Joseph, Jr. to send either Drain the Clock or Super Strong for G3 Gotham
by NYRA Press Office
Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. said he is likely to ship a graded stakes winner to Aqueduct Racetrack for the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham on March 6, which offers 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
The South Florida-based conditioner will likely send either Drain the Clock or Super Strong for the historic one-turn mile event and could reach a verdict following their next breezes this weekend.
Owned by Nick Cosato’s Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stable, Wonder Stable and Michael Nentwig, Drain the Clock was an open-lengths winner of his last two starts, both of which were stakes at Gulfstream Park. After making his seasonal bow with a 7 ½-length romp in the Limehouse on January 2, he scored in his graded stakes debut in the Grade 3 Swale on January 30 at seven furlongs. The son of Maclean’s Music sat off the flank of pacesetter Poppy’s Pride from the two path and took command at the far turn, powering home a 6 ¼-length winner.
Joseph, Jr. said that either the Gotham or the Grade 2, $300,000 Fountain of Youth on February 27 at Gulfstream Park are in play for Drain the Clock.
“We’ll work him Sunday and get a better idea from there. Right now, it’s still undecided,” Joseph, Jr. said.
Sonata Stable’s Super Strong became a Group 1 winner on debut in the Classico Agustin Mercado Revron at Camarero in Puerto Rico.
The son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver will work on Saturday morning and could target either the Gotham or the Grade 2, $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 6 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Owned by Sonata Stable, Super Strong was a 2 ½ length winner of his career debut contested over sloppy conditions under jockey Juan Diaz. His most recent breeze was a sharp five-furlong move in 59.60 seconds over the Palm Meadows Training Track on February 13.
“The jockey that rode him that day has rode a lot of good horses and said that he needed a chance in the states,” said Joseph, Jr. “I really liked his last work. He did everything right and he galloped out really well. The real test will be how he runs next.”
G1 Belmont Oaks and Saratoga Oaks winner Concrete Rose to visit Instagrand
After being purchased by OXO Equine’s Larry Best for $1.95 million at the 2020 Keeneland November Sale, Concrete Rose will be bred to Best’s graded stakes winner Instagrand, who is standing his first year at Taylor Made Farm for a $7,500 stud fee.
Campaigned by Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing, Concrete Rose, a daughter of Twirling Candy, was a six-time winner of seven lifetime starts with her only defeat taking place in the 2018 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf where she was eighth to Newspaperofrecord. She was unbeaten in four starts as a sophomore, including the first two legs of NYRA’s Turf Triple series for fillies – the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational and the Saratoga Oaks Invitational.
Owned by Best, Instagrand won the 2018 Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar during his juvenile campaign before a 3-year-old campaign which included third-place finishes in the Grade 3 Gotham at the Big A and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.
Instagrand, a son of Into Mischief, was acquired for $1.2 million from Eddie Woods’ consignment operation at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in March 2018.
“Concrete Rose is a broodmare now and she’s going to go to Instagrand,” said OXO Equine racing manager Don Chatlos. “Mr. Best does his nick ratings and those two both got a really good rating. He wants to support his stallions.”
Best is quite familiar with Concrete Rose, having come out on the losing end with OXO Equine-owned Cambier Parc, who finished a respective fourth and third to her in the Grade 3 Edgewood at Churchill Downs and the Belmont Oaks.
“She’s just unbelievable looking. Larry and I went and saw her and when they let her out of the stall, we just knew she was the one we wanted,” Chatlos recalled. “Obviously, he ran against her with Cambier Parc a couple of times, so we knew how good she was.”
Brooklyn Strong and Laobanonaprayer in a holding pattern
Trainer Daniel Velazquez enjoyed a remarkable end to his 2020 campaign with New York-breds Brooklyn Strong and Laobanonaprayer.
On October 24, Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park, Velazquez won the first two stakes of his career when Laobanonaprayer, who he also owns, captured the Maid of the Mist to kick off the stakes action, followed in the next race by Mark Schwartz's Brooklyn Strong taking the Sleepy Hollow.
In December at the Big A, Velazquez returned to New York with another strong one-two punch as Brooklyn Strong, bred by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan, captured the nine-furlong Grade 2 Remsen and 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points on December 5. Laobanonaprayer followed a day later with an eight-length romp in the NYSSS Fifth Avenue.
Velazquez said illness along with inclement weather at his Parx Racing base has disrupted the training schedule for both his stable stars. Brooklyn Strong is looking to get back on the work tab and Laobanonaprayer - who finished second in the Franklin Square on January 16 at Aqueduct- is also in need of timed workouts.
"It's frustrating because everything went perfect going into the Remsen and Fifth Avenue, but since then it's been one hiccup after another," said Velazquez. "Brooklyn got sick and we missed almost two months. We're starting from scratch. He was supposed to have his first breeze back and that got pushed back because of the weather."
Velazquez said he wanted to point Brooklyn Strong to the Grade 3 Gotham on March 6 at the Big A, but is now hoping he'll have time to train into the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 3 at Aqueduct. That 1 1/8-mile contest is a 100-40-20-10 Derby qualifier.
"I thought I'd have him ready for the Gotham, so the new target is the Wood or the Arkansas Derby [on April 10 at Oaklawn Park]," said Velazquez. "They're the only options we have to try and get into the Derby.
"I'm not worried about distance with him, but I want him to be ready," added Velazquez. "Everyone goes into these races very prepared and right now I feel like we're short."
Velazquez said Laobanonaprayer, bred in the Empire State by Christina Deronda, should make her next start in the $250,000 Busher Invitational on March 6 at Aqueduct. She last worked on February 10 when covering three-eighths in 36.13 at Parx.
"The Laoban filly is pointed towards the Busher and I'm trying to squeeze two works into her but this weather has been horrendous. All we've been doing is shedrowing," said Velazquez. "I got one work into her last week going three-eighths and she was scheduled to work this weekend a half-mile and then I wanted to work her five-eighths after that so she'll be ready. But this weekend is a bust because there hasn't been any training here."
Velazquez said the weather also played a part in the Laoban filly's runner-up effort to Secret Love last out in the Franklin Square.
"We missed one key workout going into that race," said Velazquez. "We just haven't been able to get into a flow."
Velazquez said he is confident that things will turn around for his two New York-bred stars.
"Everything went so right up until the Remsen," said Velazquez. "We had good weather. I was training at Delaware and everything was good. It's just the circumstances we're in right now.
"But I don't want to go to any race and feel unprepared," he added. "These horses put 110 percent of themselves out there and I don't want to short them and dishearten them. I don't mind losing when I know they're ready and we get beat by a better horse. But if we go short and finish third because I know I'm not fit, that eats my soul."
Aqueduct winter meet Week 10 stakes probables
Saturday, February 27
Probable: Mr. Buff (John Kimmel), Musical Heart (Rob Atras), Tintoretto (Tom Albertrani)
Saturday, March 6
Early look at the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham
50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifier
Probable: Capo Kane (Harold Wyner), Freedom Fighter (Bob Baffert), Highly Motivated (Chad Brown)
Possible: Drain the Clock (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Nicky the Vest (Jonathan Thomas), Super Strong (Joseph, Jr.)