ELMONT, N.Y. – Chester and Mary Broman‘s multiple stakes-winning millionaire Mr. Buff worked a half-mile in 48.45 Thursday on the Belmont Park dirt training track with jockey Junior Alvarado up.
Trainer John Kimmel said he is eyeing the $125,000 Commentator Handicap, a one-mile test for New York-breds slated for June 12 as the next start for Mr. Buff.
“It was a good breeze. Junior said he felt good. We’re probably going to go in the Commentator,” said Kimmel. “He had a good break. I sent him to the farm for three weeks, but it hasn’t had any effect on his program.”
The 6-year-old New York-bred son of Friend or Foe is in the midst of a three-race win streak with scores in the Alex M. Robb, Jazil and Haynesfield all at the Big A.
Mr. Buff matched a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure with his visually-appealing 20-length score in the Haynesfield.
Alvarado and Mr. Buff have teamed up to win seven races and Kimmel said the partnership has improved with each outing.
“Junior understands him. He understands that he doesn’t have to have the lead,” said Kimmel. “The most important thing about him is letting him find his rhythm before you ask him. He has a tremendous stride and he can go a long way, so you don’t have to overuse him early.”
Tobey Morton‘s Famished earned a career-best 82 Beyer when fifth on February 29 in the Grade 3 Palm Beach, a 1 1/16-mile turf tilt at Gulfstream Park. The sophomore bay son of Uncle Mo also finished fifth in his seasonal debut in the Dania Beach at one-mile on the Gulfstream green on February 1.
Bred in Ontario by Michael C. Byrne, Kimmel is pointing Famished to the $1 million Queen’s Plate, first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown which is re-scheduled for September 12 at Woodbine Racetrack at 1 ¼-miles on the Tapeta.
Famished is under consideration for the Grade 2, $150,000 Pennine Ridge, a one-mile turf test for 3-year-olds slated for Belmont Stakes Day June 20 at Belmont Park but Kimmel said he might try an allowance test first early in the meet.
“He’s doing really good. I may run him in an allowance first early in the meet for 3-year-olds, and then decide if we short cycle him into the Pennine Ridge,” said Kimmel. “The race in Ontario [The Queen’s Plate] is moved back to September, so we have a lot of time to get ready for that.”
Famished graduated at second asking on the Saratoga main track before finishing fourth in both the grassy Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont and the main track Grade 3 Nashua at Aqueduct.
The unique Canadian Triple Crown includes the Prince of Wales on September 29 at 1 3/16-miles on the Fort Erie dirt and the $400,000 Breeders’ at 1 ½-miles on Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course on October 24. Kimmel said Famished should suit the Canadian-bred series.
“He can run on everything,” said Kimmel. “I work him on dirt most of the time. I know he can run on the grass. He’ll breeze on the grass here tomorrow in Florida.”
Nedlaw Stable‘s New York-bred Harris Bay, a chestnut son of Carpe Diem, graduated at first asking in a six-furlong restricted maiden in September at Belmont Park. He followed up with a third in the one-mile Sleepy Hollow and was later fourth in a strong renewal of the Notebook won by Dream Bigger over stakes winners Scilly Cay and Bank On Shea.
Harris Bay was impeded at the start last out when second in the Rego Park in January at the Big A and is now back in training at Belmont.
“He’s probably another ten days from starting a breeze program. If not by the end of the Belmont meet, he’ll be ready for Saratoga,” said Kimmel.
The Kentucky-bred Mandatory, by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, worked a half-mile in 49.66 Thursday on Big Sandy. Owned by Tobey Morton, Mandatory is a half-brother to three-time Grade 1-winning multimillionaire I’m a Chatterbox.
A maiden after two starts, Kimmel said Mandatory should be ready to roll at the end of the Belmont spring meet.
“He’s doing really good. He worked a half mile the other day and is three or four works from running, probably before we go to Saratoga,” said Kimmel. “He had three or four works on the farm before shipping in.”
P. G. Johnson stakes winner Crystalle, owned by Tobey Morton and Chuck Hovitz, is close to a return to training after some downtime following a four-race juvenile campaign that included a second in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo on September 29 at Belmont ahead of an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita Park.
The Kentucky-bred daughter of Palace Malice is a leading contender for NYRA’s Turf Triple series which will see dates announced in the coming weeks.
Crystalle is currently getting back underway in Ocala and Kimmel said she would be ready for a summer campaign.
“We lost a couple months with her but she’ll be back at end of June and we’ll have her ready for Saratoga,” said Saratoga.
Kimmel said he hopes to debut New York-bred juvenile Miss Buff, a full-sister to Mr. Buff, in the fall at Belmont Park.
“She’s so big. She’s 16.3 hands now and we won’t need to put much pressure on her until we get back from Saratoga,” said Kimmel. “She’s not as wide as he is, but she’s just as tall.
“Mr. Buff was kind of gangly looking when he was a 2-year-old,” added Kimmel. “He wasn’t the swiftest looking critter out there…he looked like two men in a horse suit until everything came together for him.”
Photo: Mr. Buff wins the Haynesfield at Aqueduct. Credit: NYRA/ Elsa Lorieul