Greeley and Ben after his game score in the G3 Fall Highweight Handicap (Joe Labozzetta)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Trainer Faith Wilson, who started her first horse in February 2021, celebrated her first graded stakes victory with her 41st starter when veteran gelding Greeley and Ben notched a neck triumph in Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Fall Highweight sprinting six furlongs at Aqueduct Racetrack.
“He’s doing great and has had so many treats,” said Wilson over the phone with Greeley and Ben beside her. “He’s his happy self.”
Owned by Darryl Abramowitz, Greeley and Ben stalked and pounced from 3 1/2 lengths off the pace in rail-skimming fashion under Manny Franco to land the narrow victory in a dramatic finish. It was a four-way photo for the win with Runninsonofagun, Factor It In and Jaxon Traveler all making a winning drive for the wire, but it was the evergreen Greeley and Ben who stuck his neck out and took home the winner’s share of $96,250. He was awarded a career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
“It was very impressive. I’m certain I made quite a scene,” said Wilson, with a laugh. “I got nervous because the big grey horse [Factor It In] was coming to him, but my mom said, ‘He’s won 22 races, he knows where the wire is.’”
The Fall Highweight marked the second consecutive victory for Greeley and Ben, who entered from a tidy 1 3/4-length allowance coup over the same track and distance on November 10. That effort came after finishing a gutsy fourth in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler in October at Belmont at the Big A where he was defeated three-quarter lengths by Runninsonofagun, runner-up in the Fall Highweight.
Greeley and Ben, an 8-year-old son of Greeley’s Conquest, made the grade in his 39th start, scoring the well-deserved victory in his third attempt at the graded level. His previous best finish in graded company was a close third in the Grade 3 Whitmore this March at Oaklawn Park for previous conditioner Karl Broberg. He was purchased for $80,000 at this year’s Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale and made three starts for trainer David Jacobson before being haltered by Abramowitz and trainer Jeffrey Englehart for $40,000 out of a winning effort in September at Saratoga.
“It’s very exciting to get this win, especially with him,” said Wilson, who took over training duties for Englehart’s horses this week while he served a 10-day suspension that ended Wednesday. “Ever since we claimed him, we immediately said, ‘Wow, this horse has a lot of back class.’ He just has such a presence about him and he carries himself so nice on the track. He just does everything right. He acts like a really classy old horse, and he proved it yesterday.”
Wilson is the daughter of trainers Bill and Donna Wilson and has been involved in horse racing throughout her life. After working for several trainers, including Hall of Famers Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher, she became an assistant for Jeffrey Englehart last year while keeping her own small string to train under her name. She scored her first win with a filly named La Luisa last June at her home base of Monmouth Park.
“My parents were trainers when I was younger and my father worked for top people, so I spent my summers in Pletcher’s barn and Asmussen’s barn,” said Wilson. “I had show horses my whole life and I have a pony here. I have a couple of my own that I keep in training just for myself. I just love it.”
Greeley and Ben’s Fall Highweight conquest was the fourth career win for Wilson, who also won earlier on Saturday’s card with Victory Built in a state-bred allowance. The son of Big Brown earned the fourth win of his career in his 41st outing, holding off a late rally from Agility to win by 1 3/4 lengths under Dylan Davis.
“He’s good. He’s a big, fat horse and nothing stays in his feed tub,” said Wilson. “I said to Dylan, ‘You were making me sweat a little bit,’ and Dylan said, ‘No, he was just toying with that horse.’ He could have pulled away from him any time he wanted to. We were really happy.”