American Pharoah's first North American starters to race in Aqueduct's Wednesday opener
by NYRA Press Office
- Motion happy with stakes-winning effort from Regally Irish
- Delta Prince returns to Belmont a Grade 1 winner
- Another graded stakes start awaits Inspector Lynley
- Clement sets plan in motion for Belmont spring/summer meet
- Lezcano looks to ride good momentum to spring title
- Toscano looking to carry Aqueduct momentum to Belmont spring/summer meet
- Donk points Elegant Zip to Bouwerie
- Belmont Stakes Challenge registration now open
- NYRA Cross Country Pick 5 returns $2,211.25
- Contenders lining up for the 145th Kentucky Derby
Wednesday afternoon's opening race at Aqueduct Racetrack will mark the year's first 2-year-old maiden race at the Big A, featuring the debut of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah's first two starters in North America when Lady Delaware and Tesorina are unveiled.
American Pharoah, standing at Coolmore's Ashford Stud division in Versailles, Ky. for a private stud fee, saw his first starter win on debut when the Aidan O'Brien-trained Monarch of Egypt won at Naas Racecourse in Ireland on Saturday.
Both runners in Wednesday's $100,000 opener are fillies conditioned by Wesley Ward, who is well-regarded for developing young horses. The former rider turned trainer said he has high hopes for the Triple Crown champion's two daughters.
"I'm excited," Ward said. "Coolmore has always been good to me. American Pharoah was a tremendous race horse and hopefully a tremendous sire as well. They both are very precocious in their breezes and there was no reason to not move early with them.
"They both are very smart and show a lot of talent," continued Ward. "To get to Royal Ascot with them would be fantastic, not just for me but the team as well. American Pharoah was a great two-year-old himself and they both look like they'll run early."
Purchased for $100,000 from the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Hat Creek Racing's Lady Delaware is out of the Hennessy broodmare More Hennessy and is a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Hootenanny.
The precocious Hootenanny, a debut winner on the Keeneland synthetic, captured three of his five juvenile starts in 2014 including the Windsor Castle at Ascot and the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
"She seems a little quicker than Hootenanny," Ward said. "He didn't show too much affinity for the dirt. He ran once on the main track and it was in the slop on Preakness Day at Pimlico. In his Keeneland debut, it was on the synthetic back when they had it. She has really shown that she likes the dirt and she's quick coming out of the gate."
Lady Delaware will be piloted by Eric Cancel from post 7.
Tesorina, who will be guided on debut by Joe Bravo, will break just to the outside of Lady Delaware. Owned by Ice Wine Stable, she is out of Nonsuch Bay, winner of the Grade 1 Mother Goose in 2002.
"She is quick as well," said Ward of Tesorina. "I trained a Scat Daddy that also is out of Nonsuch Bay [Brittas Bay]. Body wise, she appears to be more a sprint type of filly. It really is hard to separate the two as far as which one is better."
First post on Wednesday at the Big A is 1:30 p.m.
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Motion happy with stakes-winning effort from Regally Irish
Trainer Graham Motion was pleased with the stakes-winning effort from Regally Irish, who took Saturday afternoon's $100,000 Bridgetown.
Motion cited the $100,000 Paradise Creek on May 25 at Belmont Park and the $100,000 James Murphy on May 18 on Pimlico's Preakness undercard as possible next spots.
Regally Irish arrived at Motion's base at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland on Sunday morning.
"He looked good this morning," Motion said. "There aren't too many six-furlong races on turf for straight three-year-olds and I definitely think that he can handle stretching out."
Motion stated that the $100,000 Irish War Cry on July 5 at Monmouth Park could also be a goal. The one-mile turf event, restricted to New Jersey-breds, is named in honor of the two-time winning millionaire who is from the same family as Regally Irish. His dam Irish Sovereign is a half-sister to Irish War Cry and also was trained by Motion.
"They are very comparable," Motion said of Regally Irish and Irish War Cry. "That family has been a good one, the mare has produced a lot of winners. Both horses are similar in looks and have a very similar way of going."
An Isabelle de Tomaso homebred, Regally Irish is by Regal Ransom.
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Delta Prince returns to Belmont a Grade 1 winner
Stronach Stables' Delta Prince arrived at trainer Jimmy Jerkens' Belmont Park base early Sunday morning with a Grade 1 victory on his resume after taking the Makers 46 Mile on Friday afternoon at Keeneland.
