NYRA News and Notes: Who is heading where?

June 29, 2020

  • G1 Whitney in play for Tom’s d’Etat
  • Mean Mary under consideration for G1 Diana
  • Victim of Love could be on the attack in Saratoga following G3 Vagrancy win
  • Firenze Fire Spa-bound following G2 True North triumph
  • Options galore for G1 Ogden Phipps winner She’s a Julie
  • A trip to the Spa is a possibility for Gamine
  • Graded stakes caliber horses take center stage in Thursday allowance
  • Belmont Park Week 5 stakes probables

Trainer Al Stall, Jr. reported that G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat is likely to make his next start in the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney on August 1 at Saratoga Race Course.

The multiple graded stakes-winner ran his win streak to four with a powerful score in Saturday’s Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. Tom’s d’Etat romped by 4 ¼-lengths over graded stakes-winners By My Standards and Silver Dust in the Stephen Foster, where he tracked the early pace, made his bid approaching the three-eighths pole and drew off while registering a career-best 109 Beyer Speed Figure – his eighth straight triple-digit speed figure.

The son of Smart Strike, who earned his first Grade 1 with a 3 ¼-length score in the Clark in November at Churchill Downs to close out his 6-year-old season, is no stranger to success at Saratoga. Following a third out graduation at Saratoga in August 2016, Tom’s d’Etat went on to collect his third career victory in an allowance race at the Spa that following July over stakes winners Far From Over and Bodhisattva. Last summer, Tom’s d’Etat won the Alydar at Saratoga en route to a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Woodward.

Tom’s d’Etat boasts six wins in nine starts at the 1 1/8-mile Whitney distance. Having done no wrong since his Woodward defeat, he has since won the Grade 2 Fayette at Keeneland, the Grade 1 Clark and the Oaklawn Mile en route to his Stephen Foster score.

“Five weeks is good timing. He has a good record at Saratoga so that makes sense,” Stall, Jr. said.

Lightly raced for a 7-year-old, Toms d’Etat has won 11-of-18 career starts, six of which have taken place against stakes company.

Stall, Jr. said he was pleasantly surprised with how impressive his horse won on Saturday given that it was only his second start of the year.

“I didn’t know he would run such a powerful race like he did. It was only his second race since the Clark,” said Stall, Jr. “He’s amazing, no doubt. We had planned on running in the Foster all along and luckily it ended up timing that way. It was just a progression.”

Stall, Jr., who won the 2010 Whitney with eventual Champion Older Horse Blame, expressed gratefulness is being able to condition such a talented horse.

“There’s no substitute for class,” Stall, Jr. said.

Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, Tom’s d’Etat is out of the Giant’s Causeway broodmare Julia Tuttle. He boasts lifetime earnings of $1,627,272.


 Mean Mary under consideration for G1 Diana

Alex G. Campbell Jr.’s homebred Mean Mary, with Luis Saez up, showed no mercy in a frontrunning tour de force to capture the Grade 2, $250,000 New York; a 1 1/4-mile turf route on a rainy Saturday at Belmont Park.

The dark bay daughter of Scat Daddy, out of the Grade 1-winning Dynaformer mare Karlovy Vary, earned a career-best 101 Beyer, breaking triple digits for the first time. She improved her record to five wins from seven starts, including the last four on the trot which includes scores in the Grade 3 La Prevoyante and Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream Park.

“She just continues to impress and amaze me with the ease that she does things. Yesterday’s performance puts her to the next level,” said Motion. “It was in the back of our minds that her most impressive performances had been at Gulfstream on a fast, firm turf course, but now it’s a whole new ball game doing what she did yesterday at Belmont.”

Motion said Saez, undefeated in four starts aboard Mean Many, was all smiles after the impressive score.

“I don’t ever remember seeing a jockey get off a horse and get such a kick out of riding her. That’s pretty cool to see,” said Motion. “And I think the mare really enjoys it. She just loves getting out there and is so determined. I sometimes wonder if she knows there are horses behind her. She showed yesterday that she’s special.”

Motion said the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana, a nine-furlong test on August 23 at Saratoga, is a logical next spot for Mean Mary as he charts a course to the 1 3/16-miles Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on November 7 at Keeneland.

