OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Stakes winners Geno and Barese will face off against five other New York-bred sophomores in Saturday’s eighth running of the one-turn mile $100,000 Gander, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Mendham Racing Stable’s Geno enters off a narrow neck triumph in his main track debut in the seven-furlong NYSSS Great White Way on December 18 at the Big A, besting Un Ojo, who finished second in last weekend’s Grade 3 Withers.
The son of Big Brown was victorious at first asking in September traveling six furlongs on the Widener turf course at Belmont Park en route to a pacesetting second in the open company Awad two months later on the same oval.
Trainer David Donk said Geno has trained forwardly into the Gander, recording a three-eighths blowout in 37.86 seconds over the Belmont training track on Wednesday.
“He’s doing great, moving really well. He’s in good form,” Donk said. “He’s always been a good workhorse on the dirt, which is why we ran in the stallion series. He’s trained well since. I’d like to think, as 3-year-olds do, that he would move forward a little bit. I’m as interested as anyone to see how much he might progress.”
Donk said Geno could return to grass at some point in the future.
“Looking ahead, I’d be inclined to do that,” Donk said. “It also depends on how well he runs on the dirt here. We’ll take things race-by-race, we’re just really fortunate to have a lot of options.”
Donk said Geno demonstrated promise even prior to arriving at his barn last summer.
“Pat Hoppel had him when he was in Ocala and they always liked him,” Donk said. “He trained well here and he touts himself a little bit. They don’t all run as well as they train, but he certainly has.”
Bred by Pete Martine, Geno is the only Gander contestant with six-figure earnings, boasting a field-best bankroll of $337,250.
Jorge Vargas, Jr. will retain the mount from post 6.
Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s Barese will attempt to keep an unbeaten record intact for trainer Mike Maker.
The son of Laoban shook off nearly eight months’ worth of rust when capturing the 6 1/2-furlong Rego Park on January 9 at the Big A. On his May 21 debut at Belmont Park, he defeated next-out winners Bali’s Shade and Coinage, who won the Grade 3 With Anticipation at Saratoga four months later.
Barese, a $150,000 purchase from the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale, is a full-brother to three-time winner Breakfastatbonnies, who is probable to start in Sunday’s $100,000 Broadway, a six-furlong sprint for older state-bred fillies and mares. Both siblings were bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds and Lakland Farm and are out of the Successful Appeal mare Right Prevails, who is a full-sister to 2005 Kentucky Derby runner-up Closing Argument.
Leading rider Dylan Davis seeks his fourth stakes win of the meet when he pilots Barese from post 5.
Bursting onto the scene from the barn of Hall of Famer Bill Mott is Bold Journey, who registered a field-best 84 Beyer Speed Figure with 6 3/4-length maiden score on December 18 at Aqueduct.
The Hard Spun chestnut, who is a half-brother to Grade 1-winning New York-bred Americanrevolution, was in command throughout the six-furlong maiden score, defeating emphatic next-out winner Golden Code.
Bred by Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding, Bold Journey is owned by Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, Team Penney Racing and Seidman Stables.
Kendrick Carmouche will pick up the mount from post 7.
Trainer Rob Atras will saddle Windylea Farm’s Doin’ittherightway, the most seasoned horse the field with a 2-1-2 record through seven starts.
The Kindred Racing Stable-bred son of Super Saver broke his maiden in October going a two-turn mile and 40 yards at Finger Lakes ahead of a victory in the six-furlong Tin Cup Chalice three weeks later over the same surface for trainer Jonathan Buckley.
Atras said Doin’ittherightway ran a deceptively good race last out, closing from 15 lengths off the pace to finish sixth, defeated just 4 1/4 lengths, in the Rego Park.
“He just got a little too far back. I think if he was a little bit closer, he could have been second in that race,” Atras said.
The 3-year-old bay gelding is enjoying his second stint with Atras, returning to the conditioner’s stable for a winter campaign that launched with a close second in an optional-claiming sprint on December 16 at Aqueduct.
“He’s gotten a lot better since I had him last summer. I can see that in his training,” Atras said. “He showed a lot more tactical speed the first time I ran him this winter and I was hoping he would show the same last time. This time we’ll look to keep him closer.”
Atras said the stretch out in distance will benefit Doin’ittherightway.
“I think 6 1/2-furlongs is a touch short for him. I’ve always thought he wanted to go a little further, so I think he’ll like the mile,” Atras said.
Kevin Navarro, the pilot in both career victories, will ride from post 3.
Completing the field are G Munning [post 1, Eric Cancel], Bossmakinbossmoves [post 2, Trevor McCarthy], and Cut the Cord [post 4, Andre Worrie].
The Gander is named in honor of the popular gray New York-bred, who was a four-time New York champion. Owned by Gatsas Thoroughbreds and trained by John Terranova, Gander was crowned New York Horse of the Year in 2000 and was named New York’s Champion Older Horse from 2000-02. A multiple winner of the Empire Classic and Evan Shipman, Gander earned a graded stakes victory in the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup in 2001 and was multiple Grade 1-placed. He retired with earnings in excess of $1.8 million and a record of 60-15-10-9 through a career that saw stakes victories from ages three to eight.
The Gander is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s nine-race card. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the winter 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 Press Release
Photo: Barese (NYRA Photo)