SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Chester and Mary Broman’s popular New York homebred millionaire Mr. Buff returns to action in Wednesday’s $100,000 Evan Shipman Handicap, a nine-furlong test for state-breds 3-years-old and up at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by John Kimmel, the 7-year-old Friend Or Foe gelding captured the 2019 edition of the Evan Shipman under returning pilot Junior Alvarado. The sizable chestnut, who stands 17.2 hands tall, will carry a field-high 124 pounds as he looks to topple a talented-but-compact group each touting six pounds less.
“He’s a big horse. I don’t think the weight will bother him,” Kimmel said.
Mr. Buff has won three of his last seven starts, all in stakes company, dating back to a 3 1/4-length win in the Empire Classic in October at Belmont.
During that span, Mr. Buff
also captured the Jazil, in February, and the Stymie, in March, against open company at Aqueduct Racetrack. The graded-stakes placed fan favorite enters from an off-the-board effort in the Commentator, contested at a one-turn mile over a muddy track on May 31 at Belmont.
“I don’t think he liked the mud that day. It was not to his liking,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel said Mr. Buff, who has remained fit with four strong works on the Oklahoma training track dating back to July 16, shouldn’t be dismissed referencing the Empire Classic score which came on the back of distant fifth-place efforts in last year’s Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont and Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga.
“He looks to me like he’s the same old guy, but that’s in the mornings,” Kimmel said. “Any time an older horse runs a race or two that’s off form, they’ll probably think he’s over the hill. He’s a 7-year-old and I’ve had that told to me a number of times and then he comes back and wins like he did in the Empire Classic after a couple of bad races in the Whitney and Suburban.”
Kimmel said the 17-time winner continues to impress.
“He’s awesome. He’s a big, happy horse and he’s just stayed sound. It’s pretty remarkable,” Kimmel said. “He’s got a big supporting staff, who roots for him. How could you not like the old guy?”
Mr. Buff will emerge from post 2.
Gatsas Stables, R.A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable’s stakes-placed Three Jokers enters on a two-race win streak, including a front-running nose score last out on July 9 in a 1 1/16-mile state-bred optional-claiming tilt.
Trained by John Terranova, the 4-year-old Twirling Candy colt, out of the Distorted Humor mare Heavenly Humor, is a half-brother to graded-stakes placed stablemate Funny Guy.
Three Jokers will stretch out to nine furlongs for the first time, exiting post 4 under Jose Ortiz.
Char-Allie Stable and Kathy Haers’ Winston’s Chance, a multiple stakes-winning son of Roaring Fever, will look for his first stakes score outside of Finger Lakes after capturing the 2019 Genesee Valley Breeders’ and the 2018 Leon Reed Memorial.
Trained by David Donk, Winston’s Chance boasts a record of 38-10-9-6 with purse earnings of $405,722. Bred in the Empire State by Sherry Washburn, Winston’s Chance will emerge from post 5 under Jose Lezcano.
Ten Strike Racing’s Sea Foam was claimed for $45,000 by trainer Michael Giangiulio out of a winning effort in an off-the-turf route on July 30. A three-time winner in five starts at Saratoga, the 6-year-old Medaglia d’Oro bay captured the 2017 Notebook at the Big A and, in 2018, added scores in the New York Derby at Finger Lakes and the Albany at the Spa.
Bred in the Empire State by Waterville Lake Stables, Sea Foam will be piloted by returning rider Joel Rosario from post 3.
Danny California, a gate-to-wire winner of last year’s 12-furlong Miners Mark at Belmont, was claimed by Rudy Rodriquez for owners Michael Dubb and Karen Murphy for $40,000 out of a fourth-place finish in a state-bred optional-claiming event in April at Aqueduct.
The 6-year-old Afleet Alex chestnut, bred by West Point Thoroughbreds and 3C Thoroughbreds, has hit the board in both starts for new connections, including a third last out on July 9 traveling a one-turn mile in an optional-claiming event taken off the turf.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the call from the inside post.
The Evan Shipman is slated as Race 3 on Wednesday’s 10-race card. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern. Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the summer meet on FOX Sports. For the complete Saratoga Live broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
Mr. Buff winning the 2019 Evan Shipman Handicap
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NYRA/Saratoga Press Release
Photo: Mr. Buff winning the 2019 Evan Shipman Handicap. (Chelsea Durand)