Bill Heller’s New York-Breds at the Races: May 18 to 24

Mr. Massena Holds Off Stock Trade to Win Open Grass Claimer

By Bill Heller

George Anthony, Larry Roman and CT Racing’s idle five-year-old New York-bred gelding Mr. Massena ran down front-running New York-bred longshot Straphanger, then held off odds-on Stock Trade to take a mile-and-a-sixteenth $42,000 conditional $40,000 claimer on the grass by one length under Jose Lezcano Friday at Belmont Park. Sent off at 11-1 odds in a field of nine, Mr. Massena won in a final time of 1:41.42 on the “firm” Widener turf course.

Stock Trade, the 3-5 favorite ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., finished a clear second, 4 ¼ lengths ahead of 11-1 New York-bred Bad Guy and Dylan Davis. New York-bred River Knight, sent off at odds of 17-1 with seven-pound apprentice Joey Martinez aboard, finished just another nose back in fourth.

Newtown Anner Stud bred Mr. Massena, a son of Flatter out of Lady Aphrodite by Giant’s Causeway who is trained by Mike Miceli. Give Micelli credit for having Mr. Massena ready for his first start since a seventh-place finish on dirt in a $16,000 claimer on January 13th under Lezcano.

On Friday, Lezcano got Mr. Massena away third as Straphanger, who went off at 51-1 odds under Samuel Camacho Jr., set the pace under pressure from River Knight through splits of :22.91, :46.30 and 1:11.03. Then both Mr. Massena and Stock Trade made their moves on the far outside.

Mr. Massena rallied to the lead as Stock Trade closed strongly on his outside. Mr. Massena dug in gamely and held him safe all the way to the wire.

Mr. Massena is now two-for-eight on grass with three seconds. He also has one second from eight dirt races, for combined earnings of more than $90,000.

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Co-owner/trainer J. Kent Sweezey and Richard Cummings’s three-year-old gelding shipper Lucky Bet made his first start in a New York-bred race a winning one, dusting off five opponents to win a $33,000 New York-bred maiden $25,000 claimer by 13 ½ lengths as the 6-5 favorite in a field of six, giving Jose Lezcano his third victory of the afternoon in Friday’s fifth race. Lucky Bet covered the mile and a sixteenth in 1:44.42.

Ridolfo, sent off at odds of 3-1 under Kendrick Carmouche, finished a clear second, seven lengths ahead of 35-1 Well in Tune and Luis Reyes. Big Wonder, an 18-1 shot piloted by Mike Luzzi, reported home a distant fourth.

Fred Hertrich III and John Fielding bred Lucky Bet, a son of Lookin at Lucky out of Oblahlah by Tiz Wonderful who sold for $20,000 as a two-year-old in May 2018. Lucky Bet was making just his third career start after finishing third in a pair of open maiden claimers at Tampa Bay Downs.

Lezcano got him away sharply from the two post, and he nursed a narrow lead on Ridolfo through three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.78. Then Lucky Bet took off, spurting away from the field to win impressively.

With a win and a pair of thirds in his first three lifetime starts, Lucky Bet has earned more than $20,000.

First Forever Finishes First Again at Even-Money Thursday

By Bill Heller

Photo: Adam Coglianese

Winning Move Stable, Blue Duck Racing, On the Rise Again Stable and Michael Jaffe’s First Forever made her second straight victory look easy Thursday afternoon at Belmont Park. Sent off the even-money favorite in a field of seven under Jose Lezcano, First Forever stalked front-running Infatuation and seven-pound apprentice Benjamin Hernandez, took the lead readily when asked by Lezcano and cruised to a 3 ¾-length victory in a six-furlong $60,000 New York-bred $40,000 claimer for three-year-old fillies. First Forever won in a final time of 1:12.70 on the “good” track.

Saratoga Style, sent off at odds of 7-2 with Junior Alvarado up, rallied on the far outside to finish second, one length ahead of Mary’s Girl, who was adding blinkers and went off at 9-2 odds under Reylu Gutierrez. Infatuation, who went off at 12-1 odds from the rail, saved fourth, three-quarters of a length behind Mary’s Girl.

