NEWS: racing

Ny Traffic merges steadily into Derby-bound lane

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Ny Traffic (inside) with Maxfield. Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

By Sarah Mace

Unlike fellow New York-bred Tiz the Law, who has deservedly played a leading role in Kentucky Derby headlines and chatter, Ny Traffic, a fast and gritty grey son of Cross Traffic, has steadily worked his way into the conversation by dint of three strong on-the-board efforts in Derby preps. Most recently, on Saturday, he finished a strong second to Maxfield in the Grade 3, $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Bred by Brian Culnan and foaled at Gallagher’s Stud in Ghent, and the first of only two reported foals out of Mamie Reilly, a winning New York-bred daughter of Graeme Hall, Ny Traffic is campaigned jointly by John Fanelli, Cash is King, LC Racing and Paul Braverman.

Trained by Harold Wyner as a juvenile, Ny Traffic had four appointments with the starter last year, all in sprints. First out at Parx on September 21 going seven furlongs, he had the dubious distinction of meeting a debuting Independence Hall, one of Constitution’s star progeny, to whom he finished third while earning a more-than respectable debut Beyer Speed Figure of 71. Independence Hall went on immediately to win the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes and Jerome Stakes in back-to-back starts.

Ny Traffic was sent off for his second start on October 12 still relatively under the radar. Let go at odds of 14-1 to go six furlongs at Parx, the colt soundly defeated nine rivals to earn his diploma with a driving 3 1/4-length victory, while improving his Beyer score to 84. To complete the year, the colt went unplaced in two stakes starts (the Parx Juvenile Stakes and Aqueduct’s restricted Notebook Stakes).

During a brief winter freshening of 55 days, Ny Traffic moved his tack to the Florida barn of 33-year-old Saffie A. Joseph, Jr. When put on a steady diet of route racing for his sophomore campaign, he would really start to turn heads.

In his first start for Joseph on January 11, Ny Traffic trounced a group of first-level allowance foes by 6 3/4 lengths. It was a frontrunning effort going 1 1/16 miles over a speed favoring track under Luis Saez. Joseph decided it was time to test his colt in deeper waters.

Drawn into what turned out to be the “slower” division of the split 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on February 15 (won by Modernist), Ny Traffic followed a script that has served him well ever since: break aggressively, race on or near the lead and never throw in the towel.

In the Risen Star, Ny Traffic led the pack through three-quarters of a mile. After he was passed by Modernist, he stayed in the fight to the wire, finishing a gritty third after being also passed by a closing Major Fed.

Returning in the 1 3/16-mile, Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 21, Ny Traffic challenged leader Wells Bayou for the length of the race and refused to be shaken off as the pair raced one-two around the track. Wells Bayou was 1 1/2-lengths better that day, but Ny Traffic was decidedly “best of the rest,” finishing 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Major Fed in third.

On the Saturday of Churchill Downs’ opening weekend, Ny Traffic tried out his fifth racetrack in eight career starts. This time he was pitted against another field of top-flight Kentucky Derby aspirants in the Grade 3, $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes. This first race in the reconstituted Road to the Kentucky Derby, run at 1 1/16 miles under the twin spires, was worth 50-20-10-5 points for the top four finishers.

Paco Lopez had the call aboard the grey for the first time. At the time of the draw Joseph commented, “The [Matt Winn] fits for us, schedule-wise. We’d like to run him in one more prep after this and hopefully pick up some more Derby points along the way.” And pick up points they did.

Ny Traffic garnered more respect from Winn bettors than he did in his first two Derby preps. Sent off at 11-1 in the Risen Star and 26-1 in Louisiana Derby, the grey was hammered down late from his 10-1 morning line to be the 7-2 third choice behind headliners Maxfield and Pneumatic.

First out of the gate from mid-pack at the bell, Ny Traffic set up in third three wide in the first turn and up the backstretch, pressing longshot leader Celtic Striker and parked outside undefeated third-time starter Pneumatic at the rail. Favored Maxfield broke poorly in his much-anticipated sophomore debut and occupied the tail end of the leading group of eight through the first half mile in 48.21.

