Donk Saddles Half-Brothers Yes and Yes, Thin White Duke in G1 Jaipur

June 9, 2023

Trainer David Donk will saddle a brotherly duo in the Jaipur (NYRA/Coglianese)

NYRA Press Office

ELMONT, N.Y.— David Donk will be in a New York state of mind when the locally-based horseman saddles half-brothers Yes and Yes and Thin White Duke Saturday on the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets undercard in the Grade 1, $400,000 Jaipur, which has attracted a double-tough full field of top turf sprinters traveling six furlongs.

The Jaipur offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Santa Anita.

“They both ran really well last year. Yes and Yes loves Belmont Park. It’s amazing how good he is here, and he showed it last time,” Donk said of the two longshots.”

Yes and Yes is a 7-year-old gelded son of Sidney’s Candy out of the Distorted Humor mare Aberdeen Alley and was bred in Kentucky by co-owner Phil Gleaves, who was a longtime trainer based on the New York circuit. Thin White Duke is a 5-year-old gelding out of the same mare by Dominus whom Gleaves bred in Kentucky.

Yes and Yes, 20-1 on the morning line, will be on familiar footing when he breaks from the inside post under Florent Geroux. In 14 outings on the Belmont green, he has a record of 5-4-3. Thin White Duke, who is indeed named for megastar David Bowie’s on-stage persona, hasn’t hit the board in five efforts, but Donk is hoping that will change when the 30-1 choice departs post 7 under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.

“Last year, Thin White Duke won going long. We had a decision to make going to Saratoga. Do we run him long or short? It looked like going long was a little too far for him. He’s become an off-the-pace sprinter,” Donk said.

Both horses competed here in the Elusive Quality on May 6 in their last outings. Yes and Yes was beaten by a nose in the seven-furlong turf test while Thin White Duke came in fourth.

“Duke had some traffic trouble. He’s a horse who likes to be in the clear, so I think he’s better than what he’s run so far. Yes and Yes ran lights out,” said their conditioner. “But the next progression is we’re stabled in New York, so what’s the next race for them? It’s the Jaipur. The only negative is it came up a tough race.”

Nevertheless, there are only two Grade 1 turf sprints on the national racing calendar, the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and the Jaipur.

“We’re stabled here. We’re not ducking anybody. It’s our home course,” said Donk. “Obviously, there will be a lot of pace, at least that’s how it looks on paper, and that will suit Thin White Duke. Yes and Yes can be somewhat tactical. But he loves Belmont, so we’ll see. It will be fun to be part of Belmont Day, regardless. I’d like to think they’ll both outrun their odds.”

The Donk-trained, Gleaves-bred double entry in the Jaipur is truly a family affair, human as well as equine.

Donk worked for legendary Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens, who won a record-setting five consecutive Belmont Stakes 1982-86, from 1984-1990. Gleaves preceded him as Woody’s assistant from 1977 to 1985 before he launched his successful training career. Former Daily Racing Form editor-in-chief and New York Times turf writer and columnist Steven Crist, who covered the stables of Stephens, Gleaves and Donk over the decades, is one of Thin White Duke’s owners. 

“It is coming full circle and it is really nice. For Phil to be the breeder of these two horses. He’s doing something right there,” said Donk, the only one of those three not now retired. “I always had a good relationship with Phil over the years. Sometimes we had horses for the same clients. We always stayed in touch. He’s a wonderful person and a wonderful horseman and it’s an honor to train for him. Steve and the other owners are great friends and clients.”

Donk, 63, has no desire to join his good buddies in retirement any time soon.

“I’m a little older now, but I still love the game. It’s my passion. I love to get out of bed in the morning. It’s seven days a week but I’m very fortunate to be able to do this. I’m very fortunate to have a lot of good clients. It’s a lot of fun and I’m really blessed,” he said. “It’s a true honor to be running these horses on Belmont Day.”

@jonathanstettin I for one can still actually feel the pall cast over the crowd and game that day. It was palpable. Kudos 2/2

William G. Gotimer (@WilliamGotimer) View testimonials