Law Professor Targets Grade 1 Woodward

September 23, 2022

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ versatile graded stakes-winner Law Professor will likely make his next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward, a nine-furlong test for 3-year-olds and up on October 1 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.

The 4-year-old Constitution gelding captured the mile and 70-yard Tapit off a five-month layoff on September 1 at Kentucky Downs while making his first appearance for trainer Rob Atras.

“I loved the way he was training going into the race but I was very unfamiliar with Kentucky Downs,” Atras said. “He was the first horse I’d ever run there and you never really know how they’ll respond to that up-and-down type of course.”

Law Professor, with Julien Leparoux up, attended a swift early pace from third position in the Tapit, advancing two wide into the far turn before making a rail run to victory.

“He showed tactical speed and Julien backed him off the pace and tucked him in,” Atras said. “Turning for home the camera angle changed and it was tough to see if he was making a move or stuck, and then he dropped down to the rail. As they came close to the wire he was in front and got it done. It was cool to win a race there.”

Law Professor launched his career with trainer Michael McCarthy, graduating at second asking in a March 2021 one-mile maiden special weight over the Santa Anita main track. He captured a one-mile optional claimer in November over the Del Mar turf ahead of a half-length score in an off-the-turf renewal of the Grade 2 Mathis Mile in December at Santa Anita.

The multi-surface star next posted a game runner-up effort to Express Train in the nine-furlong Grade 2 San Pasqual in February at Santa Anita before returning to turf with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at the same track. He completed his time with McCarthy in April with an off-the-board effort in the Grade 3 Oaklawn Mile. Law Professor trained at WinStar before joining up with Atras in June.

Atras said he is confident that Law Professor will be comfortable switching back to the main track for the Woodward in a field likely to be headed by multiple Grade 1-winner Life Is Good.

“His form shows and the way he trains that he’s probably equally as good on the dirt or maybe even better – time will tell,” Atras said. “Obviously, Life Is Good is probably in a different league but it’s $500,000 with potentially one major contender, so we’re strongly considering the race. I think the distance is well within his reach.”

Law Professor went a half-mile in 51.21 over the Belmont dirt training track September 18 in his first breeze back.

“He came out of the last race really good. His energy levels came back real quick,” Atras said. “We gave him a light breeze last week and he handled it real well. We’ll breeze him tomorrow or Sunday at the latest and if everything goes well, we’ll probably be in the entries.”

The Kentucky homebred is out of the multiple stakes-winning Ghostzapper mare Haunted Heroine, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Celestine, who won the 2016 Grade 1 Longines Just a Game at Belmont Park.

Smash Ticket breaks her maiden at Del Mar in 2021 (Ernie Belmonte)

Atras will send Brad King, Stan Kirby, Suzanne Kirby and Barbara Coleman’s graded stakes-placed Smash Ticket to Pimlico for Saturday’s Weather Vane, a six-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies.

Bred in Kentucky by King, the sophomore dark bay daughter of Midnight Lute commenced her career with conditioner Todd Fincher, graduating at second asking last July at Del Mar ahead of a distant third-place finish in the Grade 2 Sorrento one month later at the same track.

She won her seasonal debut by 11 lengths against older company in May at Lone Star Park before heading to New York and prevailing by a neck on debut for Atras in a six-furlong optional claimer also against older stock on July 20.

Smash Ticket, with Kendrick Carmouche up, dueled through swift splits at Saratoga and had enough left to stave off the late run from Betsy Blue, who was bumped soundly twice out of the gate. Betsy Blue exited that effort to win a pair of seven-furlong optional-claiming tilts.

“She was under pressure the whole way. She came up to Saratoga a few days before the race, so it wasn’t like she had a breeze over that track,” Atras said. “Against older horses, I thought she was very impressive. The filly that ran second – and I know she had trouble in that trip – came back with two really big races to solidify that was a good race.”

Atras said Smash Ticket has trained forwardly into Saturday’s test.

“She’s been going really good. Her last couple works were nice. She’s been at Belmont most of the summer and really likes it here,” Atras said. “Hopefully, she ships good tomorrow and runs her race at Pimlico. It seems she can handle different types of tracks. She’s just a very nice filly and very fast.”

Smash Ticket is listed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite with Carmouche to ride from post 2 in a loaded field of 12.

Michael Dubb and Michael J. Caruso’s Saint Selby, a 4-year-old Kantharos gelding, has won 4-of-7 starts for Atras. The $75,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Yearling Sale purchase finished a pacesetting third last out against fellow state-breds in the six-furlong John Morrissey on August 12 at Saratoga. He breezed an easy half-mile in 49.61 September 16 at Belmont.

“He’s one of those horses that runs real hard and sometimes needs a little more time between races,” Atras said. “He worked back last week and he’s supposed to work tomorrow, too. We’re getting him ready for a ‘2-other-than’ at the end of the month.”

Atras said a long-term goal for Saint Selby is the 6 1/2-furlong $150,000 Hudson against fellow state-breds on October 30 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.

Battle Bling wins the Ladies Stakes at Aqueduct January 16, 2022 (Chelsea Durand)

Michael Dubb and Gandharvi Racing Stables’ Battle Bling, a 4-year-old graded stakes-placed daughter of Vancouver, won a handicap last out under Irad Ortiz, Jr. on September 6 at Colonial Downs.

“She ran great that day,” Atras said. “I know it wasn’t the deepest field but there were some decent fillies in there and right out of the gate she was in a forward position. I thought Irad rode her just tremendous.”

Battle Bling enjoyed a strong winter campaign at the Big A, posting a win in the Ladies in January ahead of runner-up efforts in the Heavenly Prize Invitational in March and the Top Flight Invitational in April.

She tried her luck in graded company with a fourth in the Grade 1 La Troienne in May at Churchill Downs and a distant second to Miss Leslie in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap in July.

“Maybe Delaware wasn’t the track for her but I felt we had to take a shot and she ran all right, but I thought the Colonial race was great for her,” Atras said. “She really seemed to handle that track well. It was nice after running second to get a win with her because she tries hard every time.”

Atras said Battle Bling could target the Grade 2, $250,000 Beldame at nine furlongs on October 9 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet, but will also consider the 1 1/16-mile $100,000 Twixt on October 1 at Laurel Park.

Mr Phil, owned by Sanford Goldfarb, Madaket Stables, Alan Kahn and the Estate of Ira Davis, won a trio of races between March and May ahead of a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 True North on June 10 at Belmont. He was last seen finishing a prominent third in the restricted Tale of the Cat on August 10 at the Spa.

Atras said Mr Phil has been freshened at Fair Hill for a fall/winter campaign.

Michael Dubb’s graded stakes-winner Chateau, a 7-year-old gelded son of Flat Out, has made three starts this year led by runner-up efforts in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap in March at the Big A and the Grade 3 Runhappy in May at Belmont.

He was last seen finishing third after setting the pace in a six-furlong optional claimer on June 17 at Belmont and was subsequently freshened for a winter return.

“We’re hoping to get him back here in top form,” Atras said. “He’d been in training for a long time and I just think he needed a break. He’s back galloping now, but it will be a little while before we start looking for a race for him. He’s a cool horse and he deserved a break.”

Chateau sports a tremendous record of 13-6-3-3 at the Big A, led by a victory in 2021 Tom Fool Handicap.

NYRA Press Office

Main photo: Law Professor (Photo courtesy of Kentucky Downs)


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