First Constitution posts 100 BSF in Jazil victory
by NYRA Press Office
Don Alberto Stable, WinStar Farm, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ First Constitution, trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in Saturday’s $100,000 Jazil, a nine-furlong test for older horses at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Piloted to victory by Jose Lezcano, First Constitution led at every point of call, setting quick fractions over the fast main track a half-length in front of Core Conviction.
After a quarter-mile in 23.13 seconds and a half-mile in 46.78, Lezcano asked First Constitution for more approaching the turn and widened his lead in the stretch, cruising home a comfortable 6 3/4 lengths the better of runner-up Why Why Paul Why.
“It was a fast pace and he finished fast. It was a good effort and very impressive,” said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher. “He was feeling good walking around the barn this morning and ate up his breakfast.”
The Jazil was the first American win for the 5-year-old chestnut, who won the Group 1 Gran Criterium Mauricio Serrano Palma in his native Chile in 2020. The son of Constitution was runner-up in a pair of optional claiming races in his two starts prior to his breakout win in the Jazil.
“There was definitely a lot of hype around him when he came here and we were excited to get him started,” Hughes said. “It took a little longer to get him into the winner’s circle than we anticipated, but it’s nice to get there now. Todd will get with the ownership group and figure out a plan for what’s next for him.”
Laurie Wolf and Glen Hill Farm’s Miss Interpret, who finished third last out in the seven-furlong Parx Futurity on December 29, has settled into Pletcher’s barn at Belmont Park.
Miss Interpret has had two works since returning to Belmont, most recently breezing a half-mile in 51.07 over Belmont’s dirt training track on January 19.
Hughes said Miss Interpret will look to regroup in the $100,000 Ruthless, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies on February 6 at the Big A.
“She’s been training really well,” said Hughes. “She breezed a couple days ago and that went well. We’re happy with where she is and hoping she’ll run better in the Ruthless than she did last time at Parx.”
Miss Interpret was bumped at the start in the Parx Futurity and held off the pace in fifth by jockey Kendrick Carmouche as pacesetter Collin’s Grey Lady set moderate fractions up front. Miss Interpret made a bid for the lead at the top of the stretch while swinging five-wide but lacked the rally she needed to reel in winner Stand Up Comic and was beaten 6 1/2 lengths.
A daughter of Street Sense, Miss Interpret was the winner of last year’s off-the-turf edition of the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga Race Course, besting three other rivals in her first start against winners to take the seven-furlong stakes by 1 1/2 lengths.
The bay filly contested graded stakes in her next two starts, finishing off the board in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland and the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct before shipping to Parx for her latest outing.
Early Voting registers sharp work for G3 Withers
Klaravich Stables’ highly-regarded Early Voting took another step forward on Sunday morning when logging a half-mile work over the Belmont training track in preparation for the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on February 5 at Aqueduct.
The Chad Brown-trained son of 2021 leading freshman stallion Gun Runner completed the four-furlong move in 49.41 over a fast main track with jockey Jose Ortiz aboard. The breeze was his third work following a career debut maiden victory on December 18.
“He worked really well this morning. Jose was aboard and I was very happy with the work,” said Brown’s Belmont-based assistant Dan Stupp.
Breaking his maiden at a one-turn mile, Early Voting stayed in the clear down the backstretch under Ortiz while battling with two other runners up front. He fended off a late rally from Matt Doyle to win by 1 1/2 length, registering a 76 Beyer.
Early Voting appears to be taking a similar path to that of stablemate Risk Taking, who captured last year’s Withers following a maiden score.
“I thought Risk Taking was a more forward training horse,” Stupp said. “With Early Voting, you can see the ability, but he’s a little green acting. He had a lot to learn and grow up, he had some physical maturing to do, but his first race moved him up quite a bit. Mentally, he’s still a work in progress but you can definitely see the progression off that maiden win. I’m excited to see him run back.”
Other probable candidates for the nine-furlong Withers, which offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers, include Courvoisier, Constitutionlawyer, Cooke Creek, Noneedtoworry, Smarten Up and Un Ojo.
