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Trainer Linda Rice and jockey Jose Ortiz featured prominently on the New York Racing Association's Big Apple Showcase Day with three wins each, including a pair of stakes wins, on the Memorial Day holiday card.
The 11-race all New York-bred slate included six stakes races worth $900,000 in purses, highlighted by the $200,000 Commentator and $200,000 Critical Eye.
Rice picked up wins with Blindwillie McTell in the $125,000 Mike Lee and in the $125,000 Bouwerie with the undefeated Newly Minted. The three-time leading trainer on the NYRA circuit also captured a turf allowance on the undercard with the promising Elektronic.
Ortiz guided Blindwillie McTell to a stalking score in the Mike Lee and also piloted Gucci Factor to a mild upset in the $125,000 Kingston. The eight-time leading rider on the NYRA circuit also piloted Kept True to an allowance score on the undercard.
"This is a terrific day in racing for New York and for New York breeders, and I think the fans really enjoy it too," said Rice.
Jerold Zaro's homebred Blindwillie McTell captured the first leg of the Big Apple Triple with a prominent score in the Mike Lee, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds on the dirt.
The Posse gelding, out of Bold Child, broke sharply under Ortiz but settled in second position as Le General marked opening fractions of 22.84 and 45.80 seconds. At the top of the stretch, Blindwillie McTell took command as Le General began to give way.
Funny Guy and Bankit made late-charging bids on the outside, but could not reel in Blindwillie McTell who found a good rhythm to notch a two-length win in a final time of 1:21.53. Funny Guy completed the exacta, a neck in front of Bankit. Stone Breaker was scratched prior to the start after not warming up well.
The New York-based Rice enjoyed a similarly successful Big Apple Showcase Day last year and said she is excited at upcoming prospects for her two newest stakes stars.
"Last year, on this day, we won the Bouwerie with Midnight Disguise and we won the Critical Eye with Holiday Disguise and that was really special," said Rice. "This year, it was two different horses, but two really nice horses that I'm excited about.
"One is a homebred of Jerry's [Blindwillie McTell], and he only has one broodmare, so it's pretty exciting to have a horse like this," continued Rice. "The other is a filly I purchased a year ago [Newly Minted] at the 2-year-old sale at OBS in April and Chester Broman is the breeder. I think they're two exceptional horses."
The Big Apple Triple continues on July 20 with the $150,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes and concludes on August 23 at Saratoga with the $250,000 Albany.
Blindwillie McTell's win in the Mike Lee brought his career earnings to $258,650. Sent off as the 5-2 post time favorite, Blindwillie McTell returned $7 for a $2 win bet.
Harold Lerner, AWC Stables and Nehoc Stables' Pat On the Back prevailed in a stirring stretch duel with millionaire multiple graded stakes winner Giant Expectations to capture the $200,000 Commentator.
Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, the 5-year-old Congrats chestnut avenged his nose defeat in last year's Commentator to another multiple graded stakes winning millionaire in Diversify.
Giant Expectations, with Jose Ortiz up, stumbled out of the gate in the one-turn mile for 3-year-olds and upward over the dirt and watched well back as Mr. Buff set splits of 22.80 and 45.54 with Haul Anchor and Pat On the Back tracking his early foot.
Mr. Buff continued a swift pace into the turn as Pat On the Back, with Dylan Davis up, edged closer and Giant Expectations made up significant ground while traveling wide. Mr. Buff, stubborn on the lead through three-quarters in 1:09.09, gave way grudgingly in the final sixteenth as Pat On the Back took command and prepared for the challenge of the rallying Giant Expectations.
The two New York-breds battled gamely to the finish line with Pat On the Back putting his nose to the wire first in a final running time of 1:33.43. Mr. Buff completed the trifecta three-quarters of a length behind Giant Expectations.
Englehart was full of praise for both Pat On the Back and Giant Expectations following the thrilling renewal of the Commentator.
"This was a tough race. Giant Expectations stumbling at the start didn't help his chances and he ran his eyeballs out," said Englehart. "When they linked up at the sixteenth pole, I knew our horse would dig in. It was just a great race out of him. This horse is just so special. He's all heart, all guts. Every time you ask him to go to bat, he's swinging."
