New York-bred Mr. Buff breezes at Belmont

April 4, 2020

Mr. Buff dominates the Jazil

Credit: Elsa Lorieul/NYRA

Chester and Mary Broman’s multiple stakes-winning millionaire Mr. Buff worked a half-mile in 49.98 Saturday on the Belmont Park dirt training track.

Trained by John Kimmel, 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.

With live racing currently suspended in New York due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mr. Buff breezed on a day when he was expected to contest the now postponed Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior, which had been scheduled for Saturday at the Big A.

“We’re just keeping him fit and not doing anything too strenuous,” said Kimmel over the phone from Florida. “With older horses, it’s sometimes tough to start them and stop them. I don’t want him to lose any fitness. Unfortunately, at the moment, there’s nowhere for him to dance.”

Mr. Buff matched a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure with his visually-appealing 20-length score in the Haynesfield.

“It was a pretty easy win for him last time,” said Kimmel. “He was sitting on a really good race and I thought he’d be pretty tough to beat in the Excelsior.”

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.

Famished, bred in Ontario by Michael C. Byrne, was targeting a path to the now postponed $1 million Queen’s Plate, first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown which was initially set for June 27 at Woodbine Racetrack.

Kimmel said the Grade 2, $200,000 Pennine Ridge, a nine-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds slated for May 30 at Belmont Park, was also circled on the calendar for Famished.

“I was going to give him a little break and then come back up for a race at Aqueduct. The plan was to try the Pennine Ridge and then go to the Queen’s Plate,” said Kimmel. “But now with the Canadian race postponed, I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”

Kimmel said a later start to the Queen’s Plate, a 1 ¼-mile test on the Woodbine Tapeta, wouldn’t necessarily benefit Famished.

“He was going to be ready. He didn’t have a winter off and while some horses may have needed some extra time, he wasn’t one of them,” said Kimmel.

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.

P. G. Johnson stakes winner Crystalle, owned by Tobey Morton and Chuck Hovitz, is enjoying 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, for fillies, includes the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks along with the Saratoga Oaks and Jockey Club Oaks.

Kimmel said he is taking a patient approach with Crystalle. “She’s on the farm at Whisper Hill Training Center in Ocala. She’s probable not going to be up and running until the summer now,” said Kimmel. “There’s no reason to crank her up. I’d rather wait and be patient and get a race in June or July and be ready for the fall.”

Kimmel, who has a stable of nine horses in training at Belmont, said he is using the current hiatus from live racing to freshen his stable.

“I’ve turned a few of them out because there’s no place to run and it’s a chance to give them a freshening,” said Kimmel. “They’ll get 30 days off and we’ll have a bunch of nice, fresh horses for when everyone is back up and running.”

Belmont Press Release

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