Fifty Shades of Racing bred First Forever, a daughter of Take Charge Indy out of Alexandra’s Storm by Silver Deputy who sold for $60,000 as a two-year-old in March 2018 and is trained by Linda Rice. With Lezcano aboard for the first time in her previous start on May 4th, First Forever won a New York-bred maiden $25,000 claimer by six lengths at 5-2 odds.

Breaking from the two post Thursday, First Forever settled in second on the flank of Infatuation, who took the field to an opening quarter-mile in :23.08 and a half-mile in :47.36.

When Lezcano gave First Forever her cue, she struck the front and opened up on the competition.

With two victories and a pair of seconds from six starts, First Forever has earned more than $65,000.

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Photo: Adam Coglianese

In a thrilling finish between entrymates both owned and trained by Jeffrey Englehart, You Tell Me and Luis Reyes held off Cause I’m Alex and Dylan Davis by a nose in Thursday’s finale, a mile-and-a-sixteenth $50,000 New York-bred $25,000 claimer switched from turf to the sloppy main track, in a final time of 1:46.43. The entry was sent off at odds of 2-1 in the field of six.

Toohottoevenspeak, who went off at 7-2 odds under Joel Rosario, finished third, two lengths behind Cause I’m Alex. Front-running The Crocheron Kid, sent off at 4-1 odds with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding, finished an extremely distant fourth.

Bobby Lloyd bred You Tell Me, a five-year-old gelding by Reflect Times (JPN) out of Cape Cosmo by Cape Canaveral who finished a tiring fourth by 10 ½ lengths in his previous start on April 10th, his first race in two months, under Kendrick Carmouche.

On Thursday, You Tell Me got away third then worked his way up quickly to second, trailing The Crocheron Kid by a length and a half after a first quarter-mile in :23.50. You Tell Me cut his deficit to three-quarters of a length after a half-mile in :47.07, then took over the lead as Cause I’m Alex commenced his rally from last.

After three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.41, You Tell Me scampered away to a three-length lead, but Cause I’m Alex came flying at him late. Cause I’m Alex was gaining with every stride, but You Tell Me held him off by a nose.

You Tell Me is now four-for-15 in his all-dirt career, with two seconds, a pair of thirds and earnings topping $90,000.

Niko’s Dream Breaks Maiden Sunday at Belmont

By Francis LaBelle

Photo: Adam Coglianese

With five starts entering Sunday’s fifth race, a $62,000 maiden special weight for state-bred fillies and mares at a mile on the firm Widener (outer) turf, Sackatoga Stable’s Niko’s Dream was one of the more experienced runners in the field. She had been consistent if not fully successful, with two seconds and a third. This time, the favored Nick Peros-bred Central Banker filly got the job done at 7-5 odds as she carried jockey Junior Alvarado to a half-length victory over Kerry’s Ring, who was making her second career start.  The rail was set at 18 feet, and despite breaking from post 12 and being brushed at the start by Honorable Rose, Niko’s Dream had to fight off the stubborn Kerry’s Ring, who dug in gamely in her first start since she debuted with a fourth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on January 23. Trained by Christophe Clement, the 3-year-old homebred filly is a daughter of Kitten’s Joy. Sterling Beauty finihsed third for the third consecutive race. Honorable Rose, Crescent Lady, Bangle Gal, Barton Hall, Eighty Seven North, Rossellini, Crater Rim and Dancing Slippers completed the order of finish..