Pat On the Back, bred by Sugar Maple Farm, banked $110,000 in victory to bring his lifetime earnings to $924,032 while improving his record to 8-4-4 from 24 starts. He paid $6.70 to win.
The $125,000 Bouwerie for 3-year-old fillies kicked off the day's stakes action in Race 4, where 4-5 mutuel favorite Newly Minted remained unbeaten making her third career start.
With jockey Jose Lezcano aboard, the Central Banker filly settled in third along the rail as Cash Offer set fractions of 23.19 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.58 for the half. Tipped out and moving up to take command at the top of the stretch, Newly Minted moved past Cash Offer to win by 2 ½ lengths. Behind the Couch stayed on for third just another length and three-quarters back.
Newly Minted, bred by Chester & Mary Broman and owned by Beach Haven Thoroughbreds, boosted her career earnings to $212,850 for winning trainer Linda Rice. She completed the seven furlong distance on the dirt in 1:22.07 while returning $3.80 for a $2 win wager.
Peter M. Brant's Fifty Five, under a patient ride from Hall of Famer Javier Castellano for trainer Chad Brown, angled out for the stretch run and sped by her rivals for a comfortable score in the $125,000 Mount Vernon in the fifth race on the day's card.
Sent to post as the 1-2 mutuel favorite in the one-mile trip over the Widener turf course for older fillies and mares, the 5-year-old Get Stormy bay settled in sixth position as Vip Nation led the field of 11 through splits of 24.08 and 47.88 under moderate pressure from Lady Joan.
Vortex Road, a 50-1 longshot under Kendrick Carmouche, advanced three-wide late in the turn but Fifty Five, once produced by Castellano, found a seam and strode away from the field for a one-length score. A cavalry charge for second was won by Munchkin Money, who rallied best of all under Junior Alvarado to complete the exacta a neck in front of Kreesie.
The confident score, clocked in 1:34.09 over good turf, marked the fourth consecutive win for Fifty Five, all in stakes events, including a 1 3/4-length score in the Plenty of Grace to open her 2019 campaign. The victory avenged Fifty Five's narrow neck defeat in the 2018 renewal of the Mount Vernon won by Feeling Bossy.
Bred by Empire Equines, Fifty Five banked $68,750 in victory, bringing her career earnings to $785,038 while improving her record to 9-3-5 from 18 starts. She paid $3.10 for a $2 win wager.
Lawrence Goichman's homebred Kathryn the Wise, also trained by Brown and piloted by Castellano, went to the lead and never looked back to reclaim her title in the $200,000 Critical Eye, a one-turn mile on Big Sandy in the seventh race.
Castellano, who was presented with the 2019 Mike Venezia Memorial Award earlier on the program, guided the bay daughter of Uncle Mo through splits of 22.49 seconds and a half-mile in 45.12 as Frostie Anne chased from second.
Frostie Anne gave way approaching the top of the stretch as Castellano still sat relaxed aboard Kathryn the Wise. Never in doubt, Kathryn the Wise glided to victory under a hand ride to win by five lengths. She stopped the clock in 1:33.63 on the main track labeled fast.
Midnight Disguise finished well to grab second 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Bonita Bianca.
Castellano said he was pleased with the effort from the talented filly, who has now won five of eight career starts.
"My filly broke well and I didn't want to take anything away that came easy," Castellano said. "She broke on top and I let her run her own race. She galloped along on the lead and she was just amazing. The way she did it today, I was very impressed. I have to thank Mr. Brown for giving me the opportunity to ride the filly. It was my first time on her and she made me look good today."
Kathryn the Wise paid $6.30 to win while notching her third stakes victory. In addition to the 2017 edition of the Critical Eye, she won the La Verdad at Aqueduct in January. The win in the Critical Eye enhanced her career earnings to $375,250.
In the eighth race, Castleton Lyons' Gucci Factor prevailed with a stylish finish while making his seasonal debut in the $125,000 Kingston for 3-year-olds and up going one mile on the Widener turf course.
Piloted by Jose Ortiz and trained by Christophe Clement, the 6-year-old Gio Ponti gelding waited patiently as 7-1 Mo Maverick went unchallenged up front through fractions of 23.33 seconds for the first quarter-mile and extended his lead to 15 lengths through the half in 46.53.