The regally-bred son of Street Cry settled well off of a slow pace led by Grade 1-winner Heart to Heart and was widest of all runners down the lane but kicked in at the right time to capture his first Grade 1 victory, where he earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.
Jerkens said he is not yet decided on where Delta Prince will make his next start.
"We always knew he was a Grade 1 type of horse, but you have to earn it," Jerkens said. "There are a lot of races all year, maybe we'll go back to Canada [Woodbine Mile, Sep. 14]. There's the [Grade 1 $500,000, Aug. 10] Fourstardave at Saratoga, there are a lot of options.
"I think he'd be alright going even further with the right kind of set up," Jerkens continued. "He rated kindly, he broke much sharper than he has been, and he wrangled them back and eased them back a bit that first turn. He knew what he was doing."
Delta Prince faced a formidable field in the Makers 46 Mile, which was his first start since a third-place effort behind Bricks and Mortar in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf on January 26 at Gulfstream Park.
Delta Prince is out of three-time graded stakes winner Delta Princess who also has produced three-time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta as well as Grade 1 winner Crown Queen. All seven of her offspring are winners.
* * *
Another graded stakes start awaits Inspector Lynley
Following a decisive triumph in last Sunday's track-record setting performance in the Danger's Hour over the Aqueduct inner turf, Inspector Lynley will jump back up to graded stakes company for his next start, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said.
The 6-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid stopped the clock in 1:34.13 in the Danger's Hour to best Hawkish's previous record of 1:34.39, marking the sixth career victory in 24 starts for Inspector Lynley.
Owned by Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable, McGaughey said Inspector Lynley will either race in the Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy on May 4 at Belmont Park or the Grade 2, $250,000 Dixie on May 18 at Pimlico.
"He seemed to come back fine," McGaughey said. "He's been back to the track the past few days and all systems appear to be go."
In either spot, Inspector Lynley will be targeting his fourth graded stakes win. A two-time winner of the Grade 3 Tampa Bay, he also took the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga as a 3-year-old.
* * *
Clement sets plan in motion for Belmont spring/summer meet
Two weeks from making his annual return to New York after wintering at Payson Park Training Center in Indiantown, Florida for the start of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet on Friday, April 26, conditioner Christophe Clement was upbeat in discussing upcoming targets for his stakes contenders.
Multiple graded stakes winner Pure Sensation, an 8-year-old homebred for owner Patricia Generazio, won his 2019 debut on Friday at Gulfstream Park, going five furlongs in an optional-claiming race to best a field of eight by three-quarters of a length.
"It was a very nice victory to kick off the year for him," said Clement. "He's now eight-years-old and he won well. He'll head up to New York in two weeks and we'll keep a number of options in mind with the [Grade 1, $400,000] Jaipur [June 8] as one consideration."
Fellow multiple graded stakes winner Disco Partner, also a Generazio homebred, made his first start of the year in the Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland, finishing a disappointing ninth.
Clement said the 7-year-old New York-bred son of Disco Rico has exited the race well.
"He came back okay," said Clement. "He was up against it in the Shakertown and didn't appreciate the ground, but we're optimistic going forward. We'll take a look at the Elusive Quality [April 27] as well as keep the Jaipur in mind for him as well."
Clement also reported multiple graded stakes-placed White Flag, a 5-year-old War Front homebred for owner Robert S. Evans, who ran fourth in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf on January 12 at Gulfstream would also be under consideration to enter the Elusive Quality.
Graded stakes winner Have At It, also owned and bred by Evans who captured the Grade 2 Hill Prince last October is in good order and will be making his return at Belmont.
* * *
Lezcano looks to ride good momentum to Spring title
With 13 wins from 36 mounts entering Sunday's live racing card at Aqueduct, journeyman Jose Lezcano sits atop the jockey leaderboard standings, four wins ahead of Manny Franco in second heading into the final week of the 2019 Aqueduct Spring meet.
"Everything has been going great so far and I'm thankful," said Lezcano. "When you're in the zone, things just happen to click and work out. The horses are fit, I've been getting good trips and it's all been going well."
In search of his first riding title on the NYRA circuit, the Panama native, who will turn 34 on April 20 - the final day of the Big A spring meet - is finishing in the money at an astounding 67 percent clip, highlighted by a stakes win on April 7 in the Danger's Hour with Inspector Lynley.