Up front Celtic Striker tired midway through the far turn, leaving Ny Traffic and Pneumatic to vie for the lead. Ny Traffic led by the quarter pole. Meanwhile Maxfield was winding up, picking off horses on the outside.

Pneumatic cut the corner and gained a brief advantage in upper stretch before Ny Traffic dug down again to gain the top spot with a furlong to go, but Maxfield kept barreling home on the outside.

The final furlong was a thrill as all three horses stayed in the fight, but Maxfield was ultimately able to clear Ny Traffic, who lugged out slightly, before going on to win by a length. Ny Traffic finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Pneumatic. The final time was 1:43.05.

With 20 more points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby for the Matt Winn, Ny Traffic has quietly amassed at total of 70 points, good for a co-seventh on the leaderboard.

Joseph, Jr. commented on Sunday to NYRA Communications, “[The Matt Winn] was a very important race and he was beaten by an exceptional horse. We’re thankful we have enough points now to get into the Derby.”

The conditioner reported that Ny Traffic came out of the race well and he is weighing a start in the 1 1/8-mile Belmont Stakes, which kicks off 2020’s unique Triple Crown series on June 20

“[Ny Traffic]’s doing good. My assistant is [at Gulfstream] with him and said he came out of the race well. We haven’t made a decision yet regarding the Belmont. That’s going to be down to how the horse is doing and the owner’s choice. We probably won’t make a decision for another 10 days at least.”

Joseph added, “Trip wise, I think that would be perfect for him. It’s just a matter of the timing with the race being four weeks out. It’s something we’ll have to consider, but we’re not going to rush a decision.”

From two wins, two seconds and two thirds in eight starts, Ny Traffic has earned $365,470.

NYRA’s revised schedule for 25-day Belmont spring/summer meet heralds return of NY-bred stakes action

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

By Sarah Mace

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) has announced the stakes schedule for an abbreviated 25-day Belmont spring/summer meet which will run from Wednesday, June 3 through Sunday July 12.

As the connections of Empire State-breds will be pleased to discover, the six New York-Bred Big Apple Showcase races, originally scheduled to be run together on May 25, have been seeded throughout June and July on the new schedule. Moreover, we know that team Tiz the Law is pointing to the historic 152nd renewal of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes which will take place on Saturday, June 20.

Originally scheduled for 51 days from April 24 through July 12, the shorter Belmont spring/summer meet will offer at least one stakes race each day. Following a five-day opening week, live racing will be conducted Thursday through Sunday.

The six New York-Bred Big Apple Showcase races will be run singly in June and July as follows:

Friday, June 12: Commentator H. (NYB) $125,000 3&UP 1 Mile
Sunday, June 14: Mike Lee (NYB) $100,000 3YO 7 Furlongs
Thursday, June 18: Critical Eye H. (NYB) $125,000 F&M 3&UP 1 Mile
Sunday, June 28: Bouwerie (NYB) $100,000 F3YO 7 Furlongs
Thursday, July 2: Mount Vernon (NYB) $100,000 F&M 4&UP 1 Mile (Turf)
Sunday, July 5: Kingston (NYB) $100,000 4&UP 1 1/16 (Turf)

The new Belmont schedule also adds a pair of overnight sprint stakes on grass restricted to New York-breds, which are named for New York-bred turf luminaries Hessonite and Banrock.

Friday, June 26: Hessonite (NYB) 75,000 F&M 4&UP 6 Furlongs (Turf)
Thursday, July 9: Banrock (NYB) 75,000 4&UP 6 Furlongs (Turf)

The centerpiece of the meet will of course be the 152nd renewal of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes. The race will be contested at nine furlongs, rather than the traditional 1 1/2-mile distance established in 1926. For the first time in history, it will serve as the opening leg of the Triple Crown.

Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg have been pointing star New York-bred sophomore Tiz the Law to this historic contest since shortly after his victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 28, which they had to celebrate remotely. The Constitution colt is posting regular works at Palm Meadows and will ship to New York on or around June 1.


Finger Lakes opens backside for training June 1

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack announced May 18 that the Farmington track will open for training June 1. In the coming days the track will apply to the New York Gaming Commission to resume live racing July 13 without the presence of spectators.

“It is anticipated that trainers will use the next six weeks to condition and ready their horses for the live racing season,” read the statement. “In accordance with the state’s order in response to COVID-19, Finger Lakes remains temporarily closed, including for gaming, simulcast wagering, events, and dining.

“Prior to suspending operations in March, we worked to protect public health by following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on sanitizing protocols and cleaning throughout our venue. Our planning for reopening has been focused on a comprehensive program that features additional ways that we will help keep our guests and employees safe from COVID-19. We will provide more information on that program ahead of reopening as we continue to consult with local and state government officials.”

Niko’s Dream gets up in time to upset Gulfstream AOC for team Sackatoga

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Coglianese Photos / Lauren King

By Sarah Mace

On the Sunday of what would have been Preakness weekend – had the traditional Triple Crown schedule not been scrambled courtesy of COVID-19 – Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg got a nice boost at Gulfstream Park while patiently awaiting the time when their star sophomore Tiz the Law can compete in the 2020 classics. Niko’s Dream, a 4-year-old filly by New York sire Central Banker with solid back class, got up just in time to defeat a strong field of eight in a first-level allowance / optional claiming contest run at 1 1/6 miles over “good” turf.

Fifth choice in the wagering at 11-1 odds behind higher profile rivals, Niko’s Dream brought consistency and back class to the race. Already on her resume were seven placings in 11 prior starts (all on turf), including a pair of runner-up finishes to the talented Kid Is Frosty in divisions of the New York Stallion Stakes Series last summer: Belmont’s Cupecoy’s Joy, where she missed by a neck, and Saratoga’s Statue of Liberty where she finished three lengths back. Dylan Davis, aboard for the filly’s seasonal debut on March 20, a fifth-place finish just two lengths behind the winner at the same trip at Gulfstream, had the call.

Drawn in post six (of eight), Niko’s Dream was outrun in the trip to the clubhouse turn, traveling about eight lengths off the pace with only one horse beaten, but securing a ground-saving trip around the bend. Patient early in the backstretch run, Niko’s Dream tugged her way into the midst of the mid-pack scrum as the half went in 47.92.

Advancing into contention in the turn three-wide, but stuck behind a wall of five horses, Niko’s Dream angled out widest of all for the sprint home and launched her bid.

By mid-stretch Niko’s Dream had four horses left to pass and two lengths to make up. She lowered her head, stretched out her neck and lengthened her stride to erase the deficit and, ultimately, get up to win by a neck. She completed the 1 1/16 miles in a sharp 1:41.58.

Hotsy Totsy, a Christophe Clement trainee coming off a long layoff and the 3-2 favorite, was second in the blanket finish, followed a head back by Music of Life and Isla Road, who dead-heated for third.

The victory improved Niko’s Dream’s record to three wins, four seconds and third in 12 starts and boosted her bankroll to $196,050.

Bred by Nick Peros, Niko’s Dream is the first foal out of Adriatic Dream, New York-bred daughter of Wild Desert who was stakes placed on turf. She has produced two full sisters to Niko’s Dream, Adriatic Holiday and Adriatic Rose, and yearling colt by Laoban.

Niko’s Dream was offered once at public auction, the 2017 OBS October yearling sale, where she was a $32,000 buyback.

Hot Mist & Bok Choy produce NY-flavored exacta in Tampa MSW; Bustin Stones sires winner of Gulfstream’s Powder Break

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

Hot Mist, first foal o/o Hot Stones (SV Photography)

By Sarah Mace

While the New York Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries were still reveling Saturday in Governor Cuomo’s announcement that horse racing can resume in New York as early as June 1, more than a thousand miles away, New York-connected horses were celebrating in their own way on the Florida ovals.

