Bourbon Bay and Scilly Cay headline Sunday's $100K Gander
by Ryan Martin
Bourbon Lane Stable, Seidman Stable and Lonely Lake Stable's Bourbon Bay was capable of being competitive at stakes caliber last out with a runner-up finish in the Jerome against open company. On Sunday, the Bayern colt will square off against his New York-bred counterpart in the fifth edition of the $100,000 Gander at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The one-turn mile for sophomores bred in the Empire State is named in honor of Gatsas Thoroughbreds' six-time stakes winner, who was New York's Champion Older Horse from 2000-02. Trained by John Terranova, the recognizably gray son of Cormorant raced 60 times until age 8, having won two editions of the Empire Classic and was five time Grade 1-placed. At the time of his retirement in 2004, he was the third richest New York-bred with over $1.8 million in career earnings.
In the Jerome, Bourbon Bay broke a step slow out of the gate, made a wide move around the turn but had enough momentum to dead heat for second alongside Prince of Pharoahs, finishing four lengths behind the promising Independence Hall.
"I think it was good race riding on the front end," said Michael McMahon, who co-owns Bourbon Lane Stable with Jamie Hill. "The jock on the winner [Jose Ortiz] correctly assessed which horse has the most momentum and that was us. He feathered us out and didn't make it easy for us to close on him, which is what you're supposed to do."
Trainer Mark Hennig noted that Bourbon Bay tends to idle when leaving the gate and that fine tuning his breaking ability has been a focal point in the horse's morning training.
"He definitely got floated out turning for home," Hennig said. "He broke better than he ever has. That's something we've been working on with him. The way he floated and still came running at the end was a good sign. We know he got a mile okay. I'm not convinced he's a mile-and-a -quarter horse, but a mile-and-an-eighth, and a-mile-and-a-sixteenth would be good for him."
Bourbon Bay was a second out graduate going 6 ½ furlongs in December at Aqueduct finishing 2 ¼ lengths to the better of subsequent dual winner First Deputy.
Bred by Oak Bluff Stables and Christophe Clement, Bourbon Bay is out of the Street Sense broodmare Savvy Sassy and was purchased for $205,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-Bred Yearling Sale in August 2018 from the consignment operation of Winter Quarter Farm.
Hennig added that a good showing from Bourbon Bay could mean a return to open stakes company in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham on March 7, a 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifier. Bourbon Bay has already garnered four points on the Derby trail from the Jerome.
"If he runs really well, the Gotham is three weeks away so that's what we might consider," Hennig said.
Jockey Manny Franco will pilot Bourbon Bay from post 6.
Scilly Cay gave trainer Linda Rice a banner moment when providing the longtime NYRA mainstay with her 2,000th career win in the Rego Park on January 12 and he'll seek a second stakes win from post 7.
Owned and bred by Jon Clay's Alpha Delta Stables, Scilly Cay broke sharply, pressed dual stakes winner Dream Bigger up front, and received his cue at the top of the stretch where he drew off to win by 2 ½ lengths.
The son of second-crop sire Fed Biz will see a stretch out in distance for Sunday's race having not run past 6 ½ furlongs in four career starts.
Following a third on debut at Saratoga to eventual stakes-placed Three Jokers, Scilly Cay was a two-length winner of a six-furlong maiden event at Belmont Park in October against highly-regarded Chestertown.
A victory in the Gander would give Rice her fourth stakes triumph of the meet. All of her stakes wins have come in events for straight 3-year-olds.
Scilly Cay is out of the graded stakes winning French Deputy broodmare French Satin, who also produced stakes winners Long Haul Bay and Midnight Transfer.
Jockey Dylan Davis, also a three-time stakes winner this meet, has the mount aboard Scilly Cay.
Shea D Boy's Stable's Bank On Shea enters the Gander off two months rest from a win in the NYSSS Great White Way on December 14 for trainer Jason Servis.
The bay son of New York third crop sire Central Banker bested stakes winners Dream Bigger and Captain Bombastic in the seven-furlong event contested over sloppy going, where he sat mid pack in a tightly bunched 12-horse field, came under urging towards the inside by Jose Lezcano and gunned down the frontrunners to win by a nose.
Bank On Shea, boasts the highest amount of lifetime earnings having collected $329,900 with a 3-2-0-1 record.
Bred by Dr. Scott W. Pierce, Bank On Shea was purchased for $110,000 from the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last April, where he was consigned by Niall Brennan Stables. He is out of the unraced Uncle Mo broodmare Miss Moultree.
Aqueduct winter meet-leading rider Jose Lezcano has the return mount aboard Bank On Shea and will target his eighth stakes win this meet from post 4.
Completing the field are Microscope [post 1, Reylu Gutierrez]; Chowda [post 2, Eric Cancel]; Wild Banker [post 3, Julio Correa]; and Colormepazzi [post 5, Junior Alvarado].
The Gander is scheduled as Race 8 on Sunday's nine-race card. First post is 1:00 p.m. Eastern.