SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Team Hanley’s Captain Bombastic will look to capitalize on class relief following a start in a Grade 1 earlier this month at Saratoga Race Course with a return to state-bred company in headlining the $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series Times Square on Friday.
Contested at 6 1/2 furlongs on Saratoga’s main track, the 27th running of the Times Square for 3-year-olds will see Captain Bombastic return three weeks after running fourth in the seven-furlong Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy on August 1, Whitney Day, over a fast track.
That marked the first time in seven starts the Jeremiah Englehart trainee did not hit the board after posting a 3-2-1 record in his six previous appearances. Among the trio of victories was a 1 ¼-length score in the seven-furlong Mike Lee for New York-breds on June 14 at Belmont Park. The son of Forty Tales is a two-time stakes winner, having won the Sleepy Hollow last October as a juvenile.
Since the Jerkens, Captain Bombastic, bred by Chester and Mary Broman, has registered two breezes over the Saratoga main track, most recently going five furlongs in 1:01.87 on Thursday.
“He’s had a couple of good works, so everything is going well,” Englehart said. “This race is going back against New York-breds and hopefully he’s able to run his race and after that we’ll look and see what our options are.
“There are still a decent group of horses in here and you have to run the race, but he’s doing well, so hopefully he runs his race and does well.”
Englehart has split Captain Bombastic’s starts almost evenly between sprints and routes, running him at a mile or longer on three occasions, but the Times Square will mark his third straight race at seven furlongs or less. He will face a compact field of five on Friday.
“There are still a decent group of horses in here and you have to run the race, but he’s doing well, so hopefully he runs his race and does well,” Englehart said.
Irad Ortiz, Jr., who was aboard for his debut win in September, will have the return call from post 2.
His stablemate, Ariesberg, will step up to stakes company in his fifth career start. Owned by Sisu Racing Stables, the son of Teuflesberg broke his maiden at third asking in November at Finger Lakes to cap his 2-year-old year. He ran fifth against allowance company in January at Aqueduct Racetrack and will return off a seven-month freshening, drawing post 3 with Reylu Gutierrez in the irons.
Repole Stable’s Dream Bigger is a three-time stakes winner. After making his first eight starts on dirt, trainer Rudy Rodriguez moved him to grass for the first time last out, where he ran fifth in the 1 1/16-mile NYSSS Cab Calloway under jockey Jose Ortiz on Saratoga’s Mellon turf course.
Dream Bigger, bred by Sequel New York, Twin Creeks Racing and Pamela Zielinski, showed impressive form as a 2-year-old, winning the 2019 New York Breeders’ Futurity last September at Finger Lakes and won his first race at a NYRA track with a 1 ¼-length score in the Notebook in November at Aqueduct.
The Mission Impazible colt ran third in his 2020 bow in the Rego Park in January at the Big A before romping to a 7 ¾-length win in the Damon Runyon going seven furlongs at the same track in March.
“We just thought the last time was the right time to experiment and try it,” Rodriguez said. “It might have been a little too far for him. Jose said he looked like he was doing good until the seven-eighths and then he just packed it in. Maybe if we do it next time, we’ll have to run it shorter [on turf]. But he’s run better on the dirt, so this race is coming up and we’ll take it from there. He’s training well and doing very good.”
Dream Bigger, 3-3-2 in nine starts, will again have Ortiz in the saddle, breaking from post 5.
“The distance will help, without a doubt,” Rodriguez said.
Eddie F’s Racing’s Chowda will be making his first appearance in six months but is looking to go 3-for-3 this year after topping allowance company in January at the Big A before winning the Gander on February 16 at the same track. The Gary Sciacca trainee, bred by Fedwell Farm, will be ridden by Eric Cancel from the inside post.
Funny Guy wins the 2019 NYSS Times Square Division Stakes
Slash Gordon won his debut on March 15 at Aqueduct and will return off a five-month layoff to make his first stakes start. Owned by Little Red Feather Racing and Michelle Nevin, who also is his trainer, Slash Gordon will ship to Saratoga after training at Belmont, including a five-furlong breeze on Saturday in 1:01.86 over Big Sandy.
The Big Brown colt, who edged Microsecond by a head in the six-furlong sprint first out, will have the services of Manny Franco from post 4.
Saratoga Entries for Wednesday, August 26
The NYSSS Times Square will be the opener of the 10-race card, with a first post of 1:10 p.m. Eastern. The Grade 3, $100,000 Lake George for 3-year-old fillies going one mile on the turf is slated as Race 9. Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete Saratoga Live broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Saratoga Race Course, and the best way to bet every race of the 40-day summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, NYRA Bets is currently offering a $200 new member bonus in addition to a host of special weekly offers. The NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
Photo: Captain Bombastic wins the 2020 Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont. Credit: Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand