Chervenell Thoroughbreds Bred Punches Breeders’ Cup Ticket
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Little Red Feather Racing, Madaket Stables and William Strauss’ Nagirroc built on a promising maiden victory when conquering his first attempt at stakes level in Sunday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity for 2-year-olds going six furlongs over the outer turf at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
Now 2-for-2 for trainer Graham Motion and his ownership group, Nagirroc earned a “Win And You’re In” entry into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in capturing the 132nd running of the Futurity.
Nagirroc arrived off a 3 1/2 length maiden victory on September 24 over the same distance and surface at Belmont at the Big A in his first start for his current connections, who privately purchased the son of Lea following a runner-up debut effort in August at Horseshoe Indianapolis for former trainer Jim Corrigan.
Nagirroc left post 2 in good order and established close position in fourth along the rail as New York-bred maiden winner Vacation Dance recorded an opening quarter-mile of 22.09 seconds over the firm going with 8-5 favorite Gaslight Dancer matching strides to his outside. Franco nudged his charge around the far turn before making a three-wide move in upper stretch and in pursuit, as Vacation Dance ran the half in 44.78.
At the top of the stretch, Vacation Dance and Gaslight Dancer continued to do battle with a rallying Nagirroc gaining with every stride. Nagirroc gained the advantage from Gaslight Dancer just past the sixteenth pole to win by a nose in a final time of 1:09.36.
With less than one length separating the top-five finishers, runner-up Gaslight Dancer finished a head to the better of Vacation Dance, followed by a late rallying Inflation Nation and Dunedin. Determined Jester and Power Attack completed the order of finish. Bourbon Therapy was scratched.
Franco said his biggest concern was getting a clean break.
“That was what we did, and after that, I don’t want my horse to do too much [going] six furlongs,” Franco said. “I think the speed is good on the outer track. My horse pulled me right into the race behind the speed and I think that was the key.”
Nagirroc, a gate-to-wire maiden winner, displayed new tactics in the Futurity.
“I think he’s a smart horse and he doesn’t have to be on the lead,” said Franco, who also piloted Nagirroc to his maiden win. “The pace scenario was more speed today. I don’t want my horse coming from a short [rest] to run today and get him in a speed duel. I just wanted to give him a chance behind the horses, and it set up perfect for me.”
Motion’s assistant trainer Ian Wilson said he was impressed with the stalking effort.
“He did exactly what we wanted. Last time, he was on the lead, and we didn’t feel like he needed to be on the lead [today],” Wilson said. “Manny got him settled behind horses and once he got some space to go, he went. Once he tipped him out and got somewhere to go, it seemed like he was moving well and moving comfortably. He got there and that’s all that matters.”
Wilson added that Nagirroc was asked to be more aggressive in his maiden win after breaking poorly on debut.
“It probably cost him,” Wilson said of the bad break in his first start. “So, last race, we wanted Manny to get him out of the gate. Today, we weren’t as worried. He showed professionalism from start to finish. He’s a classy horse.”
Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard Gaslight Dancer, said his horse was full of determination to the wire.
“I was happy where I was,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “My horse broke sharp, so I sat second and down the lane, he was trying hard. He still stayed a little with the other horse [Vacation Dance] and then felt the outside horse and fought back, but it was too late. Good effort.”
Nagirroc returned $9.20 for a $2 wager and enhanced his lifetime earnings to $141,550 after banking $82,500 in victory. His record stands at 3-2-1-0.
Bred in Kentucky by Chervenell Thoroughbreds, Nagirroc is out of the Irish-bred Zamindar mare Emma Spencer.
Live racing resumes Thursday at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet with a nine-race card. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
By Ryan Martin
Main Photo by Susie Raisher