ELMONT, N.Y. – A special Memorial Day card will have state-breds take center stage, with six stakes worth a combined $900,000 highlighting New York Breeders’ Showcase Day on Monday at Belmont Park.
The New York Racing Association, Inc. [NYRA] will see state-breds compete for high purses, rewarding the owners and breeders in the Empire State who help sustain racing in New York throughout the year.
“The New York-bred program is full of tremendous opportunities for breeders and owners,” said Thomas J. Gallo, President of New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. “We’re grateful in continuing to partner with NYRA in highlighting our top athletes on our New York Showcase days with lucrative purses and competitive fields. Especially at the Belmont Spring meet, as the New York Breeders’ Showcase Day on Memorial Day will have fans in attendance to help celebrate and watch the best our Empire State has to offer.”
Those fans in attendance will see trainer John Kimmel saddle a trio of stakes contenders, including the popular millionaire Mr. Buff, who will make his fourth appearance in the $200,000 Commentator in Race 4 for trainer John Kimmel, in search of his first win in the one-turn mile for 3-year-olds and up over Big Sandy.
Kimmel will also send out Secret Love in the $125,000 Bouwerie and Dr. Blute for the $125,000 Mike Lee.
“It’s a great day of racing and there’s big purse money to be had. I’m hoping all three of my horses show up and have a good day,” Kimmel said.
Mr. Buff, an 11-time stakes winner, finished third last out in the Grade 3 Westchester, setting a moderate pace under Edgard Zayas before Dr Post – who is bound for the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day – took over en route to a 1 3/4-length win.
Junior Alvarado, who has guided Mr. Buff to 7 of his 17 career wins, will return to the irons. The duo will break from post 3.
“I think having his regular rider back aboard will help him,” said Kimmel. “Last time, the rider didn’t really know him and for him to go a half in 48 and not open up on the field when he can go 45; I’m not sure why he didn’t open up. He got pressured on the outside and before he asked him to change leads, he went to the stick and this horse, when he gets to his outside lead, has a whole other gear.”
Waterville Lake Stable homebred Sea Foam, who won back-to-back races against optional claimers last year before running third in the Empire Classic in October, will make his 6-year-old debut for trainer Christophe Clement. Sea Foam will be looking for his first stakes win since capturing the 2018 New York Derby and Albany.
“He’s been doing well, it’s just been a tough division with Mr. Buff the last couple of years, but that’s just the way it is,” Clement said. “He’s been training well and we’ll see what happens.”
Seafoam, with Jose Ortiz aboard from the outermost post 7, will face a talented field that includes four-time stakes-winner Bankit, who has finished on the board in his last six starts. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Bankit started his 5-year-old year with a victory in the John B. Campbell in February at Laurel Park before running second in his last stakes appearance in the Haynesfield in March at Aqueduct Racetrack. Bankit, owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Racing, will have the services of Jose Lezcano from post 5.
Captain Bombastic, who ran fifth in the Affirmed Success in April at Belmont, will be making his second start since Chad Brown took over the training duties [post 1, Irad Ortiz, Jr.]. Trainer Rudy Rodriguez will send out Yankee Division [post 4, Saez] and Danny California [post 6, Franco] while Horaco DePaz saddles Winners Laugh, who will exit post 2 with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard.
Merrylegs’ Farm homebred Timeless Journey will be looking to make the step in class in the $200,000 Critical Eye for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up going the one-turn mile on Big Sandy in Race 9. Timeless Journey, 3-0-1 in seven starts, ended her sophomore year with a December victory against allowance company at Aqueduct before running fourth in her 2021 bow on May 7 at Belmont for Clement. Manny Franco will ride from post 3.
“It’s a little ambitious, but why not? It’s a good day to be ambitious,” Clement said. “She’s been training well.”
The hard-luck Mrs. Orb broke a stretch of five consecutive runner-up finishes with a one-length win in January’s La Verdad at Aqueduct for trainer Michael Miceli. The Orb mare, owned by Ruggeri Stable, Richard Coburn, Script R Farm and Miceli, ran second by a neck in last year’s Critical Eye to Ratajkowski, part of a trend of competitive efforts as the 6-year-old has compiled a 6-8-3 record in 23 starts with earnings of $439,520. Jose Ortiz will have the call from post 4.
Espresso Shot, the winner of the one-mile Biogio’s Rose in March at Aqueduct, will return to the same distance for trainer Jorge Abreu. That victory netted the Mission Impazible filly a personal-best 90 Beyer. Eric Cancel will pick up the mount, drawing post 6.
Also competing in the Critical Eye will be Ruggeri Stable’s Love and Love, runner-up in the Biogio’s Rose, who will break from post 7 with Ortiz, Jr.; Singular Sensation, third in the 1 1/8-mile Bay Ridge in December at Aqueduct, for trainer Mark Hennig [post 2, Jose Lezcano]; Eloquent Speaker, making the jump to stakes company in her 10th career start, for trainer Tony Dutrow [post 5, Luis Saez]; Bank Sting, a winner of three in a row for conditioner John Terranova [post 8, Kendrick Carmouche]; Dancing Kiki [post 1, Javier Castellano]; and Good Credence [outermost post 9, Alvarado].
The Bouwerie, for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs in Race 3, will see Laobanonaprayer looking to make amends for an off-the-board effort last out in the NYSSS Park Avenue, when she squares off against stakes winner Secret Love.
Laobanonaprayer, bred by Christina Deronda and owned and trained by Danny Velazquez, graduated at third asking in the Maid of the Mist in October at Belmont providing Velazquez his first stakes win. She followed with an eight-length score in the seven-furlong NYSSS Fifth Avenue in December at Aqueduct ahead of a good second in the Franklin Square in January on a muddy Big A main track. After two off-the-board efforts, including a head-scratching sixth in the NYSSS Park Avenue last out on April 18 at Aqueduct, Laobanonaprayer will look for a return to form from post 3 under returning pilot Carmouche.
