Downtown Mischief could target $125K Bouwerie; Lifetime of Chance eyes $200K NYSSS Times Square
by NYRA Press Office
Trainer Linda Rice’s strong run of form was catapulted by a decisive victory from Lady Sheila Stable New York homebred Downtown Mischief in Saturday’s $100,000 Cicada, a six-furlong open company stakes for sophomore fillies. The Into Mischief bay could now target the seven-furlong $125,000 Bouwerie against fellow state-breds on May 29 at Belmont Park.
In capturing Saturday’s engagement, Downtown Mischief kept a flawless record intact having now won all three of her lifetime starts. She was a 7 3/4-length winner of her January 14 debut before defeating winners on February 17 by 1 1/4 lengths. Both efforts were local six-furlong tests.
Downtown Mischief was asked to overcome several circumstances in the Cicada, breaking a step slow before feeling added pressure in between horses on the front end. Nevertheless, she was able to shake off the challenges and cross the wire a 1 1/2-length winner under Jose Lezcano while recording a career-best 81 Beyer Speed Figure.
Rice said Downtown Mischief could run once prior to the Bouwerie.
“Frankly, I’m a little undecided. That race is a ways off. I may choose to run her before then. She came out of the race great and we’re really pleased with her,” Rice said.
Downtown Mischief appeared to tire a bit during the final furlong of the Cicada, but Rice said she was not the least bit discouraged.
“She actually galloped out pretty well despite that,” Rice commented. “She broke a step slow, had to overcome some fast fractions and got pace pressure on both sides of her. She’s still learning and maturing, but she keeps stepping through each hurdle very nicely.”
Downtown Mischief is out of the Speightstown mare Downtown Mama, a three-time winner campaigned by the same connections and a half-sister to graded stakes-winner Alpha Kitten.
Downtown Mischief’s victory provided Rice with her ninth triumph in the past 11 races she was entered. She upped that number to 10-of-12 in the Saturday finale when D.J. Stable’s Lifetime of Chance romped to a 16-length conquest to break his maiden at sixth asking. The bay son of The Lieutenant earned a 91 Beyer for his triumph going seven furlongs against fellow New York-breds.
Rice said Lifetime of Chance, bred in the Empire State by Destiny Oaks of Ocala, will likely target the $200,000 NYSSS Times Square on April 22 going 6 1/2 furlongs at the Big A.
Prior to breaking his maiden, Lifetime of Chance finished in the money four times, including a third in the NYSSS Great White Way in December. He was an uncharacteristic distant fourth on February 9 going six furlongs.
“When he ran poorly last month, he had gotten sick after the race,” Rice said. “I think he might have been coming down with something before the race that we were unaware. But he certainly bounced back and ran great.”
Rice spoke of her red-hot run of winning form, which she could build into Sunday’s program. Before scratches, she has nine entrants across seven races on the card.
“Everybody wants to win races. When you’re in racing for a long duration, you’re going to experience highs and lows,” Rice said. “You just have to enjoy the highs because it’s a game that fluctuates pretty quickly. It certainly helps the morale when things are going well.”
Ouster earns career-best 100 BSF for Saturday allowance score
Windylea Farm’s Ouster was awarded a career-high 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his dominant five-length victory in Saturday’s eighth race, a one-mile optional claimer for older New York-breds, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Mark Hennig, the son of Outwork tracked in fourth under Dylan Davis for the first quarter-mile as stablemate Full Moon Fever dueled for the lead with Sundaeswithsandy. Ouster was given his cue by Davis at the three-quarters call and took a half-length lead before widening his margin down the stretch and coasting home in a final time of 1:37.78.
Ouster has now won or finished second in his last five starts, all of which came at distances of one mile or greater. The 5-year-old gelding, bred by Cheryl Prudhomme & Michael Gallivan, has shown great improvement since turning his attention to route races after making his first four starts at six or 6 1/2 furlongs.
