NEWS: racing

Eros’s Girl runs on late to win Niagara Stakes

Monday, July 4th, 2022

Eros’s Girl runs down No Chalk late to win Monday’s Niagara Stakes at Finger Lakes. SV Photography.

Eros’s Girl continued to show her affinity for Finger Lakes and landed her first stakes with a sustained winning rally in Monday’s $49,000 Niagara Stakes.

The 3-year-old daughter of Boys At Tosconova won the 6-furlong Niagara for owner-breeder-trainer M. Anthony Ferraro in her third stakes try and improved to 3-for-4 at Finger Lakes with her half-length victory over No Chalk. Sent off the 7-2 third choice in the field of six New York-bred sophomore fillies in the Independence Day feature in Farmington, Eros’s Girl won in 1:13.42 under Kevin Navarro.

Eros’s Girl added the Niagara to her 2 1/2-length victory in an open-company allowance at the same distance June 6 at Finger Lakes. She also broke her maiden in her debut by 5 lengths last September.

Navarro allowed Eros’s Girl to race toward the back of the field in her June 6 allowance score and again in the Niagara. No Chalk, Amore Fire and 4-5 favorite Sandy’s Garden scrimmaged for the early lead with the latter holding the advantage through the opening quarter in :22.52.

Amore Fire backed out of the battle for the lead first and No Chalk took over on the turn and was x in front past the half-mile split in :46.38. No Chalk and jockey Oscar Gomez cut the corner and opened up in to the lane, just as Eros’s Girl and Navarro started rolling.

No Chalk still led by 4 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole and past 5 furlongs in :59.46, but Eros’s Girl continued to cut into the lead. Eros’s Girl reduced her 2-length deficit at the sixteenth pole and grabbed the lead four strides from the finish to win going away. No Chalk held second, 6 3/4 lengths ahead of Curly Girl wth Sandy’s Garden fourth. Amore Fire and Betty Rubble completed the field.

Eros’s Girl is the first foal out of the stakes-placed New York-bred Freud mare Aspree.

Purchased by Ferraro for $7,500 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, Aspree went 6-1-4 in 27 starts and earned $82,944 for Ferraro. She finished third as a 2-year-old in the Shesastonecoldfox Stakes at Finger Lakes and third there in the Niagara Stakes as a 3-year-old.

Eros’s Girl made her stakes debut in last fall’s Sheasastonecoldfox, finishing a non-threatening sixth. She wintered at Tampa Bay Downs and finished second in an allowance-optional, seventh in the Gasparilla Stakes and fourth in another allowance-optional. She returned from a four-month freshening to win her 6-furlong allowance June 6. Eros’s Girl boosted her earnings to $72,050 with her Niagara victory.

Aspree was bred to Big Brown last year and is also the dam of a New York-bred yearling colt by the late A.P. Indy stallion and multiple graded-stakes placed Stephanoatsee.

Rotknee overwhelms field in Ontario County

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

Rotknee destroys his opposition in Wednesday’s Ontario County Stakes at Finger Lakes. SV Photography.

William “Buck” Butler’s second generation homebred Rotknee made quick and easy work of the field in Wednesday’s $48,500 Ontario County Stakes at Finger Lakes.

Despite being forced in at the start from Gimmedaymoney, whose inward beginning affected all five of the Ontario County starters, Rotknee recovered quickly and found an open early lead. The 3-year-old son of Runhappy cruised to a 12 ¾-length victory from there under John Davila Jr.

Rotknee improved to 5-for-7 with the victory, his third in a stakes to go with the Damon Runyon in March at Aqueduct and the Mike Lee in his most recent start on Memorial Day at Belmont Park.

Sent off 1-20 in the field of five reduced by three with the scratches of Mister Larry, Moped Dennis and Never Ever Home, Rotknee picked up $30,000 for Butler and trainer Mike Maker to pad his earnings to $256,600.

Rotknee took control after his bothered start and opened up a 2-length advantage over Gimmedamoney through the opening quarter mile in :22.51. He stretched the lead to 6 lengths through the half in :45.20, then poured it on in the lane to win going away. Gimmedamoney held second, 3 lengths clear of My Last Mission. Persistent Danger and Waheel completed the field. Rotknee won in 1:10.04.

Bred by Butler and foaled at Keane Stud in Amenia, Rotknee is the second foal out of the winning Speightstown mare In Spite of Mama.

