ELMONT, N.Y. – Chester and Mary Broman’s New York-homebred Mr. Buff breezed Sunday morning in preparation for the $300,000 Empire Classic – the 1 1/8-mile feature event on Empire Showcase Day, slated for October 30 at Belmont.
Mr. Buff, an earner of more than $1.4 million, has won the last two editions of the Empire Classic. A victory would make him the first horse to win three straight runnings of the race as he seeks his first trip to the winner’s circle since capturing the Stymie on February 27 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
2020 Empire Classic Replay
“We’ve had him on a weekly work schedule and today was probably the most major thing he’ll do before the Empire Classic,” Kimmel said. “The track was a little wet and we were running into a pretty big headwind but we had it all set up. Junior came out and I gave them a horse to chase. I thought he worked really well. He galloped out in 1:27 and came back fine. It’s kind of the same schedule we had him on last year off the layoff.”
Mr. Buff, who last raced when fifth in the Evan Shipman on August 11 at the Spa, arrived off his previous Empire Classic coups following unplaced efforts at Grade 1 level at Saratoga.
Kimmel added that recent allowance winner Call Me Harry could target the $200,000 Mohawk, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for state-breds 3-years-old and up on Empire Showcase Day.
2019 Empire Classic Replay
Empire Showcase Day, which offers eight stakes for New York-breds, includes a trio of $250,000 events in the Empire Distaff, Sleepy Hollow and Maid of the Mist. Also on tap will be the $200,000 Ticonderoga, along with a pair of $150,000 stakes in the Iroquois and Hudson.
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NYRA Press OfficePhoto: Mr. Buff winning the 2020 Empire Classic in hand at Belmont on Feb. 27, 2021, under Junior Alvarado. The 7-year-old gelding won in 2019 also under Alvarado and was placed third in 2018 under David Cohen winning Black Type. (Joe Labozzetta)