“The decision will be where to go next in order to get her to the Breeders’ Cup. I think the mile and an eight and being a Grade 1 makes sense,” said Motion regarding the Diana. “It’s a strong possibility, but it’s a long way off. She’s had plenty of racing this mare, and I don’t want to overdo it with her in order to have her at her best at the end of the year.

“Mr. Campbell is from Lexington and Keeneland is his favorite racetrack,” added Motion. “For me, to be able to get her to the Breeders’ Cup, there would be a dream.”

Andrew Stone’s Mrs. Sippy scratched out of the New York, but Motion said the 5-year-old Blame mare is under consideration for the River Memories on July 12 Closing Day of the Belmont spring/summer meet, or the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial on July 11 at Delaware Park.

“We took her to the starting gate on Thursday as she hadn’t run for over six month and she tied up a little bit so that excluded her from being able to run on Saturday,” said Motion. “There’s a race up there in two weeks and there’s also the Robert Dick at Delaware, which is where she’ll probably end up.”

Mrs. Sippy captured the Grade 2 Glens Falls in August in her North American debut for Motion. Following a second in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont in October, she was off-the-board in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Wonder Stables’ Crystal Cliffs, with Hall of Famer John Velazquez up, missed by a head to Harvey’s Lil Goil in Saturday’s Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs in just her second start for Motion.

The 3-year-old Canford Cliffs bay graduated in December at Pau in her native France for former conditioner Didier Guillemin and won at first asking for Motion in a May 31 allowance event at Churchill Downs.

Motion said he will point Canford Cliffs to the $500,000 Saratoga Oaks, a 1 3/16-miles turf test at Saratoga.

“I really like her. Johnny was frustrated yesterday. We felt with a different trip or another jump she wins the race,” said Motion. “She was a little unlucky. Logically, we’ll point her for the mile and three-sixteenths race at Saratoga.

“We ran her back pretty quickly in four weeks, which I don’t like to do first race after a layoff but the race yesterday made sense. She’s a real quality filly.”

Motion boasts a strong contingent of sophomore fillies this season, including popular Maryland-bred Sharing who won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November and was a strong second last out in the Group 1 Coronation on June 1 at Ascot.

“We’ve got some really nice 3-year-old fillies this year. It’s very exciting,” said Motion.


Victim of Love could be on the attack in Saratoga following G3 Vagrancy win

Trainer Todd Beattie said Victim of Love came out of her first graded stakes win in good order, praising the Speightstown mare one day after she posted a 1 ¾-length win in the Grade 3 Vagrancy at Belmont Park.

Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ Victim of Love earned an 86 Beyer by besting a six-horse field in the 6 ½-furlong main track sprint. The 27-1 shot beat even-money favorite Come Dancing in the biggest upset of Saturday’s four graded stakes at Belmont.

“Things are really good. It’s a big plus with this filly that she just goes to work every day,” Beattie said. “I can’t say enough about her that way. She’s in good shape this morning.”

Victim of Love, who has raced extensively on the Maryland circuit, ended her sophomore year with on-the-board finishes in three of her last four starts, including a third-place finish in the Safely Kept in November at Laurel. Running back at the same track in her seasonal bow, she won her first stakes with a 3 ¾-length win in the What A Summer on January 8 before a runner-up effort in her graded stakes debut in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie on February 15.

“I really think this filly has improved drastically over the last seven months,” Beattie said. “I could see small things coming together with her in her training. Just around the barn, with her overall health, too. I think her best days are in front of her.”

After training well in the mornings at Penn National, where Victim of Love is stabled, Beattie said the timing felt right to have her ship in to make her first start in New York, despite what the bettors felt before the gates opened. Her last two wins have also come at the Vagrancy’s 6 ½-furlong distance, which her conditioner said suits her style.

“I know we were a long shot but I’m not a gambling man. I didn’t actually put a dime on her,” Beattie said. “Looking at the race, I respected the horses they had in there, but I thought there was a really good chance. I know she likes the surface and I know she likes that distance. She’s a middle-distance-type horse and I really thought there was a good chance she could really step forward, just in how she was doing. She was training well and showing me a lot in the morning. So, I thought to take the chance, this would be the time.”