In Spite of Mama’s first foal, the 4-year-old New York-bred Into Mischief colt Lookin for Trouble, is a winner and multiple stakes-placed for Butler and Maker. He’s earned $168,120 through his most recent start, a third in allowance company at Aqueduct in late April. In Spite of Mama is also the dam of the 2-year-old New York-bred Bolt d’Oro colt Mama’s Gold, who is in training at New Haven Farm, and a yearling filly by Audible. She also delivered a New York-bred daughter of 2019 Preakness Stakes winner War of Will in May.

In Spite of Mama, a 10-year-old out of the Carson City mare Mama Theresa, went 3-2-2 in 17 starts for Butler and Maker from 2014 to 2016.

Butler bought Mama Theresa for $65,000 at the 2005 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training. She won six of 25 starts, placed in two stakes and earned $240,898 for Butler and Timothy Twomey and the late trainer Dominic Galluscio. In Spite of Mama is Mama Theresa’s second foal and a half-sister to four other winners, including stakes winner A Freud of Mama, an earner of $399,818 who also finished third in the Grade 3 Matron Stakes at Belmont Park in 2019 for Butler and Maker.

Bank Sting back to winning ways in Dancin Renee

Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Bank Sting collects her fifth stakes victory in Sunday’s Dancin Renee at Belmont Park. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

John Terranova succinctly summed up Bank Sting and what he and his team need to do keep the Central Banker mare at the top of her game now at age 5.

“She’s a runner,” Terranova said on NYRA’s America’s Day at the Race broadcast a few minutes before the featured $100,000 Dancin Renee Stakes Sunday at Belmont Park. “We just try to keep her happy and stay out of her way.”

Nobody showed up in Bank Sting’s way Sunday and just like in seven of her prior 11 starts she came out on top, winning the 6-furlong Dancin Renee under Joel Rosario. Bank Sting broke well and tracked the early speed of the comebacking The Important One up the backstretch and around the turn before taking over in the stretch on the way to a 5 1/2-length victory. Bank Sting won in 1:10.82.

“She’s a bit antsy at times in the gate, but she was very good today,” Terranova said. “You never know what you’re going to get race-to-race with her. She has her little fits, but you just have to go with her. You can’t fight with her. Joel got to know her really well last time and they get along great; as everyone that’s ridden her has.”

Bank Sting became a five-time stakes winner in the Dancin Renee for her co-owners Joe and Anne McMahon and Hidden Brook Farm. Bred by and foaled at the McMahon’s McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, Dancin Renee boosted her bankroll to $582,050.

The Dancin Renee also marked Bank Sting’s first start at 6 furlongs. She’s run 7 furlongs on four prior starts and came into the Dancin Renee off three straight races at 1 mile, including a second last time out in the $200,000 Critical Eye Handicap on Big Apple Showcase Day in late May at Belmont.

Rosario rode Bank Sting in the Critical Eye, where she finished 4 lengths behind Make Mischief. With no Make Mischief in the field and despite meeting open-company stakes winner Time Limit and recent graded-stakes competitor Kept Waiting, bettors hammered Bank Sting down to 4-5 for the Dancin Renee.

The Important One, making her first start since a third behind Bank Sting in the Staten Island division of the New York Stallion Series Dec. 5 at Aqueduct, lost her footing a bit at the start but recovered enough to take the lead through the opening strides. She led by a length from Bank Sting through the opening quarter-mile in :22.50, with Time Limit and Kept Waiting not far behind.

Bank Sting and Rosario applied more pressure to The Important One through the half in :45.85, drew on even terms turning for home and took the lead at about the 3/16ths pole. Bank Sting drew off from there, by a length from The Important One at the eighth pole and through 5 furlongs in :57.96 and eventually by daylight at the finish. The Important One held second by 1 1/2 lengths from Kept Waiting, who was a neck clear of Secret Love.

“She broke really well and she put herself more in the race today than last time,” Rosario said. “She was happy up there. Last time, she broke and everyone got away and she had a lot of dirt in her face the first furlong. Today it helped her that she was more in the race and in the clear. I learned a little bit last time and now I know a little better for the next one.”

Terranova said the new $125,000 Johnstone Mile Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares out of the new Wilson Chute Aug. 12 at Saratoga Race Course would most likely be next for Bank Sting.

“She’s a beautiful filly and we’re grateful to have her,” he said. “We’re looking forward to Saratoga. … There’s good spacing in between, so that’s next on our radar.”

Bank Sting already owns two stakes wins at a mile, including her most recent victory prior to the Dancin Renee against open company in the Heavenly Prize Stakes March 6 at Aqueduct. She also won last year’s Critical Eye at Belmont.

