OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Senbei rewarded his heavy 1-5 favoritism by breaking on top and leading through every point of call before pulling away for a never-in-doubt 8 1/4-length victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Notebook for New York-bred 2-year-olds sprinting six furlongs on Aqueduct Racetrack’s main track.
Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Darlene Bilinski, Senbei started his career impressively for trainer Christophe Clement with a debut win in July at Saratoga Race Course before capturing the Funny Cide a month later over the same track. Following a second-place effort in the seven-furlong Bertram F. Bongard in September in his Belmont Park debut, the Candy Ride colt followed with a victory in the New York Breeders’ Futurity in October going six furlongs at Finger Lakes before dominating in his first appearance at the Big A, improving his record to 4-1-0 in five starts.
Senbei exited post 4 as jockey Manny Franco sent him to the front, serving as the pacesetter of the five-horse field with Bustin Pietre in pursuit as the opening quarter-mile went in 23.03 seconds and the half in 46.59 over the fast main track.
Franco kept Senbei tucked inside out of the turn and coaxed a powerful finish when straightened for home as his charge powered to the wire in a final time of 1:11.49, drawing away from runner-up Bustin Pietre and rider Kendrick Carmouche.
“He’s a very nice sprinter,” Franco said. “I wanted to break good and then he did the rest. My plan was to go to the lead and slow down the pace if I could. That’s how he likes to run.
“As soon as I made the lead, I didn’t feel too much pressure,” Franco added. “I was able to slow down the first part and I knew after that I was going to be tough.”
Senbei, bred by Dr. Jerry Bilinski, returned $2.50 on a $2 win wager. The $200,000 purchase at the 2020 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale improved his career earnings to $364,857.
“I was confident because [Franco] looked so comfortable on him,” Clement said. “When Carmouche came to him at the three-eighths, I was a little anxious, but at soon as he shook him up at the quarter-pole, I thought he looked comfortable and he won going away. He’s a nice horse.”
Clement said Senbei will be given a respite as he prepares for his 3-year-old year.
“He’ll have a break now. We’ve been squeezing him a little bit,” Clement said. “He’s had five starts. He’s a good horse and a fast horse. It will be interesting to see if he can come back next year and stretch his speed a little bit.”
Bustin Pietre, a first-out winner by 5 1/2 lengths last month at Belmont for trainer Bruce Levine, finished a half-length clear of Daufuskie Island for second. Bali’s Shade and Cool Laoban completed the order of finish. Kenner, who was scratched after unseating rider Ruben Silvera at the gate, was collared by the outriders and walked back to the barn. Silvera walked off under his own power and was cleared to ride the rest of the card by EMS.
Live racing resumes Friday at the Big A with a packed slate featuring three stakes, headlined by the Grade 3, $200,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the main track and bolstered by the $150,000 Gio Ponti for 3-year-olds competing at 1 1/16 miles on the turf and the $150,000 Forever Together for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Aqueduct Racetrack, and the best way to bet every race of the fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
Aqueduct Press Release
Photo: Senbei, (Chelsea Durand Photo)