Saloon Girl Romps in Maiden Score Sunday
By Bill Heller
Lindy Farms’ two-year-old filly Saloon Girl shot to the lead under Dylan Davis and never had an anxious moment, taking a six-furlong $62,000 New York-bred maiden special weight switched from the turf to the “fast” main track by 4 ½ lengths in-hand Sunday at Belmont Park. Sent off the slight 3-2 favorite in a field of eight, Saloon Girl won in a final time of 1:11.71.
Lem Me Have It, a firster sent off at 27-1 odds under David Cohen, closed well to finish second, 4 ½ lengths ahead of 32-1 firster Fight On Lucy and Luis Saez. Winifred J, who was adding Lasix and went off at 8-5 odds under Javier Castellano, finished a distant fourth, eight lengths behind Fight On Lucy.
Joemar Racing Stables bred Saloon Girl, a daughter of Alpha out of Carson City Girl by Carson City who sold for just $3,000 in 2016 and is trained by Wesley Ward. Saloon Girl was making her second career start after finishing second by 6 ¼ lengths as the 2-1 favorite under Davis on September 7th.
Davis got Saloon Girl out quickly from the gate and she took charge of the race immediately. She stretched a one-length lead after an opening quarter-mile in :23.43 to 2 ½ lengths by running a half-mile in :47.04. Then she poured it on, opening an eight-length cushion before Davis took a hold of her and let her cruise home easily in front.
Saloon Girl has already earned more than $40,000 in her first two starts.
Owner/trainer Bruce Levine’s new claim, three-year-old New York-bred gelding Flatexcel, turned a 6 ½-furlong $36,000 conditional $25,000 claimer into a showcase, scoring coast-to-coast under Javier Castellano by 6 ¼ lengths. Sent off at 7-2 odds in the field of eight, Flatexcel won in a final time of 1:17.36.
Crea’s Bklyn Law, sent off at odds of 5-2 under Harry Hernandez, closed strongly to finish second, nearly six lengths clear of 5-2 New York-bred Nolinski and Manny Franco. New York-bred Altesino, who went off at 9-1 odds with Dylan Davis riding, finished fourth, a half-length behind Nolinski.
Omega Farm bred Flatexcel, a son of Flat Out out of Sweetlalabye by Sweetsouthernsaint who sold for $40,000 in October 2016. Levine claimed Flatexcel for $16,000 on September 19th, when he finished a hard-fought third by a neck as the 8-5 favorite under Jose Lezcano.
Castellano sent him to the front Sunday and he led by two lengths through an opening quarter-mile in :23.14 and a half-mile in :46.75. Then Flatexcel hit another gear, spurting to a daylight advantage on the way to an easy score.
Flatexcel is now two-for-14 with four seconds, two thirds and earnings of just under $60,000.
Pat On the Back Recovers From Poor Break to Win the Empire Classic
Any pre-race strategy jockey Dylan Davis had regarding his mount on Harold Lerner, AWC Stables and Nehoc Stable’s four-year-old colt Pat On the Back went out the window at the start. Sent off the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10 contesting the mile-and-an-eighth $300,000 Empire Classic on New York-Bred Showcase Day at Belmont Park Saturday, Pat On the Back lunged when the starting gate opened and nearly went to his knees.
Davis didn’t panic. He let the horse regain his balance and then delivered a flawless ride, rallying Pat On the Back to a length-and-a-half victory and giving Lerner and Nehoc Stables their second Showcase Day stakes after winning the Hudson with Runaway Lute, the horse who gave Javier Castellano his 5,000th career victory.
Can You Diggit, sent off at odds of 5-1 with Junior Alvarado aboard, rallied to finish second, one length ahead of 10-1 Mr. Buff and David Cohen. Wine Not, who went off at 11-1 odds under Manny Franco, finished fourth, just a neck behind Mr. Buff.
Sugar Maple Farm bred Pat On the Back, a son of Congrats out of Accomplished by Awesome Again who sold for $70,000 as a yearling at Saratoga in August 2015 and is trained by Jeremiah Englehart.
Pat On the Back, who had been principally sprinting earlier in his career, took his game to a whole new level when he finished second by a nose to subsequent Grade 1 winner Diversify in the $200,000 Commentator Stakes on May 28th.
