â€¢ Wonder Gal looks to expand on sensational debut in G2 Adirondack for Gyarmati, Treadway â€¢ Phoenix Park, a recent purchase for Toner and Ninety North, using Adirondack as steppingstone to later goals
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Debut wins are seldom as impressive as the aptly named Wonder Gal's. The daughter of Tiz Wonderful, making her first career start in the six-furlong Lynbrook Stakes for New York-breds, lagged eight lengths behind the early pace after an opening quarter-mile in 22.19 seconds - an uncommon position for an odds-on 2-year-old. Around the far turn, however, the Leah Gyarmati trainee validated her odds by inhaling the field and drawing off to win by 14 Â½ lengths under minimal urging from jockey Taylor Rice.
Wonder Gal is likely to enter the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course - run at 6 Â½ furlongs - where she will test open company for the first time.
"She's doing great; she breezed very well a couple days ago," said Gyarmati. "I think she wants to go long, but she was very impressive sprinting [in the Lynbrook]. She's a big filly. She's not slow or anything in her breezes, but she's not some speedy thing that takes off from the pole. She's a very relaxed, laid-back filly, so her running style fits her personality."
A loaded field is likely to contest the Adirondack, including other sensational debut winners Angela Renee, a half-brother to Woodward winner To Honor and Serve, and Cavorting, 11-length winner of a maiden race at Belmont Park. Schuylerville runner-up Take Charge Brandi, TTA Sale Futurity winner Vivian Da Bling, and Phoenix Park, a maiden winner at Parx, also are probable for the race.
Gyarmati trains Wonder Gal for Treadway Racing Stable, the same partnership that sent out Sweet Reason to victory in the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test on Whitney Day.
"Jeff [Treadway] has been a fan of racing for quite a long time," said Gyarmati. "Our first horse we bought together was five or six years ago, something like that. Every year he's upped the ante a little bit, getting better and better quality horses and getting more and more horses. He did it the right way. He's learning as he goes and each year has gotten a little better."
* * * Trainer Jimmy Toner is taking a long-range approach with Phoenix Park, who is among the probables for the Grade 2 Adirondack for 2-year-old fillies on Sunday.
Phoenix Park will be making her first start for Toner and owner Justin Nichols of Ninety North Racing Stable, who purchased her for $105,000 at Fasig-Tipton's Summer Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale on July 14. In her lone previous outing, she won a 4 Â½-furlong maiden special weight by a head in the slop in June at Parx Racing.
"[She] was a 2-year-old that was ready to start right away for us," said Toner of the decision to purchase Phoenix Park. "She's an attractive filly. She's nice and sound and clean. We bought her to see if we could run in one of the stakes races up here."
Phoenix Park is from the first crop of 2010 Champion Three-Year-Old Male and Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky and out of Boleyn, who was second in the Grade 2 Demoiselle. Her third dam, Magnificent Lady, won the Grade 1 Vanity Invitational Handicap.
Considering Phoenix Park's pedigree, Toner believes she'll improve with age and distance and sees the Adirondack as a steppingstone to later objectives.
"I'm not saying she'll be able to handle this group of fillies, but it will be a way for us to get a read on her," said Toner. "She will go longer. Her dam was second in the Demoiselle. That's why I wouldn't put too much importance on this race. We just want to run her and see where we're at with her. We're looking at the fall and next year."
* * *
Talented but lightly raced colt Fast Anna is in Saratoga and being pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One King's Bishop on August 23, trainer Kathy Ritvo said.
A sophomore son of Medaglia d'Oro out of the mare Dreaming of Anna, both Grade 1 winners, Fast Anna is 2-for-2 in his brief career, each start coming at Gulfstream Park. He led all the way in both breaking his maiden by 2 Â¼ lengths in 1:09.92 on April 12 and when he romped by 13 in a 6 Â½-furlong allowance on July 6, hitting the wire in 1:16.75.
"He just does everything right," said Ritvo. "He doesn't really understand wrong. He's relaxed, he's cool, he gallops really well. He was a late-starting 3-year-old, just a really nice colt, really talented. We decided to take our time with him. We missed the beginning of the year, so we figured we'd make it a good end of the year."
Fast Anna, owned by Frank Calabrese, is scheduled to have his first breeze at Saratoga on Saturday. His sire won eight of 17 lifetime starts and more than $5.7 million, including victories in the 2002 Travers and 2003 Whitney at Saratoga.
"[The King's Bishop] fit into his schedule perfectly," said Ritvo. "He went six furlongs and he went 6 Â½ furlongs. It's a 3-year-old race going seven furlongs, and it just seems to fit him. It's a big swing for us, but it seems that the horse is doing all the right things. So far, so good."
Other horses Ritvo brought with her from south Florida are Carlo Vaccarezza's Little Daddy, being pointed to the $150,000 West Point for New York-breds on August 24, and 2-year-old maiden fillies So It's True and Morgan Falls.
It will be Ritvo's first summer in Saratoga without Mucho Macho Man, who made her the first female trainer to win the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2013. The 6-year-old Macho Uno colt was retired in mid-July and sent to co-owner Frank Stronach's Adena Springs Farm in Kentucky for the 2015 stallion season.
Mucho Macho Man had nine wins, six in stakes, and more than $5.6 million in purse earnings from 25 career starts.
"It is [strange], it really is. But, things change," said Ritvo. "Time goes on. He's good. He's got a great place to go to. Bringing him there, I felt like I took my kid to college."
* * *
After three straight one-mile races at Parx, More Hundred Acre will navigate an additional six furlongs in Thursday's $100,000 Birdstone for 3-year-olds and up on the main track.
