Looms Boldly leads every step of the way in his stakes debut (Joe Labozzetta)
By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Ten Strike Racing homebred Looms Boldly made every pole a winning one to secure his first career stakes victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Damon Runyon, a six-furlong sprint for New York-bred sophomores, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Brad Cox and piloted by the Big A winter meet’s leading rider Manny Franco, the Goldencents bay entered from a stalking third-place finish to returning rival What’s Up Bro in a local state-bred optional-claimer on February 20 while racing off a three-month layoff.
Franco, who guided Looms Boldly to a gate-to-wire graduation at second asking in November here, said he took advantage of a quick break from post 2 in the Damon Runyon.
“He broke so sharp and I went with him because I won on the lead with him before,” said Franco, who has 61 wins at the meet which concludes next Sunday. “That’s what I did and he took me all the way to the wire. In the stretch, my horse was getting a little tired in the end, but at the same time he was giving me all he had. I’m glad we got it done today.”
Looms Boldly led through splits of 22.39 seconds and 46.42 over the fast main track with the Trevor McCarthy-piloted Andiamo a Firenze stalking a close second. What’s Up Bro, the lukewarm 9-5 mutuel favorite under Dylan Davis, was angled off the rail from third position for the stretch run as Looms Boldly clung to the rail and the lead.
Andiamo a Firenze and What’s Up Bro rallied wide down the lane but only the former could threaten Looms Boldly, who prevailed by a half-length in a final time of 1:13.75. Andiamo a Firenze completed the exacta by 4 1/4-lengths over What’s Up Bro. D’ont Lose Cruz, who bobbled at the break and was sandwiched between the awkward-starting Bobby Ride and outward-breaking Andiamo a Firenze, finished fourth with Bobby Ride completing the order of finish. East Coast Girl was scratched.
Dustin Dugas, the New York-based assistant for Cox, said a prominent trip was the plan.
“I expected him to be on the lead or near it, but I didn’t expect it to be that quick,” Dugas said. “Manny was really confident in the horse and has breezed him a bunch of times – he knows him really well. He rode him last time and he needed the race a bit off the layoff. He wasn’t that comfortable sitting off the pace, so Manny made sure to be really aggressive today and it panned out.”
Dugas said Looms Boldly has matured with racing.
“He’s always been a big, chunky boy and we always thought he was unfit, but he’s shown us that he just is [this way],” Dugas said. “He never lost his baby fat and he’s just this big boy. He’s definitely grown mentally and physically. His whole family is happy-go-lucky and they love to race and train.”
Mr. Amore Stable’s Andiamo a Firenze was in flying form at Saratoga Race Course as a juvenile, finishing third in the Grade 3 Sanford and winning the state-bred Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. The Kelly Breen trainee entered the Damon Runyon from a pair of distant off-the-board efforts here against open company in the one-mile Jerome on January 7 and the nine-furlong Grade 3 Withers on February 11.
McCarthy, aboard Andiamo a Firenze for the first time in the afternoon, said he was pleased with the trip.
“He gave me a good run but I feel like he didn’t give me everything,” McCarthy said. “He was drifting in when I needed him the most and he didn’t really lay his head down and give me his all. Once I did push him, it gave him a second gear. He was just kind of spotty that’s all. I like the horse a lot. I got a great position, no excuse for him.”
Looms Boldly, out of the Forestry mare See the Forest, is a half-brother to multiple stakes-winner Critical Value. He banked $55,000 in victory and improved his record to 4-2-1-1, while returning $13.40 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing resumes Friday at the Big A with an eight-race card featuring the $100,000 East View in Race 7. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.