Pat On the Back then won the $90,000 Saginaw Stakes by a length and three-quarters on July 13th before finishing second by a neck to Can You Diggit in the $97,000 Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga on August 20th. Englehart freshened Pat On the Back and, outside of the clumsy start, he raced lights-out in posting his most significant victory.
Pat On the Back settled in third as 7-2 Sea Foam and Joel Rosario set the pace while prompted by Mr. Buff through early splits of :24.26, :47.94 and 1:12.03.
Mr. Buff took over the front and Pat On the Back was right behind him going three-wide. Pat On the Back then took the lead, opened a clear advantage and maintained it to the finish line.
“This was a great way to end a fantastic day, also winning the Hudson today with Runaway Lute,” Lerner said afterwards. “It’s been a great Empire Showcase Day for me and my partners. We’ll definitely enjoy today and we always love to support the New York-bred program.”
Davis said of his winner, “He really likes this track and handles it well.”
No lie there. Pat On the Back is now three-for-eight at Belmont with three seconds and a pair of thirds. Overall, Pat On the Back is six-for-20 on dirt with four seconds and four thirds. He has also raced once on grass and has total earnings of more than $710,000.
Bankit Wins the Sleepy Hollow Stakes from Off the Pace
Expectations were always high for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willie Horton Racing’s two-year-old colt Bankit. He sold for $200,000 as a two-year-old in March 2018 and showed blazing early speed in all of his first four starts, finishing second and a runaway first in two maiden races, second by a nose in the $194,000 Funny Cide Stakes, and a badly tiring fourth in the $150,000 BF Bongard Stakes under Jose Ortiz.
On Saturday Irad Ortiz Jr., who rode Bankit in his debut, asked him to rate in the one-mile $250,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes on New York-Bred Showcase Day at Belmont Park. It turned out to be a good idea, as Bankit responded with a sensational 5 ¾-length victory. Sent off at 5-1 odds in the field of 12, Bankit won in a final time of 1:37.69.
Bustin Hoffman, sent off at 21-1 odds under Junior Alvarado, finished strongly for second, a length and a quarter clear of 15-1 Strive for a Cure and Weston Hamilton. Riken, who went off at odds of 68-1 with Manny Franco riding, led late but had to settle for fourth, one length behind Strive for a Cure.
Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing bred Bankit, a son of Central Banker out of Sister in Arms by Colonel John.
Bankit broke fourth from the four post, and Ortiz took a hold of him as the unbeaten gray Dugout, the 5-2 favorite ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., took the field to an opening quarter-mile in :22.88 and a half-mile in :46.57. At that point, Bankit was eighth.
Bankit then rallied into fifth on the inside before angling him out three-wide at the top of the stretch as Dugout began to tire.
After three-quarters in 1:12.30, Riken took the lead as Bankit rallied strongly into second. Bankit blasted past Riken and opened up on the field, winning by himself.
“I got a perfect trip,” Ortiz said. “I thought there was a lot of speed in the race and we have speed. But we didn’t want to be on the front end and going head-to-head in a speed duel. We tried to relax through the first part of the race and then finish, and that’s what we did. We’ve been working him behind horses and he’s had some dirt in his face. At the three-eighths pole, I had a lot of horse. When I tipped him out, I knew he was going to be right there.”
Besides showing he can race on the lead or off the pace, Bankit improved his record to two-for-five with two seconds and earnings of more than $240,000.
Is there anything more exciting than owning a versatile, proven two-year-old?
White-Hot Castellano Rallies Fifty Five to Win the Ticonderoga Stakes
Maybe New York-Bred Showcase Day should be renamed Javier Castellano New York-Bred Showcase Day. Castellano rallied Peter Brant’s four-year-old filly Fifty Five, the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven, to a one-length victory over La Moneda in the mile-and-a-sixteenth $200,000 Ticonderoga Stakes on grass. That gave Castellano three consecutive wins Saturday at Belmont Park, and all three were in New York-bred stakes: the Mohawk with Offering Plan, the Hudson with Runaway Lute and the Ticonderoga with Fifty Five, his 5,001st career victory.
La Moneda, sent off at 3-1 odds while seeking her fifth consecutive victory under Junior Alvarado, finished second, two lengths clear of 31-1 Conquest Hardcandy and Joe Bravo. Lady Joan, who went off at odds of 9-1 with Luis Saez riding, finished fourth, 2 ½ lengths behind Conquest Hardcandy while a nose in front of 9-1 Munchkin Money and John Velazquez.