A pair of first-time starters injected a strong New York flavor into a maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies at Tampa Bay Downs on Florida’s west coast. Across the state, at Gulfstream Park, New York sire Bustin Stones got another feather in his progeny cap when his PA-bred 5-year-old daughter Jakarta upset the $75,000, Powder Break Stakes.

The debut maiden-breaker, Pennsylvania-bred Hot Mist by Tonalist, is the first foal out New York-bred graded stakes winner Hot Stones. Hot Mist rallied from fifth as the 8-5 favorite to win the seven-furlong contest for West Point Thoroughbreds and trainer Christophe Clement.

During her racing career, Hot Stones had the distinction of giving New York sire Bustin Stones (Waldorf Farm) his first stakes winner when she got up in the final stride to capture Belmont’s Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses Handicap in 2014. The following year Hot Stones won the Saratoga Dew at the Spa. Bred by Jerry Bilinski and Roddy Valente and campaigned by Valente and partners, the mare won eight races in 19 starts and retired with $521,356 in earnings.

Hot Stones changed hands twice since being retired in 2015, going first to Raylan Givens for $200,000 at the 2016 Keeneland January Sale and purchased later in the year at the Keeneland November sale by Clarkland Farm for $250,000. West Point went to $110,000 to purchase the filly at the 2018 Keeneland September sale.

The runner-up to Hot Mist in that same maiden special was New York-bred Bok Choy. Out-performing her 14-1 odds, she delivered a strong and determined performance for trainer Roy Lerman, dispatching the pacesetter early and yielding late to make the favorite work for her 2 1/2-length win.

Bok Choy, a dark bay brown filly by Shanghai Bobby is a homebred for Lambholm and Ella Fletcher. She is the seventh winner from 10 foals start out of veteran producer Clever Me, an unraced Florida-bred daughter of Not For Love, whose Pomeroy gelding Papa’s Paisley is a six-figure earner, In training at Saratoga as a juvenile last summer, Bok Choy tuned up for her debut with a steady series of moves at Tampa dating back to late march.

Later that afternoon on Florida’s opposite coast, Bustin Stones (Waldorf Farm) got another feather in his progeny cap at Gulfstream Park when his 5-year-old PA-bred daughter Jakarta upset the $75,000, Powder Break Stakes, originally scheduled for the turf and run at one mile on a muddy harrowed track labeled “fast.” She led at every pole, eventually kicking away to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Bred by Arrowwood Farm, Jakarta was purchased by her owner Three Diamonds Farm for only $35,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale.

Sent off at odds of 11-1, the Mike Maker-trainee came into the race in sharp form, having wired her seasonal debut, a five-furlong sprint on turf in her first start for the Maker barn. She had previously run exclusively on dirt. Winner of her 2019 debut at Penn National, Jakarta has won six of 11 races and earned $159,986.


Cuomo: racing can resume without spectators as early as June 1; NYRA’s O’Rourke applauds decision

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

Briefing screen shot 5/16

By Sarah Mace

Governor Cuomo announced during his daily COVID-19 briefing on Saturday, May 16 that horse racing can resume in New York as early as June 1.

Discussing his phased reopening plan of New York’s economy early in the briefing, Cuomo said, “We’re getting more nuanced in our analysis, looking at economic activities that you can start without crowds and without gatherings. Remember, the problem here are crowds and gathering. What economic activity is willing to reopen without a crowd?

“We can do that in this state with horse racing tracks and we’re going to do that. There will be guidelines for the actual participants, but no crowds, no fans. But for the industry itself, for the televised viewers, that can still work.”

NYRA has already submitted a comprehensive plan to the state and the New York Gaming Commission outlining the steps it is taking to maintain a safe environment for those who must be on hand to conduct racing.

