Pletcher, Maker each send three for $100K Rego Park
by Ryan Martin
Trainers Mike Maker and Todd Pletcher will each saddle a trio of contenders in Sunday’s seventh running of the $100,000 Rego Park for New York-bred 3-year-olds going 6 ½ furlongs at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Pletcher, a seven-time Eclipse Award winning conditioner, will be represented by first-out maiden winners Uno and Perfect Munnings, as well as three-time starter and maiden winner Storm Shooter.
Owned by Mathis Stable, Uno graduated on November 12 going six furlongs over a muddy and sealed main track at the Big A. The son of Laoban was hustled out of the gate by jockey Jose Ortiz in his debut, displayed tactical speed from the four path and was asked for more run around the far turn. He established command just outside the three-sixteenths pole before drawing off a 3 ¾-length winner, earning a 76 Beyer Speed Figure.
Initially entered in the NYSSS Great White Way on December 6 at Aqueduct, Uno was scratched from the race, but has bounced back well according to Pletcher’s New York-based assistant trainer Byron Hughes.
“He had a minor foot issue that seems to be resolved,” Hughes said. “He’s been training well since his maiden race. We’re looking for a big effort from him.”
A $255,000 purchase from the Coastal Equine consignment at this year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sale, Uno was bred in the Empire State by Spruce Lane, Built Wright, Lynn Farm, Will Robbins and Copper Beach et al. He is out of the Henny Hughes mare One Look.
Jockey Jose Lezcano, who piloted last year’s Rego Park winner Scilly Cay, will have the call from post 3.
Also carrying the flag for the Pletcher brigade is Perfect Munnings for JP Racing Stable, who will be switching surfaces after a two-length maiden triumph on November 29 at six furlongs over the outer turf at the Big A.
The son of Munnings raced in between horses on the pace in the race’s early stages, dropped back approaching the far turn and confronted next-out winner Dancing Buck just past the furlong marker to score on debut.
“He’s been training well since then and we expect him to put in another good effort. He’s been training well enough on the dirt to run in this spot with him,” Hughes said. “We’ll play the break and see where everyone ends up. We won’t take anyone’s running style away from them. It’s hard to tell after one start what a horse’s running style is.”
Bred by Tammy Klimasewski and Robert Klimasewski, Perfect Munnings is out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Our Perfect Ten and was purchased for $50,000 from the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Vinery Sales.
Jockey Manny Franco will pilot Perfect Munnings from the outside post.
Rounding out Pletcher’s three runners is Storm Shooter, who seeks to make amends after finishing a distant sixth last out in the Notebook on November 14 at Aqueduct. Owned by MyRaceHorse Stable, the son of Twirling Candy was third on debut on September 25 on Big Sandy before leading at every point of call to stroll home a 4 1/4-length winner second out on October 29 over a sloppy and sealed Belmont Park main track.
Storm Shooter will be making an equipment change and will add blinkers for Sunday’s race.
“He looked like he got in tight in his last race. He didn’t feel comfortable where he was,” Hughes said. “We’re putting the blinkers on him. He’s been training well in the morning. Hopefully, the experience and the blinkers will leave him to be more confident.”
Hughes said Storm Shooter appears to be relishing the addition of blinkers in his morning training. He recently worked a half-mile in 48.98 seconds over the Belmont training track on January 3.
“He’s breezed well with them on which gives us confidence,” Hughes said. “It was more of a focus issue. It's just less things to look at and get distracted with.”
Purchased for $180,000 from last year’s OBS April Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, where he was consigned by Becky Thomas’ Sequel Bloodstock, Storm Shooter is out of the Storm Boot mare Nice Boots Baby, who won the 2002 Ruthless at the Big A. He was bred by Dr. Jerry Bilinski.
Breaking from post 6, Storm Shooter will be ridden by Dylan Davis, who piloted 2019 Rego Park winner Blindwillie McTell.
Blue Gator, trained by Maker, will seek a second stakes triumph in his sophomore debut for Kirk Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm. The son of third-crop sire Liam’s Map won his first two starts with a debut victory on September 25 at Belmont Park before capturing the New York Breeders’ Futurity on October 26 over a soppy and sealed main track at Finger Lakes.
Blue Gator arrives at Sunday’s race off a runner-up finish to Eagle Orb in the Notebook on November 14.
Bred by Morera Breeding and Racing, Blue Gator is the third progeny out of the Langfuhr mare Candy Cat Can and is a direct descendant of prolific broodmare Lassie Dear. He was purchased for $80,000 from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Fall Mixed Sale in 2018.
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche will return to the saddle from post 4.
William Butler’s homebred Lookin for Trouble is the most seasoned of Maker’s entrants with six career starts, including two stakes placings against fellow New York-breds. Following a gate-to-wire second out graduation on August 7 at Saratoga, the son of 2020 leading sire Into Mischief again utilized frontrunning tactics, finishing a close third to Thin White Duke in the Funny Cide on September 4 at the Spa.
He followed with a runner-up in the Bertram F. Bongard on October 2 at Belmont, where he finished 1 ¾ lengths to Hold the Salsa and ahead of subsequent graded stakes-winner Brooklyn Strong.
Lookin for Trouble is out of the Speightstown mare In Speight of Mama, who is a half-sister to dual stakes winner A Freud of Mama. He will be guided by Jorge Vargas, Jr. from post 7.
Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s Windy Nations will seek his first triumph since his career debut, where he lit up the tote board at 33-1 odds for a $25,000 tag on August 1 over the Monmouth Park main track for breeder and former trainer Russell Cash. The Soaring Empire bay gelding was last seen finishing a close fourth at 42-1 odds in the NYSSS Great White Way to Hold the Salsa.
Breaking from post 5, Windy Nations will be ridden by Trevor McCarthy.
Completing the field are Halpert [post 1, Eric Cancel] and New York One [post 2, Chris DeCarlo].
The Rego Park is slated as Race 8 on Sunday's nine-race program, which has a first post of 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
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