Lezcano said he hopes to keep his good momentum going following a strong winter meet at Aqueduct where he finished fourth in the standings with 54 wins from 242 mounts and over $2.6 million in earnings.
Lezcano, who overcame a broken nose he suffered in a spill on December 20, said he is in good spirits as the spring meet nears its conclusion.
"I'm feeling good," said Lezcano. "The goal is to keep working hard and hopefully I'll continue to be successful."
Long regarded for his proficiency on the grass, with six of his 13 wins on the turf, Lezcano said he sees no difference in his riding between the surfaces even if others may differ.
"Everybody seems to say I ride better on the turf, but I don't necessarily see it that way. First, you have to have the right horse and thankfully, they've been running well," Lezcano said. "I made the decision to stay in New York this winter and build my business and so far, it's looking like it was the right decision. I'm feeling good and recovered. The goal is to keep working hard and to keep being successful."
* * *
Toscano looking to carry Aqueduct momentum to Belmont spring/summer meet
A pair of veteran horses will look to duplicate their past warm-weather success for a new trainer, as Missle Bomb and Catch a Cab will aim to jumpstart a successful Belmont Park campaign by first closing out the Aqueduct spring meet for conditioner John Toscano, Jr.
Drawing Away Stable's Missle Bomb is entered in the fifth race Wednesday at the Big A; a claiming race featuring a seven-horse field at six furlongs over the main track. Since being claimed on November 7 and moved from trainer Joe Sharp to Toscano, Missle Bomb has posted a pair of runner-up finishes in five starts, all at Aqueduct.
After running fourth in the Kelly Kip on Claiming Championship Day on March 30, the 6-year-old Tale of the Cat gelding will make his third consecutive start at six furlongs. But it's a move to Belmont that could mean good things for the Kentucky bred, whose 4-for-4 record during the 2018 spring/summer meet made him the only horse with more than three wins and just one of 35 horses to register multiple wins.
"He's a hard knocker and that's what I like about him. He gives you 100 percent every time you bring him over there," Toscano said. "He had a great streak last year. Hopefully, he'll continue with his winning ways at Belmont."
His stablemate, Catch a Cab, also is looking to give Toscano a win for the first time since being transferred to his care. Previously owned by Gary Barber and trained by Mark Casse, Catch a Cab won three consecutive races during last year's spring/summer meet at Belmont, which marked the only three wins in 14 career starts for the 5-year-old Proud Citizen gelding.
Catch a Cab ran fourth in a six-furlong claimer on October 18 in his first start for Toscano and will be coming off a six-month layoff when he runs in the seventh race at Aqueduct on Wednesday, competing against fellow New York-breds going six furlongs on the outer turf.
"I freshened him up and I think he'll appreciate the time off," Toscano said. "We'll get him ready for the Belmont meet and go from there."
Catch a Cab was the only other horse besides Missle Bomb to post more than two wins during the Belmont spring meet, going 3-for-4 with $105,908 in earnings.
Forgotten Hero, who won two of her first four career starts including the restricted Fifth Avenue on the main track, came out of her fifth-place finish in her turf debut on Thursday in good order, Toscano said.
Owned by Toscano and Charles Festa, Jr., Forgotten Hero set the pace before fading to fifth on the firm outer turf. Toscano said he could enter the daughter of Mission Impazible in a stakes spot after giving her a start against allowance company.
"Right now, it looks like she likes the grass," Toscano said. "We tried her, and it seemed to work. We'll point her for a 3-year-old fillies' stakes on turf down the road, but we'll try to win the a-other-than first with her earlier at Belmont. We'll try to get that first and hopefully she'll move up to stakes company on the turf."
Toscano posted 11 wins during the Aqueduct winter meet that concluded March 30, tying for the 11th-most.
"Racing gets a little tougher when you get over to Belmont. There's more grass races and the competition becomes tougher, but we're ready for the challenge," said Toscano, who saddled his first winner in 1979.
* * *
Donk points Elegant Zip to Bouwerie
Trainer David Donk will likely point four-time restricted stakes-placed Elegant Zip to the $125,000 Bouwerie on May 27 at Belmont Park.
Owned by Donk in partnership with Sean Carney, Michael McMahon and Copper Beech Stables, the 3-year-old daughter of Run Away and Hide was third last out in the Maddie May on March 31 at Aqueduct Racetrack, where she was beaten three-quarters of a length to Pat's No Fool.