On May 21 NYRA issued a statement about “seeking to resume live racing at Belmont Park in the absence of fans” and announced that it “[has] prepared operating plans that follow the same model for Saratoga.” The statement continues, in part:

“These plans prioritize the health and safety of employees, horsemen and the backstretch community and include a broad array of risk mitigation strategies developed according to the most updated heath guidance. By closing to the public, layering additional health and safety protocols to our ongoing practices, and reducing the number of employees on-property, NYRA is in a position to provide a small sense of normalcy for fans across the country who can watch on television and online.”

NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke also issued a statement Saturday in response to the Governor’s announcement, adding that race dates and a corresponding stakes schedule for Belmont Park will be announced in “the very near future”:

NYRA and the New York racing community are thankful for Governor Cuomo’s steady leadership throughout this public health crisis and we applaud his decision to authorize the resumption of horse racing, without fans, beginning on June 1. This is a reasoned and responsible decision by Governor Cuomo that will enable horse racing to resume in a way that prioritizes health and safety while recognizing that NYRA is the cornerstone of an industry responsible for 19,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual economic impact.

We look forward to the resumption of live racing at Belmont Park with all appropriate health and safety protocols in place to support the hundreds of small businesses, family-owned farms and thousands of hourly workers who form the backbone of thoroughbred racing in New York.

NYRA has developed a comprehensive safety plan that builds on our experience of operating training safely and responsibly during the pandemic, and includes extensive protocols to keep our community safe.

With this safety plan in place, NYRA will announce race dates and a corresponding stakes schedule for the 2020 spring/summer meet at Belmont Park in the very near future.

The Governor has reiterated during these challenging times that sports provide much needed entertainment for New Yorkers. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and his team, fans across New York and around the country can look forward to the return of horse racing from beautiful Belmont Park.

VIDEO of the Governor’s remarks with ASL interpretation will soon be available on YouTube here.

AUDIO of the remarks will soon be available here.

Finger Lakes HBPA to assist horsemen with stimulus checks

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

(Finger Lakes HBPA press release)

The horsemen’s association at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, in Farmington, N.Y., is sending out its own version of stimulus checks this week to its racehorse owners and trainers.

The Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, in conjunction with racetrack management, will send checks reflecting $25 for every start made by a trainer at the 2019 Finger Lakes meet and $100 for every start made by an owner. A trainer who owns the horse will get $125 per start. The total cost is estimated to be $827,000, which will be funded through canceled race days and a reduced stakes program.

“Our board of directors felt it imperative to get some quick money to our horsemen to help with expenses, including feeding their horses, as everyone waits for racing to resume in New York,” said Finger Lakes HBPA president Chris Vaccaro. “It’s designed to be a shot in the arm for our trainers and owners with horses at area farms, training centers or wintering out of state. The coronavirus has been a devastating health and economic crisis for millions of Americans. Our horsemen continue to feed and take care of their horses with no way to earn income to defray the cost, adding to their financial hardship.”

Finger Lakes was scheduled to let in horses for training starting March 15 and to begin its 127-date race meet on April 25 — with both dates pushed back indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Finger Lakes HBPA and Finger Lakes Gaming & Racing are working with the New York State Gaming Commission and state and local health officials to determine how and when the track can safely open for training and subsequently racing.

Finger Lakes HBPA executive director Austin Reed said he hopes the track can get in an 85- or 90-date meet. Updates are available on Twitter at @FingerLakesHBPA on Twitter and the track’s website,

Tiz the Law and Manny Franco stalk their way to victory in Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

By Sarah Mace

New Yorkers looking for something to cheer about in the waning days of March 2020, need look no further than Sackatoga Stable’s magnificent blaze-faced 3-year-old Tiz the Law. The New York-bred Constitution colt cemented his status as the top sophomore in the country Saturday after winning the Grade 1, $750,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park after a perfect stalking trip under jockey Manny Franco.

