Nov 14, 2021
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Mandate earns 94BSF in Artie Schiller upset

by NYRA Press Office

  • Mandate earns 94BSF in Artie Schiller upset
  • Clement eyes 2022 Turf Triple series for Breeders’ Cup victress Pizza Bianca; Gufo possible for international endeavors
  • Gerrymander to get a freshening following Tempted victory
  • Donk to have strong presence in upcoming Big A stakes
  • Channel Cat to target G2 Red Smith
  • Cupid’s Heart on point for Key Cents

Mandate rallied three-wide under Andrew Wolfsont to secure a 44-1 upset in Saturday’s $150,000 Artie Schiller, a one-mile inner turf test for 3-year-olds and up at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The victory marked a first stakes win for both Mandate and his 48-year-old conditioner Robert Johnston, who is based at Penn National as private trainer for owner Bruno Schickedanz.

“When I saw him make his move at the three-eighths pole, my wife and I were screaming,” Johnston said. “The further he came down the lane I could see he had found his best stride and was kicking on.”

Johnston said the victory was made all the more special given the company he was keeping in a field with horses trained by Hall of Famers Todd Pletcher, Mark Casse and Shug McGaughey as well as four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown.

“When you come up from Penn National, you're the underdog,” Johnston said. “Going up against those guys was a little overwhelming. You need everything to go right - and it did.”

The victory also continued a lucky streak for the trainer-jockey combo that Johnston said he is hopeful will continue in Mandate’s next start in the $95,000 Claiming Crown Emerald on December 4 at Gulfstream Park.

“Andrew has rode four horses out of town for me and won all four,” Johnston said. “Hopefully, we can keep that going. He won two at Delaware, one at Laurel and one at Aqueduct now.”

Mandate exited the outermost post in the Artie Schiller and although last-of-9 at first call, he was handled confidently throughout by Wolfsont as Rinaldi led a closely-bunched field through moderate splits over good going.

Wolfsont edged Mandate closer through the final turn and rallied outside of graded-stakes winner Tell Your Daddy to notch a 1 3/4-length win, garnering a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

"Once they straightened up on the backside everybody grouped up and it was probably only six lengths from first to last,” Johnston said. “He said he was dragging him there and he had a lot of horse. He's just a good, happy horse right now."

Mandate made his stakes debut in the Artie Schiller out of a rallying starter allowance score on October 10 traveling 1 1/16-miles over firm Laurel Park turf. That score, at odds of 16-1, was also accomplished from the outermost post 9 with Wolfsont at the helm.

"We had him six weeks up until to that Laurel race and Andrew breezed him twice and both times were like, ‘Wow,’” Johnston said. “He won that race at Laurel and then he breezed him before the Aqueduct race about 10 days out and he came off the track and said, ‘This is the best horse I've worked in my life.’ He had a lot of confidence in the horse and how well he was doing. He gave him a great ride."

A 4-year-old son of Blame out of the Empire Maker mare Bonnie’s Empire, Mandate was purchased for $200,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Initially campaigned by Pletcher, Mandate was claimed by trainer Wayne Potts for Schickedanz for $25,000 out of a runner-up effort in May at Belmont.

Mandate made five starts for Potts before Schickedanz sent him to Johnston for a freshening.

“When he came to my barn we gave him a couple weeks of down time before we got him back training. He's for sure the best horse I’ve ever had in my barn,” Johnston said.

Johnston said Mandate is more than just the star of his 18-horse stable.

“This horse was a $200,000 baby and meant to be good, but he's also a barn favorite,” Johnston said. “He's in the first stall and my wife's first two steps into the barn each morning she has to go cuddle and hug him. He's just that kind of horse and he's cool to be around.”

Johnston entered Mandate in the Laurel race in preparation for the Claiming Crown, but he credits Schickedanz with the vision to try their luck in New York.

“I thought if he was competitive at Laurel he could go down there [for the Claiming Crown] – but he won it. So, Bruno said, ‘Let's look for a stakes in New York,’ - and that's why he's the boss,” Johnston said, with a laugh.

Johnston, the son of Woodbine and Fort Erie-based trainer C.R. Johnston, launched his career under his father’s tutelage before expanding his horizons under Woodbine-based conditioner Mike DePaulo.