After the race, Castellano deflected the praise to Fifty Five’s trainer, Chad Brown. “She’s been doing really, really well lately,” Castellano said. “Chad’s done a great job maintaining the horse to be at her best. Believe me, I’m just the pilot. I just had to enjoy the ride. She finished well. I really like this filly.”
Empire Equines bred Fifty Five, a highly accomplished daughter of Get Stormy out of Soave by Brahms. Fifty Five was coming off a two-length victory in the John Hettinger Stakes at 4-5 odds on September 23rd, and she went off at the same price Saturday. Why? She had only finished out of the money once in 15 races, all on grass.
“This horse is bigger and stronger this year and has done really well outside Saratoga,” Brown said. “Saratoga isn’t her favorite course for whatever reason.”
That was irrelevant on Saturday. At Belmont Park before the Ticonderoga, Fifty Five had three wins, two seconds and one third from seven starts.
Castellano settled Fifty Five in sixth early as 6-1 Lovely La La and Irad Ortiz Jr. set the pace with a clear lead over Conquest Hardcandy. La Moneda was fourth on the outside and Fifty Five wasn’t far behind her.
After a half-mile in :49.12, Conquest Hardcandy took the lead as La Moneda rallied three-wide and Fifty Five began her bid four-wide behind her.
Both La Moneda and Fifty Five cleared Conquest Hardcandy. La Moneda took a brief lead but couldn’t hold off Fifty Five, who struck the lead late and won in a final time of 1:42.21 on the “good” inner turf course.
Fifty Five is now seven-for-16 in her career with three seconds, five thirds and earnings topping $650,000.
Offering Plan Dominates in the Mohawk Stakes
Leaving absolutely no doubt about who was best in this year’s mile-and-a-sixteenth $200,000 Mohawk Stakes for New York-breds, Michael Dubb, Nantucket Thoroughbred Partners, Bethlehem Stables and Gary Aisquith’s six-year-old horse Offering Plan, ridden perfectly by Javier Castellano, stormed to the lead at the top of the stretch and rolled to a six-length victory as the 6-5 favorite from the outside post in a field of eight on New York-Bred Showcase Day at Belmont Park Saturday. Offering Plan won in a final time of 1:42.01 on the “good” Widener turf course.
Rapt, sent off at odds of 14-1 under Manny Franco, finished a well-clear second, 7 ¼ lengths ahead of 4-1 Red Knight and Junior Alvarado. Front-running Mo Maverick, who went off at 9-1 odds with Luis Saez up, lasted for fourth, a length and a quarter behind Red Knight.
CW Swann and Cygnet Farm bred Offering Plan, a son of Spring At Last out of Rosalie Road by Street Cry who is trained by Chad Brown.
A year ago in the Mohawk Stakes, Offering Plan made up nearly 10 lengths late but finished second as the 3-5 favorite, a length and a quarter behind wire-to-wire winner Black Tide at 4-1 odds. This year, Black Tide entered the Mohawk off a length-and-a-quarter coast-to-coast victory over Offering Plan in the $120,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes at 28-1 odds.
On Saturday, Black Tide went off at 9-2 odds under regular rider Jose Lezcano. But the extreme speedster who almost always breaks in front came out of the gate next-to-last, allowing Mo Maverick to get the lead. Lezcano rushed up Black Tide to take over, but Mo Maverick wouldn’t let him, leading by a neck after running a fast first quarter-mile in :22.54. Mo Maverick edged three-quarters of a length ahead of Black Tide by running a half-mile in :46.38.
Castellano, who has ridden Offering Plan in his last 11 starts, had to be thrilled as he saw the speed duel far in front of him. Castellano had settled Offering Plan clear on the outside in sixth early, and he asked Offering Plan for more early.
Offering Plan quickly moved up to fourth and then made a breathtaking rush into and around the far turn.
Offering Plan shot past Mo Maverick and Black Tide and opened up on the field after three-quarters in 1:11.48.
Offering Plan poured it on through the stretch, completely dominating his rivals to win utterly isolated on the lead. The victory was No. 4,999 in Castellano’s career. He didn’t wait long to win his 5,000th in the very next race on Runaway Lute in the $150,000 Hudson Stakes.
Castellano admitted he changed tactics on Offering Plan Saturday: “Today I did something different. Everything worked out perfect today.”