From the win Tiz the Law picked up 100 more qualifying points on “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” bringing his total to 122 and setting him atop the leaderboard. Recently, of course, that “Road” became four months longer than it would be in ordinary days. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Churchill Downs has rescheduled the 2020 Run for the Roses from the first Saturday in May (May 2) to the first Saturday in September (September 5). Provided all goes smoothly in the interim, Tiz the Law will be there.

Trained by Barclay Tagg, Tiz the Law brought multiple assets to the table to face his eight rivals in the Florida Derby: gate speed, tactical speed, a willingness to rate and athleticism. He and Franco have also been a good fit ever since last fall when they rallied to win the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont by four lengths.

Bet down to the 7-5 post time favorite, Tiz the Law was, on paper, pitted against the speedy Ete Indien, the second betting choice at odds of 5-2. Tiz the Law beat Ete Indien by three lengths in the Grade 3 Holy Bull on February 1 after his rival set the pace. By design, he trained for 56 days straight through to the Florida Derby. Ete Indien, however, took a huge step forward by competing in the interim, scoring a stunning gate-to-wire eight-plus length victory in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

Exiting readily from four-hole, Tiz the Law and Franco began immediately to execute on the game plan. Franco expected that Ete Indien would try to clear the field from post eight, but wanted to make sure Tiz the Law stayed in the clear for running room. In fact, longshot Shiveree took control early from post two, Ete Indien set up at his flank in second, while Tiz the Law took up a stalking position in third outside the early leaders.

Coglianese Photos/Nikki Bernstein

Ete Indien and Shiveree continued to vie through three-quarters of a mile, clocking splits of 23.75, 47.95 and 1:11.94. Tiz the Law then began his serious bid in the far turn, ranging up alongside the duelers three-wide, engaging them in the bend and emerging with a slight advantage as they straightened away.

Set down for the drive under a confident Franco, Tiz the Law answered the call, lengthened his stride and drew off to a much-the-best 4 1/4-length victory. After one mile in 1:36.79, the final time for nine furlongs was 1:50 flat.

Overachiever Shivaree, who was let go at odds of 80-1, crossed the line second, while Ete Indien had to settle for third, three-quarters of a length further back and a neck ahead of Gouverneur Morris, who completed the superfecta.

Franco said, “I want to give all the credit to the horse. [Tiz the Law] broke out of there perfectly, like a shot, and I was able to let the horse on the outside clear me and I ended up in a great position. I sat third and I just thought about waiting for the right moment, and I was happy by the five-sixteenths pole. All the time when I called on him a little bit, he was there for me.”

Jack Knowlton of Sackatoga Stable, who couldn’t be in attendance due to health and safety protocols that prohibited spectators, even owners, from attending Saturday’s races, said on behalf of his ownership group, “All we know is that we’ve got a horse that’s very special, and it’s pretty exciting for us. Unfortunately. none of us could be there today. We were all watching it on TV from coast to coast.” Knowlton earlier told hosts on FS1 that, otherwise, Tiz the Law’s cheering section at the track would have been 70-80 strong.

Coglianese Photos/Derby Glass

Overall, Tiz the Law is only three-quarters of a length shy of perfection in five career starts. Winner of his August 8 Saratoga debut, a 6 1/2 sprint against state-breds, by 4 1/2 lengths, Tiz the Law went straight on to the Grade 1 Champagne, where he parlayed a stumbling start and pocketed trip into another stunning win after agilely angling out in the stretch.

After passing on a cross-country trip to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in his final start of the year Tiz the Law finished third, three-quarters of a length behind the winner in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. In the contest run over sloppy going, he was covered up and waylaid in traffic which robbed him of his final punch. In 2020 Tiz the Law has been flawless, winning the Holy Bull and Florida Derby by a combined 7 1/4 lengths.

Tiz the Law was bred by Twin Creeks Farm and foaled at Sequel Stallions New York. Knowlton purchased him at the 2018 Saratoga New York-bred preferred yearling sale from the Sequel consignment for $110,000. From four wins and a third he has earned $945,300 in his young career.

