Barese captures the Gander Feb. 12, 2022 at Aqueduct (Chelsea Durand)
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— A total of 99 New York-breds are entered for a special 10-race card on Closing Day Sunday at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet to celebrate the best of New York for the annual Empire Showcase Day, featuring eight stakes races worth $1.6 million, topped by the $250,000 Empire Classic and $250,000 Empire Distaff.
“Empire Showcase Day reflects the quality, popularity and continued growth of the New York-bred program,” said Najja Thompson, Executive Director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. “The New York racing and breeding community looks forward to each of these showcase days on the calendar, and we thank NYRA for acknowledging and supporting New York’s thoroughbred breeding ecosystem.”
Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s multiple stakes-winner Barese [post 2, Manny Franco] leads a talented field of seven 3-year-olds and upward in the co-featured nine-furlong Empire Classic in Race 4.
Barese made his first four starts this year at the Big A, capturing the Rego Park in January and Gander in February ahead of a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 9. The sophomore Laoban colt, bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds and Lakland Farm, was freshened after a third-place finish in the NYSSS Times Square on April 23 and since made a trio of starts, including a win in the state-bred New York Derby in July at Finger Lakes and a runner-up effort in the state-bred Albany last out on August 26 at Saratoga.
A talented field also includes 2020 Grade 2 Remsen-winner Brooklyn Strong [post 7, Flavien Prat] for conditioner Victor Barboza, Jr.; the Michelle Giangiulio-trained multiple stakes-winner Sea Foam [post 3, Kendrick Carmouche]; allowance winner Dr. Blute [post 4, Jose Ortiz] for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.; the multiple stakes-placed Montebello [post 1, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher; and allowance winners Curlin’s Wisdom [post 5, Jose Lezcano] for conditioner Linda Rice and Big Bobby [post 6, Mike Luzzi] for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
Sharp Starr [post 1, Jose Ortiz], a homebred for Barry Schwartz trained by Horacio De Paz, will look to defend her title in the Empire Distaff, a nine-furlong test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up in Race 9.
The 5-year-old Munnings dark bay rallied from last-of-10 to win last year’s edition around one turn at 1 1/16-miles in a race contested over a sloppy and sealed main track at Belmont Park. Sharp Starr, who will look to find winning form around two turns for the first time, boasts a record of 9-2-3-3 at the Big A led by a stylish November 2020 allowance score that garnered a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure one month before taking the Grade 3 Go for Wand Handicap.
A strong field of 8 includes five stakes-placed contenders in Caragate [post 3, Dylan Davis] for trainer Mitchell Friedman; Ice Princess [post 5, Manny Franco] for trainer Danny Gargan; Frost Me [post 6, Eric Cancel] for trainer John Kimmel; Brattle House [post 7, Javier Castellano] for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott; and Let Her Inspire U [post 8, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher; along with two-time winners Sunset Louise [post 2, Flavien Prat] for conditioner Bruce Levine and Sweet Mystery [post 4, Jose Lezcano] for trainer Patrick Quick.
The stakes action kicks off in Race 3 as Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Bankit [post 7, Joel Rosario] will cut back in distance in the $150,000 Hudson for 3-year-olds and upward going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the millionaire son of Central Banker will strive for his seventh stakes victory while seeking to make amends following a distant second in an off-the-turf edition of the West Point presented by Trustco Bank in August at the Spa. The reigning New York Champion Older Dirt Male, bred by Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing, recorded a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure when capturing last year’s Commentator at Belmont Park by 13 1/4 lengths.
Rudy Rodriguez will saddle The Elkstone Group’s dual stakes-winner Wudda U Think Now [post 2, Trevor McCarthy], who put himself on the map over the winter with a pair of decisive victories at the Big A. The 5-year-old Fast Anna gelding, bred by Mina Equivest, was a 10 1/2-length winner of a January 16 allowance optional claimer before capturing the Hollie Hughes on February 19 by 4 1/4 lengths.