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Photo: Adam Coglianese

Doheny Stable, Off the Hook LLC and Thomas Coleman’s Middle Out broke her maiden in her fourth start, winning Sunday’s ninth race at Belmont Park, a $41,000 NY-bred maiden $40,000 claimer, by a head over favorite Tempers Way. The winner regained momentum after falling behind an early pace of :23.66, :47.74, 1:12.05 and 1:36.93, rolling home under jockey Manny Franco for the victory in a final time of 1:43.38 over a mile and a sixteenth on the inner turf course. Bred by The New Hill Farm, the 3-year-old Freud filly rebounded from a fourth-place finish as the favorite at Aqueduct back in April. Trained by Jorge Abreu, she returned $16.20 for a $2 win ticket to end the afternoon. Tempers Way came in off the also-eligible list and pressed Big Expense‘s pace. Big Expense, despite unwanted activity at the start, hung tough to finish third. Three heads separated the winner from Love That Goose in fourth..

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Photo: Adam Coglianese

All but one of the six fillies and mares who ran in Sunday’s third race– a $28,000 claimer for fillies and mare who had not won two races–were NY-breds. Bond Racing Stable’s Tiz R Bella benefited from a patient ride by Luis Saez and won in hand by nine and a quarter lengths, completing the six and a half furlongs in 1:17.85. Bred by Dr. Thomas A. Qualtere and trained by H. James Bond, 5-year-old Tizway mare was making her first dirt start  since January 2018, when she beat only one horse in an Aqueduct allowance. Tiz R Bella returned $4.90 for a $2 win ticket as the 7-5 favorite, followed by Evan’s Nice Now, She’s a Lumberjane and Aly’s All Out. Florida-bred Ocean Conquest and Dazzling Speed completed the order of finish.

Sue’s Fortune Returns in a Big Way Saturday at Belmont

By Francis LaBelle

Photo: Adam Coglianese

Fortune Farm’s homebred Sue’s Fortune, scratched from Pimlico’s Grade 3 Adena Springs Miss Preakness Stakes on Friday, made her 3-year-old debut in Saturday’s 10th race at Belmont Park, a $70,000 New York-bred optional claimer at six and a half furlongs. She made it a successful one, defeating seven other fillies and mares by two lengths in a final time of 1:16.19. Ridden by jockey Junior Alvarado for his second consecutive victory Saturday, the Jump Start filly was making her first start since last October, when she was a well-beaten sixth here in the Grade 1 Frizette. She had, however, already proven her class with a Grade 2 victory last August 11 in Saratoga’s Adirondack. Saturday, she found her old form that had resulted in two victories before the Frizette. She led at every call and even turned back pressure before securing the win. Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, she returned $7.30 for a $2 win bet. Fair Regis, who had raced with blinkers in her three previous starts, went back to racing without them and finished a half-length in front of favored Hay Field, also trained by Englehart. Hay Field was claimed for $40,000 for Drawing Away Stable by trainer Linda Rice, who had a busy day in the claiming box. Four-year-old My Roxy Girl, an Emcee filly, was claimed from Richard Greeley by trainer Danny Gargan for owner Michael Dubb. My Roxy Girl veered in at the start of the race and beat only one rival.

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Photo: Adam Coglianese

Michael Dubb’s Classic Lady looked to be the one to beat in Saturday’s seventh race at Belmont Park, and the 4-year-old Jimmy Creed filly ran like it, winning a $66,000 allowance for NY-bred fillies and mares at a mile on the Widener (outer) turf course by five and three-quarter lengths. In her second start under jockey Manny Franco, who rode her to a nose loss at Aqueduct on April 19, Classic Lady won for the second time in three tries on Belmont’s grass. This time was much easier, however, as she stayed clear and wide of a pace of  :22.81, :46.62, and 1:10.85 set by Summer Squeeze and Dynamite Kitten. Near the three-sixteenths pole, Franco asked and Classic Lady answered, hitting the wire in a final time of 1:35.29. Tri County Stable’s Barrel of Destiny, a 4-year-old Bluegrass Cat filly, finished second under a sustained rally prompted by jockey Junior Alvarado. Whisper Hill Farm’s Dynamite Kitten finished third.

