by NYRA Press Ofiice
Coleswood Farm’s West Virginia-homebred Coastal Mission brings a six-race win streak into next Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Jeff Runco, the 4-year-old Great Notion gelding has won 11-of-16 starts, including a trio of stakes wins at his Charles Town base led by an open-company score two starts back in the two-turn seven-furlong Russell Road on August 25 and the state-bred West Virgina Breeders’ Classic going nine furlongs last out on October 14.
Coastal Mission stalked and pounced to victory in the Russell Road, scoring by 2 3/4-lengths over graded stakes-placed Mish with graded stakes-placed Sir Alfred James in third and stakes-placed Payne in fourth.
“He's doing great and ready to go. He ran against some pretty good horses in the Russell Road and done well. He brings his game whenever he comes over,” Runco said.
Coastal Mission’s current win streak has been accomplished exclusively at Charles Town and dates back to an open-company allowance win in April and includes a state-bred score in the Confucius Say. The win-friendly grey, who has won at distances ranging from 4 1/2-furlongs to nine furlongs, did ship to Laurel Park last February to win an optional-claiming sprint.
Runco said the versatile Coastal Mission should appreciate the one-turn mile configuration at Aqueduct.
“I think a mile will be great for him. He just ran a mile and an eighth for the first time last out. But he runs seven-eighths really good and I think a mile out of the chute over there will be a good distance for him,” Runco said. “He ran a 98 Beyer in the Russell Road and he got a 95 Beyer last time and he did that easily – they were pulling him up in that race. His numbers are getting better and that's why we're giving him a shot at this race.”
Coastal Mission will mark Runco’s ninth starter at the Big A having previously found success in the 2008 Queens County with the graded stakes-winning millionaire West Virginia-bred Researcher.
“That horse won stakes everywhere. He won all over the Mid-Atlantic and made over a million,” Runco recalled.
Coastal Mission, a full-brother to multiple graded stakes-placed Lewisfield, is out of the Crowd Pleaser mare Smart Crowd, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner Duckhorn. He has banked $566,653 through a record of 16-11-3-1.
Dr B looking to successfully defend title in G3 Go for Wand; Morning Matcha to NYSSS Staten Island
Cash is King and LC Racing’s Dr B scored her first graded stakes triumph one year ago in the Grade 3, $200,000 Go for Wand, a one-mile main track test for fillies and mares at Aqueduct Racetrack, and will look to score a repeat win in this year’s running slated for December 2.
Trained by Butch Reid, Jr., the 5-year-old daughter of Liam’s Map was last seen finishing fourth in the Parx Dirt Mile when facing males on September 23 at her home base of Parx Racing. That effort was her first outside of the graded ranks this year after four starts at the top level, including a game second to Caramel Swirl in the Grade 3 Vagrancy when making her seasonal bow in May at Belmont Park, and a distant runner-up effort to 2021 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Echo Zulu in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap in July at Saratoga Race Course.
“She’s doing great and she’ll breeze tomorrow,” said Reid, Jr. “We’ve given her a freshening since her last start with an eye to a title defense in the Go for Wand, so we’re going to go ahead and take a shot. She likes the Aqueduct course and she’s been in some really tough spots – she’s taken on some of the best in the country and certainly hasn’t embarrassed herself. We’re looking for a little bit easier than she’s been up against. We expect her to show good speed. I wouldn’t mind a little rain, either.”
In addition to the Go for Wand, Dr B has made one other start at the Big A when a good second to Boston Post Road in the seven-furlong Pumpkin Pie last October.
Bred in Kentucky by Eico Ventures, Dr B has earned $473,240 in total purses through a record of 21-5-7-2. She is a half-sister to Stand Up Comic, who won the 2021 Parx Futurity for the same ownership and Reid, Jr.
Reid, Jr. will also send up multiple graded stakes-placed Morning Matcha, owned by the same connections along with Gary Barber, for the $150,000 NYSSS Staten Island, a seven-furlong sprint for eligible New York-sired fillies and mares, on December 3.
