Third time’s the charm for Dornoch (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)
By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— West Paces Racing, R.A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing and Pine Racing Stables’ Dornoch will attempt to give trainer Danny Gargan a repeat victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen, a nine-furlong route for juveniles, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Remsen, carded as Race 9, awards the top-five finishers with 10-5-3-2-1 qualifying points, respectively, towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby in May at Churchill Downs, and is one of four graded stakes slated for Saturday’s stacked Cigar Mile Day card. The 10-race program also features the Grade 2, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets in Race 10, the Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle, a 10-5-3-2-1 Kentucky Oaks qualifier, in Race 7 and the Grade 3, $200,000 Go for Wand in Race 8. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.
Dornoch arrives from a dominant 6 1/2-length victory at third asking with a gate-to-wire performance on October 14 at Keeneland, garnering an 87 Beyer Speed Figure. His graduation came on the heels of a close runner-up effort to Noted in the one-mile Sapling in August at Monmouth Park where he raced wide and was jostled near the seven-eighths mark.
“Last time, he broke good and was up there,” said Gargan, who saddled last year’s winner Dubyuhnell. “He still goofed off at the end of the race. When he gets by himself, he plays around. He’s real professional when he’s with other horses. He looked around a little bit and didn’t switch [leads] as fast because he’s playing around. But it was a big performance and he ran fast.”
Gargan spoke volumes of Dornoch’s Sapling effort, where he endured a troubled, wide trip under Kendrick Carmouche.
“I thought his second race was a crazy, big performance. He broke poorly and the horse inside him bolted and the next thing you know, he’s wide in the first turn,” said Gargan. “Then he goes from [far back] down the backside, and in the turn for home, he had the lead. He moved way too soon. Kendrick said he had a ton of horse and if he had another sixteenth of a mile he’d have come back and beat the other horse. He just got green and was playing around.”
Since his maiden score, Dornoch has worked four times over the Belmont Park main track, including half-mile effort Saturday in 49.43 seconds.
Gargan added he expects Dornoch to relish a stretch-out after his strong showing at Keeneland.
“It’s a short wire there at a mile and sixteenth and he galloped out all the way back around. He galloped way out that day,” Gargan said. “I don’t think it [the distance] will be any problem at all. He’s a big horse.
Dornoch, a son of Good Magic, is a full-brother to this year’s Grade 1 Kentucky Derby-winner Mage and is out of the graded stakes-placed Big Brown mare Puca, who recently sold at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale for $2.9 million while carrying another full-sibling to Mage and Dornoch.
Luis Saez has the call from post 3.
Rose Petal Stables’ Copper Tax [post 9, Kendrick Carmouche] streaks in off five consecutive victories for conditioner Gary Capuano, most recently shipping out of Delaware Park for the first time to capture the six-furlong James F. Lewis, III on November 11 at Laurel Park. The son of Copper Bullet was bumped at the start and trailed farther off the pace than he had ever been in his six lifetime outings, but overcame the challenge to rally late and notch the neck score over Inveigled.
The James F. Lewis was the second stakes conquest for Copper Tax, who also won the one-mile Rocky Run in dominant wire-to-wire fashion two starts back, crossing the wire 6 3/4 lengths in front over the muddy and sealed going. Both his stakes victories garnered career-best 81 Beyers, and followed a pair of open-lengths restricted allowance romps at the at the Wilmington oval.
A $45,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, Copper Tax is out of the stakes-placed Majestic Warrior mare Wilhelmina, a half-sister to multiple Venezuelan Group 1-winner Strength Mask.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will send out two contenders in the regally-bred debut winner Sierra Leone [post 7, Jose Ortiz] and second-out maiden-winner Domestic Product [post 2, Manny Franco].
Sierra Leone, owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg, Rocket Ship Racing and Peter Brant, made his highly anticipated debut on November 4 with a rallying 1 1/4-length score after bobbling at the start and racing five-wide in the stretch to sweep past Change of Command and complete the mile in 1:36.94.
The son of Gun Runner was a $2.3 million purchase at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale and is out of the Grade 1-winning Malibu Moon mare Heavenly Love. This third dam, the multiple graded stakes-winner Roamin Rachel, also produced 2004 Japanese Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy.
Brown said Sierra Leone trained well into his debut.
“Obviously, he’s a highly-regarded horse because of his wonderful pedigree and his purchase price,” said Brown. “It’s nice that he got his career started with a win right off the bat. He’s a very promising horse and hopefully he takes to the two turns which he should.”
Klaravich Stables’ Kentucky homebred Domestic Product was a winner at second asking on October 27 at Belmont at the Big A, taking a nine-furlong maiden tilt by 4 1/2 lengths with a prominent trip under Manny Franco. The son of Practical Joke improved greatly with a stretch-out after finishing fifth in a six-furlong sprint on debut in August at Saratoga.
“He stretched quite far out from his debut, so it wasn’t ideal, but that was the race that was there and we went for it,” said Brown. “He came through, so I was quite impressed with him. He’s stepping up, so it will be a good test for him.”
Sierra Leone and Domestic Product worked in company over the Belmont Park training track on Saturday, covering a half-mile in 48.40 seconds.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will also be represented by a pair of contenders as Moonlight [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Private Desire [post 10, Jose Lezcano] each vie for their first stakes victory.
Town and Country Racing and Madaket Stables’ Moonlight enters from a closing runner-up effort over sloppy and sealed going in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Street Sense on October 29 at Churchill Downs where he made a bid from fourth down the stretch and came up 2 3/4 lengths shy of Liberal Arts. The son of Audible was making his stakes debut off a dominant second-out maiden conquest on September 28 at Belmont at the Big A when annexing a one-mile off-the-turf maiden by eight lengths and garnering a 90 Beyer Speed Figure.
Stephen P. Brunetti, Jr.’s Private Desire looks to rebound from an even fourth-place effort last out in the one-mile Nashua on November 5 where he raced greenly at the seven-eighths and was wide into the stretch. The son of Constitution boasts a field-best 94 Beyer for a second-out graduation sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on September 16 over the Big A main track. He finished fourth in a July 29 maiden at Saratoga where Dornoch also debuted and finished second.
Nice Guys Stables’ Where’s Chris [post 8, Isaac Castillo] will look to double up on stakes scores for trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. after winning the one-mile Nashua by three-quarter lengths on November 5 here. The son of Twirling Candy stalked a half-length off pacesetting post-time favorite Book’em Danno in second before coming to even terms with his foe at the top of the lane. The pair drew off and dueled strongly down the stretch with Where’s Chris coming out on top in a final time of 1:36.75.
A $20,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, Where’s Chris is out of the multiple graded-stakes winning Lemon Drop Kid mare Sea Queen, who finished second in the 2014 Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational on turf.
Completing the field are Nashua third-place finisher Billal [post 6, Junior Alvarado], who races with blinkers off for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott; and maiden winners Drum Roll Please [post 5, Javier Castellano] for trainer Brad Cox and Le Dom Bro [post 1, Jose Gomez] for conditioner Eniel Cordero.