Photo of Empire Distaff winner Let Her Inspire U by Joe Labozzetta
Updates on all 10 races for the all New York-bred card with replay videos
By NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Irad Ortiz, Jr. cemented his status as meet-leading rider with three wins, including two stakes scores, on Empire Showcase Day, a special 10-race all New York-bred card on Closing Day Sunday of the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
The lucrative card featured eight stakes worth $1.6 million, topped by the $250,000 Empire Classic and $250,000 Empire Distaff, the latter event won impressively by the Ortiz, Jr. piloted Let Her Inspire U.
CHC Inc.’s Let Her Inspire U [$6.10] staved off a late-bid from defending race winner Sharp Starr to capture the nine-furlong Empire Distaff [Race 9] for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Let Her Inspire U tracked the early speed of the Javier Castellano-piloted Brattle House through splits 25.12 seconds and 49.93 as Sharp Starr was last-of-8 after being taken back from the inside post.
Let Her Inspire U pressed the pacesetter into the final turn and took command after three-quarters in 1:13.99 with Sharp Starr making up ground with a strong inside rush, before angling to the outside of the fading Brattle House. Sharp Starr surged past Ice Princess in the stretch run and took aim at the leader but could not get to the sleek Let Her Inspire U, who stopped the clock for the 2 1/4-length win in 1:51.88. Sharp Starr was 2 1/4-lengths better than third-place Ice Princess with Caragate, Sweet Mystery, Brattle House, Frost Me and Sunset Louise rounding out the order of finish.
“I got a beautiful break. I just sat in second outside of Javier’s horse, and it was a very comfortable pace,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “At the three-eighths pole, I let her do her thing and she picked it up. When she made the lead, I kept letting her do her thing. I felt like I had a lot of horse turning for home, and she just took off.”
The victory marked a first stakes win for Let Her Inspire U, who finished second in her stakes debut in the nine-furlong Fleet Indian to the then undefeated Fingal’s Cave in August at Saratoga Race Course. She entered from a prominent win in a one-turn optional-claiming mile over returning rivals Sunset Louise and Caragate here on September 24.
Bred by Pine Ridge Stables, the $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale purchase is out of the Speightstown mare Caribbean Lady, who is a half-sister to multiple graded-stakes winner Halory Leigh. Let Her Inspire U banked $137,500 while improving her record to 8-4-2-1.
Flanagan Racing’s Dr. Blute [$8.40] made every pole a winning one to pass his first two-turn test with aplomb, scoring by three-quarter lengths in the co-featured nine-furlong $250,000 Empire Classic [Race 4] for 3-year-olds and upward.
Expertly piloted by Jose Ortiz for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr., the 4-year-old Not This Time chestnut was pressed by multiple stakes-winner Sea Foam through splits of 23.97, 48.41 and 1:12.84. Barese, winner of the Gander here in February and New York Derby at Finger Lakes in July, advanced into contention through the final turn. But Dr. Blute, operating on a 1 1/2-length advantage at the stretch call, stayed on strong to stop the clock in 1:51.95.
Curlin’s Wisdom found his best stride late, angling wide to the center of the track to complete the exacta by a neck over Barese, who was a half-length better than a game Sea Foam. Brooklyn Strong, Big Bobby and Montebello completed the order of finish.
“We thought he would stretch out and that two turns would work out for him, but you never know until you try it,” Joseph, Jr. said. “We left it up to Jose. He’s always a horse that gets a little restless in the gate but thank God he broke so sharp and got into a good rhythm.”
Ortiz said he was proud of Dr. Blute’s effort to hang on after setting honest fractions.
“I committed to the lead going to the first turn. I’m just glad he stayed the distance,” Ortiz said. “He was getting tired late, but it was his first time going this far. I knew he was going to get tired a little late, but the horse is doing amazing.
“He worked amazing for this race – I was able to get on him and Saffie has done an amazing job with the 6 or 7-horse string he has in New York,” Ortiz added. “It’s quality and he’s got great help here. The guys in the barn do an amazing job.”
Dr. Blute, a $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale purchase, finished fifth in the Mike Lee last May in his only previous stakes attempt when in the care of conditioner John Kimmel. Out of the Friends Lake mare Truss, Dr. Blute entered from a powerful 6 3/4-length state-bred allowance score here on September 18. Bred by Hidden Lake Farm and Axle Ahlschwede, Dr. Blute banked $137,500 in victory while improving his record to 11-3-2-3.