Raised at McMahon of Saratoga, Bank Sting continues to fly the flag for New York’s leading sire Central Banker. He came into the day well clear on the Empire State’s general sire list with progeny earnings of nearly $2.3 million and potentially on the way to his second straight leading sire crown.

Bank Sting is the fifth foal out of the stakes-placed New York-bred Precise End mare Bee in a Bonnet. She’s a half-sister to four other winners – including the stakes-placed Liberty Island and her full 4-year-old sister Lot of Honey. Bee in a Bonnet is also the dam of an unnamed 2-year-old filly by Central Banker and a yearling colt by the late Laoban. She was bred to McMahon’s Solomini last season.

Dream Central upsets NYSS Cupecoy’s Joy

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Dream Central slips through between rivals to win Sunday’s Cupecoy’s Joy division of the NYSS. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Dream Central became the latest success for the breeder-owner-trainer combination that produced stakes-winning full brothers Chowda and Lobsta with an upset victory in Sunday’s $150,000 Cup’coy’s Joy division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes at Belmont Park.

The 3-year-old daughter of 2021 leading New York sire Central Banker upset the 7-furlong restricted turf stakes at 39-1, giving breeder John Jayko’s Fedwell Farm, owner Eddie Fazzone’s Eddie F’s Racing and trainer Gary Sciacca plenty to celebrate on Father’s Day. Dream Central split rivals late to win by Cupecoy’s Joy by a neck under Jose Lezcano, returning $81.50 to her backers by winning for the first time in seven starts.

Dream Central led a 1-2-3 finish for maidens in the Cupecoy’s Joy, outrunning Robyn and Eli and pacesetting Royal Dancer late to trigger a $320.50 exacta for a $1 wager and a $1,333 trifecta for a 50-cent bet.

Dream Central came into Sunday’s race off a third in a 6-furlong turf maiden and a seventh in another at 7 furlongs this spring, both at Belmont. Sciacca said the filly trained well in recent weeks but still didn’t expect her winning performance.

“Eddie really wanted to run here,” Sciacca said. “Two months ago, he picked this spot out. He wanted to run here no matter what. We had a couple of bad breaks with her. A couple of times, things didn’t go right. But she got it all together today.”

Fazzone and Sciacca teamed to win the Thunder Rumble division of the NYSS late last year and the Say Florida Sandy Stakes in January with the 4-year-old Emcee gelding Lobsta. They also campaign the 5-year-old gelding Chowda, winner of the 2020 Gander Stakes. Chowda, Lobsta and Dream Central were all bred by Jayko’s Fedwell Farms in Saratoga Springs.

“I knew she was a decent filly. She was training well,” Fazzone said. “We tried her on the dirt when she first came up, and she hated the dirt. She was doing really well when we brought her back. The maiden race last time, she wasn’t paying attention. She was looking around. The first time on the turf this year she ran a nice third, so we knew she’d love the grass. Seven furlongs I thought would be her best distance, too. I saw the race and said, ‘This is the race right here.’ ”

“I love it [the New York-bred program], it’s great. … It’s the best racing going, the horses are great. The sire stakes here are nice.”

Dream Central and Lezcano raced sixth early while Royal Dancer set the pace, clicking off splits of :22.36 and :45.50 to the opening half-mile. Lezcano saved around around the turn and gradually inched up.

Dream Central cut the corner turning for home, just as Royal Dancer opened up a 2-length lead in the lane. Robyn and Eli, the 4-1 third choice in the field of 11 under Manny Franco, also advanced in the lane while on the outside of the leader. Dream Central split Royal Dancer to her inside and Robyn and Eli to her outside inside the final sixteenth to get up in time in 1:21.57.

“My filly didn’t get out when I needed and then the other horse [Robyn and Eli] tried to hold me over there. [Franco] did his job. But my filly, when I asked her, she really responded and finished the job. She picked it up real good and the other horse was fighting back at the same time.”

Robyn and Eli were a half-length ahead of Royal Dancer, who finished 2 1/4 lengths clear of stakes winner and 3-1 favorite Howdyoumakeurmoney in fourth.

Dream Central earned $82,500 for the win to boost her bankroll to $95,917. She’s is the fourth foal out of the stakes-placed winning Deputy Wild Cat mare Dreamed to Dream, who was purchased by Jayko in foal to Point of Entry for $7,500 at the 2018 OBS winter mixed sale. She produced the New York-bred gelding Dreampoint from that mating and he’s placed five times from 16 starts and earned $70,393 for Eddie F’s Racing and Sciacca.

