Ottoman Fleet Makes Stateside Debut for Appleby in G2 Fort Marcy

May 3, 2023

By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office

ELMONT, N.Y.— Godolphin’s Group 3-winner Ottoman Fleet will look to make his stateside debut a winning one for trainer Charlie Appleby in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy, a nine-furlong inner test for older horses, at Belmont Park.

Appleby boasts a strong 8-2-4-1 record at Belmont Park led by wins in 2021 from Althiqa in the Grade 1 Just a Game, besting her stablemate Summer Romance; and Yibir, who took the Jockey Club Derby en route to victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar and Eclipse Award honors as Champion Turf Male.

Last year, the Appleby-trained Nations Pride followed a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational with a win in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational; while stablemate With The Moonlight, a game second in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational, also made amends at the Spa with a score in the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational.

Appleby, in addition to Ottoman Fleet, has shipped over Warren Point for next weekend’s Grade 1, $600,000 Man o’ War here. Both horses arrived in New York on Sunday and cantered a half-mile separately over the dirt training track Tuesday for jockey Richie Mullen under the watchful eye of traveling assistant Chris Connett.

“Both horses have settled in really well and really taken to it,” Connett said. “They’re fairly seasoned, well-traveled campaigners. They’ve traveled to Dubai and back, so we’re happy with the way they settled in.”

Ottoman Fleet, by Sea The Stars and out of the Motivator mare Innevera, has already made four starts this year and enters from a last-to-first two-length score in the Group 3 Earl of Sefton over good-to-soft going on April 18 at Newmarket.

The 4-year-old bay gelding made his prior three outings this winter at Meydan in the UAE, completing the trifecta with mid-pack moves in group races won by well-regarded stablemates in Valiant Prince [Group 2 Al Rashidiya and Group 2 Singspiel] and the aforementioned Nations Pride [Group 3 Dubai Millennium].

“That was a nice performance from him at Newmarket,” Connett said. “He ran a few times in Dubai in big races and was always just on the cusp and in the mix of them, so it was nice for him to get his head in front. Hopefully, that will be a confidence booster the rest of the year for him.”

Ottoman Fleet also used a last-to-first rush to win the listed James Seymour over 10 furlongs of soft ground in October at Newmarket.

Mullen, a multiple Group 1-winning rider, has the call from post 3 aboard Ottoman Fleet, who will carry 122 pounds.

City Man takes the Dec. 31 Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Park (Ryan Thompson)

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter Searles and Patty Searles’ multiple graded-stakes winning New York-bred City Man [post 6, Trevor McCarthy, 124 pounds] will look to secure millionaire status.

The 6-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man, who boasts a record of 27-9-5-3 for purse earnings of $987,120, will make his first start since an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational on January 28 at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Christophe Clement said he drew a line through the troubled Pegasus effort in which City Man bumped with a rival after exiting post 11-of-12 and failed to get involved.

“It was a terrible trip. He was very wide. He had no chance, so we turn the page,” Clement said.

City Man has breezed back three times at Belmont, including a half-mile effort in 49.82 seconds on April 28 over Big Sandy.

“He’s training well. He’s willing and looks remarkably well,” Clement said. “The works have been good, so it’s time to go back.”

City Man won 5-of-8 starts last year, including open-company scores in the Danger’s Hour at Aqueduct Racetrack, the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple at Saratoga and the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park. He also added state-bred scores in the Ashley T. Cole and Mohawk at Belmont at the Big A.

The dark bay rallied from seventh when making the grade in the Forbidden Apple, but was never further back than third in each of his other four wins last year.

“He’s very versatile,” Clement said. “He’s a great horse to ride for a jock because you can make it if you have to, or he can take back, if there is a decent amount of pace. We don’t have to worry about the pace scenario, which is a great luxury to the rider.”

City Man, who has yet to notch a win at Belmont, has made two previous attempts in the Fort Marcy, finishing second to Tribhuvan over firm going in 2021 and fourth to the victorious L’Imperator last year over yielding ground.

Clement said a little juice in the ground given the recent rainfall in New York would not be an issue for City Man, who has posted a pair of wins over good going.

“Good ground would be ideal. He loves good ground,” Clement said.

Bred in the Empire State by Moonstar Farm, City Man, out of the City Zip mare City Scamper, was purchased for $185,000 out of the Off The Hook consignment at the 2019 OBS April Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown has won the Fort Marcy a record six times, including the last five editions with Robert Bruce [2018], Olympico [2019], Instilled Regard [2020] and the aforementioned Tribhuvan and L’Imperator.

Rockemperor’s last win was a strong display in the Bowling Green (G2) July 31 at Saratoga (Susie Raisher)

On Saturday, he will saddle multiple graded-stakes winner Rockemperor [post 5, Dylan Davis, 122 pounds], who will make his first start since finishing fourth in his title defense of the 12-furlong Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational on October 8 at Belmont at the Big A.

The 7-year-old son of Holy Roman Emperor, who will race as a first-time gelding, sports a ledger of 27-5-5-6 for purse earnings in excess of $1.1 million. He won the 11-furlong Grade 2 Bowling Green over firm footing last summer at the Spa.

Rockemperor breezed extensively over the winter at Payson Park in Florida, recording a half-mile effort over the dirt on April 23 there in 49.60 before shipping up to New York.

The talented field also includes graded-stakes winner Tide of the Sea [post 8, Katie Davis, 118 pounds] and stakes-winner Dynadrive [post 1, Nik Juarez, 120 pounds] for conditioner Tom Morley; as well as graded-stakes placed Fort Washington [post 4, Feargal Lynch, 120 pounds] for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey; and the Mike Maker-trained duo of King Cause [post 2, Kendrick Carmouche, 120 pounds], who wired last year’s nine-furlong Grade 3 Knickerbocker at Belmont at the Big A and the stakes-placed Keystone Field [post 7, Jose Gomez, 118 pounds]. Law Professor was entered for the main-track only.

The Fort Marcy is slated as Race 9 on Saturday’s 11-race card, which also features the Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian in Race 10 and the $150,000 Elusive Quality in Race 8. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern. Gates for the Kentucky Derby Day card will open at 10 a.m.

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