Les Bon Temps elevated to victory in $200K NYSSS Park Avenue
by Ryan Martin
There were some anxious moments in the stretch run, but the formful Les Bon Temps was able to let the good times roll to a third career stakes triumph in Sunday’s $200,000 Park Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series, a 6 1/2-furlong test for eligible New York-sired sophomore fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Linda Rice-trained bay, piloted by Jose Ortiz, battled with 18-1 longshot Little Linzee in deep stretch, with the latter lugging out into the path of the former. Little Linzee crossed the wire first, by a nose, but following a stewards’ inquiry and an objection launched by Ortiz, Little Linzee was disqualified to second.
“It was very close as we were watching and I thought, ‘oh we were second,’” said Rice. “But then I saw the head-on and it looked like she was getting bothered. Jose was sure and he said ‘I was going right by her and she definitely interfered.’”
Owned by Lady Sheila Stable, Pura Vida Investments, Cindy M. Huston and Brett Setzer, the highly consistent Les Bon Temps entered from a third-place finish in the local East View on March 24. The daughter of the late stallion Laoban capped off her juvenile season with a pair of local stakes wins in the Maid of the Mist on October 22 and the NYSSS Fifth Avenue on December 17.
Breaking from post 4, Les Bon Temps settled in third as Honest Banker broke sharply and led through an opening quarter-mile in 22.85 seconds over the muddy and sealed main track. The Katie Davis-piloted Little Linzee tracked a close second just to the outside of Les Bon Temps. Around the far turn, Little Linzee moved up the rail through a half-mile in 47.25 and took command nearing the quarter-pole as Ortiz began to get busy aboard Les Bon Temps.
Little Linzee held a clear advantage at the stretch call, but Les Bon Temps came with a furious rally to her outside, making up ground with each stride. Little Linzee drifted out into the path of Les Bon Temps and got the head bob covering the distance in 1:18.96.
Midtown Lights finished third, followed by Dream On Cara, Clover Street, Hypnocurrency, and Honest Banker rounding out the order of finish. Maggie T, who is entered in a starter optional-claimer here Friday, and Our Rosie Diamonds were early scratches. Athena Beach was scratched at the gate.
Ortiz said the right call was made by the stewards.
“I felt like I was going to go by. The inside filly clearly drifts out,” Ortiz said. “It cost me the race, so it was worth it 100 percent to claim foul, so I did. It was a disqualification and we got put up. I feel bad for Katie - she works very hard in the morning and it's a big deal for her to lose the win. Sometimes, it is what it is. I'm happy for my connections. I feel it was worth it to claim foul and I did and it worked out."
The dynamics of the race were altered with the late scratch of the speedy Athena Beach, who was fractious at the gate.
“I had to adjust everything quickly,” Ortiz said. “I knew [Honest Banker] was going to be on the lead by herself, so I wanted to be a little more aggressive than I was planning to be before the scratch. So, I broke well and was very aggressive the first part of the race and had good position. The filly ran very good and I'm very happy with the result. We got put up. The incident cost me the race which she would have won without any drama, but it is what it is. That's horse racing.”
Rain showers in the New York area on Sunday morning resulted in muddy and sealed track conditions, but there was no raining on Rice’s parade as the conditioner said her filly relishes a wet going. In addition to the Fifth Avenue score over muddy and sealed going, Les Bon Temps graduated on debut over a wet track in May while under the care of trainer Norm Casse.
“She’s run well on a wet track – I was happy with that. I was a little concerned the distance was a little short for her, but I think the wet track certainly helped,” Rice said.
Rice mentioned the possibility of turf in Les Bon Temps’ future with the $150,000 NYSSS Cupecoy’s Joy over the Belmont Park grass on June 18 as a possible target. She added that the $150,000 Bouwerie on May 29 over Big Sandy could also be under consideration for Les Bon Temps, as well as her unbeaten stakes-winning stablemate Downtown Mischief.
“It might be the right spot for both of them,” Rice said. “A lot of the Laobans do seem to like the grass, and I think we’ll probably try seven-eighths on the turf in the next stallion stake. So maybe the Bouwerie into that race.”
Davis, who rode Little Linzee in her last three starts, said her filly has a tendency to drift.
“I tried to keep her straight and do my best with her, but she's just a drifter,” Davis said. “I could see her getting tired late as well. She's normally not on the lead up close at that pace anyway. I'm just disappointed.”
Les Bon Temps, who returned $6.80 for a $2 win wager, banked $110,000 in victory which brought her lifetime earnings to $604,260. Her record stands at 9-4-1-3.
Bred in the Empire State by Southern Equine Stables, Les Bon Temps is out of the unraced Tapizar mare Winsanity – a half-sister to dual turf stakes-winner Ready Signal.
Live racing returns on Thursday at the Big A with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
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