Dreamed to Dream’s first foal, the Treasure Beach mare Beach Dreaming, was a five-time winner of $108,280. She’s also the dam of stakes winner Dreamalildreamofu, who is graded-stakes placed and the earner of $289,403. Dreamalildreamofu sold for $235,000 at last year’s Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Dreamed to Dream is also the dam of an unraced 2-year-old New York-bred filly by Klimt named Secessionist and a colt by Speightster born in New York Feb. 20.

Dakota Gold returns with NYSS victory

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Dakota Gold edges past Surprise Boss late to win the Spectacular Bid division of the New York Stallion Series Sunday at Belmont Park. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Dakota Gold, last seen finishing fifth and just 2 1/4 lengths behind Modern Games in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Del Mar, returned to the winner’s circle for the third time in four starts Sunday with a victory in the $150,000 Spectacular Bid division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes at Belmont Park.

Bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds and Ron Bowden, the 3-year-old son of Freud was sent off as the 3-5 favorite in his sophomore debut, but the 7-furlong restricted turf stakes wasn’t going to be an easy effort.

Dakota Gold broke a step behind the leaders but quickly caught up to take his spot just off Surprise Boss’ flank. Surprise Boss raced on the lead through fractions of :23.66 and :48.40 for the opening half-mile, not looking like he was feeling any pressure from the eventual winner until Dakota Gold started to make his challenge in the stretch.

Dakota Gold ranged up the outside of the leader but Surprise Boss wasn’t going to lay down and dug in gamely for the stretch duel. Dakota Gold finally got his nose in front inside the final sixteenth. Surprise Boss grudgingly finished three-quarters of a length back with Marinara Sauced another 3 1/4 lengths back in third. Dakota Gold won in 1:21.50 over the firm Widener Turf under Irad Ortiz Jr.

“Irad said he had a lot of horse and he was just playing with the others,” said Danny Gargan, who trains the winner for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing. “I was hoping (Buckortwo) would get out at some point, but he got stuck down in there. I wanted two of them in front of us. I thought they’d go 1:09 and change. They came home in 11. I’ve only had two or three horses in my life run that fast.”

Gargan said a return to Saratoga Race Course – where Dakota Gold prepped for his 2022 debut on the Oklahoma Training Track – for the Cab Calloway division of the NYSS is likely next for the winner.  A victory there would give him three stakes victories in four starts at that level.

An $83,000 purchase by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale, Dakota Gold boosted his earnings to $467,5000 with Sunday’s victory. He earned back nearly his whole purchase price in the Spectacular Bid – taking home a $82,500 first-place check.

Dakota Gold was foaled at The New Hill Farm in Hoosick Falls and consigned by that operation when he sold at Saratoga. He is the second stakes winner of the month for his sire, who also saw I’m Listening winning the Smart N Classy Handicap June 5 at Monmouth Park. Freud’s son Freudian Sip also placed third in a stakes at Chippewa Downs in North Dakota Saturday.

Dakota Gold is one of two foals to run out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Dakota Kid, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Dakota Phone and stakes-placed Black Hills Goldie. Each of Dakota Gold’s first five dams are stakes producers with his third dam also winning four career stakes races.

Dakota Kid has a New York-bred juvenile colt by Redesdale named Ramblin’ Wreck, who was purchased by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing for $140,0000 from The New Hill Farm at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. She foaled a New York-bred Mucho Macho Man colt in May 2021 and wasn’t bred in 2022.

Ny Traffic reroutes to Penn National for victory

Friday, June 17th, 2022

Ny Traffic and Edwin Gonzalez (center) fend off Beren (right) to win Friday’s $100,000 Chocolate Town Stakes at Penn National. Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO.

Worth the wait.

Ny Traffic, originally pegged for the Commentator Stakes on Big Apple Showcase Day late last month, made a winning return to Pennsylvania and collected his second stakes victory in Friday’s $100,000 Chocolate Town at Penn National Race Course.

The 1-2 favorite in the field of nine, Ny Traffic stalked early before taking the lead on a four-wide run approaching the quarter-pole of the 6-furlong stakes. He shook clear into the lane, idled a bit as eventual runner-up Beren rallied on the outside and responded to jockey Edwin Gonzalez late to win by a half-length at the finish. Ny Traffic won in 1:09.64.

Winning trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. originally planned to run the 5-year-old son of Cross Traffic in the Commentator on Memorial Day but that race didn’t go because of insufficient entries. Joseph rerouted and pegged the Chocolate Town, which was Ny Traffic’s first race in the Keystone State since the horse’s 2-year-old campaign at Parx Racing with former trainer Harold Wyner.

Runner-up in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and Grade 1 Haskell Stakes as a 3-year-old during the pandemic-delayed run-up to the Triple Crown, Ny Traffic finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Preakness Stakes that season.

