New York-breds Brooklyn Strong and Laobanonaprayer set for Big A stakes action; Aqueduct fall meet Week 5 stakes probables
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Jack Sisterson saw his two expected entrants for Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile register their final workouts yesterday at Keeneland, with Bon Raison and True Timber each working five furlongs on the main track. The duo breezed with different workmates.
Calumet Farm’s Bon Raison will be looking to rebound from a 10th-place finish last out in the six-furlong Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 7 at Keeneland. He will be running at one mile for the first time in seven starts, dating to the second race of his 5-year-old campaign when against optional claimers under then-trainer Michael Tannuzzo on January 31.
True Timber, also owned by Calumet Farm, was third in last year’s edition of the Cigar Mile, earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure for his blacktype effort in a race won by Maximum Security. The 6-year-old son of Mineshaft will be looking for his first win of 2020 but has hit the board three times in four starts since Sisterson took over the training duties from Kiaran McLaughlin, who retired to become a jockey agent.
Bon Raison recorded a bullet 59.20 seconds yesterday, the fastest of a group of 18, while True Timber went in 1:01.40.
“Both worked very well at Keeneland yesterday and went five-eighths, they didn’t go in company together,” Sisterson said. “They did everything we asked them to and more. We don’t typically train them hard, but I wanted to get a good work in them leading up to the Cigar Mile. We are stretching them out to a mile and wanted to get a little air into the lungs and they both worked well within themselves and cooled out great.”
True Timber is slated to have the services of jockey Kendrick Carmouche for the Cigar Mile, which will feature its 32nd edition as the headliner of four graded stakes over the Big A main track on Saturday that will also include the Grade 2, $150,000 Remsen for juveniles, the $150,000 Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies, and the Grade 3, $100,000 Go for Wand for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
Bon Raison will have the services of jockey Jorge Vargas, Jr. It will mark his first start at Aqueduct since running third in the Grade 3 Tom Fool going six furlongs on March 7.
New York-breds Brooklyn Strong and Laobanonaprayer set for Big A stakes action
Trainer Daniel Velazquez, who won the first two stakes races of his career in back-to-back juvenile events on Empire Showcase Day in October at Belmont Park with his own Laobanonaprayer in the Maid of the Mist and Mark Schwartz’ Brooklyn Strong in the Sleepy Hollow, will wheel the duo back in stakes company on closing weekend of the Big A fall meet.
Brooklyn Strong, by Wicked Strong and out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Riviera Chic, rallied three-wide to capture the one-mile Sleepy Hollow by 2 1/4-lengths and will now look to pick up Kentucky Derby points in Saturday’s nine-furlong Grade 2 Remsen which offers 10-4-2-1 points to the top-four finishers.
“He’s been training great. He’s coming along and the maturity is there. I think he’ll love the distance,” said Velazquez. “The distance has been the key with him and the mile and a furlong is really going to help him. It’s open company, but I really think he can step up and compete.”
A $5,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training, Brooklyn Strong, bred in the Empire State by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan, graduated at first asking in a maiden claiming mile on September 12 at Delaware Park ahead of a third in the seven-furlong Bertram F. Bongard on October 2 at Belmont.
Velazquez said Brooklyn Strong has matured and learned to relax.
“Early on, he was a little headstrong where he would try to run off with the rider,” said Velazquez. “We’ve been playing with him a little bit in the morning to get him to relax more. Now, I think if he can just pace himself he has gas for days and he will be a tough horse to run against.”
Laobanonaprayer, a bay daughter of Laoban purchased for $15,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, added blinkers for a powerful 5 1/2-length maiden win at third asking under Kendrick Carmouche in the one-mile Maid of the Mist.
The talented filly made her first two starts in maiden special weights at Delaware Park, finishing third on debut in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint on September 14 before stretching out to one mile when second to Celestial Cheetah, who is pointed to Saturdays Grade 2 Demoiselle.
