OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter Searles and Patty Searles’ popular City Man will strive for his sixth career stakes conquest when taking on six others in Saturday’s 35th running of the $125,000 Ashley T. Cole for New York-breds 3-years-olds and upward going nine furlongs on the outer turf at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
Through a 23-6-5-3 career record, the Christophe Clement-trained City Man defeated fellow New York-breds in the 2019 Funny Cide at Saratoga Race Course during his 2-year-old season as well as last year’s West Point where he narrowly defeated stablemate Therapist by a nose.
The 5-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man’s open company stakes victories include local wins in the 2020 Gio Ponti and a triumphant 2022 debut over Aqueduct’s inner turf in the Danger’s Hour on April 9. He registered his most notable victory to date two starts back when garnering a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple on July 15 at Saratoga.
Third in an off-the-turf edition of last year’s Ashley T. Cole, City Man enters off a late-closing second in the Grade 3 Bernard Baruch on September 5 at the Spa.
“I’ve been running him a lot, so we just have to be careful since the race comes right back, but he’s been doing fine,” said Clement, who saddled Lubash to non-consecutive Ashley T. Cole scores in 2012 and 2014. “He’s a good horse and he’s a fun one to train. He’s won stakes and two, three, four, and five. Not a lot of horses do that.”
Bred in the Empire State by Moonstar Farm, City Man is out of the City Zip mare City Scamper and was bought for $185,000 out of the Off The Hook consignment at the 2019 OBS April Sale.
Trevor McCarthy, the pilot in City Man’s last effort, will return to the irons from post 5.
Trainer James Ferraro will saddle Edward J. Messina and William “Buck” Butler’s ultra-consistent homebred Sanctuary City following an open company allowance optional claiming victory on September 3 at the Spa, besting graded stakes winner Analyze It by a head.
The recent victory from the 5-year-old Temple City bay was his first since May 2021, when defeating next-out winner Bodecream by a half-length over the Belmont Park Widener turf course.
Sanctuary City has proven to be a useful horse in between wins, boasting placings in last year’s West Point when third, beaten three lengths by City Man. This year, he was second in the Danger’s Hour to City Man two starts before completing the exacta once more in the Kingston on May 30 at Belmont Park.
“It was so long between wins, so it was nice to win that one,” Ferraro said. “So much of his performance depends on the pace he gets in the race. Going back to state-bred company should suit him, but some of these New York-breds can run against open company as well.”
Manny Franco will pick up the mount from post 6.
The Ashley T. Cole field is bolstered by another fan-favorite New York-bred in Three Diamonds Farm’s Cross Border, who makes his first start for trainer Keri Brion. The 8-year-old English Channel gelding’s claim to fame is securing back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Saratoga in 2020-21.
Cross Border brags field high earnings of $1,171,479 through a 44-11-8-5 record, but has been unplaced in five starts this season, three of which came against graded stakes company. He will seek his first triumph since December, when capturing the Prairie Bayou over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park.
Brion, who conditioned last year’s Champion Steeplechaser The Mean Queen, said Cross Border will make the transition over the jumps following Saturday’s race.
“He came to me to make him a steeplechase horse. I took him after the Sword Dancer when I was up there with my jumpers,” Brion said. “We brought him back to Fair Hill and there was this race, so it seemed like a logical spot. He’s taken to the jumping great, but horses can do both steeplechase and flat racing. His hurdle debut will be pushed back to later this fall and we’re going to take a shot here with him. Any time you get a million-dollar earner in your barn, it’s exciting.”
Brion said Cross Border could return to the Spa next year as a jumper.
“Hopefully, he can go back to Saratoga next year over hurdles,” Brion said. “He really loves the jumping. Even in general, he seems a lot more eager to train and do things. He’s 8-years-old and has been doing the same thing his whole life, so it might just be enough to really spark him up again. He’s doing great, he’s a class old horse.”
Cross Border was bred in the Empire State by Berkshire Stud and B.D. Gibbs and is out of the Empire Maker mare Empress Josephine.
Jose Ortiz, aboard for two of his stakes victories, will reunite with Cross Border from post 4.
Repole Stable’s Jerry the Nipper returns to turf after finishing a distant third in his stakes debut in an off-the-turf running of the West Point on August 16 at Saratoga for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
Bred by St. Elias Stable and Peta Ryan, the 5-year-old Liam’s Map gelding captured his lone start on grass two starts ago in a first level open company one-mile allowance on July 2 at Belmont.
Leaving from post 2, Jerry the Nipper will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.
Barry Schwartz’s homebred Cold Hard Cash enters off a distant seventh in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer Invitational on August 27 at Saratoga for trainer Linda Rice.
Initially campaigned on the main track, the 5-year-old son of Maclean’s Music found a new home on grass last season, when securing a pair of turf victories – one at state-bred level at Saratoga going one mile and the other at Belmont traveling 12 furlongs.
Eric Cancel will ride from post 3.
Completing the field are Action Jackson [post 1, Jose Gomez] and Advanced Strategy [post 7, Dylan Davis]. Bankit and Bossmakinbossmoves have been entered for main track only.
The Ashley T. Cole honors the late lawyer, politician and chairman of the New York State Racing Commission who was highly instrumental in the formation of The New York Racing Association. The Ashley T. Cole is carded as Race 10 on Saturday’s 11-race program, which also includes the Grade 3, $175,000 Athenia in Race 3. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of every day of Belmont at the Big A on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: City Man wins the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple (Dom Napolitano)