Nedlaw Stable’s Secret Love, a Not This Time chestnut bred by Sequel Stallions NY and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holding, captured the Franklin Square in January on a muddy Big A main track. After a distant seventh in the Maddie May, Secret Love closed to finish second last out in an optional-claiming sprint on April 15 at the Big A. Hall of Famer John Velazquez, aboard for her debut maiden win in September at Belmont, has the call from post 5.
“Secret Love is doing really well and we’re looking forward to seeing her run,” Kimmel said. “She’ll be reunited with Johnny Velazquez.”
Rounding out the field are Betsy Blue [post 1, Ortiz, Jr.], Beach Banker [post 2, Julio Hernandez], Pay Grade [post 4, Ortiz] and Rainbow Gal [post 6, Saez].
Robert Hahn’s homebred River Dog will look to build on a stellar seven-length debut maiden win when tackling a field of eight in the Mike Lee, a seven-furlong sprint on the main track for sophomores, in Race 7.
Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, the dark bay Twirling Candy colt earned a field-best 96 Beyer when dominating a state-bred field of 12 in his six-furlong debut over Big Sandy on May 2. Jose Ortiz retains the mount from post 6.
Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Wonder Stable’s Excellent Timing, bred by Sequel Stallions New York and Lakland Farm, captured the Damon Runyon by 6 3/4-lengths on March 14 at the Big A in his first start for trainer Chad Brown. The dark bay was eased last out in his grass debut in the Grade 2 American Turf on May at Churchill Downs. Franco, aboard for the Damon Runyon score, has the call from post 3.
Rounding out the field are stakes winners Thin White Duke [post 7, Castellano], and Devious Mo [post 5, Ortiz, Jr.], as well as Dr. Blute [post 1, Velazquez], Market Alert [post 2, Lezcano], Lobsta [post 4, Cancel], and Here’s Waldo [outermost post 8, Julio Hernandez].
“Dr. Blute should bounce back in the Mike Lee,” Kimmel said. “He should be 2-for-2 but he had a rough trip in his last start. He should have won for fun.”
Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables’ Classic Lady seeks redemption after finishing second beaten a nose in last year’s $125,000 Mount Vernon for older fillies and mares going one mile over the inner turf in Race 6.
Never worse than third in her past nine starts, the dark bay daughter of Jimmy Creed makes her 2021 debut after a lightly raced 5-year-old campaign for Clement, which included a victory in Saratoga’s Dayatthespa. Bred by Seth Gregory and Robert Barney, Classic Lady boasts a consistent 18-4-5-4 lifetime record.
Classic Lady leaves from post 10 under Castellano.
Myhartblongstodady, trained by Jorge Abreu, will look to have her picture taken for owner Lawrence Goichman. The New York-homebred was a last out third to Regal Glory in the Plenty of Grace at Aqueduct on April 11, while attempting her third stakes victory. After a four-length allowance victory at Saratoga in her 2020 debut, Myhartblongstodady logged two stakes wins utilizing the same frontrunning tactics when capturing the Yaddo at Saratoga and the Ticonderoga at Belmont Park.
Myhartblongstodady [post 8] will have Lezcano in the irons.
Completing the field are Dancingwthdaffodls [post 1, Luis Cardenas], Giacosa [post 2, Saez], Robin Sparkles [post 3, Ortiz], Kilkea [post 4, Alvarado], Two Cent Tootsie [post 5, Dylan Davis], Light in the Sky [post 6, Franco], Vienna Code [post 7, Cancel], and Pecatonica [post 9, Ortiz, Jr.].
Eight-time stakes winner Therapist will try to make amends in his second start this season in the $125,000 Kingston in Race 8 after sixth in the April 24 Elusive Quality at Belmont.
Trained by Clement, the son of Freud captured six of his eight stakes triumphs against open company, dating all the way back to 2017 when taking the Laurel Futurity and the Awad at Belmont during his 2-year-old season.
Therapist breaks from post 8 under Alvarado.
Clement will also saddle City Man, who comes off a runner-up in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy on May 1. Also a stakes winner against open company, the son of Mucho Macho Man won the Gio Ponti on November 14 at Aqueduct over the grass. He kicked off his campaign on the main track when breaking his maiden at Saratoga before winning the Funny Cide at The Spa. He is bred by Moonstar Farm.
Ortiz will ride City Man from post 4.
Veteran conditioner Jimmy Bond sends out Rinaldi off a close second against open company in the Danger’s Hour, where he led throughout until being run down at the wire by Delaware.
Owned by Bond Racing Stable, the 5-year-old Posse gelding defeated multiple stakes-winner Funny Guy twice at stakes level during his 3-year-old season. Last year, Rinaldi led at every point of call to win the West Point at Saratoga.
Rinaldi will leave from post 2 under Saez.
Three Diamonds Farm’s graded stakes winner Cross Border looks to build on a nice season that began with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Pegasus Turf Cup at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Mike Maker, the veteran English Channel ridgling won last year’s Lubash at Saratoga before being elevated to first in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at The Spa.
Cross Border, breaking from post 3, will have Franco ride.
Completing the field are Dot Matrix [post 1, Cancel], Mo Ready [post 5, Ortiz, Jr.], Graded On a Curve [post 7, Castellano], and Sanctuary City [post 9, Carmouche].
Monday’s 10-race card will have a first post of 1 p.m. Eastern.
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Photo: Belmont Park, (NYRA/Coglianese)