Ny Traffic found his niche as a 4-year-old in 2021, winning two of five starts including the Hudson Handicap on Empire Showcase Day to end the season. He returned this year with fifth in the Grade 2 WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes before returning to his native state to win the Affirmed Success Stakes at Aqueduct.

Owned by John Fanelli, Cash is King LLC, LC Racing LLC, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley, Ny Traffic improved to 6-for-19 with four seconds and two thirds Friday night and boosted his bankroll to $873,340.

Bred by Brian Culnan and foaled at Gallagher’s Stud in Ghent, Ny Traffic is the first foal out of the winning New York-bred Graeme Hall mare Mamie Reilly. Mamie Reilly’s second foal, the 4-year-old Normandy Invasion gelding Purple Hearted, is 2-4-2 from 14 starts with a bankroll of $144,100. He also finished to eventual New York-bred Grade 1 winner Americanrevolution in last year’s New York Derby at Finger Lakes.

A $27,000 RNA at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale of 2-year-olds in training, Ny Traffic started his career at Parx Racing with Wyner before being transferred to Joseph’s South Florida string in early 2020.

Ocala Dream adds Kingston to growing resume

Monday, May 30th, 2022

Ocala Dream benefits from Aqueduct prep and tops strong field in Kingston Stakes on Big Apple Showcase Day at Belmont. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Somelikeithotbrown came into Monday’s Big Apple Showcase Day as one of the – if not the heaviest – favorites of the card. For much of the $125,000 Kingston Stakes, it looked like the multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire might run away with the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes.

Ocala Dream, bred by Mahwhinney, Lieberman, Beglin & Coutsodontis and foaled at Sequel Stallions New York in Hudson, had other ideas, racing right past that rival to win the closing stakes of the day by 2 1/4 lengths.

The 2022 Kingston proved a vintage renewal, with all but one of the eight runners having stakes form. The group featured six stakes winners, led by multiple New York-bred champion, Grade 2 winner and $1,189,338-earner Somelikeithotbrown and his stablemate, multiple Grade 2 winner and $1,123,979-earner Cross Border. In the end it was Ocala Dream, a 4-year-old son of Effinex owned by Thomas Albrecht, Vincent Fusar and James Klein, that came out on top as one of the youngest runners in the field.

Ocala Dream broke well from the inside under Javier Castellano, dueled briefly for the lead before happily taking back to run close behind pacesetting City Man. Down the backstretch the lead changed with Somelikeithotbrown and Jose Ortiz charged to the front to take control, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Advanced Strategy and City Man, with Ocala Dream a close fourth through the half in :47.26.

Ocala Dream angled wide around the far turn and Somelikeithotbrown started to falter with the field closing the gap. Somelikeithotbrown, the 4-5 favorite, tried to dig in and keep the lead, but Ocala Dream gave him no chance to fight back as he flew past in the lane.

Ocala Dream drew off while Sanctuary City rallied for second and a head clear of Therapist in third. Cross Border finished fourth with Somelikeithotbrown fifth. Ocala Dream won in 1:39.79 over the firm inner turf course.

Trainer Tom Morley (far right) and Team Ocala Dream capped Big Apple Showcase Day with a victory in the Kingston. NYRA Photo.

Trained by Tom Morley, Ocala Dream added a fourth victory to his record in the Kingston and a second stakes victory after winning the Spectacular Bid division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes last June at Belmont. He prepped for the Kingston with a second in an open allowance-optional April 14 at Aqueduct, his lone start of 2022 and first since finishing fourth in the Gio Ponti in late November at Aqueduct.

“He’s not a big horse, but he’s a stalky little horse,” Morley said. “I believe a lot in weights. He was 30 pounds lighter today than he was when he was at Aqueduct. He had a really good breeze program into this race. There were some very good horses in that race today, but he got a Hall of Fame ride by Javier to get the job done.”

Now an earner of $276,490, Ocala Dream had become Effinex’s first stakes winner in the Spectacular Bid. He also gave that same distinction to his winning Freud dam Eleni’s Daughter. The colt had broken his maiden one start prior to the stakes victory, almost three years and two months after being foaled in March 2018 at Sequel New York in Hudson.

Ocala Dream was a $50,000 purchase at the 2020 OBS March sale of 2-year-old in training by co-owner Thomas Albrecht from the Daylight Farm Racing & Sales consignment.

Ocala Dream’s family laid roots in New York when his second dam Smoke N Shadows was sent to the state as a racehorse, making five starts on the NYRA circuit. She stayed in New York as a broodmare with Eleni’s Daughter her sixth foal born in the program.