The stakes action kicked off in Race 3 with My Boy Tate [$15.20], the reigning New York-bred Champion Sprinter, surging to a two-length score in the $150,000 Hudson at 6 1/2-furlongs on the main track for 3-year-olds and upward.
Trained, bred and co-owned by Michelle Nevin with Little Red Feather Racing, the 8-year-old Boys At Tosconova gelding rallied from just off-the-pace under Ortiz, Jr. to secure his sixth career stakes win.
Wudda U Think Now and Perfect Munnings dueled through a half-mile in 46.27 over the fast main track as My Boy Tate advanced three-wide through the turn. My Boy Tate surged to the lead at the eighth pole and powered clear to a two-length win in a final time of 1:16.37.
Who Hoo Thats Me split rivals late in the lane to complete the exacta by a half-length over Perfect Munnings with Wudda U Think Now, Big Engine, and Fast N Fearious rounding out the order of finish. Bankit, the reigning New York-bred Champion Older Dirt Male, and Reggae Music Man were scratched. My Boy Tate banked $82,500 while improving his record to 35-11-10-2.
City Man [$2.90], trained by Christophe Clement for owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter Searles and Patty Searles, rallied bravely up the rail to take the $200,000 Mohawk [Race 5], a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for 3-year-olds and upward.
The impressive 2 1/2-length score continued a tremendous season for the 5-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man, adding to wins in the Danger’s Hour here in April, the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple in July at Saratoga, and the Ashley T. Cole here last out.
Graded-stakes winner Rinaldi led the field to the opening turn as City Man, who exited the inside post under Joel Rosario, checked sharply before settling on the rail in third. Rinaldi reached three-quarters in 1:12.98 over the firm going under pressure from Cold Hard Cash, but when the field straightened for home, Rosario gave City Man his cue and the dark bay responded with a strong turn-of-foot to the inside of the pacesetter to get the win in a final time of 1:41.66.
Cold Hard Cash won the place battle by a neck over Sanctuary City, who was a nose better than Rinaldi. Completing the order of finish were Ocala Dream, Therapist and Kingdom On Paws. Jerry the Nipper was scratched.
City Man, bred by Moonstar Farm, banked $110,000 in victory while improving his record to 25-8-5-3.
Mr. Amore Stable homebred November Rein [$40] notched a 19-1 upset in the $150,000 Iroquois [Race 6], a 6 1/2-furong main-track sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
Trained by Kelly Breen and piloted by Trevor McCarthy, the 3-year-old Street Boss bay attended a four-pronged pace battle to the opening quarter-mile before taking back to third as Leeloo set the 22.30 split.
Leeloo and Secret Love battled to the turn with November Rein keeping close watch as Bank Sting, the current New York-bred Older Dirt Female and Female Sprinter, and Mosienko, in the midst of a four-race win streak, launched their wide bid. The race was wide open at the top of the lane as November Rein surged down the middle of the track with Bank Sting finding her best stride late with a wide move. But there was no reeling in November Rein, who scored the 1 1/4-length win in 1:17.35. Bank Sting finished second with Secret Love, Betsy Blue, Leeloo, Venti Valentine [last year’s Champion New York-bred 2-year-old Filly], Gone and Forgotten and Mosienko rounding out the order of finish.
Out of the multiple stakes-winning Maryland-bred mare Ju Ju Eyeballs, November Rein added to a stakes ledger that includes a score in last year’s Seeking the Ante at Saratoga. November Rein banked $82,500 in victory, while improving her record to 8-4-1-1.
Deuce Greathouse, Cindy Hutson and Brett Setzer’s Les Bon Temps [$29] collared Miracle in the final jumps to capture the $200,000 Maid of the Mist [Race 7], a one-mile test for juveniles fillies.
Trained by Mike Maker, the Laoban bay was a pacesetting third last out in the state-bred seven-furlong Joseph A. Gimma here behind returning rivals Gambling Girl and Miracle. With Luis Saez up, Les Bon Temps tracked from third position as Miracle, who added blinkers, marked splits of 23.32 and 46.82 with Banterra in second.
