OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter Searles and Patty Searles’ graded stakes-winner City Man worked a half-mile in 50.85 seconds Sunday over Belmont Park’s inner turf course in preparation for the $200,000 Mohawk, a 1 1/16-mile turf route for New York-bred 3-year-olds and up, on October 30 during the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
“He worked well,” said trainer Christophe Clement. “We’re getting him ready for the Mohawk and I’m very happy with him. He’s doing very well.”
The Mohawk is one of eight New York-bred stakes races slated for the October 30 Empire Showcase Day, offering $1.6 million in total purses to close out the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
City Man, a 5-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man, was last seen setting a track record over the Big A outer turf in the nine-furlong Ashley T. Cole against fellow state-breds on September 24. There, he rallied from two lengths off the pace to gamely fend off Sanctuary City in the stretch and score the three-quarter-length victory in a final time of 1:49.95.
City Man has won at least one stakes in each of his seasons of racing, dating to his juvenile campaign when he scored his first stakes win in the 2019 Funny Cide at Saratoga Race Course. Since then, he has won the Gio Ponti at the Big A as a sophomore, last year’s West Point as a 4-year-old, and three stakes this year in Aqueduct’s Danger’s Hour, the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple at the Spa for his first graded score, and the Ashely T. Cole.
“He’s won stakes at 2, 3, 4, and 5 years old. It’s been fun,” said Clement. “He’s been a nice horse since he was a 2-year-old. He’s won three stakes this year and not many other horses have.”
Another popular horse in the Clement barn is Otter Bend Stables’ multiple Grade 1-winner Gufo, who recently finished last-of-7 in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on October 8 at Belmont at the Big A. The son of Declaration of War tracked in fifth throughout the first mile of the 1 1/2-mile test but faltered in the final half-mile and faded to last by the stretch call.
“It was disappointing because I love the horse, but he’s doing very well and we plan on working him back on Saturday and go from there,” said Clement.
Gufo has put together a productive campaign this year, led by a repeat score in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer Invitational on August 27 at the Spa. Just two weeks later, Gufo showed heart in the Grade 2 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs when defeated a nose by veteran gelding Red Knight after rallying from six lengths off the pace. He also picked up Grade 1 placings when second in the Man o’ War and third in the Resorts World Casino Manhattan, both at Belmont.
Clement said a next start for Gufo will be evaluated after his breeze on Saturday.
Yesterday at Belmont at the Big A, Clement saddled last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Pizza Bianca to a fourth-place finish in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Sands Point over good footing in her first start off a four-month layoff.
Ridden from post 8 by Jose Ortiz, Pizza Bianca was last-of-8 at the three-quarters call and began to rally at the top of the stretch. She swung five-wide to make her run at the victorious Skims and runner-up Vergara but could only manage to improve to fifth to be defeated 2 3/4 lengths.
Clement said he was pleased with the effort from the Bobby Flay homebred, whose last race was an even eighth-place finish in the Group 1 Coronation in June at Royal Ascot.
“She came back in good shape,” said Clement. “She looks good this morning. I thought she ran well with the condition of the grass and the draw. Unfortunately, she was a bit further back than I wanted, but the filly ran a good race. I’m not sure where she’ll go next. I’ll [give her] a few days and then go from there.”
Pizza Bianca is listed as Hip No. 225 in the Fasig-Tipton November Breeding Stock Sale, where she is consigned by ELiTE Sales Agency.
Pizza Bianca was one of two runners for Clement in the Sands Points, finishing 2 1/2 lengths better than Blue Devil Racing Stable’s Canisy in sixth. The dark bay Point of Entry filly stalked in fifth under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano and made a brief run at the top of the stretch but weakened.
“She came out OK,” said Clement. “I thought the trip was pretty good, and she just didn’t finish as well as expected.”
A debut winner at Belmont in May, Canisy followed with an optional claiming score two starts later at the Spa before finishing a close sixth in her stakes debut in the Riskaverse 2 1/4 lengths behind Gina Romantica, who went on to capture the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland yesterday.
Clement added that he has not decided on Canisy’s next start.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: City Man captured the Ashley T Cole at Belmont on Sept. 24, 2022. Photo by Chelsea Durand