OZONE PARK, N.Y. – New York-bred legend Mr. Buff tallied another stakes win, commanding a swift pace on the front end and holding on for victory against Limonite’s late confrontation in Saturday’s 65th running of the $125,000 Stymie at Aqueduct Racetrack.
A Chester and Mary Broman homebred, Mr. Buff arrived at the open company one-turn mile for older horses off his third straight win in the Jazil going nine furlongs at the Big A. The John Kimmel trained son of Friend Or Foe owns triumphs in multiple New York-bred stakes events for older dirt horses on the NYRA circuit including the Alex M. Robb, the Empire Classic, the Evan Shipman, the Saginaw and the Haynesfield, which he won last February by an astounding 20 lengths.
Mr. Buff was asked from the gate by jockey Manny Franco and established a one-length lead ahead of Alwaysmining and Musical Heart to mark the opening quarter-mile in 22.96 seconds over a sloppy and sealed main track.
Alwaysmining dropped out of contention approaching the turn with the half-mile in 45.51, leaving Mr. Buff and Musical Heart alone on the front end. Franco remained relaxed aboard Mr. Buff as Dylan Davis asked Musical Heart for more run through the turn.
Franco gave Mr. Buff his cue at the quarter pole with a stubborn Musical Heart 2 ½ lengths back in second. The pair continued to race one-two a sixteenth out from the wire, as Limonite launched a furious late bid on the far outside from the four-path. Class prevailed in the end as Mr. Buff held on for a half-length victory in a final time of 1:36.97. It was another half-length back to Musical Heart in third.
Tintoretto and Alwaysmining completed the order of finish.
Mr. Buff registered his 11th career stakes win and added $68,750 to his already lucrative bankroll, which now stands at $1,364,536 through a 44-17-8-4 career. A stakes winner at all three NYRA circuit tracks, Mr. Buff has displayed quite the affinity for Aqueduct with a consistent 17-10-4-0 record.
Franco said he wanted to establish a good early tempo.
“I wanted to make sure I broke out of there running,” Franco said. “The two horse [Musical Heart] kept pushing my horse and I know my horse can rate but I just wanted to let him do his thing. When I got to the front, I was happy, and I know that’s the way he likes to run. “He’s got a big stride and he just outrun the other horses,” Franco added. “The last sixteenth I felt he was tiring, but I know he went pretty quick the first part, and that was my plan.”
Jockey Eric Cancel, aboard runner-up Limonite, said he was pleased with his horse’s late-charging effort.
“They were putting in a pretty decent pace at the beginning. It was a little quick for my horse to keep him up close,” Cancel said. “But my horse, at the end, gave me all that he had, and we almost got there. He tried. He doesn’t have any problems in the slop, hopefully he keeps on improving.”
The Amira Chichakly-trained runner-up also pleased his co-owner Brian Novak, who claimed the 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid two starts back for $40,000. Limonite entered the Stymie from a five-length optional-claiming win on February 8 at the Big A.
“For a $40,000 claimer, he seems like a completely different horse,” Novak said. “We almost won this one, if he wasn’t so far out. The speed was just a little much for him. But I’d like to see his Beyer [Speed Figure] after this one.”
Bred in the Empire State by his owners, Mr. Buff is out of the graded stakes-placed Speightstown mare Speightful Affair. He paid $3.40 to win.
Live racing resumes Sunday at Aqueduct with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
NYRA Press release/ Photo Credit- Joe Labozzetta