Senior Prank gets the job done on first asking under Manny Franco. (Adam Coglianese/NYRA)
Spendthrift’s Aniston targets $100K Busanda
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Spendthrift Farm’s homebred sophomore filly Senior Prank graduated at first asking on Saturday, registering a 62 Beyer Speed Figure for a half-length triumph over the Aqueduct main track.
The Chad Brown-trained Senior Prank held command through every point of call, racing with close company in between horses down the backstretch, and fended off a late rally from Spelterini to cover the six furlongs in 1:12.79 under Manny Franco.
The bay daughter of perennial leading North American sire Into Mischief is the first progeny out of the multiple graded stakes-placed Sky Mesa mare Thundering Sky, who was acquired by Spendthrift at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale for $500,000.
Spendthrift Farm general manager Ned Toffey expressed a sense of gratification in the first-out win and said the road to the racetrack was not an easy one for Senior Prank, who was withdrawn from the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“The vast majority of our yearling crop goes through the ring and gets offered at the sale. But not long before the sale, she developed some hind-end issues. We brought her home, gave her a lot of time, turned her out at the farm and had her broken locally,” Toffey said. “We gave her time, started the breaking process and she put all of that behind her. We got her going to where we were more than comfortable to send her on. Chad has done a good job handling her, so I’m thrilled to start off the year with a nice win with a 3-year-old homebred by Into Mischief. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
The whereabouts of Senior Prank’s next start will be left up to Brown according to Toffey, who credited the four-time Eclipse Award winning trainer’s patience with his horses.
“I think Chad will do right by her and bring her along slowly,” Toffey said. “We haven’t really talked about plans since the race yesterday, so we’ll see how she comes out. We generally put our horses with trainers who we feel good about their opinions and don’t try to micromanage. If Chad wants to go the allowance route, great. If he thinks she’s ready for a bigger jump forward than that, it’s his people in the barn every day. His people are better to make those judgements than we are.
“She certainly showed the right kind of tools and it’ll be interesting to see how she stretches out,” Toffey added. “She has a little more stamina on the bottom side and Into Mischief has shown he can get any kind. That’s always the question – do they want two turns? We’ll sort that out as we go.”
Toffey said Thundering Sky was initially purchased to be bred to Into Mischief, who stands at Spendthrift Farm for $250,000.
“Usually when we’re buying mares at that level, that’s kind of the way we typically go,” Toffey said. “We actually bred her back to Medaglia d’Oro through a deal with Darley. We traded some seasons, and we bred a group over there and they bred a group here, primarily to Into Mischief. That was the thought at the time we bought her and now we have a really nice filly. This is one of those ones where maybe our bad luck at the time turned out to be good luck.”
Thundering Sky did most of her running on turf, including NYRA circuit stakes triumphs in the 2016 Pebbles at Belmont Park and the 2017 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose at Saratoga Race Course.
“We’re not opposed to that,” said Toffey when asked if turf could be in Senior Prank’s future. “We are a stallion operation and most of what we do feeds into that one way or another through the broodmare band or stallion prospect colts themselves. With the commercial still being dominated by dirt, that’s our first preference. But if we find that she makes more sense on the turf and she shows us that, we have no problem going that way.”
Spendthrift’s silks could visit the Big A winner’s circle on Saturday with another sophomore filly in Aniston, who will target the $100,000 Busanda. The nine-furlong test offers 20-8-6-4-2 points towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 5 at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Aniston displayed a 4 3/4-length victory going nine furlongs on November 25 at the Big A. The chestnut daughter of Champion sire Curlin made her two-turn debut a winning one and registered a 55 Beyer Speed Figure for the score, which came two months following a distant seventh-place finish on debut going a one-turn mile at Belmont at the Big A.
“She’s taken some time to come to hand and she’s more stamina than speed and precocity,” Toffey said. “But I know he [Pletcher] feels that she’s a solid filly. Her last race going two turns is what we’ve been waiting for.”
Aniston was bought for $550,000 from the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where she was consigned by Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services. She is out of the unraced Indian Charlie mare Kateri, making her a full sister to graded stakes winner and Grade 1-placed Souper Sensational.
Spendthrift Farm’s homebred graded stakes winner Following Sea has not raced since finishing a close second to fellow Pletcher trainee Americanrevolution in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile presented by NYRA Bets in December 2021. The 5-year-old son of Runhappy captured that year’s Grade 2 Vosburgh en route to a late-closing third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“He’s just had some really hard luck. After 2021, we were excited about the year he might have last year. We had to do some minor cleanup of some things on him and ran into some complications coming out of that,” Toffey said. “He’s had a couple of other health setbacks that have kept us from getting him back to the track. We’d like to have another year of racing with him. He was in Ocala with Todd’s father, J.J. Pletcher, but he left there and is now with Todd at Palm Beach Downs. It hasn’t been a smooth road back for him. We’re hoping to get him back for 2023 and have a good 5-year-old year with him.”