Early Voting, bred in Kentucky by Three Chimneys Farm, is out of the unraced Tiznow mare Amour d’Ete – a half-sister to 2004 Champion Sprinter and prolific sire Speightstown and a full-sister to millionaire Irap. All are out of 1995 Canadian Champion Juvenile Filly Silken Cat. Early Voting was purchased for $200,000 from the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency.
Also on the work tab Sunday for Brown was Klaravich Stables’ Default Protection, who went a half-mile in 50.01 over the Belmont training track. It was the 4-year-old daughter of Quality Road’s second work since a second-out maiden victory on January 2 which she won by 12 1/2 lengths.
“I thought the work was great, just a maintenance half. Jose was on for the work, he rode her last time,” Stupp said. “It was a very good work, exactly what you would want to see. I wanted to see her work today and then get with Chad. She ran a great race to break her maiden over a wet track. I thought she got a lot of good experience out of that race, so we weren’t surprised she moved forward. By watching her train, she’s got potential to step up.”
Pick Five Racing’s Primacy ended a six-race slump on Thursday, defeating winners going seven furlongs over a sloppy and sealed Aqueduct main track.
A 5-year-old Union Rags dark bay or brown mare, Primacy settled in seventh in the tightly-packed group and maintained rail-riding position in the stretch under Eric Cancel to win by one length with stablemate Golden Plume, piloted by Manny Franco, finishing third. The win was her first trip to the winner’s circle since a 4 1/4-length maiden victory at third asking at Belmont Park in June 2020.
“I thought both fillies ran extremely well,” Stupp said. “Golden Plume took a lot of pressure from the rail. I thought Manny did a good job with her. She dug in and fought on for third. Primacy ran a great race. Eric did a good job with her and getting her in good position early. He got her on the rail and made a nice run. We haven’t gone as far as picking a next target, but both fillies bounced out of it very well.”
Franklin Square winner Sterling Silver may point to Maddie May next
Mark T. Anderson’s Sterling Silver earned a 77 Beyer for her victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Franklin Square, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for sophomore state-bred fillies, making easy work of her first start against winners to remain undefeated through two career starts for trainer Tom Albertrani.
Pedro Mateo, assistant to Albertrani, said the Cupid gray is under consideration for a pair of one-turn mile stakes for sophomore fillies at the Big A, including the $100,000 Maddie May for state-breds on February 21 and the open $250,000 Busher Invitational on March 5.
“She’s nice and happy this morning and feeling good,” said Mateo. “We’ll go step by step coming up and we may try a New York-bred stakes. There’s also the Busher but we have to talk with the owners and see. My guess would be the New York-bred stakes. She’s a young filly with lots of potential, so we’re patient. When you’re patient, you make the money.”
Sterling Silver’s Franklin Square victory was one of four wins on Saturday’s card for jockey Trevor McCarthy, who executed a well-timed ride and guided the filly to an off-the-pace victory. Sterling Silver came away from the gate in eighth before being taken up to the middle of the field by McCarthy, settling into fifth through an opening quarter-mile in 22.16 seconds.
McCarthy, noting the inside advantage to the track on Saturday, kept Sterling Silver along the rail down the backstretch before swinging two-wide in the turn to make her run at pacesetter and runner-up finisher Sandy’s Garden, grinding away to her outside to overtake the lead at the sixteenth pole and pull away to a 2 1/4-length victory. Sterling Silver stopped the clock in 1:16.28 for the 6 1/2 furlongs.
Sterling Silver has been ridden to victory by McCarthy in both of her starts, improving off a nose victory on debut and showing maturity in her latest outing.
“Trevor told me he just kept waiting and she wanted to go,” Mateo said, “He’s been breezing her in the mornings and came by this morning to check on her and see how she is after the race. He said she was a little green in her first race and she learned a lot in the race yesterday. He really likes this filly.”