Morning Matcha, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of leading New York sire Central Banker, enters from an even third-place effort in the nine-furlong Turnback the Alarm on November 3 here, finishing four lengths behind the top pair of the winning Interstatedaydream and Tizzy in the Sky, who finished a neck apart. Morning Matcha stalked well behind the pace set by the latter two foes down the backstretch and could not make up enough ground late to threaten.
“They kind of got away from her, but she was running and she does every time,” said Reid, Jr. “Nothing she could do could disappoint me at this point.”
Morning Matcha has proven to be a remarkable bargain purchase after selling for $18,000 at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling Sale. She hit the board in her first nine outings, including a win in last year’s Main Line at Parx, before subsequently finishing third in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks and second in the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx, where she finished ahead of 2022 Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks-winner Secret Oath and eventual dual Grade 1-winner Adare Manor, among others.
This year, the 4-year-old bay has continued to hold her own against stakes company, including a win in the seven-furlong Unique Bella in April and another graded placing when third in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap won by Idiomatic, who exited that effort to win three consecutive Grade 1s that included the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
“She’s been a great buy and she’s been solid as a rock all along,” said Reid, Jr. “She runs all different kinds of distances. She’s tried the best and is Grade 1 placed, so she’s a special horse. We’ve had a lot of fun with her.”
Reid, Jr. said the cutback should suit Morning Matcha in the Staten Island.
“It’s a little under her best distance, but she’s doing well and already won going seven-eighths at one point this year, so we’ll try it again,” Reid, Jr. said. “Turning back from the mile-and-an-eighth, I don’t think fitness will be a problem.”
Morning Matcha has now banked $830,990 in total purse earnings through a 23-5-7-7 record.
Trainer Joe Lee earns first stakes win with Works for Me in $100K Notebook
Joe Lee, former assistant to trainer-turned-jockey agent Kieran McLaughlin as well as Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas to name just two, notched his first stakes win as head trainer when Works for Me collared pacesetter Detective Tom in the final strides of Saturday’s $100,000 Notebook.
“I only realized it after the fact myself,” Lee said of his first stakes score. “I've always been associated with Godolphin or before that working for Wayne Lukas or LeRoy Jolley or David Whiteley. I've always been around some nice horses. But being with Godolphin, I traveled around and saddled Grade 1-winners in England and Japan and elsewhere. It was a team effort with Godolphin and a really great workplace.”
The Brooklyn-born Lee went out on his own in early 1990s and won three races before moving to Dubai in 1993 for seven years with McLaughlin. He then spent more than a decade in Japan working for his father-in-law and now retired trainer Takemi Kaga, a former jockey who was leading rider there for five consecutive years from 1962-66.
“It was great to travel overseas. It seems commonplace now, but back then it was all just starting out and nobody really knew about Dubai,” Lee said. “I initially went over in October of 1993 with Kiaran McLaughlin and in the spring of 1994 Sheikh Mohammed had brought out some horses to winter in Dubai and ship them all over the world to run in the top races.
“One of my favorite horses was Heart Lake,” continued Lee. “He was Godolphin's first Group 1-winner. In 1995, I took him to Japan for the Yasuda Kinen and at that time it was the third richest race in the world. It still is one of the best races in Japan for milers.”
Heart Lake’s score topped a memorable day for Godolphin, who sent out Group 1 winners in Italy with Flagbird [Capannelle] and Vettori [2000 Guineas] in France.
“That same year I saddled Classic Cliche to win the St. Leger at Doncaster and that was actually Frankie Dettori's 1,000th win. That was a big day,” recalled Lee.
Lee met his wife, Susie, while in Japan and his current training operation is aided by his oldest son, Joe, and second oldest son, Anthony. His younger children Domenic and Stephanie are currently attending Lee’s alma mater at the University of Kentucky.
The veteran horseman returned to America from Japan after the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. He admitted it’s strange to think he traveled all over the world only to saddle his first official stakes winner in his home state.
“I was born here in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens. I went to Valley Stream North High School on Long Island here in Franklin Square,” Lee said. “So, it's interesting to have won a stakes race now with a New York-bred.”
