Grannys Connection brings her winning streak to three March 19 (NYRA/Coglianese)
Portos To Make New York Return in $125K Excelsior, Curbstone Also Nominated
Locally Owned Looks to Return To Winning Ways in $75K Stud Muffin
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Orpen Horses, Jack Hardin Towell, Jr., and Alan Griffin’s talented Grannys Connection earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure for her 5 1/4-length victory in a second-level optional claimer for older New York-bred fillies and mares on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Tom Morley, Grannys Connection led at every point of call in the six-furlong sprint under regular pilot Eric Cancel and drew away in-hand to post the eye-catching victory in a final time of 1:13.61 over the fast main track. It was the third consecutive win for the 4-year-old daughter of Connect, who entered from a dominant 9 3/4-length score in a first-level state-bred allowance over the same distance and course on February 25 where she garnered a career-best 88 Beyer. She graduated at second asking in a seven-furlong maiden facing open company on January 15 at the Big A.
“We’re really pleased with Sunday’s effort over what was obviously a very tiring track,” said Morley. “She’s run a lot faster than that and I genuinely think we’ll see the best of this filly when she gets on, not a wet track or anything, but one with plenty of moisture. I don’t think you saw the best of her over the weekend and she probably regressed a little because we ran her back quite quickly. When these races come along at the right distance and the horse is doing well, she could still win it regressing.”
Morley said the long-term goal for Grannys Connection is the six-furlong $125,000 Dancin Renee for older New York-bred fillies and mares on June 25 at Belmont Park.
“She’ll have one run between now and the Dancin Renee and we’ll give her five or six weeks first,” said Morley. “We’ll look for an open ‘a-other-than’ and then go to the stake.”
Though Grannys Connection did not debut until the end of her sophomore season, Morley said the bay filly always showed promise from the time she first arrived in his barn.
“The first time I worked her I had a feeling she might be very, very fast,” said Morley. “She just hangs out. She’s no trouble and she rests a lot, but then she’s a tiger to train. You can’t overtrain her because she wants to do a little bit too much every day.”
Bred by Paul Pompa, Jr., Grannys Connection is out of the six-time winning Old Fashioned mare Granny’s Drink and was purchased for $57,000 at the 2021 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training where she breezed an eighth of a mile in 10 seconds.
Other upcoming stakes engagements for Morley include the $125,000 Excelsior on April 1 where he has nominated both graded stakes-placed Portos and the three-time winner Curbstone.
Flying P Stable’s Portos, who recently joined Morley after running third for trainer Ron Faucheux in a March 11 optional claimer at Fair Grounds Race Course, breezed three furlongs in 37.85 seconds Friday over the Belmont dirt training track.
Portos, a 6-year-old grey son of Tapit, made both his seasonal and turf debut on January 28 in the 1 1/2-mile Grade 3 John B. Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston where he finished a distant seventh over soft footing. He is in search of his first win since an allowance coup in April 2021 at Keeneland.
“Ron and I have been in constant contact through the winter and mapped out a plan,” said Morley. “We wanted to try him on the grass as he’s by Tapit and out of an Empire Maker mare. We ran him at Sam Houston and it rained all day – it was soft ground in Texas, so that went out the window. He had the allowance race earlier this month and now he’ll go to the Excelsior.”
Patricia Moseley’s Kentucky homebred Curbstone, a 4-year-old Street Sense gelding, is pointing to a Thursday allowance at the Big A going nine furlongs, with the Grade 2, $250,000 Brooklyn on June 10 at Belmont in consideration as a long-term target.
“Curbstone is doing great. He was meant to run on Sunday, but the race didn’t go,” said Morley. “It’s coming back for Thursday and if it doesn’t go, I would still consider running in the Excelsior. He’s nominated because I think he is that good, but I would rather not run him against Portos – I’d like to win an allowance and then move on [to a stake]. It’s tough to go and run in a race like the Brooklyn off an ‘a-other-than,’ but if he won an allowance and did it impressively, I would consider that.”
Curbstone, who has been with Morley since November, has been on-the-board in 3-of-4 starts since being transferred from the barn of Brendan Walsh, including a 12 1/4-length victory in a starter allowance on January 28 where he earned a 96 Beyer. He was last seen finishing a closing second in a February 26 allowance traveling 10 furlongs.
Morley’s other top distance horse, Flying P Stable’s stakes-winner Locally Owned, will look to return to winning ways in tomorrow’s $75,000 Stud Muffin going 1 3/8 miles. Locally Owned won the 2021 Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational for Morley before being claimed for $20,000 out of a nine-furlong route at Saratoga Race Course five starts later. Morley and Flying P claimed him right back for $40,000 in his next start and have been happy to have the veteran gelding back in their care.
“I’m excited to see him run tomorrow,” said Morley. “He’s a stakes winner, although it seems like many moons ago. We knew we were probably going to lose him at Saratoga, but we were always going to claim him back no matter the price, whether it be $40,000 or $50,000. He needed to win again because I think he had lost his confidence a bit, so it was good and it’s worked out really well.”
Morley said the 7-year-old son of Distorted Humor has become a part of the family and a favorite of his wife, NYRA paddock analyst Maggie Wolfendale.
“He certainly is, and my wife already has her eye on him when he retires,” said Morley, with a laugh.