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Photo: Adam Coglianese

Saturday’s eighth race at Belmont Park saw Playthatfunnymusic post a nose upset in a $50,000 New York-bred $25,000 claimer at seven furlongs. The 6-year-old  Disco Rico gelding was making his first start for Prestine Racing and trainer Gary Gullo, who claimed him on April 10 at Aqueduct. No worse than second behind Blue Belt, who carved out fractions of :22.75, :45.56 and 1:09.91, Playthatfunnymusic and jockey Ben Hernandez not only caught the pacesetter but dug in to hold off Big Thicket and jockey Rajiv Maragh, who just missed. It was another nose back to Blue Belt, while favored Papa Shot was a half-length further back in fourth. Papa Shot was claimed by trainer Mertkan Kantamaci for owner Robert Amendola. The winner paid $27.20 for a $2 win ticket, and Big Thicket capped off a $2 exacta worth $526. Bred by D-Marleigh Stables, Playthatfunnymusic has now earned over $200,000 in 31 career starts.

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Photo: Adam Coglianese

Trainer Tom Morley netted his second winner of the afternoon Saturday in a $41,000 New York-bred maiden $40,000 claimer when SLOJAG Racing Stable’s Impazible Odds scored his first victory in  seven tries. The 3-year-old Mission Impazible gelding was ridden by Junior Alvarado, who set his mount down for a prolonged drive that lead to a 4 1/4-length victory over Awesome Adversary in a final time of 1:44.71 over a mile and a sixteenth on the inner turf course. The winner, bred by Dutchess Views Farm and SGO Thoroughbred LLC, paid $9.30 for a $2 win ticket. The Grand Canal finished third, but was disqualified for interference with the eventual fourth-place finisher Paynter’s Prize and placed fifth. Moo Lah, who who raced with blinkers for the first time, was placed third.

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Photo: Adam Coglianese

A purse of $33,000 was available in Saturday’s second race at Belmont Park, a New York-bred maiden $25,000 claimer for fillies and mares, and Charles Palmombini’s Its a Chance took home the lion’s share with a 9 3/4-length victory at six furlongs. The 4-year-old Stonesider filly, bred by Sherry Washburn and trained by Patrick Quick, led at every call in a field of eight. Under jockey Dylan Davis, she settled into a pace of :22.55, :45.38 and :57.53, and was an impressive winner in a final time of 1:10.14. The ease of her victory made her $15.40 payoff for a $2 win ticket a bargain. Finishing second was longshot Crick, ridden by Joey Martinez, completed a $2 exacta worth $360. The favorite, Peggy Sue, with Samuel Camacho Jr. up, finished third.

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Photo: Adam Coglianese

Saturday’s fifth race at Belmont Park was a $28,000 six-furlong $16,000 claimer that brought a field of six together who had never won two races. New York-bred Sams Last Ghasp changed that when the 4-year-old Heavy Breathing gelding pushed for the lead early, ignoring the pressured pace of :22.50, :45.49 and :57.89 before taking command for a 1 1/2-length victory over favored NY-bred Bourbon Did It  in a final time of 1:10.53 under jockey Reylu Gutierrez. Owned and bred by Sunrise Stables and Golden Goose Enterprises, Sams Last Ghasp was equipped with blinkers for the first time by trainer Tom Morley, and it paid off with a $17.80 win for a $2 ticket. Major Flirt, who finished third, was claimed for $16,000 by trainer Linda Rice for All In The Family Racing.

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Photo: Adam Coglianese

Non-winners capped off Saturday’s card in a $41,000 New York-bred maiden $40,000 claimer, and Fleet Admiral posted the first victory of his 19-race career with a 2 1/4-length score over R A Hill Stable’s favored My Amanjena in the mile-and-a-sixteenth inner turf finale. Breaking from post 10, the 5-year-old Colonel John gelding veered in at the start, which instigated a lot of bumping as the race unfolded. Jockey Joey Martinez kept his horse wide and away from the inner turmoil, and he had plenty left to win in a final time of 1:44.67. Owned by Gary Downey and Lisa Beige, Fleet Admiral was bred by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds. Trained by Leo O’Brien, he sent his believers home happy with a $64 payoff for a $2 win ticket. Millionaire Joe nosed Hurricane Andrew for the show spot.

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