"I always say that from my dad I learned the old school and from Mike I learned the new school,” Johnston said. “I worked for Mike for years and went to a lot of tracks for him. He was the first one to call me yesterday when he went by the wire.”

Johnston said Mandate traveled home to Penn National on Saturday evening and was in good order Sunday morning. The newly-minted stakes winning trainer said he will follow the advice of his mentor and ship Mandate to Florida in the very near future.

“Mike has spent a lot of winters in Florida and he told me shipping 10 days before isn't enough time,” Johnston said. “You need to go early to adjust to the weather, so I'd rather go sooner than later and be there.”

Clement eyes 2022 Turf Triple series for Breeders’ Cup victress Pizza Bianca; Gufo possible for international endeavors

Trainer Christophe Clement returned to his primary thoroughbred division at Belmont Park earlier this week in victorious fashion, having thwarted a winless record in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships when Pizza Bianca captured the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar.

Owned and bred by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, Pizza Bianca arrived at the Juvenile Fillies Turf off a good second in the Grade 1 Natalma on September 19 at Woodbine.

The daughter of Fastnet Rock, expertly piloted by Jose Ortiz in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, found a seam in between horses in upper stretch and collared European invader Cachet in the final furlong to win by a neck over late-rallying Malavath.

Clement said Pizza Bianca will be freshened with an eye towards NYRA’s filly division of the Turf Triple series, which kicks off with the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational.

“It was very nice,” Clement said of the Breeders’ Cup victory. “She’s having a break at the moment, and we’ll bring her back next year. She could be one that will eventually be a candidate for the Turf Triple series.”

The following day, Clement saddled Otter Band Stables’ Gufo to a 10th-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, which was won by Jockey Club Derby Invitational winner Yibir.

The effort was a first off-the-board finish for the 4-year-old Declaration of War chestnut, who captured the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer Invitational in August at Saratoga.

Clement mentioned the possibility of shipping Gufo to the Middle East, targeting races like the Neom Turf Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Saudi Arabia and the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

“He’s at Payson Park having a break at the moment,” Clement said. “There are races in Saudi and Dubai or the [Grade 1] Man o’ War [at Belmont Park]. They’re all great choices.”

Clement said Gufo, who was headstrong in his third-place finish in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last month at Belmont, could remove blinkers for his next start.

“The main question is whether or not we keep the blinkers on him,” Clement said. “He was a bit aggressive in the middle of the race here and I thought about taking the blinkers off for the Breeders’ Cup. Because the Breeders’ Cup was in California, I felt that I would be better off to have him a touch more on the bridle than off the bridle. If the Breeders’ Cup were elsewhere with a more kinder turf course I would probably have taken them off. We’ll just have to think about it.”

Gufo brags a consistent record of 14-7-2-4 with earnings in excess of $1.2 million. In addition to the Sword Dancer, Gufo also captured the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational last year as well as three other stakes races.

On Sunday morning, Al Shira’aa Farms’ Mutamakina breezed an easy half-mile in 52.22 seconds over the Belmont inner turf in preparation for the Grade 3, $400,000 Long Island on November 27 at Aqueduct.

The 5-year-old Nathaniel mare defeated stablemate La Dragontea last out in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine following a triumph in the Grade 2 Dance Smarty on August 22 at the Toronto oval.

“She had a nice work. She’ll work once more next week,” Clement said.

Clement said La Dragontea, winner of the Grade 2 Canadian on September 18 at Woodbine, and graded stakes-placed Sorrel are also possible candidates for the 12-furlong stamina test.

“Mutamakina for sure will run. The other two, we’ll see how they train next week and go from there,” Clement said.

Sorrel, an Augustin Stable and James Wigan homebred, was last seen finishing third in her North American debut to War Like Goddess in the Grade 3 Orchid in March at Gulfstream Park. The daughter of Dansili went a half-mile in 52.34 seconds over the Belmont inner turf on Sunday morning.

“If the ground is on the firmer side, I’ll run her in the Long Island. If it’s too soft, I don’t think I will,” Clement said.

Manzanita Stables’ Tap the Faith, who broke her maiden at first asking on Sunday going a one-turn mile at Belmont, is a possible candidate for the Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle on December 4 at Aqueduct.