Victim of Love does not have a confirmed next start picked out. But Beattie said a track that has a propensity for rain and the chance off an off-track are good for her running style, and the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, from July 18 to September 7, fits that bill.

“Oh yeah, especially out there where they have a lot wet weather,” Beattie said with a laugh. “I didn’t dial in anything else yet. Figured I had to watch her a couple of days and I’ll see where things are and over the week, I’ll start making the decisions. My clients are California people, so obviously I’ll be discussing it with them and come across our spot.”

Beattie won his first graded stakes since Taris captured the 2014 Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland. He has posted eight career graded stakes wins, with Fabulous Strike capturing the first five for him from 2007-09, including his previous one at Belmont Park in the 2009 Grade 2 True North.

“It’s been awhile. I haven’t had a whole lot going on but I’ve lessened my numbers,” Beattie said. “But it’s extra special [to win at Belmont]. I have so much respect for that place. Anytime I cross that Hudson and have any success, I feel lucky.”


Firenze Fire Spa-bound following G2 True North triumph

Mr. Amore Stable’s Firenze Fire won his second graded stakes in three attempts as a 5-year-old, stalking the pace before finishing strong in a 1 ½-length win over Stan the Man in Saturday’s Grade 2 True North at 6 ½ furlongs on Belmont’s main track.

The son of Poseidon’s Warrior notched his sixth career graded stakes victory, registering a 97 Beyer for his win against a six-horse field. He also won for the first time since being transferred to the care of trainer Kelly Breen following a win in the Grade 3 General George in February at Laurel that started his 2020.

Off a near four-month layoff, Firenze Fire tired in the stretch, finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on June 6 at Belmont going seven furlongs. With a race to get him going, Breen decided to wheel him back just three weeks later; a move that paid off with a strong showing that resulted in a win for the even-money favorite.

“He’s awesome. He came back great,” Breen said. “It all worked out. I don’t know if I skipped it and ran in this race, if it [turned out] he needed it. But it all worked out.”

Firenze Fire burst onto the scene in 2017 capturing the Grade 3 Sanford at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont that year before hitting the Kentucky Derby trail as a sophomore. He ran 11th in the 2018 Kentucky Derby but won the Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont and the Grade 3 Gallant Fox that year.

Overall, Firenze Fire, a Florida homebred, has posted an 11-3-2 record in 26 career starts with earnings just shy of $2 million. Breen said it’s likely he will next run during the Saratoga meet.

“He’s just a nice horse. He’s nice to be around. He’s a big, muscular colt and we’re just happy to see him back in the winner’s circle yesterday. It’s all good and we’re anticipating sending him to Saratoga.”

The Grade 1, $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, a six-furlong test set for July 25 at the Spa is the likely target for Firenze Fire.


Options galore for G1 Ogden Phipps winner She’s a Julie

Owner Peter Bradley of Bradley Thoroughbreds said Grade 1 Ogden Phipps winner She’s a Julie has several options in play following her triumph in the 1 1/8-mile event on June 13 at Belmont Park.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the daughter of Distorted Humor is “50-50” for the Grade 2, $400,000 Delaware Handicap on July 11 at Delaware Park according to Bradley, who owns She’s a Julie in partnership with Tim Cambron, Anna Cambron, Denali Stud, Rigney Racing and Madaket Stables.

Other options for the two-time Grade 1-winning millionaire include the Grade 3, $250,000 Molly Pitcher on July 18 at Monmouth Park, or to train-up to the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign on August 1 at Saratoga.

“We’re looking at it,” Bradley said of the Delaware Handicap. “As Steve says, we’ll let her tell us, but we’ve marked that, the Molly Pitcher or maybe even wait until the Personal Ensign.”

She’s a Julie posted her first breeze since the Ogden Phipps on Sunday morning, working five furlongs in 1:02.48 over the Belmont main track.

She’s a Julie was a 14-1 upset winner of the Ogden Phipps where she made a three-wide move under urging from jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. and nosed out graded stakes winner Point of Honor for the win.

“She gives it her all every time and is a bit of a grinder,” said Bradley. “The race set up with speed in front of her and that’s when she’s at her best. She’s been training well, couldn’t be happier with her.”