Brown, sporting a wide smile in the winner’s circle, knew that Castellano was a big reason why. “The horse really responded well with Javier asking him to go a little earlier,” Brown said. “Sometimes this horse is funny to ride. He’ll lose interest early in his races. Javier has really done a great job trying to get this horse motivated in the first half of his races, which isn’t always easy. The horse just really finished strong. I’m proud of him.”
Offering Plan has finished out of the money only twice in his last 11 starts, both in open company. He was seventh in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last year and third in this year’s open $150,000 Forbidden Apple Stakes at Belmont before finishing second at Saratoga in the West Point Stakes and second again in the Ashley T. Cole.
He showed his readiness for the Mohawk with a four-furlong bullet dirt work on the Oklahoma Training Track at Saratoga October 7th, and another good four-furlong work a week later.
His Mohawk victory made him eight-for-23 in his all-grass career with five seconds, four thirds and earnings of more than $750,000. He is particularly sharp at Belmont, where he is five-for-12 with three seconds and three thirds.
After battling on the front end the entire race, Exline-Border Racing and Steven Johnson’s three-year-old filly Newport Breeze, with John Velazquez riding, finally subdued Starlite Mission and Junior Alvarado to win Saturday’s finale, a seven-furlong $66,000 New York-bred allowance switched from the turf to the dirt, by a half-length in a final time of 1:24.08. Newport Breeze was sent off at odds of 9-2 and Starlite Mission was the 2-1 favorite in the field of seven.
Starlite Mission held second, 4 ½ lengths ahead of 5-2 Puffery and Javier Castellano. Out of Orbit, sent off at 3-1 odds under Luis Saez, finished another length back in fourth.
Crossed Sabres Farm bred Newport Breeze, a daughter of Majestic Warrior out of Coy Cat by Hold That Tiger who sold for $100,000 as a two-year-old in March 2017 and is trained by George Weaver. Newport Beach finished fifth at 7-1 odds in her prior start on September 21st, her first race in three months.
Starlite Mission and Newport Beach hooked up on the lead immediately, with Newport Beach leading narrowly on Starlite Mission’s outside through a half-mile in :47.18. Then Starlite Mission stuck a head in front, but Newport Beach surged again. She edged away late.
Newport Beach is now two-for-10 with one second, two thirds and earnings of just under $150,000.
Racing like an old pro under Eric Cancel, Commonwealth Stable and Randy Bradshaw’s debuting gelding Thorny Tale broke well, took over the lead when asked and drew off to take Saturday’s opener, a six-furlong $62,000 New York-bred maiden special weight for two-year-olds switched from the grass to the the “fast” main track, by 3 ¼ lengths. Sent off at 5-1 odds from the eight post in a field of nine, Thorny Tale won in a final time of 1:10.82.
Firster Tapit Tango, who went off at odds of 5-2 with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding, finished second, a length and three-quarters ahead of 11-1 firster Southern King and Joel Rosario. There was a 3 ½-length gap back to 12-1 Bydawnsearlylight and Joe Bravo in fourth.
McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds bred Thorny Tale, a son of Forty Tales out of Spirit of Rose by City Zip who sold for $21,000 as a yearling in October 2017 and is trained by George Weaver. Thorny Tale prepped for his debut with eight works at Saratoga and two at Belmont Park.
Cancel got Thorny Tale away third as 6-1 Rouxhere, adding blinkers under Gary Richards, shot to the lead from the extreme outside post. Rouxhere led Bydawnsearlylight by 2 ½ lengths after a first quarter-mile in a quick :22.28. Then both Bydawnsearlylight and Thorny Tale moved up quickly as Rouxhere began to tire after a testing half-mile in :45.95.
Thorny Tale powered to the lead, opened up a safe cushion and cruised home to win.
Edward Witek’s homebred colt Kosciuszko, co-bred by Joseph Witek, turned a six-furlong $62,000 New York-bred maiden special weight on the grass for two-year-olds switched to the “fast” main track into a public workout, zipping to the lead and winning by 6 ¼ lengths under Jose Lezcano. Sent off the 2-1 second choice in a field of 10, Kosciuszko won in a final time of 1:10.12.
Beachside, the 8-5 favorite from the extreme outside post under Irad Ortiz Jr., rallied strongly to finish second, 4 ¼ lengths ahead of 9-1 Lost in Manhattan and Luis Saez. There was a 3 ¼-length gap back to 9-1 firster Overland and Joel Rosario in fourth.