With Mo Maverick remaining in front in the upper stretch, Gucci Factor was put into a drive going past Mo Maverick at the sixteenth-pole to win by 1 ¼ lengths, stopping the clock in 1:33.51. Offering Plan was third, 1 1/4-lengths back of Mo Maverick.
Bred by Highclere, Gucci Factor returned $11.20 to his backers, boosting his lifetime earnings to $278,450 while capturing his first stakes win.
New York-breds will take center stage on the Memorial Day holiday slate Monday at Belmont Park as the New York Racing Association hosts its annual Big Apple Showcase Day, featuring an 11-race all New York-bred card, including six stakes races worth $900,000 in purses, highlighted by the $200,000 Commentator and $200,000 Critical Eye.
Harold Lerner, AWC Stables and Nehoc Stables' Pat On the Back will look to go one better in the Commentator after finishing second, by a nose, to millionaire Diversify in last year's running of the one-turn mile on Big Sandy for 3-year-olds and up. The Congrats chestnut, bred by Sugar Maple Farm, enjoyed a solid 2018 winning twice and placing three times in seven starts, led by wins in the Saginaw and Empire Classic at Belmont.
The 5-year-old Pat On the Back arrives at Monday's test from a convincing 1 1/4-length score in the six-furlong Affirmed Success. He boasts a perfect in-the-money record of 4-3-2 from nine starts at Belmont.
Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, Pat On the Back will look to best millionaire Giant Expectations to capture the 2019 renewal of the Commentator. Dylan Davis has the call from post 7.
Exline-Border Racing, Gatto Racing, and Garrett Zubok's Giant Expectations arrives at the Commentator from a fifth in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, contested at nine furlongs over a sloppy main track.
Trained by Peter Eurton, the 6-year-old Frost Giant chestnut, bred by Sunrise Stables, boasts a record of 4-3-4 from 20 starts with purse earnings in excess of $1.25 million. In 2017, Giant Expectations notched a pair of Grade 2 wins taking the Pat O'Brien at Del Mar at seven furlongs and the 1 1/16-mile San Antonio at Santa Anita.
Winless in four starts in 2018, he finished third in the Grade 3 Ack Ack at Churchill Downs ahead of a rallying fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile to close out the campaign. He returns to the Empire State for the first time since June 2017.
Giant Expectations, with blinkers added, will depart from post 5 under Jose Ortiz.
Completing the field for the Commentator, slated as Race 10, are Honor Up [Manny Franco, post 1], Syndergaard [Luis Saez, post 2], Control Group [Javier Castellano, post 3], Mr. Buff [Junior Alvarado, post 4], and Haul Anchor [Kendrick Carmouche, post 6].
Race 10 at Belmont Park on Monday, May 27 - Post 6:24 PM
|1||Honor Up||7-2||Manuel Franco
|John Terranova II|
|3||Control Group||15-1||Javier Castellano
|4||Mr. Buff||6-1||Junior Alvarado
|5||Giant Expectations||3-1||Jose Ortiz
|6||Haul Anchor||9-2||Kendrick Carmouche
|7||Pat On the Back||5-2||Dylan Davis
Grade 1-placed Still There will look to get back on track after a seven-month layoff when she takes on a field of seven in Race 7, the $200,000 Critical Eye for New York-bred fillies and mares over the Belmont Park main track.
Owned by P T and K Stable, the 5-year-old daughter of Union Rags last raced in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom last September at Belmont where she finished fourth. In her prior start for trainer Dane Kobiskie, Still There was second behind Marley's Freedom in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga. She has won three of her six career starts, one of which took place in an open company stakes race in Laurel Park's Twixt last July.
"I was going to run her on Derby Day in the [Grade 1] Humana Distaff, and we were right on schedule for the race, but she got a little sick and set us back about five days. The Critical Eye looks like a good spot," Kobiskie said. "She's a very serious horse. She had some trouble in the race at Saratoga and still ran great. I wanted to give her the winter off, she was getting a little weary but she's doing great. She's been at Belmont since about Monday and she's ready to run."
Jockey Corey Lanerie has the mount aboard Still There, who will emerge from post 3.
Midnight Disguise races back against New York-bred company after missing the board in a pair of stakes at Aqueduct.