She’s a Julie made amends in the Ogden Phipps following a disappointing sixth in her 2020 bow in the Shawnee at Churchill Downs, where she hopped at the start, got out of position and came up empty.

“The way she hit the gate that day and got out of position, she was a lost cause from there on out,” Bradley said. “She’s a big, strong filly and Ricardo did the right thing that day and wrapped up on her. As Steve said, put a line through that race. What she’s got is a heart that’s twice as big as she is and she’s a very big horse.”

She’s a Julie boasts lifetime earnings of $1,187,880 and boasts five graded stakes victories, all of which have taken place over different tracks.

Bradley found more Belmont success when Captain Bombastic took the Mike Lee on June 14 for trainer Jeremiah Englehart.

Bradley purchased the Forty Tales New York-bred for $80,000 on behalf of Team Hanley at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last March.

“He was a balanced and very athletic looking horse,” Bradley said. “He moved across the ground well, galloped out nicely and just did all the things you want him to do. Forty Tales isn’t really a household name as a stallion, but we had a price point we were looking at it. The one turn is really what he wants.”


A trip to the Spa is a possibility for Gamine

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was pleasantly surprised to see Gamine bounce out of her sensational 18 ¾-length domination of last Saturday’s Grade 1 Longines Acorn as quickly as she did.

Baffert, a five-time winner of the one-turn mile event at beautiful Belmont Park, said the Grade 1, $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks on September 4 at Churchill Downs is the long term goal for the Into Mischief bay, but that he would like to race once more before the prestigious event with a trip to Saratoga a possibility for his filly. The nine-furlong Grade 1, $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks is slated for July 18 at Saratoga.

Owned by Michael Lund Pedersen, Gamine arrived at the Acorn off a win on debut at Santa Anita and a two-turn victory against winners at Oaklawn Park.

“For as fast as she ran, she looks really good,” Baffert said. “It really wasn’t as hard as I thought as it would be on her. After the Oaklawn race she came back and was a little light on me, but this time she came back looking really well. So we’re excited about her. I haven’t really thought of a next race for her. I’d like to find one race before the Kentucky Oaks, I just don’t know yet. I may have to come back to Saratoga.”

Gamine earned 50 qualifying points towards the Kentucky Oaks following an Acorn win and is currently No. 12 on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard.

Bred in Kentucky by Grace Thoroughbred Holdings, Gamine was purchased for $1.8 million from the Fasig-Tipton Mid Atlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last May. She is out of the stakes-placed Kafwain broodmare Peggy Jane.


Graded stakes caliber horses take center stage in Thursday allowance

Thursday’s seventh race at Belmont Park will feature a loaded field where four of the nine runners are graded stakes winners on the NYRA circuit.

Two of the four graded stakes winners entered in the one mile allowance optional claiming event are Grade 1-winners in Complexity and Discreet Lover, who notched victories at such level at Belmont Park.

Owned and trained by Uriah St. Lewis, Discreet Lover is the lone seven-figure earner in the field with $1,450,685 in the bank and was a 45-1 upset winner of the 2018 Jockey Club Gold Cup. The 7-year-old son of Repent is in search of his first victory since the Jockey Club Gold Cup and was a well-beaten 11th in his last effort in the Blame on May 23 at Churchill Downs, which was his first start in over one year.

Discreet Lover breaks from the rail under Benjamin Hernandez.

Leading trainer Chad Brown is represented by 2018 Champagne hero Complexity who has not raced since a distant fourth to Omaha Beach in the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old son of MacLean’s Music, out of the black-type producing Yes It’s True mare Goldfield, was off-the-board in his 2019 debut in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens and retuned a 7 ¼-length winner off that effort in an Aqueduct allowance optional claiming event on November 20, where he registered a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

Thursday’s race will be Complexity’s first start going the one-turn mile at Belmont since his Champagne score.

Jockey Jose Ortiz, Jr. will ride from post 3.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle a pair of quality contenders in graded stakes-placed Spinoff and up-and-comer Sniper Shot.

Owned by Wertheimer and Frere, Spinoff cuts back to a one-turn mile after a narrow defeat to Just Whistle in the 1 1/8-mile Sunday Silence on May 17 at Gulfstream Park. 

