Robert Falcone, Jr. (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Trainer Robert Falcone, Jr. operates a bustling operation with 28 horses stabled in New York at Belmont Park and another 15 head each at Fair Grounds Race Course in Louisiana and Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.
The busy conditioner will be hoping that his Castle Chaos, listed at 30-1 on the morning line, will be able to wreak a little havoc in Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets before he hops a southbound plane.
“I’ll be watching the Cigar Mile and then straight to JFK and getting on a plane at 5:30 to Florida. I’ve got one in at Gulfstream the next day,” Falcone, Jr. said. “I’ll stay at Palm Meadows for a few days and then fly to the Fair Grounds to watch those horses train for a few days and then back to New York.”
Falcone, Jr. haltered Castle Chaos, a 5-year-old Palace Malice bay, for $75,000 out of a runner-up effort on debut in September 2021 at Saratoga Race Course on behalf of owners Sanford J. Goldfarb, Nice Guys Stables and Beast Mode Racing.
Castle Chaos would graduate two starts later in December 2021 at the Big A in a seven-furlong maiden special weight. He continued to race through that winter and finished third in a first level one-turn mile allowance here last February, but ended his 4-year-old campaign with a trio of off-the-board efforts.
“He had a couple bad races and then we tried the grass and it didn’t work out. We gave him some time off and found a little issue with him and then brought him back,” Falcone, Jr. said. “It wasn’t anything serious. He had a little bone bruising. He’s been good since he came back.”
Castle Chaos returned victorious in June, a full calendar year later, to post a 1 1/2-length score in a six-furlong optional-claimer on June 3 at Monmouth Park and was a prominent third when stretched out to a two-turn mile next out in July at the New Jersey oval.
“We brought him back at Monmouth sprinting and he ran a big race that day,” Falcone, Jr. said. “He was probably too sharp to go the two turns back at Monmouth. He went a little quick around there and burned himself out early.”
Falcone, Jr. has since decided the gelding is more effective around one turn and was pleased to see Castle Chaos close from last-of-8 to finish second, defeated a neck at 36-1 odds, traveling seven-furlongs in August at Saratoga. He subsequently landed a troubled-trip third in September sprinting here.
“We always thought he was going to be a one-turn horse – one-turn mile, to be exact,” Falcone, Jr. said. “He just couldn’t get up in time at Saratoga.”
Castle Chaos found an ideal local one-turn mile last out and edged clear to a 1 1/4-length score that garnered a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure. The runner-up in that event, Winit, is entered back on Saturday’s undercard at the Big A.
“We finally got chance to run him a one-turn mile again last time and he ran a big race,” Falcone, Jr. said. “Obviously, this is a big step up but I’m taking a shot with him – he’s doing good.”
Castle Chaos, out of the winning Flatter mare Queen Victoria, has breezed back twice, including a half-mile in 48.66 Saturday over the Belmont dirt training track. He will exit post 9-of-12 Saturday with Dylan Davis aboard.
“We’ll let Dylan do his thing. He’s a horse that sits and comes from right off them. It turns out pretty good when there’s a lot of speed in the race, so drawn outside is fine,” Falcone, Jr. said. “In a one-turn mile, you have a long way to the turn so hopefully they can work out a trip. There should be some pace to close in to.
“He’s doing really good and really coming into himself,” Falcone, Jr. continued. “He’s acting like he’s ready to go again. Hopefully, he can duplicate his effort from last time or better.”
And even though the workload may be heavy for the multiple graded stakes-winning trainer, the anticipation of a big race helps to keep him motivated.
“The excitement of having that many horses and always being active and running different places, it keeps you on your toes,” Falcone, Jr. said. “Any tiredness or exhaustion you get, the excitement helps push you through it.”