Trained by Linda Rice, the daughter of Midnight Lute, out of Thin Disguise, is a half-sister to last year's Critical Eye winner Holiday Disguise. Midnight Disguise has won five of 10 career starts and captured the Bouwerie last year in her lone effort at Belmont. Jose Ortiz has the call from post 2.
Completing the field are Starlight Mission [post 1, Ruben Silvera], Kathryn the Wise [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], Indy's Lady [post 5, Luis Saez], Frostie Anne [post 6, Javier Castellano], Bonita Bianca [post 7, Manny Franco].
Kicking off the day's stakes action is the $125,000 Bouwerie for 3-year-old New York-bred fillies going seven furlongs carded as Race 4 and attracting a field of seven.
Making her first start since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Gazelle on April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack is Espresso Shot for NY Final Furlong Racing Stable, Maspeth Stables and Parkland Thoroughbreds and conditioner Jorge Abreu.
The Mission Impazible filly broke her maiden in her second start before going on to win the East View on December 29 at Aqueduct. She kicked off her 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the Busher on March 9.
With Jose Ortiz aboard, the pair will leave from post 7.
Entering for conditioner Linda Rice and Beach Haven Thoroughbreds is Newly Minted. A daughter of Central Banker she is unbeaten in two starts after impressively winning her debut by 5 ¾ lengths and following up with a 7 ½ length win last out on April 20 in the New York Stallion Stakes Series Park Avenue on April 20 at Aqueduct.
With Jose Lezcano up, the pair will leave from post 2.
Rounding out the field is Wadadli Princess [Kendrick Carmouche, Post 1]; Elegant Zip [Dylan Davis, Post 4]; Behind the Couch [Junior Alvarado, Post 3]; Cash Offer [Luis Saez; Post 5] ; and Pat's No Fool [Javier Castellano, Post 6].
In Race 5, Peter Brant's Fifty Five will seek her sixth stakes triumph in the $125,000 Mount Vernon against 11 other New York-bred fillies and mares going one mile over the Widener turf course.
Never off the board in her last eight career starts, the Chad Brown-trained bay daughter of Get Stormy has won her last three career outings. She made her first start in six months last time out when defeating open company in the Plenty of Grace at Aqueduct.
Fifty Five ended her 2018 campaign with two stakes wins over the inner turf at Belmont against state-breds in the John Hettinger on September 23 and the Ticonderoga on October 20. Fifty Five won a graded stakes event at age three when taking the Grade 3 Florida Oaks while conditioned by Thomas Bush. She has won four of her eight starts over the turf at Belmont. She will break from the rail and receives the riding services of Javier Castellano.
Brown also sends out Lovely La La - a 4-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo who finished second last time out against New York-breds in an allowance event over a yielding Belmont turf course. A winner of two career starts, Lovely La La broke her maiden second time out last June at Belmont and two starts later defeated winners going wire-to-wire over a yielding turf at Belmont. Jockey Jose Lezcano has the mount from post 7.
Completing the field are Vip Nation [post 2, Mike Luzzi], Kreesie [post 3, Jose Ortiz], Jc's Shooting Star [post 4, Manny Franco], Lady Joan [post 5, Luis Saez], Munchkin Money [post 6, Junior Alvarado], Wegetsdamunnys [post 8, Joel Rosario], Wish Upon [post 9, Rajiv Maragh], War Canoe [post 10, Dylan Davis], Vortex Road [post 11, Kendrick Carmouche].
Oak Bluff Stables homebred Therapist will look to keep his perfect 4-for-4 record on the Belmont turf intact in the $125,000 Kingston, a one-mile test for 3-year-olds and upward on the Widener course slated as Race 8.
Trained by Christophe Clement, the 4-year-old Freud chestnut arrives at the Kingston from a rallying score in the Elusive Quality over a yielding Belmont green. His other scores on the Belmont turf include his graduation day in July 2017; the 2017 Awad at a mile; and the NYSSS Spectacular Bid last June.
Eric Cancel has the return engagement from post 2.
To win the Kingston, Therapist will have to topple the Chad Brown-trained Offering Plan who has captured the past two editions of the Kingston. The 7-year-old Spring At Last horse was a rallying third in his seasonal debut in a Keeneland turf allowance. An eight-time winner from 24 starts with purse earnings of $766,573, Offering Plan will depart from post 3 under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.