"If something were to show up for her between the two I would run her," Donk said. "But we might have to just wait until then."
Bred in New York by Spruce Lane Farm, Elegant Zip is out of the Speightstown broodmare Elegant Finish.
Donk also spoke of plans for stakes winner Matty's Magnum, who took an off-the-turf edition of the Winter Memories on November 22 at the Big A against open company two starts back where she defeated graded stakes-winners Significant Form and Got Stormy.
In her 4-year-old debut, she was a distant fifth behind Forever Liesl in the Ladies on January 20, which was contested over a sloppy main track at Aqueduct.
The daughter of Even the Score could step down to allowance company at the beginning of the Belmont Park meet for her next start.
"Obviously [the Winter Memories] came off the grass so I was fortunate to win it," Donk said. "I gave her a little break after her race back in January and I might just run her in an allowance race at Belmont. She's not eligible for a whole lot but I might MTO her in some spots. Her last three wins were in races that came off the turf, so I may just play that angle."
A homebred, Matty's Magnum is owned by Edward and Mary Jo Lessel. She is out of the Machiavellian broodmare Matanah.
* * *
Belmont Stakes Challenge registration now open
Registration for the Belmont Stakes Challenge, a two-day live-money handicapping tournament to take place during the last two days of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival June 7-8, is now open.
Entrants will be able to register and compete on track or online in the Belmont Stakes Challenge via NYRA Bets. The entry fee is $10,000, of which $2,500 will go to the prize pool with the remaining $7,500 comprising each participants' bankroll. Contestants are free to make win, place, show, exacta and trifecta, quinella and Daily Double wagers over the course of the two days, with eligible tournament races encompassing every race from Belmont Park on Friday, June 7 through the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8.
Entrants will also compete for one seat to the 2020 Belmont Stakes Challenge, four seats to the 2020 NTRA National Horseplayers Championship [NHC] and two seats to the 2019 Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge [BCBC]. The Belmont Stakes grand prize winner will have the opportunity to select a seat in either the NHC or BCBC and earn a chance at a $1 million bonus should they go on to win.
Online registration, which opened April 9, can be made at www.NYRA.com/Challenge. In order to enter and play online, contestants must be registered NYRA Bets account holders. New NYRA Bets members are currently eligible to receive a bet $200 get $200 bonus. To learn more, visit https://www.nyrabets.com/#about-contests.
The deadline for the required payment of $10,000 is 5 p.m. ET on June 5. A maximum of two entries are permitted per individual.
* * *
NYRA Cross Country Pick 5 returns $2,211.25
Saturday's Cross Country Pick 5, with stakes races from Aqueduct, Keeneland, and Oaklawn Park, featured a pool of $205,564 and returned $2,211.25 for the minimum 50 cent wager.
The sequence started with the $200,000 Top Flight Invitational from Aqueduct, where Another Broad [$11.40] rallied from off the pace with Manny Franco aboard for owners Madaket Stables LLC., Elayne Stables, Brian Martin and conditioner Todd Pletcher to win her first stakes by 1 ¼ lengths.
The action switched to Keeneland for the Grade 3 Lexington for 3-year-olds, where Rupp Racing's Owendale [$27.40], for trainer Brad Cox, upset the field of 10 in the final east coast Kentucky Derby prep of the year.
One race later at Keeneland in the Grade 1, $300,000 Jenny Wiley, 4-5 mutuel favorite Rushing Fall [$3.80], in her first start of the year, held back a late charge from stablemate Rymska to capture her third consecutive stakes race.
The final two legs of the Cross Country Pick 5 took place at Oaklawn Park where Quip [$13.00] bested Lone Sailor in a muddy renewal of the Grade 2, $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap to earn his first victory since capturing the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in 2018 for trainer Rodolphe Brisset and owners WinStar Farm LLC., China Horse Club International Ltd., and SF Racing LLC.
In the final leg, post time favorite Omaha Beach [$5.40] handled the off track with aplomb certifying his Grade 2 Rebel win at Oaklawn a month earlier to pick up an additional 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella and owner Fox Hill Farms.
The Cross Country Pick 5 will return Saturday, April 20 featuring a selection of stakes races from Aqueduct, Charles Town, Keeneland, Woodbine, and Oaklawn Park.