Patrick Quick trains Kosciuszko, a son of Smart Bid out of Sunshine Stormy by Stormy Atlantic who began his career with a distant fourth-place finish on turf under Junior Alvarado and a brave second by a half-length on dirt with Lezcano on board.
Lezcano got Kosciuszko away sharply Saturday and he took a one-length lead on Lost in Manhattan through a :22.86 first quarter-mile. Kosciuszko upped his cushion to two lengths through a :45.94 half-mile and then he got away from the field, winning impressively.
Kosciuszko is now one-for-three with one second and earnings of more than $55,000.
Kreesie Gives Irad Ortiz Jr. and David Donk the Daily Double Friday
Friday’s racing at Belmont Park couldn’t have started any better for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and trainer David Donk as they swept the daily double. After Parlapiano won the opener, Gerald and Susan Kresa’s three-year-old gray filly Kreesie rode the rail the whole way to win the second race, a mile-and-a-sixteenth $70,000 New York-bred grass allowance, from off the pace by a half-length. Dispatched at 4-1 odds in the field of nine, Kreesie won in a final time of 1:43.20 on the “good” Widener turf course.
Giant Zinger, sent off at odds of 3-1 with Junior Alvarado aboard, finished second, a length and a quarter ahead of 3-1 gray Wegetsdamunnys, who broke slowly and rallied strongly under Jose Lezcano. Broken Border, who went off at 6-1 odds under Joel Rosario, finished fourth, four lengths behind Wegetsdamunnys.
Frank Lodato bred Kreesie, a daughter of Cosmonaut out of Three Emeralds by Three Wonders who finished third in her prior two starts under Jose Ortiz.
Irad Ortiz Jr. got Kreesie away sixth as Overnegotiate, the 5-2 favorite ridden by John Velazquez, took the field to an opening quarter in :23.98, a half-mile in :47.62 and three-quarters in 1:11.70 with Purely Lucky and Luis Saez chasing in second.
Kreesie, who had advanced into fourth, had a clear path on the inside of Overnegotiate and Purely Lucky, and Ortiz took advantage of it, sending her through to make the lead as Giant Zinger rallied into second on the outside. Kreesie dug in and held on for the victory.
Kreesie is now three-for-nine on turf with one second and three thirds. She also has one dirt start, for total earnings topping $180,000.
Deftly splitting horses in late stretch under Irad Ortiz Jr., Mendham Racing Stable’s freshened three-year-old filly Parlapiano captured Friday’s opener, a six-furlong $62,000 New York-bred maiden special weight, by a neck. Sent off at 5-1 odds in the field of six, Parlapiano won in a final time of 1:12.03.
First-time starter Blame It On Mom, sent off at 7-1 odds under Rajiv Maragh, finished second, a length and a quarter in front of front-running Overtime Olivia, the 4-5 favorite piloted by John Velazquez. There was a 2 ¾-length gap back to 2-1 Icy Maneuvers in fourth.
Sandy Glenn Stables bred Parlapiano, a daughter of Stay Thirsty out of Alpha Charlie by Eddington who sold for $32,000 as a two-year-old in May 2017 and is trained by David Donk. Donk gave his filly a near-two-month freshening off a distant sixth-place finish at 8-1 odds under Manny Franco at Saratoga on August 27th.
Parlapiano alternated in third and fourth early as Overtime Olivia nursed a slim lead over Icy Maneuvers through a first quarter-mile in :22.50 and a half-mile in :45.99.
Then Blame It On Mom made her bid on the outside as Icy Maneuvers began to weaken. Ortiz shot Parlapiano between Overtime Olivia and Icy Maneuvers to reach even terms with Blame It On Mom on her outside. Parlapiano proved a bit stronger, as Blame It On Mom fought all the way to the wire.
Parlapiano is now one-for-seven with three thirds and earnings of more than $40,000.
Happy Farm Racing Stable’s three-year-old gelding Encryption Key upped his record to two-for-two with a virtual wire-to-wire romp by 6 1/2 lengths under Dylan Davis in a seven-furlong $66,000 New York-bred allowance Friday. Sent off at 2-1 odds from the rail in a field of five, Encryption Key won in a final time of 1:24.11.
Kerry Boy, sent off at odds of 8-1 with Benjamin Hernandez riding, rallied from last to finish second, three-quarters of a length ahead of 3-1 Born for a Storm and Joel Rosario. Proletariat, who was shedding blinkers and went off at 3-1 odds under Rajiv Maragh, finished just another head back in fourth.