Longest shot on the morning line at 20-1, the 4-year-old Pulpit gelding will break from the far outside post in a field of six headlined by multiple graded stakes-winner and 4-5 program favorite Micromanage.
Also entered in the 1 Â¾-mile Birdstone are Slim Shadey (8-1), Irsaal (4-1), Seton Hall (15-1) and Don Dulce (7-2).
"He's doing awesome," said trainer Jena Antonucci of More Hundred Acre, owned by NLG Racing Stable. "We know on paper it's [an] obscure [distance], but since we've taken him off the turf and put him on the dirt, he's a grinder. He just loves to kind of keep on going. It's a good opportunity to try it, so why not? We'll take a shot and see what he's all about."
More Hundred Acre was fourth, beaten 13 Â¾ lengths, in his most recent start on a wet-fast track at Parx on July 26. That effort followed a win, two seconds and a third dating back to early March on Aqueduct's inner track.
"It was a funky track," said Antonucci. "It was actually a drying-out track down at Parx and the rider hadn't ridden him before. It was just kind of the whole scenario, so, for us, it ended up being more of a public workout and something we can end up using to prep him more for this spot."
Antonucci hopes to bring multiple graded stakes-placed mare Five Star Momma to Saratoga before the meet ends on September 1. The 5-year-old daughter of Five Star Day, most recently sixth in the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses on June 21 at Belmont, is the 3-1 second choice of 10 horses in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance on Thursday at Gulfstream Park.
"We're working on getting her happy, and her next spot will be up north," said Antonucci. "We're hoping [for Saratoga]. I have something in mind. She's an awesome mare. We just sent her down there for a little confidence boost. We were trying to find her an overnight spot, but she deserved to have an easier spot after campaigning so hard through the winter. We just want to keep her mentally happy and fresh."
* * *
It has been a slower than usual start to the summer for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, with only 14 starters through Saratoga's first 16 days and one victory - Antipathy in the Grade 3 Shuvee on July 27.
The action begins to pick up this week for McLaughlin, with starters in three stakes: Irsaal in Thursday's $100,000 Birdstone, Sayaad in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave, and Cavorting in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack.
Irsaal is a 4-year-old More Than Ready gelding owned by Shadwell Stable who has two wins, a second and a third from five starts this year, only two of them since late February. The last two have come in optional claimers at one mile, a win in the mud on May 9 and a fifth-place finish on June 28 when he lunged and hit the gate.
The Birdstone is for 3-year-olds and up at the rare distance of 1 Â¾ miles on the main track. Irsaal will break from post two with regular rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.
"I don't have any idea [about the distance]," said McLaughlin. "He trains real aggressively and we thought it was worth a try. You just don't know. It's definitely an experiment."
Sayaad has won three straight races including the Dance of Life at Saratoga last August, returning from an 8 Â½ -month layoff to take the Forbidden Apple on July 4 at Belmont.
A juvenile daughter of champion Bernardini owned by Stonestreet Stables, Cavorting rolled to an 11-length victory in her unveiling at Belmont on July 3, going six furlongs in 1:11.37 under a brisk hand ride.
Cavorting was purchased for $360,000 as a weanling in November 2012 and has had two breezes since arriving in Saratoga, most recently going five furlongs in 1:01.60 on August 2.
"[Her debut] was a 'wow' race," said McLaughlin. "She's a very nice filly. She's trained great since and is doing well. You don't anticipate one running like that, but we've always liked her. She came in from Florida ready to go, and she's done everything right."
* * *
Saratoga's jockeys are once again warming up their vocal cords and rummaging through the costume closet in preparation for this year's "Riders Up!" karaoke contest to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund (PDJF).
Always a popular event on the Spa's social calendar, this year's festivities will be held Monday, August 11, 2014 at Vapor Night Club inside Saratoga Casino and Raceway (342 Jefferson Street, Saratoga Springs, N.Y). Members of the Saratoga jockey colony will belt out crowd favorites and NYRA track announcer Tom Durkin will emcee.
"Despite what others may say, our singing and acting actually get better each year," said PDJF board member John Velazquez. "This is a fun evening for the jockeys and the crowd and, of course, it benefits a good cause, the PDJF. We always look forward to this contest and give it our all."
Jockeys scheduled to appear are: Robby Albarado, Junior Alvarado, Joe Bravo, Shaun Bridgmohan, Javier Castellano, Dylan Davis, Chris DeCarlo, Manuel Franco, Brian Hernandez, Jr., Corey Lanerie, Julien Leparoux, Abel Lezcano, Jose Lezcano, Mike Luzzi, Rajiv Maragh, Rosie Napravnik, Joel Rosario and John Velazquez. There will be a few surprise performances as well.
At the judges' table will be Thoroughbred owner/breeder and former "Partridge Family" star David Cassidy, trainer Graham Motion, Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero, Jr., and YNN (NY Capital Region) Sports Director Marisa Jacques.
"I'm proud to be part of this event," said Cassidy. "The jockeys who have sustained serious injuries and who are now reliant on PDJF support have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sport we all love."
Advance tickets are available at http://pdjf.org. Tickets ($150) include early (5:30 p.m.) admission to the venue, a private buffet dinner with jockeys, and reserved seating close to the stage. General admission tickets are $75 (7:00 p.m. entry). The show starts at 7:45 p.m. Everyone is invited to enjoy a silent auction of racing memorabilia, open microphone, dancing and a cash bar. Patrons must be 21 years of age or older to enter the premises. Event sponsors are also being sought; click here.