Tiz the Law’s dam, Kentucky-bred Tizfiz, is a winner of four stakes on turf with a graded placing on dirt. She was purchased by Twin Creeks Farm for $125,000 at the 2014 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Tiz the Law is the mare’s second foal to earn black type. Awestruck, by Tapit, who was a $525,000 yearling, has collected four stakes placings to date. A full sister to graded stakes winner Fury Kapcori, Tizfiz also issues from the female family of 1997 Horse of the Year Favorite Trick (Phone Trick). She has a juvenile filly by Mission Impazible named Angel Oak, an unnamed yearling by the same sire and was bred back to Constitution in 2019.

Dream Bigger steals the show in Damon Runyon

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Repole Stable’s Dream Bigger, a grey son of Mission Impazible, returned to his winning ways in style Sunday, taking the featured $100,000 Damon Runyon at Aqueduct Racetrack by 7 3/4 lengths under Junior Alvarado.

The field of the Damon Runyon, a 7-furlong race for New York-bred 3-year-olds, was a well-matched group of six, several of whom have been knocking heads since last fall. In the end, bettors gave a slight edge to Dream Bigger, drawn in post one, betting him down to 2-1 odds.

Dream Bigger broke inward at the bell, but got straightened out in short order and scooted up the rail to assume a half-length lead over Scilly Cay through early fractions of 23.16 and 46.60.

Improving on his advantage and shaking off Scilly Cay for good in the bend, Dream Bigger expanded his lead to nearly four lengths by the time he hit the quarter pole and never looked back, drawing off to win by 7 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:25.89 over the fast going.

More Graytful, who broke his maiden last out on February 17, rode the rail throughout from post position two and closed well, if greenly, from fourth to capture the runner-up position, followed by Bourbon Bay. Prince of Pharoahs, Titan’s Will and Scilly Cay completed the order of finish. Chowda, winner of the Gander Stakes last out on February 16, was scratched. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“He broke good, but he broke inside,” Junior Alvarado recounted. “I think that’s why he lost a little momentum going forward at the break. My only plan today was to put him on the lead and see how long he could carry his speed. Today, he had a good day, and he carried it all the way to the wire. I thought somebody would put pressure on me, but I didn’t have a second plan today. I was going to go to the lead breaking fast or slow. I was committed to the lead before the break.”

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez concurred. “He ran a big race. He broke a little slow, but Junior hustled him out of there and they took it from there.”

Well regarded from his debut, Dream Bigger has been sent off as the post time favorite in each of his seven career starts and has never finished off the board.

Second to top Kentucky Derby contender Tiz the Law in his Saratoga debut, the grey broke his maiden two starts later in dramatic fashion, romping by more than 10 lengths in the New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes on September 30. Winner of the Notebook Stakes next out in November, he suffered a heartbreaking nose loss in the $500,000 Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes series. Third in the Rego Park to Scilly Cay, he was freshened for 63 days for his Damon Runyon effort.

Coming into the race, Dream Bigger boasted the field’s biggest bankroll. His third stakes win bolstered his earnings to $376,178.

Bred by Sequel New York, Twin Creeks Racing and Pamela Zielinski, Dream Bigger is the most recent reported foal, and one of two winners, out of Downtown Daria, a Kentucky-bred winner by Sky Mesa. The mare’s Noonmark filly Downtown at Noon placed in the Niagara Stakes at Finger Lakes in 2017 and earned just shy of six figures.

Dream Bigger changed hands three times at public auction. Northface Bloodstock purchased him for $15,000 as a weanling out of the 2017 Fasig-Tipton New York fall mixed sale. Returning next summer in the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, he brought $65,000 from Whetstone Farm. Mike Repole went to $205,000 to take him home from the 2019 OBS spring 2-year-old sale.

New York sire Mission Impazible stands at Sequel Stallions New York in Hudson for a 2020 fee of $5,000.