Eleni’s Daughter has produced four named New York-breds with three winners. Her other runner also has a placing to his name. Eleni’s Daughter had one more foal after Ocala Dream, a 3-year-old Florida-bred Mission Impazible filly named Silvia V’s Heroes who has yet to race. That filly is a full sister to the winning New York-bred gelding Operative.

Sterling Silver, Rotknee bounce back in 3YO stakes

Monday, May 30th, 2022

Sterling Silver improves to 3-for-3 against New York-breds with victory in the Bouwerie. NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law and Paul Halloran

Don’t fault the connections of Sterling Silver for catching a bit of “Oaks Fever” this spring.

Owner Mark Anderson and trainer Tom Albertrani watched the 3-year-old daughter of Cupid start her career with back-to-back victories over New York-breds sprinting in late November and late January and made the expected move to stretch the filly out and try open company. That didn’t work out – Sterling Silver finished fifth in a pair of open stakes in New York and Kentucky – before returning to a shorter distance and company she proved she could handle in Monday’s $125,000 Bouwerie Stakes on Big Apple Showcase Day at Belmont Park.

Sterling Silver appreciated the return and scored a mild upset in the 7-furlong stakes for 3-year-old sophomore state-breds. Trevor McCarthy rode Sterling Silver to a 4 1/4-length victory over Captainsdaughter for her second stakes triumph and third win in as many starts in New York-bred company.

“Not only class [relief] but distance as well,” Albertrani said. “Dropping her back to a distance she favored a little more than going a mile or further helped her a lot. Both of the last two races were more a matter of distance.”

November Rein, winner of last year’s Seeking the Ante at Saratoga and the 7-2 third choice in the field of seven, took the early initiative from the fast breaking Adversity and led 4-5 favorite Yo Cuz through a quick opening quarter-mile in :22.62. Sterling Silver tracked those three from fourth up the backstretch and around the far turn.

November Rein continued to lead into the stretch, shrugging off Adversity and Yo Cuz when the field made the straight. Sterling Silver ranged up to the outside of November Rein and took command outside the eighth pole.

Sterling Silver poured it on late, opening up over the two tiring leaders while Captainsdaughter ran past that pair late to be a clear second best. November Rein held third and Sterling Silver won in 1:24.41 over the track labeled fast.

“She broke really well, which was great and put me in a great spot,” McCarthy said. “Coming to the turn, I eased back to let Jose [Ortiz, aboard Yo Cuz] go and tuck in to save some ground. She’s always got a great turn of foot, so when I need her to go through a hole, she’ll do it. She did everything I asked her to do and she beat a good bunch today. We’re proud of her.”

Trainer Tom Albertrani (second from right) and Sterling Silver’s connections soak in the filly’s comeback victory. NYRA Photo.

Sterling Silver hadn’t run since finishing fifth, beaten 17 1/2 lengths by eventual Kentucky Oaks runner-up Nest, in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes going 1 1/16 miles April 8 at Keeneland Race Course. She finished fifth in her prior start, beaten 21 1/2 lengths by fellow New York-bred Venti Valentine, in the Busher Invitational Stakes March 5 at Aqueduct.

McCarthy rode Sterling Silver in the Busher and was aboard for the filly’s workouts leading up to the Bouwerie.

“She was sharp coming into this race and Tom did a great job with her,” McCarthy said. “He gave her plenty of time. I’ve stayed pretty busy on this filly. I worked her a bunch and we really get along good and got to know each other well.”

Bred by longtime Gallagher’s Stud farm manager Mallory Mort and his wife Karen and foaled at Gallagher’s Stud in Ghent, Sterling Silver is the fourth foal out of the unraced Distorted Humor mare Sheet Humor. Mort bought Sheet Humor in foal to Midnight Lute for $14,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Sheet Humor is the dam of the winning New York-bred Central Banker mare Helene Jacqueline and the unraced Speightster colt Ortiz who sold for $210,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. Sheet Humor produced a New York-bred Not This Time colt last year and was bred to Central Banker in 2022. Going through the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed in October, Sheet Humor brought $3,000 when selling to K.O.I.D. and has been exported.

Sterling Silver earned $68,750 for the Bouwerie victory to boost her earnings to $186,688.


Butler’s homebred Rotknee rolls in Mike Lee

Rotknee bounces back from off-the-board finish on synthetic at Turfway with a victory in the Mike Lee on Big Apple Showcase Day. Chelsea Durand/NYRA Photo.