Sterling Silver, bred in New York by Mallory Mort and Karen Mort, is the first stakes winner for her dam, Sheet Humor, a daughter of Distorted Humor. Along with her perfect record, she now boasts earnings of $93,500 after banking $55,000 for her Franklin Square victory.
Cooke Creek on target for G3 Withers; Undefeated Jet Force set for stakes debut
Cheyenne Stable’s Cooke Creek breezed a half-mile in 50.58 over the Belmont dirt training track January 19 in preparation for the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on February 5 at the Big A. The nine-furlong test for sophomores offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
Cooke Creek is one of three Jeremiah O'Dwyer trainees stabled in New York at the barn of Belmont-based trainer Natalia Lynch along with Jet Force and Sibelius.
A dark bay son of Uncle Mo, Cooke Creek finished third as the mutuel favorite last out in the one-turn mile Jerome, contested over a sloppy and sealed main track on New Year's Day.
"Cooke Creek came back here [to Laurel] after the Jerome and I sent him back up to Belmont last week and he breezed there Wednesday," O'Dwyer said. "He'll have one more breeze at Belmont - I'd love it to be Saturday, but I'll have to see how the weather is going to be. If all goes well, he'll have a nice five-furlong breeze next week and then run in the Withers."
Cooke Creek made his first two starts at Delaware Park, winning a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight in September ahead of a driving half-length score around two turns in the one-mile Rocky Run in October.
He entered the Jerome from a runner-up effort to Rockefeller in the one-turn mile Grade 3 Nashua on November 7 at Belmont.
Cooke Creek will enjoy a rematch in the Withers with Jerome-winner Courvoisier and runner-up Smarten Up. Although Cooke Creek garnered two Kentucky Derby points for his third-place Jerome effort and is currently 24th on the leaderboard, O'Dwyer said he's not thinking about the First Saturday in May just yet.
"The Withers is going to be another test. You're always hoping you might have a Derby horse, but they have to progress along to get there,” said O’Dwyer, whose past Derby trail success includes a win in the 2019 Grade 2 Remsen with Shotski. “This is the path we're taking and I think it's a good spot for him, going two turns up there. He seems to be fit and well and I think the two turns will help him.
“But the first three that ran in the Jerome are all going to be thinking the same thing - the further they go, the better they'll be,” O’Dwyer added. “The winner of the Jerome broke his maiden going a mile and an eighth up there and the [connections of the] second horse are adamant their horse wants to go further as well, so we're all thinking along the same line. That's why we run them - to find out.”
Orpen Horses' Jet Force, a sophomore daughter of Jimmy Creed, boasts a perfect record through two starts at Penn National. She breezed a half-mile in 53.06 January 19 over the Belmont dirt training track.
A $17,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the Pennsylvania-bred chestnut graduated sprinting 5 1/2-furlongs on December 8 and followed up nine days later with a 2 3/4-length score in a six-furlong allowance sprint.
O'Dwyer said Jet Force is nominated to Saturday’s $100,000 Xtra Heat, a six-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies at Laurel Park but could also consider the $100,000 Ruthless, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies on February 6 at the Big A.
“She's going to sprint for now. She went an easy half and had a nice gallop out after,” O’Dwyer said. “We'll probably enter in the stakes at Laurel and see how it comes up and we have the Ruthless as a backup.”
Sibelius, a 4-year-old son of Not This Time owned by Jun. H. Park and Delia Nash, has made his last two starts at the Big A, winning a seven-furlong allowance sprint last out on January 8.
“He's ran two nice races up there in New York,” O’Dwyer said. “We'll try and run him through his conditions first of all. There's one for him at the beginning of February going seven-eighths again.”
Bred in Kentucky by Taylor Brothers Properties and Pollock Farms, Sibelius graduated at second asking sprinting 6 1/2-furlongs in April at Keeneland ahead of off-the-board efforts in the off-the-turf Grade 3 Penn Mile in May, the six-furlong Concern in July over the Pimlico main and the seven-furlong Robert Hilton Memorial on August 27 at Charles Town.
O’Dwyer said Sibelius benefited from the more than three-month layoff out of the Charles Town effort.