“He seems good this morning and we were very happy,” said Hennig. “He’s the kind of horse that just keeps improving. The more we stretched him out, the more he improved, and I think he’s even better around two turns. If you see him, he’s huge and a mountain of a horse. He never looked like a horse who wanted to sprint. He’s a real mild-mannered horse and he came along late. Sometimes they just take a little longer for the light to come on and we were just patient with him. The potential was always there.”
Ouster, who has finished on-the-board in 7-of-9 lifetime starts, has also proven his talents over the turf, breaking his maiden going one mile over the Big A lawn in November against state-breds. He followed with a 5 1/2-length score traveling nine furlongs over a sloppy and sealed main track.
Hennig said Ouster’s dual-surface capabilities give him plenty of options heading into the spring.
“I think we’ll just go with what opportunities come up and then see where we’re at,” said Hennig. “I think the turf gave him a chance to develop mentally. He could learn something without the distraction of dirt in his face and got his spirit going a little better. Now that he’s on the dirt, we can really run him on any surface. He’s run well in the mud, so if a turf race comes off, he’s in pretty good shape, too.”
Hennig’s other runner in that race, Windylea’s Full Moon Fever, had contested the pace early before fading at the stretch call and finishing 18 3/4 lengths behind Ouster. The Effinex gelding, who typically races from off-the-pace, earned his first stakes placing two starts back when third in the state-bred Haynesfield over the same distance and course on February 20.
“I had no intention of being on the lead and I’m a little puzzled how he ended up there,” said Hennig. “The intent was for him to make a late run and somehow he wound up going to the lead. We’ll regroup and come back to fight another day.”
Full Moon Fever, bred by Team West Side Stables & Ann Zabar, has been a model of consistency in his 22-start career, finishing on-the-board 16 times and earning over $240,000 in total purses. Hennig and Windylea claimed the 5-year-old gelding for $40,000 out of a seven-furlong sprint in December 2021 at the Big A.
“He’s been a really neat horse that we were fortunate enough to pick up through the claim box. He’s a hard-knocking, consistent horse. He won’t have to run against Ouster next time,” Hennig said, with a laugh.
Hennig enjoyed a two-win day on Saturday, sending out Clover Street to a maiden-breaking victory in Race 6, a seven-furlong state-bred maiden, for owner/breeder Seidman Stables. The Teuflesberg filly dueled for the early lead with Ichiban before taking a clear advantage at the top of the lane and drawing away to a 5 1/2-length victory under Trevor McCarthy. She earned a 65 Beyer for the effort.
Clover Street made her second start of the season on the heels of a narrow defeat in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint in February. She ended her juvenile campaign with a troubled seventh-place finish in the NYSSS Fifth Avenue on December 17 where she raced at the rear of the 10-horse field and had to steady before failing to fire down the lane.
“She’s come along well,” Hennig said. “She’s one we’ve had to be patient with. She got banged up in that race back in December and it took a little time to get her over that. She had a real rough trip and got cut up. We were able to take our time and Maggie Seidman is a great, patient owner. Now, she’s putting it together.”
Hennig, who has won eight races at the Big A winter meet, has also enjoyed a good run of form from Walter Downey’s Bavarian Creme, who has now won back-to-back starts when sprinting over the Big A main track. Her latest effort was a 2 3/4-length victory on March 5 from off-the-pace under Dylan Davis. That win followed a 4 1/4-length graduation in her seasonal debut traveling seven furlongs on February 10.
The dark bay Bayern mare debuted last January and made her first four outings at sprint distances before stretching out to one mile and beyond for the rest of the season. Hennig said both a return to sprinting and downtime between races has allowed Bavarian Creme to find her best stride this year.
“She came out of the race very well and sometimes winning a race gets them on a winning track and they start to realize what it takes. They start winning and they keep doing it,” said Hennig, with a laugh. “She’s turned a corner for us and I always thought a lot of her. I think sprinting and regrouping has helped her.”
Bred in New York by Tea Party Stable, Bavarian Creme is out of the three-time winning Gold Token mare Critical Cathy, a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner and stallion The Lumber Guy.