Heavy favorite Ice Princess obliges in Maddie May

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

NYRA/Coglianese Photos

By Sarah Mace

Bet down to odds of 2-5 in the $100,000 Maddie May Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies featured on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack, Ice Princess obliged her backers when she rallied to a convincing 2 1/2-length victory in the one-turn mile. The grey / roan daughter of Palace Malice, co-owned by Flying P Stable, R.A. Hill Stable and Corms Racing Stable, is now two-for-two in 2020 for trainer Danny Gargan.

Ice Princess won her September 6 Belmont debut – an off-the-turf affair run at 1 1/6 miles over a sloppy (sealed) racetrack – by an eye-popping 12 lengths. Her connections thought well enough of that performance to run her back four weeks later in the Grade 1 Frizette, where she finished an even fourth.

Freshened for 3 1/2 months for her sophomore campaign, Ice Princess returned to action on January 20 to win a first-level New York-bred allowance at one mile by 4 1/2 lengths, roundly defeating three of her four Maddie May Rivals: Courageous Girl, Myawaya and Holmdel Park. The fifth member of the five-horse Maddie May field was Nicky Scissors (3-1 second choice), who was looking to step up in her first race against winners after breaking her maiden second out at 6 1/2 furlongs by more than 10 lengths on January 17.

Following a good start for all, Ice Princess settled in fourth at the rail letting Nicky Scissors and 35-1 Courageous Girl, battle it out for the lead. Manny Franco, aboard for all three of the filly’s prior starts, had to keep an eye on possible traffic issues as Ice Princess found herself boxed in at the fence in the close-packed bunch for the length of the backstretch.

Following early splits of 23.45 and 47.15, Nicky Scissors began to tire leaving Courageous Girl on the lead solo. Ice Princess, shuffled back to last at one point, saw a seam late in the turn, angled out three-wide and advanced, engaging Courageous Girl at the three-sixteenths marker and grabbing the lead by a head with a furlong to go.

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Living up to her name, Courageous Girl stayed in the fight but was ultimately outmatched as Ice Princess drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Myawaya (9-2) finished third 5 3/4 more lengths back, followed across the line by Holmdel Park (9-1) and Nicky Scissors. After six furlongs in 1:12.59, Ice Princess stopped the timer at 1:39.70. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“I was the favorite, so they weren’t going to let me do it easily,” jockey Manny Franco said. “I had horse the whole way. I felt that as soon as I got out and I asked my filly, she was going to respond the best. I felt that I had a lot of horse. She still is a little green. When she made the lead, she kind of pulled up a little bit. Once you start working on her, she gets going.”

David Donk, who trains surprise runner-up Courageous Girl, commented, “I thought Dylan [Davis] gave her a great ride. I was a little concerned there was so much speed in the race. Obviously, she didn’t match up on paper the way she has run. But Dylan gave her an excellent trip and she really hung in there and the winner had to get by her and really earn it.”

When the race was drawn, R.A. Hill Stable’s Randy Hill was already looking forward to Ice Princess’ next appointment with the starter. “She’s nominated to the Bourbonette at Turfway Park (on March 14) so we’d like to try and get some Kentucky Oaks points with her,” Hill said. The Bourbonette offers 20-8-4-2 Oaks points to the top four finishers.

As to the filly’s future prospects, Franco opined, “The more distance, the better for her. She’s got the right body for it and I think she can go the distance.”

Bred by Mina Equivest and foaled at Thomas Mina’s Five Oak Farm in Saratoga Springs, Ice Princess is out of the Awesome Again mare Happy Clapper, an Ontario-bred multiple stakes-placed runner last purchased for $90,000 by Summerfield Sales at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale. Both of her offspring to run are winners. She also has an unnamed juvenile colt by Exaggerator, a yearling filly by Connect and was bred to Kantharos in 2019.

Corms Racing and R. A. Hill bought Ice Princess for $75,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale in 2018. From three wins in four starts, the grey has earned $148,300.