“Today was her first day back galloping and she looks great,” Clement said. “We’ll work her next weekend and decide what to do with her. I really like the filly, and if she’s training great and doing great, we’ll go for it.”

By Tapit, Tap the Faith is out of Grade 1 winner Embellish the Lace.

Gerrymander to get a freshening following Tempted victory

Trainer Chad Brown said Klaravich Stables’ Gerrymander, last-out winner of the Tempted, is getting a brief break and will be targeted toward a spring 2022 campaign.

The juvenile daughter of Into Mischief commanded the field through every point of call in the one-turn mile event, laying down easy fractions with Magic Circle tracking to her inside. When Magic Circle switched leads around the far turn and inched her way to even terms, Gerrymander shook off her foe and extended her advantage en route to a half-length victory.

“She’s down at Payson Park getting a break right now,” Brown said. “She’s been in training for quite a while since we broke her, so I’m going to give her a little break and point her toward a spring campaign.”

Gerrymander, a $375,000 purchase at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, broke her maiden at second asking on August 29 at Saratoga going six furlongs ahead of a distant second to likely Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Echo Zulu in the Grade 1 Frizette on October 3 at Belmont.

Peter Brant’s Serve the King and Klaravich Stables’ Value Engineering went five furlongs in company in 1:04.01 Sunday over the Belmont inner turf in preparation for the Grade 2, $200,000 Red Smith, an 11-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds and up on November 20.

“He’s been doing well,” Brown said of Serve the King, a last out runner-up in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. “He had an easy breeze this morning and looks fine. The Red Smith is shaping up to be a solid race.”

Prior to his last effort, Serve the King, a lightly-raced 5-year-old son of Kingman, captured the restricted John’s Call on August 25 at Saratoga following a troubled fourth in the Grade 1 United Nations on July 17 at Monmouth Park.

Value Engineering, winner of a nine-furlong optional-claiming tilt last out on October 21 at Belmont, will make his stakes debut in the Red Smith. The son of Lemon Drop Kid has never finished out of the money in 11 lifetime starts, narrowly beaten by stakes winners Hard Love, Temple, and Say the Word at allowance level.

“He’ll have to step up, but I thought his last effort was a breakthrough win so we’re giving it a shot,” Brown said.

Donk to have strong presence in upcoming Big A stakes

Trainer David Donk, who will oversee a stable of 30 horses this winter in New York, will be represented by a trio of Empire State-bred competitors in upcoming Big A stakes races in Shesawildjoker, Geno and Big Package.

Joseph Bucci's Shesawildjoker, a 2-year-old daughter of Practical Joke, is targeting next Sunday's six-furlong $100,000 Key Cents for fellow state-bred fillies.

The $80,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase graduated on debut in June at Belmont, besting eventual stakes winner November Rein by a head in a 5 1/2-furlong dash over Big Sandy.

Following an off-the-board effort in the Grade 2 Adirondack in August at the Spa, Shesawildjoker returned to state-bred company and completed the trifecta in the seven-furlong Joseph A. Gimma. She enters the Key Cents from a win in the six-furlong Shesastonecoldfox, contested over a sloppy strip on October 25 at Finger Lakes.

"She came in from the training center with the reputation that they thought she'd be OK. She trained well early on and ran a pretty good race first time out and was good enough to win," Donk said. "She was scheduled to run in a New York-bred stake early in the meet at Saratoga but it didn't go, so we ran her open company and it was too tough for her."

Out of the Speightstown mare Tarquinia, Shesawildjoker was bred by Three Diamonds Farm.

Mendham Racing Stable's Geno, a 2-year-old son of Big Brown bred by Pete Martine, is pointed to the open-company $100,000 Central Park, a 1 1/16-mile turf test on November 27.

A debut winner against state-breds in September sprinting six-furlongs over firm Belmont turf, Geno followed with a narrow nose loss to General Ken in the 1 1/16-mile Awad on November 5 at the same track.

"He ran a really nice race last time. It was a big step forward off of his first effort," Donk said. "His first race was three-quarters versus New York-breds and he took a good jump into open company. I thought he would appreciate more distance and he ran a really nice race.

"He came out of that race very well," Donk added. "There's a lot of upside to him and I think he'll go forward even more. He's a very kind horse and a very classy horse."

Donk said Geno, out of the Sun King mare Weekend Hottie, should appreciate traveling two-turns for the first time.