Reverting to the running style that saw him win three of his first four starts – all in the New York-bred division – William “Buck” Butler’s Rotknee ran his six opponents off their hooves with an easy victory in the Mike Lee Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Luis Saez was aboard for the gallop in the park, taking the lead shortly after the start of the 7-furlong stakes and widening the advantage to 7 lengths at the top of the stretch before winning by 1 1/2 lengths.

“(Trainer Mike Maker) wanted me to run from them and take the lead because he’s pretty fast and when he’s on the lead, he feels better,” Saez said. “He kind of runs away from everybody, and that was the key. I felt like I was going pretty fast, but very comfortable. He felt a little tired (at the finish), but that’s why when we came to the top of the stretch, I just let him go on his own and waited as long as I could because we knew we were going to need the horse at the end.”

The son of Runhappy out of the Speightstown mare In Spite of Mama carved out fractions of :22.39 and :45.21 on the way to a final clocking of 1:23.90. As the breeder and owner, it was a nice payday for Butler in the $125,000 stakes.

“It was special just watching him come back,” Butler said. “The fact that he was out there by himself almost scared me.”

As it turns out there was nothing to be afraid of, as Rotknee repeated his effort in the Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct, which he won in a similar tour de force.

Butler bred In Spite of Mama, who is by Speightstown out of Mama Theresa, who “basically started most of my New York-breds that seem to have success,” he said. Butler bought Mama Theresa for $65,000 at the 2005 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Owner and breeder Buck Butler (second from left) enjoys victory by his homebred Rotknee in the Mike Lee. NYRA Photo.

In Spite of Mama’s first foal, Lookin for Trouble, a 4-year-old New York-bred son of Into Mischief, has one win and nine in-the-money finishes in 17 starts. In Spite of Mama is also the dam of unraced 2-year-old New York-bred Bolt d’Oro colt Mama’s Gold and a yearling filly by Audible. She was bred to 2019 Preakness winner War of Will in 2021.

Rotknee, who was foaled at Keane Stud in Amenia, broke his maiden at Saratoga August 1 in his second start. After a winter freshening, he won a state-bred optional at Aqueduct before the Damon Runyon. Maker sent him to Turfway Park for the open-company Animal Kingdom stakes on synthetic April 2, but he didn’t make the lead and faded to seventh.

Monday, he was back on dirt and back on the lead and that again proved to be the winning formula.

“He was pulling a lot, but my thing was to try and let him be comfortable,” Saez said. “He felt relaxed when he got to the half-mile and when we came to the top of the stretch, I just kind of waited a little to make sure he got going on his own, and he did. He finished pretty strong. He fought for the win. He’s mature, he’s grown up and is very strong.”

Flying Emperor secures Barker victory at Finger Lakes

Monday, May 30th, 2022

Flying Emperor, second in last year’s George W. Barker, wins the 2022 renewal to stay unbeaten this year. SV Photography.

John Hayek’s Flying Emperor lost the 2021 George W. Barker Stakes in the shadow of the finish post. Three starts and nine months later, the 5-year-old Soaring Empire gelding made amends for that close defeat with a victory in the 2022 renewal of one of Finger Lakes’ top sprint stakes.

Sent off the second choice in the field of six – just as he had been in last year’s edition again facing five rivals – Flying Emperor employed his signature front-running style from the start of the 6-furlong Barker. He and jockey Emanual De Diego came away second behind Writer’s Regret at the break but quickly took the lead and were a half-length in front through the opening quarter in :22.09.

Flying Emperor continued on the lead around the far turn, past the half in :44.78 and into the lane a still a half clear of Writer’s Regret. De Diego went to work right-handed on Flying Emperor in deep stretch and they finally shrugged off the pesky Writer’s Regret to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Winston’s Chance finished 2 3/4 lengths back in third with 7-5 favorite Lady’s Golden Guy fourth.

Flying Emperor won the $49,500 Barker in 1:10.36 for his sixth win in 13 starts, to go with seven seconds, and boosted his bankroll to $144,660.

Bred by Mr. and Mrs. Grand L. Whitmer and out of the winning Devil His Due mare Evil Empress, Flying Emperor was purchased by Hayek out of the Fort Christopher’s Thoroughbreds consignment for $20,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale. He was foaled at Brayton Hill Farm in Fort Ann.

Flying Emperor is the ninth foal out of Evil Empress, a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Dancing Rhythm, stakes winner Skeet and stakes-placed Flying Monarch. Evil Empress is the dam of six winners, including the New York-bred winners Closingtothewire, Eveatetheapple, Forbidden City, Spartan Emperor and Virginia Doze.

