Oct 10, 2021
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Following Sea registers 100 BSF in G2 Vosburgh score; Mind Control to target G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

by NYRA Press Office

  • Following Sea registers 100 BSF in G2 Vosburgh score; Mind Control to target G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
  • Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf on the table for Rockemperor, Serve the King
  • Gufo possible for Breeders’ Cup Turf

Spendthrift Farm’s homebred Following Sea matched a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his impressive gate-to-wire score in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Vosburgh at Belmont Park.

Piloted by Joel Rosario from the outermost post 4 in the six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up, Following Sea broke alertly and established command through splits of 22.59 seconds and a half-mile in 45.24 on the fast main track.

Confidently handled throughout, Following Sea drew off to a 4 3/4-length score over multiple graded stakes winning millionaire Firenze Fire in a final time of 1:09.20.

The victory provided a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 6 at Del Mar and also secured Following Sea’s sire Runhappy his first graded stakes winner.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said he was pleased with the confident score by the lightly-raced sophomore.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure how the pace scenario was going to unfold,” Pletcher said. “We had the benefit of drawing an outside post, so we didn't have to make any strong commitment one way or the other. When he broke as well as he did, Joel asked him to go and he made the lead pretty effortlessly. I felt pretty confident at that point that he'd run well. He’s come out of the race really well.”

Following Sea garnered a 100 Beyer in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance sprint against older company on June 3 in his first start for Pletcher. The talented bay was elevated to second in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Haskell in July at Monmouth Park before turning back to seven-furlongs and finishing third in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 28 at Saratoga Race Course.

Pletcher said Following Sea could stretch out again in future engagements.

“He's a very talented horse and trains very impressively. He's also galloped out in a fashion that would indicate he might want to run longer at some point,” Pletcher said. “He's very fast and his two wins for us at Belmont were pretty impressive. It seemed like he had a lot left in the tank yesterday. He's a leggy colt, so I think he could continue to improve.”

Pletcher said no decision has been made as of yet regarding a start in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“We had a brief exchange [with the connections] after the race and haven't committed to anything,” Pletcher said. “Obviously, being a ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Sprint is attractive, but we'll see how the horse bounces back and talk to all the connections and come up with a game plan.”

Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Mind Control breezed a half-mile in 50.17 Friday over the Belmont dirt training track in his first work back following a game head score over Silver State in the Parx Dirt Mile on September 25.

“He looked like he was beaten and fought back gamely. It was impressive,” Pletcher said. “He's come back and trained with good energy and enthusiasm like he normally does.”

Mind Control earned a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint for his Grade 2 John A. Nerud score here in July but Pletcher said following discussions with Red Oak Stable racing manager Rick Sacco that they have decided to enter the 5-year-old Stay Thirsty horse in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 6 at Del Mar.

“I spoke with Rick Sacco after his breeze here the other day and we're going to give the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile a try,” Pletcher said. “I think as he's gotten older he's indicated that he wants to stretch out a little bit.”

Mind Control, who sports a ledger of 23-9-3-4 with purse earnings in excess of $1.4 million, captured the 2018 Grade 1 Hopeful and 2019 Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga. Since being transferred to Pletcher this summer, Mind Control has won 2-of-3 starts, including a head score over Firenze Fire in the seven-furlong Nerud.

Pletcher will also be represented in the Dirt Mile by CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm’s Life Is Good. The sophomore son of Into Mischief worked a half-mile Friday in 48.84 over the Belmont dirt training track in his first work back following a decisive 5 1/2-length score in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap on September 25 at Belmont.

“He's doing exceptionally well. He's a very impressive horse to watch train and his breeze was effortless,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher said the running style of Life Is Good, who captured the Grade 3 Sham and Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita this winter for his former conditioner Bob Baffert, should complement that of his stablemate in the Dirt Mile.

“Life is Good is a very fast horse and I'd imagine he would be a significant pace factor and Mind Control would settle off the pace a little bit,” Pletcher said.

Shadwell Stable’s multiple Grade 1-winner Malathaat breezed five-eighths in 1:01.42 Friday over the Belmont dirt training track. Pletcher said the regally-bred Curlin filly, out of the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Dreaming of Julia, is on target for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff on November 6.

“Just like always, she's a star. She trained well and galloped out strongly,” Pletcher said. “We have a couple more breezes to go, but we're very happy with where she is.”

Malathaat has won 6-of-7 starts, including Grade 1 scores this year in the Ashland at Keeneland; the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs; and the Alabama at Saratoga.

StarLadies Racing’s Jordan’s Leo breezed a half-mile in 48.55 Saturday on the Belmont inner turf in preparation for the Grade 2, $200,000 Sands Point, a nine-furlong turf test for sophomore fillies on October 16.

By Malibu Moon, the $150,000 Fasig-Tipton July Kentucky Yearling Sale purchase posted a smart nine-furlong turf allowance win in August at the Spa ahead of a prominent second last out in the one-mile Pebbles October 9 on the Belmont lawn.

“She worked well yesterday,” Pletcher said. “I thought her effort in the Pebbles was a good performance, so we'll give her a chance to try again.”

Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Westerberg’s Sweet as Pie, a 2-year-old Tapit grey, garnered a 77 Beyer for a rallying 1 1/4-length score sprinting 6 1/2-furlongs in her debut Friday over Big Sandy.