“He was immature mentally more than anything else and a little bit physically, I guess,” O’Dwyer said. “When he threw in a couple of clunkers, there was nothing wrong with him physically and he was sound, but we just decided to take a step back. We gave him a little turn-out time and let him re-group. Thankfully, it worked. He came back really good and is after running two decent races off the layoff. We hope there's a bit more progression in him.”
Hopeful Treasure possible to return for G3 Toboggan
Grade 3 Fall Highweight winner Hopeful Treasure could return to the Big A for another graded stakes engagement in Saturday’s seven-furlong Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan for older horses in what will be NYRA’s first graded stakes event on the calendar year.
The six-furlong Fall Highweight provided a first graded stakes victory for both Hopeful Treasure as well as for trainer Michael Catalano, Jr., who is based at Parx Racing.
While the Toboggan is a logical option for the son of Oxbow, Catalano, Jr. said Hopeful Treasure could ship to Laurel Park for the $100,000 Fire Plug, also to be run Saturday.
“We’re between two races, there and Laurel,” Catalano, Jr. said. “I’m not sure which way we’re going to go. We’re going to see how the races are shaping up and pick the right one.”
Hopeful Treasure has worked twice at Parx since his Fall Highweight coup, most recently working an easy half-mile in 51.47 seconds on Wednesday. Catalano, Jr. said he was tempted to run him once more last year but backed off the horse and didn’t work him at all in December.
“We tried to give him enough time so he wouldn’t regress, and I think he’s ready,” Catalano, Jr. said.
Owned by Tony Como’s Just In Time Racing, Hopeful Treasure was bought for a frugal $6,000 by original trainer Michael Pino, who conditioned the horse through three wins in his first eight career starts.
Transferred to Catalano, Jr., Hopeful Treasure picked up three more victories including a 1 ¾-length allowance score at Parx four weeks prior to the Fall Highweight.
“He’s matured both mentally and physically and he trained really, really forward into both of his last races. It just seemed like he was ready to jump forward,” Catalano, Jr. said.
Bank Sting on target for $100K Biogio's Rose
Hidden Brook Farm and Joseph and Anne McMahon’s Bank Sting, last out winner of the seven-furlong $100,000 La Verdad on January 2, will make her next start in the $100,000 Biogio's Rose, a one-turn mile for older state-bred fillies on March 6 at the Big A.
Bank Sting had also been under consideration for the Grade 3, $250,000 Barbara Fritchie, a seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up on February 19 at Laurel Park.
"She's a little bit quirky and our gate guys know her here, so we're most likely going to keep her home," said Tonja Terranova, wife and assistant to trainer John Terranova.
The 5-year-old Central Banker bay was game to the wire to collar a stubborn Eloquent Speaker to win the La Verdad by a neck, stopping the clock in 1:25 flat over the muddy and sealed main track.
The victory was the sixth win in eight career starts and third stakes win for the talented bay, who was bred in the Empire State by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds.
Terranova said Bank Sting, who hasn't breezed back yet out of the La Verdad, will appreciate the spacing between starts.
"She's doing well. We'll keep her fresh and let her run one more time back here," Terranova said. "She's dead fit so we just want to keep her healthy and happy."
Bank Sting, out of the Precise End mare Bee in a Bonnet, has banked $406,300.
Aqueduct Racetrack Week 7 stakes probables
Saturday, January 29
Grade 3 Toboggan
Probable: Happy Medium (Michelle Nevin)
Possible: Chateau (Rob Atras), Drafted (David Duggan), Hopeful Treasure (Michael Catalano), Jaxon Traveler (Steve Asmussen), Repo Rocks (Juan Vazquez)
Sunday, January 30
$100K Jimmy Winkfield
Probable: Beast Or Famine (Penny Pearce), Dance Code (Juan Vazquez), Hagler (Rudy Rodriguez), Life Is Great (Robert Klesaris), Morello (Steve Asmussen), Witty (McLane Hendricks)
Possible: H P Moon (Lacey Gaudet)