Second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds en route to unplaced finishes in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, the well-bred Hard Spun chestnut last found the winner’s circle three starts back when defeating graded stakes winner Lone Sailor by 5 ¾ lengths going 1 1/8 miles in a Saratoga allowance event. 

He made his seasonal bow on April 25 going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park, where he was beaten only 1 ¾-lengths to graded stakes winner Global Campaign.

“I probably brought him back a little quick second race off the layoff. Hopefully, he does better with a little more time in between races,” Pletcher said.

Also representing the Pletcher barn is Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Sniper Shot, who has never finished worse than second in five starts.

The gelded son of Shackleford made a successful stretch-out to a one-turn mile last out where he romped by 6 ¾ lengths in a Gulfstream Park allowance event on May 17 over stablemate Legit.

A big effort from the rising star could mean a debut against stakes company.

“That’s what we’re hoping for. He’s made some progress over the spring and he’s always showed some talent,” Pletcher said. “Both are nice horses. We were looking for options and this race came up. The race came up pretty salty, but we need to get a race under their belts so hopefully this will move them forward to Saratoga.”

Sniper Shot will be piloted by Luis Saez, while current Belmont Park leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. will guide Spinoff.

Trainer Linda Rice will saddle Nicodemus, winner of last year’s Grade 3 Westchester, after an off-the-board effort in his turf debut last out in the First Defence. The effort was the dark bay son of Candy Ride’s first start since a narrow defeat to Mind Control in the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 18 at Aqueduct.

“We were just trying to find a race for him. With the pandemic, he hadn’t run in a while and we didn’t want to run in a Grade 1 right off the bench,” Rice said of his last race. “It’s going to be a tough race.”

Nicodemus drew post 6 and will receive the riding services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez.

Graded stakes winner No Dozing seeks his first victory since the 2018 Grade 3 Bold Ruler at the Big A, where he romped to victory by 9 ¾ lengths which resulted in a 107 Beyer for the effort. The Arnaud Delacour-trained son of Union Rags will be emerging off a layoff having most recently run third in a Tampa Bay Downs optional claiming event on February 7.

The Lael Stables homebred will be ridden by Joel Rosario from post 4.

Also in Thursday’s seventh race are stakes winners Win Win Win and Backsideofthemoon as well as Wait for It, who scratched out of Saturday’s Grade 2 True North.


Belmont Park Week 5 stakes probables

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Grade 1, $400,000 Manhattan

Probable: Cross Border (Mike Maker), Desert Stone (Richard Baltas), Instilled Regard (Chad Brown), Rockemperor (Brown), Sadler’s Joy (Tom Albertrani)

Possible: Admission Office (Brian Lynch), Ramsey Solution (Wesley Ward)

Grade 1, $500,000 Runhappy Met Mile

Probable: Code of Honor (Shug McGaughey), Hog Creek Hustle (Vickie Foley), McKinzie (Bob Baffert), Mr Freeze (Dale Romans), Network Effect (Chad Brown), Vekoma (George Weaver), Warrior’s Charge (Brad Cox)

Grade 2, $200,000 Suburban

Probable: Forewarned (Uriah St. Lewis), Joevia (Gregg Sacco), Just Whistle (Michael Matz), Moretti (Todd Pletcher), Sir Winston (Mark Casse), Tacitus (Bill Mott)

Grade 3, $100,000 Victory Ride

Probable: Center Aisle (Chad Brown), Cruise and Danze (Jeremiah O’Dwyer), Frank’s Rockette (Bill Mott), Miss Peppina (Gary Gullo), Quality Stones (Bruce Levine), Reagan’s Edge (Cherie DeVaux), Up In Smoke (George Weaver)

Grade 3, $150,000 Poker

Probable: Eons (Arnaud Delacour), Got Stormy (Mark Casse), Hawkish (Jimmy Toner), Hembree (Mike Maker), Social Paranoia (Todd Pletcher), Sombeyay (Todd Pletcher), Valid Point (Chad Brown)

Possible: Casa Creed (Bill Mott), Majestic Dunhill (George Weaver), Therapist (Christophe Clement)

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