Maurice Casey III bred Encryption Key, a son of Data Link out of Surf City Susie by Old Trieste who sold for $60,000 as a yearling at Saratoga in August 2016 and is trained by Charlie Baker. After making his first two career starts on turf last year, Encryption Key won his dirt and three-year-old debut by two lengths at 16-1 odds with Davis riding for the first time on September 27th.
Proletariat broke like a shot out of the gate, but Davis hustled Encryption Key past him quickly. I Love Jaxson, who went off at 2-1 odds under John Velazquez, moved into second as Encryption Key led by three-quarters of a length after a first quarter-mile in :23.09. Encryption Key maintained that advantage through a half-mile in :46.24 then took off, opening a daylight lead impressively. He won under wraps late.
Now two-for-two on dirt, Encryption Key has earned more than $70,000.
Junior Alvarado rallied Dream Maker Racing’s five-year-old freshened New York-bred mare Alabama Bound to a nose victory over Tearless and Mike Luzzi in a $50,000 open $25,000 claimer on the grass Friday at Belmont Park. She covered the six-furlong distance in 1:10.28 on the “good” inner turf course. Alabama Bound was sent off at 4-1 odds and Tearless went off at odds of 11-1 in the field of seven.
New York-bred Same Kinda Crazy, sent off at 14-1 odds with Jose Lezcano up, led late but had to settle for a tough-beat third, just a neck behind Tearless.
Tom Bush trains Alabama Bound, a daughter of Freud out of Suki by Scarlet Ibis who finished fifth under Florent Geroux in her previous start in a New York-bred allowance/optional $40,000 claimer on the grass at Saratoga on August 22nd. Bush gave Alabama Bound a two-month freshening and she came back running.
Alvarado had her well off the early pace as 5-1 Gagaoveryou, with Luis Saez up, 29-1 Miss Ava Brown, with Pablo Fragoso riding, and Same Kinda Crazy took turns on the lead through a first quarter-mile in :23.12 and a half-mile in :46.17.
Then both Tearless and Alabama Bound arrived on the scene in deep stretch. Alabama Bound proved the stronger of the two, while Same Kinda Crazy was extremely game all the way to the wire.
Alabama Bound is now three-for-22 on turf with three seconds and four thirds. She also has raced twice on dirt and has total earnings of more than $195,000.
My Purple Haze Stables’ idle five-year-old New York-bred mare Fashiononthesurge upped her record to two-for-two and gave Irad Ortiz Jr. his third winner of the day in Friday’s fifth race by the narrowest of margins.
Fashiononthesurge held off fast-finishing Solitary Gem and Rajiv Maragh by a nose to complete a wire-to-wire victory in a six-furlong $36,000 conditional $25,000 claimer. The 5-2 favorite in the field of seven won in final time of 1:11.71.
Solitary Gem, sent off at 4-1 odds from the rail, finished a clear second, 2 ¼ lengths ahead of 3-1 Twofer and Luis Saez. New York-bred Rapid Route, who went off at 19-1 odds under Hector Diaz Jr., checked in fourth, 2 ½ lengths behind Twofer.
Dormellito Stud bred Fashiononthesurge, a daughter of Old Fashioned out of Southern Surge by Meadowlake who hadn’t raced since winning her debut by a length under Paco Lopez in a New York-bred maiden $25,000 claimer on February 2nd at Aqueduct.
She stormed to the lead Friday and stretched a one-length lead after an opening quarter-mile in :22.85 to two lengths by running a half-mile in :46.96.
Solitary Gem had advanced into second by then, and she closed in quickly on Fashiononthesurge. They crossed the finish line in tandem, with the photo showing Fashiononthesurge was still undefeated. That upped her earnings to more than $35,000.
Bluegrass Express Wins His Second Straight Powerfully
Rallying boldly on the far outside around the far turn under Joel Rosario, Wire to Wire Stables and Robert Brittingham’s four-year-old colt Bluegrass Express rolled to his second straight victory Thursday at Belmont Park, taking a 6 ½-furlong $70,000 New York-bred allowance by a length and a half. Sent off at 9-1 odds in the field of seven, Bluegrass Express won in a final time of 1:16.77.
