SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Winning twice in one day is quite a rarity for a thoroughbred, but this was the case with Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Bankit, who scored a sixth-lifetime stakes win in the $125,000 Evan Shipman on Friday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course. Later that evening, he was crowned 2021 New York-bred Champion Older Horse at the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc.’s Annual Awards Ceremony at Fasig-Tipton’s Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Bankit captured the one-mile Wilson Chute test for Empire State-breds by a nose. Improving through each point of call, Bankit dueled in deep stretch with last year’s winner, Sea Foam, and came out on the winning end, earning an 89 Beyer Speed Figure for the victory.
The triumph also marked the 6-year-old son of leading New York sire Central Banker first stakes win at the Spa, as well as his first stakes victory this season. A winner of a stakes race every year since 2018, Bankit has also won a stake at all four New York thoroughbred tracks. He captured the 2018 Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park during his 2-year-old year before winning the following year’s New York Derby at Finger Lakes. In his final start of 2020, he defeated New York-bred champion Mr. Buff in the Alex M. Robb at Aqueduct before winning the following year’s Commentator at Belmont.
“We couldn’t be any more pleased to have him in the barn, that’s for sure. And now he’s a state-bred champion so that’s even better,” said Winchell Thoroughbreds’ racing and bloodstock advisor David Fiske. “He’s just a professional racehorse. He goes out to the track, does his job, goes back to his stall and goes to sleep. Whether it’s going out in the morning or going out in the afternoon.”
Fiske credited an effective ride by jockey Joel Rosario, who became the sixth jockey to win aboard Bankit.
“I thought Joel gave him a great ride,” Fiske said. “Joel looked almost nonchalant on him. He appeared to be unconcerned the entire race. Maybe he was concerned the last 50 yards, but up until then, he looked pretty confident and handled the horse pretty confidently. It was a great ride.”
While Winchell Thoroughbreds primarily races and buys horses at a more commercial level, Fiske noted that they have bought and raced horses that were bred from a variety of different states.
“We tend to gravitate to where the money is, wherever that may be. The purses for New York-breds certainly are appealing. The program is attractive,” Fiske said. “We occasionally will step out and buy regionally bred hoses. We’ve bought Ontario-breds, Florida-breds, Maryland-breds, we even bought a West Virginia-bred a couple years ago. It’s just a function of yearlings that look the part. If they look like a racehorse, we’ll try to buy it.
“It certainly increases our options, and it seems like he doesn’t favor or need to run at any particular track,” Fiske added. “He’s run well all over the country pretty much. It’s great to have the options that having a New York-bred opens up. He’s competitive and runs some pretty decent numbers no matter where he goes.”
Bankit was bought for $260,000 out of the 2018 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, where he was consigned by SGV Thoroughbreds.
“He looked like a nice, attractive, well-balanced, probably going to be sound kind of guy and he measured up well on all of our data,” Fiske recalled.
The possibility of Bankit racing as a 7-year-old is very much on the table, according to Fiske, who added he was unsure where Bankit would go from Friday’s race.
“It would depend on two factors which come into play for all colts which is how he continues to train, if he’s showing us that he’ll still be effective,” Fiske said. Also, whether someone would approach us with some sort of stallion deal. If he continues to train on and do as well as he has been, I could see him running next year.”
Bankit has amassed $1,149,655 in earnings through a 34-7-10-5 career. He was bred by Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing and is out of the Colonel John mare Sister in Arms, who has a 2-year-old Good Magic colt named Disappearance.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Bankit winning the Evan Shipman in a duel with Sea Foam. (Janet Garaguso)