Law Professor wins the FanDuel Tapit at Kentucky Downs (Coady Photography)
NYRA Press Office
95 Beyer for Battle Bling in G3 Turnback the Alarm
Graded Stakes Winner Chateau Continues Return To Racing
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ graded stakes-winner Law Professor picked up a check with a fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland.
Trained by Rob Atras and piloted by Jose Ortiz, the 4-year-old Constitution gelding tracked from sixth position through the final turn and angled six-wide for the stretch run to finish 7 1/2 lengths back of the victorious Cody’s Wish, who was a head better than Cyberknife.
“He’s a horse that likes to be a little more forwardly placed, but whether he could have or not I’m not sure. I don’t think Jose did anything wrong,” Atras said. “He knew they were going very fast up front, so he let him settle and got him into the bridle. It looked like he was inching forward a little bit, but when I saw Cody’s Wish go by I knew we were in trouble.
“Jose did the right thing. They were going very fast early and even faster late,” Atras added, with a laugh. “I wasn’t disappointed in his effort.”
Law Professor started his career on the West Coast with conditioner Michael McCarthy, taking an off-the-turf edition of the Grade 2 Mathis Mile in December at Santa Anita. He has made three starts for Atras, winning the Tapit over firm turf at Kentucky Downs in September ahead of a game runner-up effort to Life Is Good in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Woodward on a sloppy and sealed main track in October at Belmont at the Big A.
Atras said he will keep all options open for Law Professor, including the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on December 3 here.
“We’ll nominate there. My preference would be to look at the Cigar Mile if he fits. The timing would be OK and we wouldn’t have to ship,” Atras said.
Michael Dubb and Gandharvi’s Battle Bling secured a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure for her game frontrunning score in Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm, a nine-furlong route for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 4-year-old Vancouver dark bay made the grade in just her third attempt at the level after finishing fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 La Troienne in May at Churchill Downs and second in the 10-furlong Grade 2 Delaware Handicap in July.
Battle Bling set comfortable splits of 25.80, 50.75 and 1:15.74 over the fast main track with W W Fitzy tracking in second and Grade 1-placed Nostalgic last-of-4 after Exotic West unseated Mike Luzzi at the break. She opened up a 3 1/2-length advantage at the stretch call and held on to score by a neck over the late-running Nostalgic in a final time of 1:53.60.
“She’s rock steady. She’s just a solid, good mare,” Atras said. “She came out of the race good. I was very happy to see her this morning. I got back late last night from Kentucky and she was the first horse I saw this morning out in the round pen. She was feeling good and that’s a good sign.”
Battle Bling, who was haltered for $62,500 by current connections from a runner-up effort in December here, has since posted a record of 4-4-0 in nine starts, including scores in the nine-furlong Ladies in January at the Big A and the 1 1/16-mile Twixt in October at Laurel. During that stretch, Battle Bling also notched runner-up finishes in the Heavenly Prize Invitational, Top Flight Invitational, and Obeah, all of which came with a margin of defeat of three-quarter lengths or less.
Battle Bling’s current three-race win streak has been accomplished with prominent tactics, beginning with a handicap score under Irad Ortiz, Jr. traveling 1 1/16-miles in September at Colonial Downs.
“When Irad rode her three starts back, he let her get into the race a little quicker. She kind of did it on her own, but he didn’t take her back and she was in a very forward position that day and she won,” Atras said. “The next race, I told Angel Cruz to let her break sharp and put her in the race. There were two reasons for that – one, because of how Irad rode her; and the second is because it was a sloppy track and the last time it was like that [Delaware Handicap], she got a little too far back and didn’t really fire.”
Atras said Kendrick Carmouche, who had guided Battle Bling to a pair of runner-up efforts from off-the-pace at Delaware, indicated he wanted to be more forward in Friday’s test.
“Kendrick came in the office three days before the race and said let’s put her right there,” Atras said. “When the gates opened, she broke sharp and I thought maybe W W Fitzy might be the speed, but she didn’t break sharp and Kendrick got the jump on her and let her roll. She has a short kick and then she sustains, so that seemed to work.”
Battle Bling was a narrow neck winner of the nine-furlong Ladies here in January in one of several close finishes for Atras under Trevor McCarthy, including a closing second in the one-mile Heavenly Prize Invitational when a neck back of Exotic West.
“I don’t know if she knows where the wire is and was shutting down, or if she doesn’t quite want a mile and an eighth because the last time it was the same thing where she opened up and almost got caught,” Atras said. “Regardless, she got to the wire first and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
Atras said Battle Bling will now come under consideration for the one-mile Grade 3, $200,000 Go for Wand Handicap on December 3 as part of the Cigar Mile undercard.
“Originally, I thought it might be short for her,” Atras said. “When I ran her a mile last winter, Trevor had to stay after her to get her to stay up close and she kind of out of her comfort zone. But maybe she’s a different filly now. She seems to want to be forwardly-placed. It’s definitely a race we’d look at.”
Michael Dubb’s graded-stakes winner Chateau continued his return to racing with a half-mile breeze in 50.22 Sunday over the Belmont dirt training track.
The 7-year-old Flat Out dark bay was last seen finishing third in a six-furlong optional-claiming sprint on June 17 at Belmont just one month after a close runner-up effort to Drafted in the Grade 3 Runhappy over the same course and distance.
“He breezed a half this morning and went quite well,” Atras said. “He needed some time off and we’ll see how he trains and what level he will be competitive at.”
Chateau has banked $696,539 through a record of 42-8-12-11 led by a score last March in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap that registered a career-best 98 Beyer. The popular dark bay boasts a record of 13-6-3-3 over the Big A main track, including a 3 1/2-length win in the Gravesend in December.
“He ran hard for a long time and the last couple races just weren’t quite him. Those sprinters can be hard on themselves and it warranted a break,” Atras said. “We’ll see how he is in his demeanor and where we think he will fit. I know he likes Aqueduct and that’s a good thing that’s he’s starting to get fit. We hope he can get back to his old self.”