way between horses and galloped out past the leader.

“When we spoke to Jose Ortiz after the race, he said that he really liked the horse. It’s nice to have continuity because he knew her.”

Yo Cuz capped big two-day stretch for jockey Jose Ortiz in the NYSS Fifth Avenue. Joe Labozzetta/NYRA Photo.

Ortiz, who won two other races on Saturday’s card after a three-win night at Remington Park in Oklahoma Friday, rode Yo Cuz to a 1 ¾-length score over even-money favorite Morning Matcha with 43-1 longshot Laochi, another daughter of Laoban, third in the field of 11.

Yo Cuz won in 1:25.34, slightly faster than the 1:25.88 that Geno needed to win the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series two races prior.

“It was a great training job by Bill, as always. She was ready today. She broke well today and he worked on what she needed – breaking better, which she did,” Ortiz said. “I just held on and was a passenger. She broke very clean and when I went to take position and looked around me, nobody could keep up with me in the first quarter. So, when I took [the lead] I slowed it down nicely and she was very relaxed.”

Yo Cuz earned $275,000 for her connections, not including open company awards, and also gave the late Laoban, who formerly stood at Sequel Stallions New York in Hudson, back-to-back winners of the Fifth Avenue after eventual New York-bred champion finalist Laobanandaprayer won in 2020.

Bred by Seidman Stables LLC, Yo Cuz is the second foal out of the winning Tale of Ekati mare Steve’s Philly. A $50,000 purchase by Seidman Stables at the 2015 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training, Steve’s Philly is out of the Gone West mare Striking Wonder, who is out of multiple Grade 1 winner Wonder Again from the family of Grade 1 winners Colonel Liam, Tribulation and Graceful Darby. Steve’s Philly is also the dam of the 3-year-old New York-bred Palace Malice gelding Uncle Jerome, who is in training in New York with owner and trainer Michael Gorham; and a soon-to-be New York-bred yearling full brother to Yo Cuz.

Yo Cuz sold as Hip 209 at the Midlantic May sale, out of the Hidden Brook consignment for Seidman Stable. She didn’t breeze in presale workouts over the Timonium Race Course track, another selling point for Gallo.

“The thing that stood out for us was that she was one of the few in that sale who galloped and didn’t breeze,” he said. “We like when people take time with their horses. The fact that she was a good size and came out of a good consignment was appealing.”

Big Brown’s Geno scores in NYSS Great White Way

Saturday, December 18th, 2021

Geno and Jorge Vargas Jr. hold of Un Ojo and Trevor McCarthy in Saturday’s $500,000 Great White Way division of the NYSS. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

What better spot to take a try a dirt race with a 2-year-old colt with three starts, all on grass, than for a $500,000 purse?

Dave Donk figured as much with Pete Martine’s homebred Big Brown colt Geno, who relished his chance and came away with a victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series at Aqueduct.

“This is a pretty good spot to find out,” Donk said after Geno split rivals in the lane and held off a late run from Un Ojo to win the 7-furlong Great White Way by a neck. Jorge Vargas Jr., aboard for Geno’s two most recent starts against open company in turf stakes on the NYRA circuit, rode the colt to victory in 1:25.88.

“This horse has a lot of class, as much class as I’ve seen a horse have in a while,” Donk said. “I debated first time out whether I should run him on dirt or turf. His mother (Weekend Hottie) won on grass and my success with Big Brown offspring have been on grass, so I ran him over it.”

Geno broke his maiden going 6 furlongs on the grass Sept. 19 at Belmont Park, then just missed there in the $100,000 Awad Stakes stretching out to 1 1/16 miles. He came into the Great White Way off a sixth, beaten just 2 lengths, in the $100,000 Central Park Stakes again at 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Aqueduct.

Sent off the 8-1 fourth choice in the field of 11, Geno and Vargas saved ground early and around the far turn while 8-5 favorite Unique Unions led Kenner through the opening splits of :22.71 and :46.48.

Vargas sent Geno through those two foes in the lane, took the lead at the eighth pole and past 6 furlongs in 1:12.30. Un Ojo, fourth last time in an open-company stakes at Delta Downs and making his first start in New York, rallied under Trevor McCarthy while several paths off the fence into the lane. Un Ojo came alongside Geno in deep stretch, the two exchanged bumps and the latter stayed tough for his second win in four starts. Unique Union, a son of freshman sire Union Jackson, finished 2 1/4 lengths back in third with 96-1 longshot Hot Stepper fourth.

Geno and his connections also withstood a claim of foul from McCarthy and a stewards inquiry for the victory.

“Nothing really happened,” Vargas said. “My horse got to waiting on horses a bit. He [Un Ojo] came running on the outside and bumped my horse on his rear end a little bit.”

McCarthy saw it a bit differently on his mount, an aptly named son of Laoban who is missing his left eye.

“My horse is a pretty big, gangly horse and it doesn’t take much to get him off stride,” McCarthy said. “When he bumped me, it took all the momentum away from him. I had a great position. I was able to tuck him in around the turn and cut the corner and then get him back out. He had a great trip. It was just really unfortunate that he got bumped and lost all his momentum.”

Trainer Dave Donk (left) says Geno could wind up in more stakes this winter after Saturday’s Stallion Series victory. NYRA Photo.

Geno now heads into the winter months with some momentum.