Miracle led through the turn as Saez angled Les Bon Temps off the rail and took dead aim at the pacesetter. Miracle dug in gamely but there was no denying Les Bon Temps, who scored by one length in a final time of 1:37.80. Miracle was 13 1/2-lengths better than Silver Skillet with Gambling Girl, Security Code, Banterra, Dream On Cara, Little Linzee, Recognize and Im Just Kiddin completing the order of finish.
Out of the Tapizar mare Winsanity, Les Bon Temps, initially conditioned by Norm Casse, made her first two starts against open company at Churchill Downs, graduating at first asking in May ahead of a third-place finish in the Debutante. She was a distant fourth in the state-bred Seeking the Ante in August at the Spa before being transferred to Maker for the Joseph A. Gimma.
The $65,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale purchase, bred by Southern Equine Stables, banked $110,000 while improving her record to 5-2-0-2.
Lawrence Goichman’s multiple graded-stakes placed homebred Runaway Rumour [$9.20], patiently piloted by Flavien Prat, nailed Finest Work in the final stride to notch a head score in the $200,000 Ticonderoga [Race 8], a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
The frantic finish, aided by the addition of blinkers, avenged a third-place finish last out in the nine-furlong state-bred John Hettinger here when Runaway Rumour closed to finish third, just three-quarter lengths back of returning rivals Finest Work and Marvelous Maude.
Longshot Mashnee Girl led through splits of 23.83, 49 and 1:12.65 with Dakota Dancer and Pure Bode tracking her early foot. Runaway Rumour settled in sixth position, to the outside of Finest Work, and the pair made their move late in the turn with Finest Work better positioned after cutting the corner before angling outside the tiring pacesetter. But Runaway Rumour, who went five-wide at the top of the lane, would not be denied, vaulting to a visually appealing score in a final time of 1:42.11. It was a half-length back to third-place Spungie, followed by Marvelous Maude, Mashnee Girl, Giacosa, Out of Sight, Pure Bode, Dakota Dancer and Dream Central.
It was the first win in seven starts this season for Runaway Rumour, who was a close second in the open-company Violet on September 3 at Monmouth Park.
The reigning New York-bred Champion Turf Female enjoyed a tremendous campaign last year, winning her first three career starts capped by a score in the open-company Wild Applause at Belmont. She added graded black type with runner-up efforts in last year’s Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga and the Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont.
Out of the multiple stakes-placed Elusive Quality mare Elusive Rumour, Runaway Rumour is a half-sibling to the Abreu-trained multiple stakes winner Myhartblongstodady and stakes-winner Scuttlebuzz. A third half-sibling, the graded-stakes placed Lachaise, is scheduled to start in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Friday at Keeneland for Abreu and Goichman. Runaway Rumour banked $110,000 for the win, while improving her record to 15-4-3-2.
Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred Arctic Arrogance [$12] found another gear in the stretch run, drawing off to a 4 1/2-length score in the $200,000 Sleepy Hollow [Race 10], a one-turn mile for juveniles.
Trained by Linda Rice and piloted by Jose Lezcano, Arctic Arrogance entered from a runner-up effort to returning rival Jackson Heights as the odds-on mutuel favorite in the seven-furlong Bertram F. Bongard here. The Frosted grey made amends with a game effort, taking command from the inside post through splits of 23.62 and 47.93 with Starquist pressing from second in front of Quick to Accuse.
Starquist took over late in the turn with Jackson Heights starting to roll from the back of the pack, but a stubborn Arctic Arrogance cornered well and had something left, powering away to win in a final time of 1:37.90. Quick to Accuse finished second with Starquist, and Donegal Surges rounding out a Broman-bred superfecta. Jackson Heights, Shadow Dragon, Blame It On Daddy, Thtwasthenthisisnw, Canarsie and With Know Name rounded out the order of finish.
Arctic Arrogance, out of the Uncle Mo mare Modest Maven, was a debut winner of a state-bred maiden special weight on September 5 at Saratoga. He banked $110,000 for his Sleepy Hollow score.
Live racing resumes on Friday for Opening Day of the 29-day Aqueduct fall meet, which offers 33 stakes worth a total of $6.375 million, and is highlighted by the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on Saturday, December 3. First post on Friday’s card, which features the Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm, is 11:35 a.m. Eastern. Doors open at 10 a.m.