Grant Whitmer purchased Evil Empire, sold in foal to Teuflesberg, for $1,000 at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale.

Flying Emperor, second by a neck in last year’s Barker run in late August during the pandemic-delayed meeting at Finger Lakes, has raced exclusively at Finger Lakes for trainer James Wright during his career. He won two of three starts at 2, did not race at 3 and won two of eight with six seconds as a 4-year-old in 2021.

After ending the season with back-to-back seconds in the Barker and a 6-furlong state-bred allowance, Wright gave the gelding the winter off and he returned with a victory in a May 10 state-bred allowance. He prepped for his return with three works at Tampa Bay Downs in March and April and two more breezes at Finger Lakes in late April and May.

‘Queen of the barn’ Make Mischief wins Critical Eye

Monday, May 30th, 2022

Make Mischief (pink colors) cuts the corner en route to victory in Monday’s Critical Eye at Belmont. Dom Napolitano/NYRA Photo.

By Paul Halloran

They say people judge you by the company you keep and you will get no argument from the connections of Make Mischief, who is extremely difficult to beat when she runs with fellow New York-breds.

The 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief out of the Speightstown mare Speightful Lady made it four wins in seven starts against state-breds when she rolled to an easy 4-length win in the Critical Eye Stakes on Big Apple Showcase Day Monday at Belmont Park.

Make Mischief, owned by Gary Barber and trained by Mark Casse, sat off the pace set by Mashnee Girl through fractions of :23.26 and :46.40, took the lead at the quarter pole and was never threatened in the stretch, covering the mile in 1:35.71 as the 8-5 second choice. Bank Sting, who has been similarly dominant in the New York-bred ranks and was sent off as the favorite, was the best of the rest but a well-beaten second.

“I’m glad the weather was good today. [Last time] she didn’t care for the racetrack, but today I felt like she was going to run well,” said Shane Tripp, assistant to winning trainer Mark Casse. “She shows up every day and is so honest. She’s a real blessing to be around.”

Neither Make Mischief nor Bank Sting threatened in the Grade 2 Ruffian, won by Search Results, but they figured to be formidable in the Critical Eye and that’s exactly how it played out. Davis has ridden both horses recently and made the right choice Monday.

“I can only ride one and I liked them both,” Davis said. “They’re both nice fillies. I just liked the way Make Mischief was doing. Today, she broke well. I loved the post position and even the dry track helped her. Last time, she had that sealed track and had all that dirt in her face. She was never comfortable. Today, she was in a great spot. She was really keen for me down the backstretch, just trying to settle her down. She responded nicely, continued to gallop out and she was having fun out there.”

Bred by Mario and Dawn Martinez’s Avanti Stable and foaled at Song Hill Thoroughbreds in Mechanicville, Make Mischief sold for $285,000 to Flamingo Bloodstock at the Fasig-Tipton 2019 New York-bred sale in Saratoga.

“I’m sorry I sold her,” Martinez said Monday. “She’s the last one we sold. We are now breeding to race.”

Make Mischief is one five winners out of Speightful Lady, who was purchased in foal to Uncle Mo by Martinez for $75,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale.

Speightful Lady delivered her first foal a few weeks later, the Uncle Mo colt later gelded and named Motown Rhythm. He was her first winner, along with $220,450-earner Speightful Kitten, the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling Jody’s Song and the $115,000 Saratoga select yearling Crescent Lady. Speightful Lady is also the dam of an unraced 2-year-old filly by Union Rags named Speightful Lily. This year, she delivered a foal by Goldencents and she is currently in foal to Mendelssohn, Martinez said.

After winning her debut at Belmont June 18, 2020, Make Mischief ran second in the Grade 3 Schuylerville, Grade 2 Adirondack and Seeking the Ante for New York-breds, before shipping to Santa Anita Park and running last in the Grade 2 Chandelier.

Moved to Chris Englehart’s barn for her first four starts of 2021, Make Mischief won three times, twice in the state-bred ranks. When Casse got her back, he returned her to open company and she responded with consecutive third-place finishes in the Grade 2 Eight Belles and Grace 1 Acorn. She was off the board in the Grade 2 Mother Goose and Grade 1 Test, was beaten a neck in the Fleet Indian and placed third in the Empire Distaff Handicap, finishing the year with $327,600 in earnings.

She began her 2022 campaign with a romp in an allowance-optional at Aqueduct before the Ruffian try.

“We love her and she’s the queen of the barn.” Tripp said. “You can tell when she gets really angry, she’s going to run big. She gets her way all the time and I felt she was going to give a big performance today.”