"I don't think distance will be an issue. He's a big, scopey horse," Donk said. "There's a route pedigree on the dam's side. I think he'll appreciate stretching out. Even though he won going three-quarters I think he was just good enough to do that. I don't think he's really a sprinter."

Big Package, owned by Donk in partnership with Sean Carney, is targeting the six-furlong $150,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship on November 27. 

The Big Brown gelding, bred by Newtown Anner Stud, has enjoyed a productive 4-year-old season with a record of 7-3-1-2. The late-running bay notched an open allowance win sprinting 5 1/2-furlongs in August at the Spa and last out rallied to a 1 3/4-length score in an optional-claiming event on November 7 at Belmont, garnering a career-best 95 Beyer.

"It was a really good race," Donk said. "It was a good field the other day. I was hoping he would run well and he ran a big race."

Donk said Big Package, who will return off 19 days’ rest, will take a breather following the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship.

"I'm not afraid to run them and run them when they're good," Donk said. "Three weeks is plenty of time. It's a big step up in company but with good horses, ideally you get pace, too. It would be his last race of the season regardless."

Channel Cat to target G2 Red Smith

Trainer Jack Sisterson said Calumet Farm’s homebred Channel Cat will ship to New York for Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Red Smith at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Initially training for a start in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf last Saturday at Del Mar, Channel Cat did not draw into the race and did not breeze last weekend. On Saturday morning, Channel Cat went a half-mile in 49.60 over the Keeneland main track.

“He’s showing signs that he’s coming up for a big effort,” Sisterson said. “We had his work schedule penned out to run in the Breeders’ Cup. We missed a work with him because we didn’t want to put him over the top.”

Last out, Channel Cat was a distant sixth in the Grade 2 Kentucky Turf Cup on September 11 at Kentucky Downs when tracking the pace from third.

Sisterson said he would like to see Channel Cat, who will add blinkers, show the same early speed which earned him victories in the Grade 1 Man o’ War in May at Belmont and the Grade 2 Bowling Green in August 2019 at Saratoga.

“I felt like his last couple of starts he lacked that little bit of spark and the addition of blinkers will help him do that,” Sisterson said. “In the race at Kentucky Downs, he didn’t make the lead and didn’t really finish up. I felt that there was something missing the last two races and I think blinkers will help.”

Channel Cat boasts a ledger of 29-6-3-5 with earnings in excess of $1.4 million.

Sisterson spoke of the recent retirement of Grade 1-winner Lexitonian, who upset the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt field in July at Saratoga at 34-1 odds. The son of Speightstown, a Calumet Farm homebred, was ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint last Saturday and will stand at Lane's End Farm in Midway, Kentucky for a $10,000 stud fee.

“It’s a dream for myself, the barn and the rest of the guys who do all the hard work for the horse to go on to a fantastic second career and to a farm like Lane's End,” Sisterson said. “It’s very humbling that Calumet and Lane's End were able to work something out. He’s every trainer’s dream to have speed, be sound and win a Grade 1. He should have a successful stud career.”

Lexitonian is the first progeny out of the Tapit mare Riviera Romper. His second dam is Swap Fliparoo, who captured the 2006 Grade 1 Test at Saratoga.

Cupid’s Heart on point for Key Cents

Trainer Bruce Levine said Flying P Stable’s Cupid’s Heart, a grey daughter of Cupid bred by Sugar Maple Farm, is on target for next Sunday’s $100,000 Key Cents, a six-furlong sprint for state-bred juvenile fillies.

Cupid’s Heart registered a 71 Beyer in a visually-impressive debut by overcoming a troubled start before drawing off to a 4 1/4-length score in a six-furlong state-bred maiden sprint on October 23 at Belmont.

Levine said he is warming up to the $50,000 Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase purchase.

“She was half-mean and half-green when she came in and that's a wicked combination,” Levine said, with a laugh. “She trained well and she's a real pretty filly. She looks like a 3-year-old, she's put together so well.”

Levine said Cupid’s Heart, who posted a half-mile breeze in 48.06 on November 6 over Big Sandy, will breeze again Monday at Belmont.

“She's doing very well,” Levine said. “She breezed back last week and went a nice, easy half-mile. She'll work tomorrow.”

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano is expected to retain the mount.

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