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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Contenders lining up for the 145th Kentucky Derby
The 145th running of the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby is slated for Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs and a number of New York-connected horses will burst from the gate highlighted by Juddmonte Farms homebred Tacitus, winner of the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets, who topped the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 150 points.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Tacitus, who also captured the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, has won three of four starts all with New York-based 2017 Eclipse Award winning rider Jose Ortiz in the irons. By Tapit and out of 2014 Eclipse Award Champion Older Mare Close Hatches, the Kentucky-bred grey graduated at the Big A on November 10. Ortiz will have the call on Tacitus as he looks to win his first Kentucky Derby with his fifth mount having previously piloted Samraat [5th, 2014], Upstart [18th, 2015], Tapwrit [6th, 2017] and Good Magic [2nd, 2018].
Mott will also be represented in the Derby by Country House, a chestnut son of Lookin at Lucky who garnered 50 points [17th overall], by finishing third under Joel Rosario in Saturday's Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. Owned by Mrs. J.V. Shields, E.J.M. McFadden and LNJ Foxwoods, the Kentucky-bred colt debuted on the Belmont turf in October and missed by a half-length in his return engagement on the Big A main in December.
R.A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables' Vekoma, trained by George Weaver, finished third on the leaderboard with 110 points. The Candy Ride chestnut, out of Grade 1-winning dam Mona de Momma, won on debut at Belmont in September and doubled up at Aqueduct in the Grade 3 Nashua. Bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta Stable, Vekoma finished third in his seasonal debut in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and heads into the Derby off a win in the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland. New York-based Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano was up for the impressive 3 1/2-length Blue Grass win.
W.S. Farish homebred Code of Honor graduated in style in his August 18 debut for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. The Kentucky-bred Noble Mission chestnut returned to action in October at Belmont and finished a closing second in the Grade 1 Champagne. Code of Honor chose the Florida path to the Derby with New York-based Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez guiding the late-closing colt to a three-quarter-length win in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and a third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.
Shadwell Stable's homebred Haikal rose to prominence at Aqueduct where he won at second asking before taking his stakes debut in the Jimmy Winkfield. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and patiently handled by Rajiv Maragh, Haikal picked up a crucial 50 points by winning the Grade 3 Gotham and added an additional 20 points when third in the Wood Memorial. Haikal will train towards the Derby from McLaughlin's base at Belmont Park.
Tax, conditioned by veteran New York-based trainer Danny Gargan for owners R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable, was claimed for $50,000 out of a winning effort at Keeneland in October. The Kentucky-bred son of Arch finished third in the Grade 2 Remsen, the first of the New York Road to the Derby qualifying races won by Maximus Mischief, earning two points. The dark bay gelding proved his class with a victory in the Grade 3 Withers earning an additional 10 points and brought his total to 52 [14th overall], when second to Tacitus in the Wood. Junior Alvarado, aboard for the last two starts, will have the call on Tax, who is training into the Derby from Gargan's barn at Belmont.
Starlight Racing's Cutting Humor, purchased for $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, finished second on debut in September over a sloppy Belmont main track for trainer Todd Pletcher. The First Samurai colt, bred in Kentucky by Dell Hancock and Bernie Sams, then left New York making his next five starts at five different tracks highlighted by a last-out win in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby with Velazquez in the irons.
Pletcher will also saddle Spinoff, who ranked 19th on the leaderboard with 40 points. The Wertheimer and Frere homebred son of Hard Spun won on debut at Gulfstream ahead of a prominent third in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special. In his most recent outing, Spinoff finished second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby with Velazquez in the irons.
NEW YORK PATH TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY RACES AT AQUEDUCT
Dec. 1, 2018 - Grade 2 Remsen [10-4-2-1]
1. Maximus Mischief
2. Network Effect
4. Bourbon War
Jan. 1, 2019 - Jerome [10-4-2-1]
1. Mind Control
2. Our Braintrust
3. Family Biz
4. Gates of Dawn
Feb. 2, 2019 - Grade 3 Withers [50-20-10-5]
2. Not That Brady
3. Our Braintrust
4. Sir Winston
Mar. 9, 2019 - Grade 3 Gotham [50-20-10-5]
2. Mind Control
4. Much Better
Apr. 6, 2019 - Grade 2 Wood [100-40-20-10]
4. Math Wizard