Honest Banker romps against allowance optional claiming foes March 30 (NYRA/Coglianese)
By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Joseph G. McMahon, Anne McMahon, Kyle Buchakjian and Richard Buchakjian’s Honest Banker brings a perfect 2-for-2 record into Sunday’s $200,000 Park Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series for eligible New York-sired sophomore fillies sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Rob Atras, the Central Banker chestnut made her first two starts at the Big A, romping to a 5 1/4-length debut score over sloppy and sealed going in a state-bred maiden claiming sprint in December that registered a 47 Beyer Speed Figure. She stepped up in company last out and improved her Beyer to 60 with a gate-to-wire three-length romp sprinting six furlongs in an open-company, starter optional claimer on March 30.
Atras said Honest Banker, who worked a half-mile in 52.65 seconds Saturday over the Belmont dirt training track, has earned her way into this event.
“Her numbers are a little on the low side, but she breezed well and I think she deserves a shot,” Atras said. “It was a nice, easy solo work. I don’t do too much with her. She’s a smaller-framed filly, so we don’t drill her too hard. She worked good and came out of it good.
“She’s New York-sired and New York-bred and this race is tailored for her,” added Atras. “If you have a horse that’s doing good, you have to take a shot in this kind of race for $200,000.”
Atras said the chestnut has improved over his initial assessment when debuting for a tag.
“I thought she had a little speed, but I wasn’t sure how good she was going to be,” Atras said. “I wasn’t convinced she was a maiden special at the time, but I think she just doesn’t show everything in the morning that she is. She has a big heart and whatever we’ve thrown at her so far, she seems to handle. Maybe it’s a good thing that they develop and get their heart big without running against too tough of horses. Maybe those two races will allow her to take another step forward.”
Jorge Vargas, Jr. retains the mount from post 10.
Bred in the Empire State by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds and Bart Forlano, Honest Banker is out of the Langfuhr mare True Charm.
Les Bon Temps [post 4, Jose Ortiz] is one of a pair of formidable Park Avenue runners trained by Linda Rice, entering from a third-place finish on March 24 here in the East View, a six-furlong state-bred sprint won by Maple Leaf Mel.
Owned by Lady Sheila Stable, Deuce Greathouse, Cindy Hutson and Brett Setzer, the Laoban bay has made 6-of-7 starts in stakes company, including a runner-up finish in the state-bred Maddie May traveling one mile on February 19 here in her first start for Rice following a private purchase.
Les Bon Temps, bred in the Empire State by Southern Equine Stables, made her first three starts for trainer Norm Casse, graduating on debut in May at Churchill Downs with a determined neck victory facing open company in a five-furlong maiden special weight.
She ran twice more for Casse before joining the barn of Mike Maker and finishing third in the state-bred Joseph A. Gimma ahead of consecutive stakes scores with a one-length victory in the state-bred Maid of the Mist in October and the $500,000 NYSSS Fifth Avenue in December, all at the Big A.
Rideau Racers’ Maggie T [post 7, Kendrick Carmouche] enters from a gate-to-wire 4 1/2-length score in a one-turn mile open optional claimer here on March 12.
Bred in the Empire State by Mr. and Mrs. Grant L. Whitmer, the Destin grey boasts a record of 7-2-2-1 for purse earnings of $81,985, earning a career-best 67 Beyer last out in her first start since being claimed for $50,000 by Rice.
Maggie T, a half-sister to graded-stakes winner Control Group, is out of the Victory Gallop mare We Kept Her, who is a half-sister to multiple stakes-placed Mr Muffin Man and the stakes-placed Eternal Grace.
Midtown Lights [post 6, Manny Franco] will look to turn the tables on Les Bon Temps after completing the exacta in the Fifth Avenue to close out her juvenile campaign.
Trained by Brad Cox for owners Clay Scherer, Carson McCord, Gregory M. Hoffman, Harriette Waldron, and Sonny Dotson, the Redesdale chestnut made her seasonal debut with a second-place finish in a six-furlong state-bred optional claimer on February 17 won by the undefeated Downtown Mischief, who exited that effort to win the open-company Cicada.
Last out, Midtown Lights stretched out to a one-turn mile for the first time in a state-bred optional claimer on St. Patrick’s Day here and edged away to a 2 1/4-length score.
Bred in New York by Windylea Farm, the $150,000 OBS June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale purchase has breezed back three times, including a half-mile work in 48.66 Saturday over the Belmont dirt training track.
Owner Peter Kazamias and trainer Dimitrios Synnefias teamed up to win on this weekend last year with New York-homebred colt Kazmike in the NYSSS Times Square. This year, they return with another Empire State homebred in Athena Beach [post 9, Ricardo Santana, Jr.], who boasts a perfect record from two starts at Penn National.
The Bank Heist chestnut was piloted to a pair of six-furlong gate-to-wire wins this year by jockey Tyler Conner, graduating on debut on February 23 and following up on March 30 with a 5 1/4-length score over next-out winner Mo Co Gold.
Athena Beach is out of the Tapit mare Beach, who is a full-sister to multiple graded-stakes placed Blind Ambition – an accomplished turf sprinter out of the multiple stakes-winning Elusive Quality mare Starfish Bay.
Rounding out the field are the multiple stakes-placed Little Linzee [post 2, Katie Davis] for conditioner Domenick Schettino; maiden winners Clover Street [post 1, Trevor McCarthy] for trainer Mark Hennig, Hypnocurrency [post 3, Romero Ramsay Maragh], who adds blinkers for conditioner James Bentley Begg, the Michelle Nevin-trained Our Rosie Diamonds [post 8, Jose Gomez]; and maiden Dream On Cara [post 5, Eric Cancel] for trainer Mitchell Friedman.
The NYSSS Park Avenue is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.