Completing the field are reigning New York Champion Sprinter My Boy Tate [post 6, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], Fast N Fearious [post 1, Luis Saez], Who Hoo That’s Me [post 3, Flavien Prat], Big Engine [post 4, Jose Lezcano], Perfect Munnings [post 5, Jose Ortiz] and Reggae Music Man [post 8, Jose Antonio Gomez], who removes blinkers.
A group of experienced turf specialists will take on the $200,000 Mohawk, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf route for 3-year-olds and up, in Race 5. The talented field is led by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter Searles and Patty Searles’ graded stakes-winner City Man [post 1, Joel Rosario], who arrives from a game three-quarter-length score in the Ashley T. Cole on September 24 at Belmont at the Big A.
Trained by Christophe Clement, the Moonstar Farm-bred son of Mucho Macho Man’s other two stakes wins this year came in the Danger’s Hour in April at the Big A and the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple in July at Saratoga. He has banked more than $760,000 through a record of 24-7-5-3.
Edward Messina and William Butler’s homebred Sanctuary City [post 6, Manny Franco] is a familiar rival of City Man, having finished a good second to him in both the Danger’s Hour and Ashley T. Cole. Trained by James Ferraro, the consistent son of Temple City has finished on the board in 5-of-8 starts this year, including another stakes placing when second in the Kingston in May at Belmont Park.
Veteran gelding Therapist [post 8, Eric Cancel] will make his first outing for owner/trainer George Weaver after being haltered for $80,000 out of a sixth-place finish against open company in a September 29 optional claimer. Bred by Oak Bluff Stable and Clement, Therapist is in pursuit of his ninth lifetime stakes win and first since the 2020 Artie Schiller at Aqueduct.
Rounding out the field are Cold Hard Cash [post 2, Jose Lezcano], Ocala Dream [post 3, Javier Castellano], Kingdom On Paws [post 4, Nik Juarez], Jerry the Nipper [post 5, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Rinaldi [post 7, Luis Saez].
In Race 6, the $150,000 Iroquois, at 6 1/2-furlongs on the main track, reigning New York Champion Older Filly Bank Sting [post 6, Joel Rosario] will take on a field of seven other fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
Trained by John Terranova and owned by Joseph G. and Anne McMahon and Hidden Brook Farm, Bank Sting was last seen capturing the Dancin Renee on June 26 at Belmont Park by 5 1/2 lengths. The 5-year-old daughter of perennial leading New York sire Central Banker, bred by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, is a five-time stakes winner and defeated open company earlier this season in the Heavenly Prize Invitational on March 6 at Aqueduct.
Stacy Lalman’s rising star Mosienko [post 8, Luis Saez] will seek her fifth straight victory while trying stakes company for the first time in 31 starts for trainer Dennis Lalman. The daughter of Hat Trick, bred by Anthony Grey, began her streak in August at Saratoga going six furlongs before stretching out to seven furlongs at the Spa one month later. She successfully tackled open company in her following two efforts at Belmont at the Big A.
Completing the field are reigning New York Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Venti Valentine [post 5, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], stakes-winner November Rein [post 4, Trevor McCarthy], nine-time winner Gone And Forgotten [post 3, Luis Perez], along with Leeloo [post 1, Kendrick Carmouche], Secret Love [post 2, Flavien Prat] and Betsy Blue [post 7, Jose Lezcano].
In Race 7, 2-year-old fillies will contest at one-mile on the main track in the $200,000 Maid of the Mist. The field of 10 is led by Repole Stable’s last-out stakes winner Gambling Girl [post 5, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], who took the Joseph A. Gimma on September 23 at the Big A in last-to-first fashion for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
Bred by Gallagher’s Stud, the bay daughter of Dialed In graduated impressively by 10 1/2 lengths at third asking in an August 24 state-bred maiden at Saratoga Race Course en route to her 1 3/4-length Joseph A. Gimma score.