Sicilia Mike, sent off at 5-1 odds with Dylan Davis up, rallied to finish second, one length ahead of front-running 5-2 Sudden Surprise and John Velazquez. Arthur’s Hope, who went off at odds of 8-1 under Luis Saez, did well to finish fourth, 3 ¾ lengths behind Sudden Surprise, after hopping at the start and spotting the field several lengths.
HTB Racing and Bluegrass Cat Syndicate bred Bluegrass Express, a son of Bluegrass Cat out of Back to Daddy by Tiznow who sold for $35,000 as a two-year-old in May 2016 and is trained by Richard Vega. Bluegrass Express won his previous start at Saratoga on August 24th by a length and three-quarters under Kendrick Carmouche at 6-1 odds.
Rosario got Bluegrass Express away fourth as Sudden Surprise had to work hard to make the early lead over 9-2 Shiraz, with Manny Franco aboard, and 3-1 Syndergaard, with Javier Castellano up. Sudden Surprise then opened a length-and-a-half lead through a :22.27 first quarter-mile, and maintained that margin by running a half-mile in :45.62 as Bluegrass Express rallied boldly into second on the far turn.
Bluegrass Express went after Sudden Surprise and put him away past mid-stretch to win comfortably.
Bluegrass Express is now five-for-19 with three seconds and three thirds with earnings topping $200,000.
In Thursday’s finale, a six-furlong $55,000 open $32,000 claimer on the grass, Jose Lezcano sent Michael Dubb’s six-year-old New York-bred gelding Frisky Magician through an opening on the inside and he went on to a 2 ½-length victory. Sent off at 12-1 odds in the field of nine, Frisky Magician won in a final time of 1:09.22 on the “good” inner turf course.
Major Force, sent off at odds of 7-2 from the rail under Javier Castellano, edged front-running 3-1 New York-bred Royal Asset and Manny Franco by a nose for second. Another New York-bred, 17-1 Catch a Cab and Hector Diaz Jr., was just another nose back in fourth.
Richard and Kay Zwirn bred Frisky Magician, a son of Street Magician out of Feelin Abit Frisky by Posse who is trained by Jorge Abreu. Frisky Magician was dropping into an open claimer off a sixth-place finish in a New York-bred allowance/optional $40,000 claimer at 8-1 odds under Franco on September 21st.
Frisky Magician was eighth early as Royal Asset took the field to a first quarter-mile in :22.58 and a half-mile in :45.55 under heavy pressure from Expected Ruler, the 9-5 favorite adding blinkers with Joel Rosario riding.
As Royal Asset gamely dug in to fight off several horses rallying on the outside, Lezcano found room on the inside and Frisky Magician shot past the frontrunner to win.
Frisky Magician improved his grass record to five-for-27 with five seconds and four thirds. He also has raced three times on dirt and has combined earnings of more than $235,000.
Mary Black made a bit of history Thursday afternoon at Belmont Park when her four-year-old colt Constant Knight, whom she bred, owns and trains, flew past dueling pacesetters Wild William and Chasindamoney to win the opener, a six-furlong $62,000 New York-bred maiden special weight on the grass, by 3 ¼ lengths going away under Rajiv Maragh. Sent off at 4-1 odds in the field of seven, Constant Knight won in a final time of 1:10.65 on the “good” inner turf course.
Wild William, who went off at odds of 5-1 under Manny Franco, edged 4-5 Chasindamoney by a neck for second after dueling with him on the front end the entire race. Causeforcelebration, sent off at 5-2 odds with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding, finished fourth, three lengths behind Chasindamoney.
Constant Knight is a son of Dublin out of Waltz Brightly by Dance Brightly who finished fifth at 11-1 odds in a similar spot under Maragh on a yielding course at Saratoga on September 21st.
Constant Knight settled in third as Chasindamoney and Wild William, breaking from the six and seven posts, respectively, hooked up on the front end immediately. Chasindamoney led Wild William by a half-length after a first quarter-mile in :22.68, then by just a head through a :46.05 half-mile.
Constant Knight was four lengths behind the pair at that point, but quickly kicked in when asked by Maragh to narrow the gap.
Chasindamoney and Wild William were almost dead even past the sixteenth pole when Constant Knight rolled past both of them and began to draw away, winning impressively and giving Black the unique accomplishment of owning, breeding and training a winner in New York.
Constant Knight is now one-for-six on turf with one third. He also has two thirds from 10 dirt races, for total earnings of more than $75,000.