Abreu readying turf stakes contenders for Keeneland and the Big A
Trainer Jorge Abreu is enjoying a solid start to his 2023 campaign with a record of 34-10-3-4, including an impressive score by John Gunther’s Kentucky homebred Howe Street in an 11-furlong optional-claimer on March 5 at Gulfstream Park.
The 4-year-old Honor Code colt closed to finish second in his April debut here before a successful return off the layoff in January traveling one-mile under Jose Ortiz at Gulfstream.
Abreu said Howe Street will make his stakes debut in the 12-furlong Grade 2 Elkhorn on April 22 at Keeneland.
"I think he's a really nice horse. He ran really well,” Abreu said. “He always looked like a horse that wanted to go farther, but the first time we ran him a mile and he had a tough trip and got beat right on the wire. In his first race back, the only race for him was at a mile and Jose told me after that this horse really wants to go long, he was just starting to get warmed up.”
A number of Abreu runners breezed over the Belmont Park dirt training track this weekend, including Lawrence Goichman’s multiple graded-stakes placed New York homebred Runaway Rumour.
The 4-year-old Flintshire mare breezed twice this month at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida before heading north and covering a half-mile in 49.04 Saturday at Belmont.
Runaway Rumour, who was last seen posting a head score over fellow state-breds in the Ticonderoga here, will target the $100,000 Plenty of Grace on April 16 at the Big A spring meet.
“I gave her a little break for the winter. She's had three breezes and I'm going to point her to the Plenty of Grace,” Abreu said.
NY Final Furlong Racing Stable and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ multiple graded-stakes placed New York-bred Venti Valentine breezed a half-mile in 49.65 Sunday at Belmont in her second work back since winning the one-mile Bay Ridge in December here.
Abreu said Venti Valentine benefitted from some time off at Brandon Rice’s RiceHorse Stables Thoroughbred Training Center in Florida.
“We sent her to Brandon Rice for 60 days and she just came back. She put on a little weight and grew. Hopefully, she has a good year,” Abreu said. “She came back and had her second half-mile, so she's a little ways from running, but she's doing really well.”
A long-term target for Venti Valentine, bred by Final Furlong Racing Stable and Maspeth Stable, is the $200,000 Critical Eye Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile test for state-bred fillies and mares on May 29 at Belmont Park.
Lawrence Goichman’s multiple graded-stakes placed Irish-bred Star Devine, a 5-year-old Fastnet Rock mare, worked five-eighths in 1:01.90 Saturday in preparation for the Giant’s Causeway, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint on April 15 at Keeneland.
“She had a good breeze. She's doing really well right now,” said Abreu.
Star Devine posted a record of 6-1-2-1 last year, completing the campaign with a 1 1/4-length score in the six-furlong Autumn Days here in November. She entered the Autumn Days from a close third in the Grade 3 Franklin at Keeneland won by Caravel, who exited that effort to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Farone Stables’ New York-homebred Awesome Native, a 4-year-old Practical Joke colt, won his first two starts here against fellow state-breds, graduating in December ahead of a 6 1/4-length allowance score in a seven-furlong sprint on January 14 over a good main track.
Last out, on February 19 in a one-mile state-bred optional-claimer, he contested the pace from the inside post before fading to fifth in a race won by the stakes-placed Overstep with Ouster, who garnered a 100 Beyer here in an optional-claiming win Saturday, finishing second.
“I think being on the inside, stretching out and being close to the pace got him beat. He got tired at the eighth pole,” Abreu said.
Awesome Native breezed back a half-mile in 49.25 on March 10 and put in a sharp half-mile in 48.11 this morning.
“Last week, he worked just OK and got a little tired in the gallop out. But today he breezed really well. He went out in 1:01 with a strong gallop out,” Abreu said.
While Awesome Native is likely to target an allowance event, another option could be the $100,000 Affirmed Success, a six-furlong state-bred sprint on April 30 here.
“I'll work him next week again and if he worked like he did today, I'll probably point him for that,” Abreu said. “If not, I'll keep him in an allowance race. He's a young horse and he's lightly raced.”