Velazquez said a more mature Laobanonaprayer has the speed to be effective when cutting back to seven furlongs in Sunday’s NYSSS Fifth Avenue.
“We sprinted her first time at Delaware but we wanted to route her because she’s big and long and can truck all day,” said Velazquez. “She didn’t win at first asking and then we took her to New York and routed with the blinkers on. Cutting back to seven furlongs, I think tactically she has some speed. She showed that the other day with Kendrick on her and I think if she can just lay close and make one run, she’ll be dangerous.”
Laobanonaprayer, bred in New York by Christina Deronda, has posted a pair of bullet works out of the Maid of the Mist score, including a five-eighths effort in 1:00.60 on Saturday on the Delaware Park dirt.
“The work tab is legit,” said Velazquez. “We put the blinkers on her last time and she took to them perfect. We take the blinkers off her now to train because she’s gotten too tough with them and I know once we put them on in the afternoon, she’s going to be real sharp. Especially now when we cut her back to seven-eighths, I think that’s going to suit her just fine. She’s sharp, she’s fast, and the works are there.”
Aqueduct fall meet Week 5 stakes probables
Saturday, December 6
Grade 1, $250,000 Cigar Mile
Probable: Bon Raison (Jack Sisterson/Vargas, Jr.), Firenze Fire (Kelly Breen/Lezcano), King Guillermo (Juan Carolos Avila/J. Ortiz), Mr. Buff (John Kimmel/Alvarado), Mind Control (Gregg Sacco/Velazquez), Performer (Shug McGaughey/Rosario), and True Timber (Sisterson/Carmouche)
Grade 2, $150,000 Remsen
Probable: Brooklyn Strong (Daniel Velazquez), Known Agenda (Todd Pletcher), Pickin’ Time (Kelly Breen), Speaker’s Corner (Bill Mott), Ten For Ten (McGaughey)
Possible: Civil War (Tom Albertrani)
Grade 2, $150,000 Demoiselle
Probable: Cafe Society (McGaughey), Caramocha (Mitchell Friedman), Celestial Cheetah (Jeremiah O’Dwyer), Dollar Mountain (George Weaver), Malathaat (Pletcher), Malibu Curl (Albertrani), Millefeuille (Mott)
Possible: Vacay (Pletcher)
Grade 3, $100,000 Go for Wand
Probable: Graceful Princess (Pletcher), Nonna Madeline (Pletcher), Portal Creek (Juan Carlos Guerrero), Sharp Starr (Horacio DePaz)
Possible: Gone Glimmering (Rob Atras), Timely Tradition (Ray Handal)
Sunday, December 7
$250,000 NYSSS Great White Way
Probable: Dreamer’s Disease (Robertino Diodoro), Hold the Salsa (Richard Lugovich), It’s Gravy (Breen), Jacks American Pie (Karl Grusmark), Market Alert (James Ryerson), New York One (James Chapman), Tales of Saratoga (Rick Buckley), Uno (Pletcher), Windy Nations (Mike Maker)
$250,000 NYSSS Fifth Avenue
Probable: Athena Dancer (Wayne Potts), Flower’s Fortune (Jeremiah Englehart), Jill’s a Hot Mess (Kimmel), Laobanonaprayer (Velazquez), Sassy Melissa (David Donk), Shanes Pretty Lady (Pletcher), Show Me the Honey (Michelle Nevin), Tangerine Dream (Grusmark)
$100,000 Garland of Roses
Probable: Hey Mamaluke (Patricia Farro), Honey I’m Good (Steve Asmussen), Honor Way (Charlton Baker), Pacific Gale (Kimmel), Saguaro Row (Mike Stidham)
Possible: Malibu Mischief (Rudy Rodriguez)
Edited Press Release
Photos: Top, left: Bon Raison (Joe Labozzetta); right: Brooklyn Strong (NURA/Coglianese); Bottom: Laobanonaprayer (Janet Garaguso).