Listentoyourheart Looks To Carry Good Form Into $100K Affirmed Success

April 27, 2023

Listentoyourheart impresses in an allowance optional claimer April 7 (NYRA/Coglianese)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Merrylegs Farm’s homebred stakes-winner Listentoyourheart, who earned a field-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure for a last-out optional claiming victory, will look to carry that form to stakes level in Sunday’s $100,000 Affirmed Success, a six-furlong sprint for New York-bred older horses, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Ray Handal, the son of Afleet Alex arrives from an impressive conquest on April 7 sprinting seven furlongs against state-breds here, scoring the 6 3/4-length victory after battling for the early lead with Writer’s Regret and taking charge at the half-mile call to draw off down the lane. He crossed the wire first in a final time of 1:24.18.

“He’s doing really good and ideally, we would have gone with an open-company ‘1X’ allowance, but he bounced out of his win in good order, so I don’t think the race took too much out of him,” said Handal. “I know he got a big figure, but he’s ready to get back at it. Any time they put in that kind of performance, it gives you confidence that they’re ready to take it to the next level, so hopefully he can do that on Sunday.”

Initially trained by Christophe Clement, Listentoyourheart was a winner on debut in June 2019 and captured the state-bred Aspirant at Finger Lakes Racetrack three starts later. Listentoyourheart finished on the board in two other stakes that year and was a close second in the Mike Lee in his sophomore season. He raced five more times for Clement before moving to Handal’s barn for his 6-year-old campaign.

“Christophe did a great job with him and I just kind of hoped to maintain what he was doing,” said Handal. “He’s a real easy keeper and he’s been a good boy. He’s sound as a pound, does everything right in the morning, and eats everything up. He’s a cool dude and a big, beautiful horse. He’s well-loved.”

Katie Davis has the call from post 1.

Sherrif Bianco strong in victory April 23 (NYRA/Coglianese)

A. Bianco Holding Limited’s Sheriff Bianco will look to notch his first stakes victory off one week’s rest. Trained by Linda Rice, who recently wheeled back Mommasgottarun off five day’s rest to win the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap, Sheriff Bianco enters from a strong half-length victory in an off-the-turf optional claimer on Sunday at the Big A. There, he raced in third down the backstretch under Jose Ortiz and pounced from three lengths off the pace to collar Secret Rules at the top of the lane and battle strongly with that foe down the lane, crossing the wire first in a final time of 1:10.97. He was awarded a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

The consistent son of Speightster has proven an astute claim for Rice, who haltered him for $30,000 out of a win in July at Belmont Park. Since then, Sheriff Bianco has never missed the board in 10 starts for his connections, including four wins, led by a dominant 11 3/4-length victory in October over a sloppy and sealed Big A main track.

Sheriff Bianco, bred by SF Bloodstock, will exit post 2 with Ortiz in the irons.

The evergreen multiple stakes winner My Boy Tate will make the second start of his 9-year-old campaign for trainer and breeder Michelle Nevin, who co-owns the gelding with Little Red Feather Racing. The son of Boys At Tosconova made his seasonal debut in January with a fourth-place finish in the state-bred Say Florida Sandy sprinting seven furlongs at the Big A.

My Boy Tate, who boasts field-best earnings of $833,288, has won 11 of his 37 starts with six stakes conquests, including the Hudson in October at Belmont at the Big A. He crossed the finish line first in last year’s Say Florida Sandy, but was disqualified and placed fourth for interference in the stretch.

My Boy Tate will emerge from post 4 in rein to Jose Gomez.

Reddam Racing’s Today’s Flavor [post 7, Manny Franco] had a four-race win streak snapped last out when fourth in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets on April 8 for conditioner George Weaver. The 5-year-old Laoban gelding set the pace in the seven-furlong Carter with pressure from Expressman and Little Vic through the first two points of call. He held his lead through mid-stretch, but was collared by a trio of rivals and settled for fourth, finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Doppelganger.

Today’s Flavor, bred by Joseph Calvo, broke his maiden at fifth asking in his first start for Weaver after beginning his career on the West Coast with trainer Doug O’Neill. He won his next three starts against winners, capped by an open-company score on February 18 that garnered a 99 Beyer. He is in search of his first stakes victory in his second attempt.

Michael Dubb’s stakes-winner Amundson [post 3, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] will make his first start since returning to trainer Rob Atras’ barn in March. The 7-year-old son of Curlin was last seen posting a determined head victory in a second-level optional claimer going the Affirmed Success distance on March 5. He earned an 89 Beyer for the effort and was haltered for $62,500 by Atras, who had him for two starts this fall and sent him out to a neck victory in a $40,000 claiming tilt in October. Amundson, bred by Stonewall Farm, scored his lone stakes win in the 2020 Hollie Hughes at Aqueduct.

Completing the field are five-time winner Scocciatore [post 5, Ruben Silvera] for conditioner Rudy Rodriguez and multiple stakes-winner Lobsta [post 6, Javier Castellano] for trainer Gary Sciacca.

The Affirmed Success, named in honor of the multiple graded stakes-winning multimillionaire trained by Rick Schosberg, is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race program to close out the Aqueduct spring meet. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.

@jonathanstettin I for one can still actually feel the pall cast over the crowd and game that day. It was palpable. Kudos 2/2

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