Donk hinted that the colt could stick around for other dirt stakes engagements, rather than being turned out for six weeks and returning with eyes on spring turf stakes.

“He breezes really well on the dirt and I needed to try him somewhere on the dirt,” Donk said. “This is as good a spot as I could have found.”

Geno’s victory provided champion and dual classic winner Big Brown, who stands for $5,000 at Irish Hill Century and Dutchess Views Stallions LLC in Stillwater, with another major victory in 2021. He’s also the sire multiple New York-bred champion and multiple graded stakes winner Somelikeithotbrown, in the midst of his best season in 2021 with $498,000 in earnings; and 2021 stakes winner Jemography.

Bred by Martine and raced in the green and white colors of his Mendham Racing Stable, Geno is the first foal out of the winning Sun King mare Weekend Hottie.

Campaigned by Mendham Racing Stable, Weekend Hottie broke her maiden on the grass for Donk in June 2017. She’s also the dam of a soon-to-be yearling filly by Laoban, also bred in New York by Martine, and was bred back to Majestic City in 2021.

Lobsta battles back to upset NYSS Thunder Rumble

Sunday, December 5th, 2021

Lobsta outfinishes My Boy Tate in deep stretch for his first stakes win in the NYSS Thunder Rumble Sunday at Aqueduct. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Lobsta withstood multiple challenges – one from his older brother Chowda and another from 3-2 favorite and multiple stakes winner My Boy Tate – and came out on top in Sunday’s $150,000 Thunder Rumble division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes at Aqueduct.

Under Javier Castellano and sent off at 27-1, the 3-year-old son of Emcee turned back a challenge in deep stretch from My Boy Tate to win the 7-furlong Thunder Rumble by a half-length lengths with Our Last Buck third and Chowda fourth in the field of 11. Lobsta, owned by Eddie F’s Racing and trained by Gary Sciacca, won off more than a four-month layoff after finishing third in the New York Derby July 19 at Finger Lakes.

“I was jumping up and down like crazy,” said Eddie Fazzone of Eddie F’s Racing. “Both of these horses have been such a joy and brought a lot of excitement for me as a small stable. Now, they’re both stakes winners. I’m overwhelmed right now. I’m really happy for Gary and John Jayko.”

Bred by and foaled at Jayko’s Fedwell Farm in Saratoga Springs and out of the Chief Seattle mare Salty Little Sis, Lobsta improved to 3-for-8 and boosted his earnings to $221,400. He’s only finished off the board twice in his eight starts, both fifths at Aqueduct in his debut on New Year’s Eve in 2020 and in the Times Square division of the New York Stallion Series in April.

Lobsta is the fourth foal out of the two-time winning New York-bred Salty Little Sis, who is also the dam of winning New York-bred Soaring Empire gelding The Big Lebanese and Chowda. A 4-year-old by Emcee, Chowda won the 2020 Gander Stakes at Aqueduct and has placed in two other stakes. He came into Sunday’s Thunder Rumble off a fourth and third in allowance races at Belmont for Sciacca and Eddie F’s Racing.

Fazzone, who owns the popular Saratoga Springs restaurant Eddie F’s Eatery on Clinton Street, runs the partnership that also includes Ross Lackey and his brother-in-law Don Wilock.Eddie F’s Racing purchased the full brothers from Fedwell Farm.

Team Lobsta celebrate the colt’s first stakes win Sunday at Aqueduct. NYRA Photo.

“It’s pretty amazing. When you go into this as a small group, you don’t expect to be winning stakes races,” Fazzone told the NYRA communications team before the Thunder Rumble. “It was a big thrill to win the Gander with Chowda and then for his brother to come back and run second in the same race the following year was big too. These two guys have been a joy for us.”

Eddie F’s Racing also purchased a yearling half-brother to Lobsta and Chowda, a New York-bred colt by Micromanage.

“He’s on a farm in Virginia so you’ll see him next year,” Fazzone said.

Lobsta earned his stakes victory after a solid break from post 10. He and Castellano led by a half-length from Devious Mo and Chowda through the opening quarter-mile in :23.10. Devious Mo eventually backed up to third and Chowda took up the chase, pushing his stablemate through the half-mile in :46.85.

Sciacca, who hit a career milestone this fall with his 1,000th training victory, didn’t expect the battle.

“I never thought that would happen,” he said. “I thought Lobsta would sit back a little bit and Chowda was going to go. He [Castellano] said he broke so good with Lobsta, he was just sitting on him. He [Eric Cancel] had to hustle Chowda to stay up in there and the two brothers were battling.”

My Boy Tate, coming off a victory in the Leon Reed Memorial at Finger Lakes, made steady progress around the turn and split Lobsta and Chowda under Manny Franco. They looked on the way to victory after building a half-length advantage at the eighth pole and past 6 furlongs in 1:11.82.

Lobsta wasn’t done in deep stretch and continued to battle on while on the outside of My Boy Tate to deliver the winning run just before the wire. My Boy Tate finished 4 lengths ahead of Our Last Buck, who was 6 clear of Chowda.

“Why did they let him through? I thought they’d at least block him a little bit,” Sciacca joked about My Boy Tate coming through his runners in the lane. “When he got through, I thought ‘that’s tough.’ He showed some fight – Lobsta – to come back and get the horse.”