Mar 17, 2023
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Dutrow could garner milestone win with Fabulously Funny in $100K Cicada

by NYRA Press Office

Trainer Tony Dutrow, who has been slowly but surely edging closer to 2,000 career wins, will saddle Fabulously Funny as he looks to secure the milestone in Saturday’s $100,000 Cicada for sophomore fillies going six furlongs at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“It could go down that way,” Dutrow said, with a laugh. “It’s taken me a long time to get there, but it looks like we’re going to get it done.”

Owned by Harold Lerner, AWC Stables, Nehoc Stables, Scott K. Akman, and Paul Braverman, Fabulously Funny enters off a frontrunning second-out graduation on February 17 in a local six-furlong maiden special weight that provided Dutrow with his 1,999th career win.

The Practical Joke filly stumbled at the start of her January 7 career debut, where she finished third beaten a length, but turned things around at second asking. She raced a close second to the outside of pacesetting Wonder Girl down the backstretch before coming under urging around the far turn and held off a late charge from familiar foe Spelterini to win by one length.

Fabulously Funny has worked back twice since her maiden conquest, including a bullet three-eighths Wednesday in 36.80 seconds over the Belmont Park training track.

“I’m very happy with her,” said Dutrow. “She’s been forward the way we would like since she broke her maiden and we thought that with a short field, it looked like an opportunity for her to show us what she’s capable of.”

Dutrow expressed no discouragement with her first effort, adding that his horses generally improve exponentially in their second start.

“My horses learn a great deal in their first start. I don’t anticipate any of my first time starters being impressive, I’m hopeful that they learn,” Dutrow said. “If they’re any good, they do learn and they become a lot better in their second start. I don’t try to accomplish a great deal other than providing them with an experience in their first start. You could tell that in her second start, she broke very well and was in control of herself the entire race. She just did it with confidence and the way you’d like to see a second time starter run.”

Fabulously Funny, bred in Kentucky by International Equities Holding, is out of the Include mare Just Fabulous, who also produced graded stakes placed Midnight On Oconee. She was bought for $210,000 from the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Fabulously Funny will break from post 4 under Kendrick Carmouche.

Despite approaching a milestone, Dutrow said he has not been reflective on his overall career, adding that his main focus is not the quantity of races he wins. Some of his career highlights include winning Grade 1 races with horses such as Grace Hall, Embellish the Lace, Mo Town, The Big Beast, Seattle Smooth, Rightly So and Burning Roma.

“The only goal I had in racing was what I’ve practiced my whole career. I go out there every day and try to do as good a job as I possibly can with the help of the people in the barn,” Dutrow said. “I think we go out there and do our best to accomplish the best we can with the horse. I’m just worried about the horse in front of me and trying to do the best with that horse in their best interest. Keeping them safe and sound and helping them become what they can. That’s the only goal I’ve had in racing.”
Royal Spa under consideration for G3 Gazelle

Trainer Rodolphe Brisset is contemplating a return to Aqueduct Racetrack for two-time winner Royal Spa in the Grade 3, $250,000 Gazelle on April 8. The nine-furlong test for sophomore fillies offers 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to the top-five finishers.

Royal Spa was a first-out winner despite lunging at the start in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden sprint on November 18 at Churchill Downs just 15 days prior to fourth-place effort in the Grade 2 Demoiselle on December 3 going nine furlongs at Aqueduct.

The Violence dark bay, a Breffni Farm Kentucky homebred, defeated winners going six furlongs last out on March 2 at Oaklawn Park. There, she broke alertly away from her inside post under Ricardo Santana, Jr. and saved ground behind the top flight of runners before shooting through an opening along the rail and powering home a 1 3/4-length winner. The effort garnered a career-best 78 Beyer Speed Figure.

“We came back sprinting just because we were short a couple of works. She was fit enough. We just felt like sprinting was a better spot for her than a mile and a sixteenth off the layoff,” Brisset said. “Ricardo did a great job because she had the one-hole and she actually broke cleanly that time. She put herself in perfect position to win the race. The rail opened and she exploded on the inside and won pretty easily.”

Brisset spoke of the desire to get his filly in the gate for the Kentucky Oaks on May 5 with either the Gazelle or the Grade 3 Fantasy on April 1 at Oaklawn Park as her likely next target.

“We want to give her the opportunity to qualify for the Oaks. If she’s good enough, I don’t know yet. If she wants to go that far, I don’t know either. But the only way to find out is to run,” said Brisset, who previously sent out Oaks contenders Positive Spirit [DNF, 2019] and Yuugiri [13th, 2022]. “I thought her first race was pretty good. I got pretty aggressive running her back in two weeks off the win going from six and a half [furlongs] to a mile and an eighth. We were trying to get some black type. We like her and we thought she would be competitive against that group that day.”