Works for Me, a Daddy Long Legs chestnut patiently handled by Irad Ortiz, Jr., tracked to the outside from second position in the six-furlong sprint over the main track for state-bred juveniles as Detective Tom raced through splits of 23.28 seconds and 47.04.
Ortiz, Jr. gave Works for Me his cue through the turn and loomed large as a ground-saving Aggelos the Great waited for racing room from third. Detective Tom held a one-length advantage at the stretch call and dug in gamely in the drive for the wire as Aggelos the Great bid in tight along the fence, but Works for Me would not be denied the head score in a final time of 1:12.06. The winning effort garnered a 68 Beyer Speed Figure.
Works for Me was cross-entered in the following day’s $120,000 Central Park at one-mile on turf, but the connections decided to stay on the main track despite finishing a close third last out in his turf debut here in the six-furlong Atlantic Beach on November 4 that garnered a career-best 84 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He won well. This race was back in two weeks, so it's not an easy time frame,” Lee said. “He came out of it really well. Now we'll have to see what the owners want to do with him. His legs look good, his attitude is good and he's been eating up. I think he's a better grass horse. I don't go by the Beyers too much, I generally go by my eye.”
Works for Me overcame a stumbled start to graduate at second asking in June at Belmont Park. He made his two starts prior to the Notebook travelling six furlongs against open company at the Big A, finishing a pacesetting second to Book’em Danno in the off-the-turf Futurity ahead of his Atlantic Beach effort.
Lee said he’s still learning about the talented chestnut, who has demonstrated a frustrating habit of troubled breaks from the gate.
“He seems to stumble out of the gate and even this last race he took a couple of steps sideways and grabbed his quarter and cut it a little bit,” Lee said. “When he broke his maiden here, he grabbed his shoe and turned it sideways. Fortunately, he turned it to the outside otherwise he would have torn his leg up. He won with it hanging off and sprung, so I give him a lot of credit to continue to run with a shoe like that.”
Works for Me, out of the Soldat mare Bella’s Game, banked $55,000 in victory while improving his record to 6-2-1-2.
Aqueduct Racetrack fall meet Week 5 stakes probables
Saturday, December 2
G2 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets
Probable: Accretive (Chad Brown), Coastal Mission (Jeff Runco), Dr Ardito (Brown), Everso Mischievous (Brad Cox), Hoist the Gold (Dallas Stewart), Pipeline (Cherie DeVaux), Senor Buscador (Todd Fincher), Three Technique (Jason Cook)
Possible: Ny Traffic (Saffie Joseph, Jr.)
G2 Remsen [offering 10-5-3-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points]
Probable: Billal (Bill Mott), Copper Tax (Gary Capuano), Dornoch (Danny Gargan), Le Dom Bro (Eniel Cordero), Moonlight (Todd Pletcher), Private Desire (Pletcher), Sierra Leone (Brown), Where’s Chris (Rick Dutrow, Jr.)
G2 Demoiselle [offering 10-5-3-2-1 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points]
Probable: Cozee Rags (Brian Michael), Life Talk (Pletcher), Most of All (Mott), Ringy Dingy (Gargan), Shimmering Allure (Kenny McPeek), Vino Rouge (Tony Dutrow)
G3 Go for Wand
Probable: Dr B (Butch Reid, Jr.), Malibu Beauty (Gary Capuano), Tizzy in the Sky (Pletcher), Venti Valentine (Jorge Abreu)
Possible: Know It All Audrey (Oscar Barrera, III)
Sunday, December 3
$125K NYSSS Staten Island
Probable: Bank On Anna (Phil Serpe), Libban (Joseph, Jr.), Morning Matcha (Reid, Jr.), Vallelujah (Robbie Davis)
$125K NYSSS Thunder Rumble
Probable: Barese (Mike Maker), Be the Boss (Maker), Cicciobello (Derek Ryan), Lobsta (Rachel Sells), Niagara Skyline (John Charalambous), Today’s Flavor (George Weaver), Un Ojo (Linda Rice)
Possible: General Banker (James Ferraro)