Completing the field are Rapt [Manny Franco, post 1], Gucci Factor [Jose Ortiz, post 4], Appealing Briefs [Jose Lezcano, post 5], and Mo Maverick [Luis Saez, post 6].
In Race 9, the $125,000 Mike Lee for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, Frosted Ice is set to make his second start of the year following a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Bachelor at Oaklawn Park on April 27.
Trained by Ron Moquett for owners Rialto Racing Stable, the son of Bellamy Road closed out his juvenile year with back-to-back wins including a victory in the Bertram F. Bongard on September 21 at Saratoga Race Course.
"We were happy to get that race over with [Bachelor] so now it's time to move on and try to win another stake with him," said Moquett. "I'm pretty pumped to get him back going again. We did everything to allow him to grow, mature and develop to get him ready for some of the races up in New York."
With Luis Saez up, Frosted Ice will leave from post 2.
Gastas Stables, R.A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable's Funny Guy will also look to win his second consecutive stake after winning the New York Stallion Stakes Series Times Square on April 20 on an off track at the Big A for which he earned an 87 Beyer Speed Figure.
With Rajiv Maragh in the irons, Funny Guy will leave from post 4.
Stone Breaker for owner Roddy Valente and trainer Gary Gullo will look to win his fourth consecutive victory after most recently capturing a first level allowance race on April 6 at Aqueduct.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will be aboard with the pair breaking from post 10.
Rounding out the field is Red Zinger [Eric Cancel, Post 9]; Le General [Jose Lezcano, Post 3]; Bankit [Ricardo Santana, Jr., Post 8]; Just Right [Manny Franco, Post 1]; Blindwillie McTell [Jose Ortiz, Post 6]; Durkin's Call [Junior Alvarado, Post 5]; Fleet Warrior [Mike Luzzi, Post 7].
First post time on Holiday Monday's 11-race Big Apple Showcase Day card is 1:30 p.m.
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will again host a Cross Country Pick 5 on Monday, May 27, featuring racing action from Big Apple Showcase Day at Belmont Park as well as from Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.
A full field of 14 New York-bred fillies and mares, plus two also eligible entrants, start the sequence in Race 6 at Belmont Park - a $40,000 maiden claiming event going six furlongs over the Widener turf course. Trainer George Weaver is represented by a pair of strong contenders in Tarallucci and Vinda Machine. The race has a scheduled 4:12 p.m. post time.
In the second leg of the Cross Country Pick 5, seven New York-bred fillies and mares seek to add a stakes win to their resume in the $200,000 Critical Eye. Still There, the runner-up of last year's Grade 1 Test at Saratoga, stands out in a field of seven. Carded as Race 7, the Critical Eye has a scheduled post time of 4:45 p.m.
New York-bred sophomores get their chance for stakes glory in the third leg of the Cross Country Pick 5 - the $125,000 Mike Lee, which is the first leg of the "Big Apple Triple". Ten Empire State native 3-year-olds will go into line for the seven-furlong event including two-time stakes winner Blindwillie McTell for trainer Linda Rice as well as recent stakes winner Funny Guy for John Terranova and Frosted Ice, who invades from Kentucky for trainer Ron Moquett. The Mike Lee is carded as Race 9 with a 5:51 p.m. post time.
Action shifts to Texas for the penultimate leg of the Cross Country Pick 5 with the $100,000 Lone Star Park Turf. Carded as Race 8 with a post time of 6:09 p.m., nine fillies will go into line for the one-mile race which features multiple stakes placed Sensitive from the barn of Brad Cox.
In the final leg of the Cross Country Pick 5, seven New York-bred older horses will face off in the $200,000 Commentator, which features graded stakes winning millionaire Giant Expectations invading from southern California for trainer Peter Eurton. He will tackle six-time New York-bred stakes winner Pat On the Back, who is trained by Jeremiah Englehart and took the Affirmed Success on Belmont Park's Opening Day. Carded as Race 10, the Commentator will go off at 6:24 p.m.
The minimum bet for the multi-track, multi-race wager is 50 cents. Wagering on the Cross Country Pick 5 is also available on track, on ADW platforms, and at simulcast facilities across the country. There will be a mandatory payout of the entire pool.
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