Deuce Greathouse, Cindy Hutson and Brett Setzer’s multiple stakes-placed Les Bon Temps [post 3, Luis Saez] enters from a third-place finish to Gambling Girl in the Joseph A. Gimma for conditioner Mike Maker. The daughter of Laoban, bred by Southern Equine Stables, earned another stakes placing when third in the Debutante in July at Churchill Downs and finished fourth in the state-bred Seeking the Ante on August 26 at the Spa.
Completing the field are Dream On Cara [post 1, Javier Castellano], Security Code [post 2, Dylan Davis], Little Linzee [post 4, Manny Franco, blinkers on], Im Just Kiddin [post 6, Jose Ortiz], Recognize [post 7, Junior Alvarado], Miracle [post 8, Flavien Prat, blinkers on], Silver Skillet [post 9, Joel Rosario] and Banterra [post 10, Jose Lezcano].
In Race 8, the $200,000 Ticonderoga for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf, Lawrence Goichman’s reigning New York Champion Turf Filly Runaway Rumour [post 5, Flavien Prat] will add blinkers in pursuit of her first trip to the winner’s circle since capturing last year’s Wild Applause at Belmont Park for trainer Jorge Abreu.
The homebred Flintshire filly has earned open company black type on four occasions, including twice at graded level when second in the Grade 2 Lake Placid last August at Saratoga and the Grade 2 Sands Point last October at Belmont Park.
Owner/trainer H. James Bond will send out dual stakes-winner Giacosa [post 9, Luis Saez], who makes her first start since winning the Mount Vernon on May 30 at Belmont Park in her seasonal debut. Bred by Bond’s Song Hill Thoroughbreds and Roderick Towle, the 5-year-old daughter of Tizway finished a close second in the open company Forever Together on November 26 at Aqueduct.
Ron Bowden’s homebred Dakota Dancer [post 2, Trevor McCarthy] ships to the Big A by way of Presque Isle Downs. A two-time winner going one mile and 70 yards over the Erie, Pennsylvania oval, Dakota Dancer is a full-sister to multiple stakes winner Dakota Gold.
Completing the field are Pure Bode [post 1, Jose Lezcano], Out of Sight [post 3, Jose Ortiz], Finest Work [post 4, Manny Franco], Dream Central [post 6, Dylan Davis], Marvelous Maude [post 7, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], Mashnee Girl [post 8, Kendrick Carmouche] and Spungie [post 10, Junior Alvarado].
Race 10 to close out the card will see juveniles square off going a one-turn mile in the $200,000 Sleepy Hollow over the main track. Zilla Racing Stables, Black Jack Racing and Acqua Nova Stable’s Jackson Heights [post 7, Javier Castellano] will look to double up on stakes victories for trainer Orlando Noda on the heels of a surprise victory at 24-1 odds in the Bertram F. Bongard on September 29 at the Big A.
The Union Jackson dark bay, bred by Sequel Stallions New York, was a $70,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-Bred Yearling Sale and graduated in style in the Bongard in his fourth career outing after finishing third in an August 26 state-bred maiden at the Spa.
Pletcher will saddle the duo of dual stakes-placed Donegal Surges [post 3, Jose Ortiz] and debut maiden winner Canarsie [post 2, Irad Ortiz, Jr.]. Donegal Surges, owned by Donegal Racing and bred by Chester and Mary Broman, has earned consecutive state-bred stakes placings with a runner-up finish in the Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in August at the Spa and the Bongard last out.
Canarsie, owned by Sonata Stable and bred by Four Winds Farm and Eagle View Farm, was a gutsy winner of a six-furlong state-bred maiden on September 29 at the Big A after tracking the pace on the inside and swinging to the outside down the stretch to get up just in time and score by a head.
Completing the field are Arctic Arrogance [post 1, Jose Lezcano], Blame It On Daddy [post 4, Luis Saez], Starquist [post 5, Eric Cancel], Shadow Dragon [post 6, Junior Alvarado], Thtwasthenthisisnw [post 8, Kendrick Carmouche], Quick to Accuse [post 9, Manny Franco] and With Know Name [post 10, Trevor McCarthy].
First post on Sunday’s Closing Day card is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
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