Brisset said the biggest improvement Royal Spa has made from two to three has been her effectiveness from the gate.

After her troubled debut maiden victory, she broke slowly again in the Demoiselle before being hustled by Joel Rosario to second position into the first turn. She raced an even second down the backstretch before launching a bid in upper stretch, only to be passed by the top-three runners – Julia Shining, Affirmative Lady and Gambling Girl – inside the eighth-pole.

“In her maiden she broke terrible and in the Demoiselle she didn’t break well either,” Brisset said. “Joel kind of used her and ended up taking her back after using her because the speed on the outside was forcing her. It wasn’t the smoothest trip and at the quarter-pole turning for home, she dug in pretty well and only gave up her place at the eighth pole. It was a lot to ask of her. We gave her some time and she changed physically. She put some weight on and grew. I’ve been able to breeze her a couple of times myself at Oaklawn.”

Brisset went on to speak highly of Royal Spa’s sire Violence, who is also the sire of last year’s Champion 2-Year-Old Colt and leading Kentucky Derby hopeful Forte as well as Grade 3 Gotham-winner Raise Cain. Violence, a Grade 1-winning son of Medaglia d’Oro, also produced one of Brisset’s first graded stakes winners in Talk Veuve to Me.

“He was a good stallion his first few years and slowed down for a couple years, but he’s coming back pretty strongly,” Brisset said. “He was a very good racehorse and he gives you a very pretty horse. He can give you any kind of horse.”

Royal Spa is out of the graded stakes placed Mineshaft mare Bodacious Babe, who is a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Sippican Harbor.

GSW winner Greeley and Ben to target G3 Runhappy

Darryl Abramowitz’s graded stakes-winner Greeley and Ben, who has not raced since capturing the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap on November 26 at the Big A, has been training forwardly at Belmont Park towards a potential start in the Grade 3, $175,000 Runhappy on May 13 at the Elmont oval.

Greeley and Ben has worked over the dirt training track three times since mid-February, covering a half-mile in 50.67 seconds on Thursday.

“We’re targeting either the Runhappy or something in Keeneland,” said trainer Jeffrey Englehart. “He’s about four weeks away from being race ready and we’re on the right trajectory.”

The son of Greeley’s Conquest earned the first graded win of his career in the six-furlong Fall Highweight when under the care of Englehart’s assistant Faith Wilson. Ridden by Manny Franco, Greeley and Ben rated in fifth through the first quarter-mile and improved position at every point of call to come away with a neck victory in a dramatic four-way photo finish over Runninsonofagun, Factor It In, and Jaxon Traveler.

Following the Fall Highweight, Greeley and Ben was entered in the Gravesend on December 30 at the Big A, but was scratched due to illness. Englehart said he opted to give Greeley and Ben ample time to recover and ease back into training.

“He’s been doing good. He was quiet for a couple weeks after we scratched him and he lost about 40 pounds,” said Englehart. “His bloodwork was a little finicky. Now, he’s got his energy back and we’re happy with his bloodwork. I just did right by him and gave him the time when he got sick. They’re animals and they’re like we are – when they get sick, we just want to get them back to 100 percent. He’s been training excellent.”

The 9-year-old Greeley and Ben would be making his first start at Belmont should he start in the Runhappy, marking the 16th racetrack he will have visited in his 39-start career. Englehart claimed the veteran gelding for $40,000 out of a determined neck victory in a six-furlong claiming tilt in September at Saratoga Race Course.

Greeley and Ben has turned out to be an astute claim for Englehart, finishing second first off the claim to graded stakes-winner Morello in an optional claimer in October at Laurel Park before a game fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler where he was bested three-quarters of a length by Runninsonofagun. He followed with a starter allowance score here on November 10 and his Fall Highweight triumph just 16 days later.

“When we claimed him, he ran good that day,” said Englehart. “He’s really taken to our lighter training regimen and has put on some good weight. We had been really happy with how he was training and that’s why we thought to bump him up to the stakes company and he did well. We had the Fall Highweight in mind even with the starter race, so everything panned out well.”

Englehart said Greeley and Ben, who boasts an impressive 39-23-7-2 record for total career earnings of $882,698, shows no signs of slowing down as he gears up for his 9-year-old campaign.

“You would never know his age,” Englehart said, with a laugh. “He’s a very high-energy animal and he loves his job.”

Aqueduct Racetrack Week 13 stakes probables

Friday, March 24

$100K East View (NYB)
Probable: Banterra (Steve Asmussen), Lady Mine (James Chapman), Les Bon Temps (Linda Rice), Maple Leaf Mel (Jeremiah Englehart)
Possible: Little Linzee (Domenick Schettino), Queens Masterpiece (H. James Bond)

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