Sunny Meadow Farm’s four-year-old gelding Time Expired kicked in late under Jose Lezcano and nailed front-running favorite Shamrock Kid and Luis Saez in the final 200 yards, winning a mile-and-a-sixteenth $41,000 New York-bred maiden $40,000 claimer by a half-length in a final time of 1:44.86 on the “good” Widener turf course Thursday. Time Expired was sent off at odds of 6-1 from the rail and Shamrock Kid was the 2-1 favorite in the field of eight.
Millies Party Boy, part of an entry sent off at 5-2 odds under Eric Cancel, finished third, a length and a half behind Shamrock Kid while a length and a half clear of 78-1 Man of Chrome and Brandon Boulanger in fourth.
Peter O’Connor bred Time Expired, a son of Freud out of Expiration Day by Gilded Time who is trained by Mitch Friedman. Time Expired finished second by a half-length under Eric Cancel in a similar spot at Saratoga on August 26th at 20-1 odds in his previous start.
Lezcano got Time Expired off third as Shamrock Kid set the pace while 41-1 Noble Behavior and Joey Martinez chased in second through a first quarter-mile in :23.77, a half-mile in :48.43 and three-quarters in 1:13.71. Shamrock Kid had a 2 ½-length lead as Time Expired took over second in mid-stretch. Shamrock Kid looked like he was home free, but Time Expired found his best stride in deep stretch and caught him before the wire.
Time Expired is now one-for-four on grass with one second, one third and more than $35,000 in earnings.
Five Star Bunt Scores Easily at 1-5 in Off-the-Turf Allowance Wednesday
Sent off the 1-5 favorite in a field of just four under Irad Ortiz Jr., John McCarthy Jr.’s three-year-old gelding Five Star Bunt cruised to a five-length victory Wednesday at Belmont Park in a six-furlong $66,000 New York-bred allowance switched from the turf to the “fast” main track. Five Star Bunt won in-hand late in a final time of 1:10.81 to give Ortiz his third victory of the day.
Washu Warrior, sent off at odds of 5-1 under Jose Lezcano, finished second, a length and a half ahead of front-running 5-1 Foolish Ghost and Luis Saez.
Barry Weisbord and Colts Neck Stable bred Five Star Bunt, a son of Posse out of Skye Castles by Sky Classic who sold for $40,000 as a yearling in October 2016 and is trained by Linda Rice. Five Star Bunt finished second by a length and a quarter under Ortiz in his previous race in the same company at 2-1 odds on September 29th. That was Five Star Bunt’s first race since the end of June, and he stepped forward big-time in his second race back Wednesday.
Ortiz got Five Star Bunt away second as Foolish Ghost led by a length and a half through a first quarter-mile in :22.63. Then Five Star Bunt closed in around the far turn.
He blasted past Foolish Ghost and won easily while being taken in-hand late.
Five Star Bunt is now three-for-nine on dirt with one second and one third. He also has one second from two turf tries, for total earnings of more than $140,000.
William Butler’s three-year-old gelding Good Old Boy charged to the lead in deep stretch under Javier Castellano, then held off a fast-finishing Riendo and Joel Rosario to win Wednesday’s finale, a $41,000 New York-bred maiden $40,000 claimer on the grass, by three-quarters of a length. He covered the seven-furlong distance in 1:26.17 on the “yielding” Widener turf course. Good Old Boy was sent off at odds of 3-1 and Riendo, who made a sensational rally from last, went off at 9-2 odds in the field of 11.
No Worries Mate, sent off at 16-1 odds under Eric Cancel, finished third, one length behind Riendo while two lengths clear of 11-1 Tammany Giant and Mike Luzzi in fourth.
Milfer Farm bred Good Old Boy, a son of Freud out of Caracara by Nashwan who sold for just $3,500 in November 2015 and is trained by Mike Maker. Good Old Boy finished sixth at 9-1 odds under Manny Franco in his previous start on October 7th.
Castellano got Good Old Boy away fifth as 5-1 Powerstroke and Dylan Davis, 9-1 Valmount and Manny Franco, and 17-1 Thefinalcrazydude and Rajiv Maragh dueled for the early lead through a first quarter-mile in :22.99 and a half-mile in :47.02.
The front end collapsed in the stretch and Good Old Boy rallied to the lead as Riendo, who had been a distant last for nearly a half-mile, came absolutely flying late. But it was too late to get to Good Old Boy, who held on.
Good Old Boy is now one-for-six on turf.