“We were optimistic going in that she would have a good debut,” Pletcher said. “She drew the rail - which is always a concern going 6 1/2-furlongs - but I thought she handled it very professionally and finished up well.”

Out of the stakes-winning Smart Strike mare Treasuring, Sweet as Pie was purchased for $490,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase.

Sweet as Pie will now target the $150,000 Tempted, a one-turn mile that will be contested on November 5 over Big Sandy following Saturday’s announcement regarding the three-day extension of the Belmont fall meet. 

Pletcher said if all goes well, Sweet as Pie will continue to the nine-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle on December 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack, which offers 10-4-2-1 qualifying points for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.

“She has a pedigree that suggests she'd want to run further,” Pletcher said. “It's a good progression for her and the Tempted and Demoiselle could be a nice path for her.”

Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf on the table for Rockemperor, Serve the King 

Trainer Chad Brown reported that Rockemperor and Serve the King, the one-two finishers of Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, are both likely for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 6 at Del Mar.

Piloted by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano for the first time, the 5-year-old bay son of Holy Roman Emperor rated along the hedge down the backstretch and was tipped wide approaching the far turn. In upper stretch, Rockemperor collared Gufo and drew off to victory in a final time of 2:25.60 over firm going.

Rockemperor, who earned a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure with a two-length victory in the Joe Hirsch at 15-1 odds, secured his first graded stakes triumph in North America after ten previous efforts at such level.

Following a third to stablemate Tribhuvan in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on May 1 at Belmont, Brown added blinkers to Rockemperor through his next four starts, which included a ten-furlong allowance win over the inner turf in June. He removed the blinkers for the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic after a keen fourth in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer on August 28 at Saratoga.

“The horse just wasn’t getting in position like I wanted to, so I put the blinkers on him and he did quite well with them initially,” Brown said. “For whatever reason in the Sword Dancer he got way too rank and started turning the other way on us, so I had to make another adjustment and take them off and listen to the horse. Javier fit the horse really well and it all worked out.”

The triumph was a redeeming one for Rockemperor, who finally struck graded stakes gold in North America. He was previously seven-times graded stakes placed.

Peter Brant’s Serve the King needed racing room in upper stretch but displayed a late rally once in the clear to provide Brown with the Joe Hirsch exacta. The 5-year-old Kingman bay garnered a career-best 100 Beyer.

Brown also ran one-two in his previous Joe Hirsch Turf Classic scores with Slumber finishing three-quarters of a length behind Big Blue Kitten, and Fanciful Angel running a late-closing second, five lengths to Beach Patrol.

“I’m proud of the horse,” Brown said of Serve the King, who arrived at the Joe Hirsch off a win in the restricted John’s Call on August 25 at Saratoga. “He was training like a horse that was ready to step up. He got in some trouble turning for home, I thought he would have gotten closer had he gotten clear. He really stepped up and seems to be a horse that’s improving.”

Brown said he would look at the Breeders’ Cup Turf for both Rockemperor and Serve the King. He could have as many as four entered in the Breeders’ Cup Turf with multiple Grade 1-winner Domestic Spending and Tribhuvan, a winner of the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park two starts back, also pointing for the race. Brown secured a win in the 2019 Turf with eventual Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar.

Just less than an hour after notching first and second in the Joe Hirsch, Brown’s stable was well-represented when Blowout and Regal Glory, both owned by Peter Brant, ran one-two in the Grade 1 First Lady going one mile at Keeneland. Both 5-year-old mares garnered 102 BSFs, which is their first triple-digit BSF to date.

Blowout arrived at her first Grade 1 score off a fourth-place finish beaten 2 ¼ lengths against males in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga, which is her only off-the-board effort in 14 lifetime starts. Regal Glory captured the Plenty of Grace at Aqueduct ahead of a troubled fourth in the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game and a victory in the restricted De La Rose in August at Saratoga.

The First Lady is a “Win And You’re In” to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar, which is contested at 1 3/8 miles this year. Neither horse has gone past nine furlongs.

“I’m not sure yet. I’ll speak to Mr. Brant about that and see where we’ll go,” said Brown when asked of Breeders’ Cup aspirations.

Brown also found the winner’s circle on Saturday with Jeff Drown’s first-time starter Zandon, a dark bay or brown juvenile son of second-crop sire Upstart who earned an 80 Beyer going six furlongs over the main track.

A start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Nashua on November 7 at Belmont Park could be in play for Zandon, Brown said.

“He’s a big, good looking horse,” Brown said. “He should stretch out just fine. We’ll see how he trains and go from there, but that’s under consideration.”

Gufo possible for Breeders’ Cup Turf

Trainer Christophe Clement was gallant in defeat after Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo finished third as the favorite in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.

Guided by regular pilot Joel Rosario, Gufo displayed his usual rear-of-the-field tactics as defending non-consecutive Joe Hirsch winner Channel Maker established command through the early stages. Approaching the far turn, Rosario gave the 4-year-old Declaration of War chestnut his cue and he responded quickly, powering to the front nearing upper stretch. But Rockemperor came with a sweeping wide move in the final furlong-and-a-half and drew away to a two-length score.

Clement expressed some uncertainty regarding pointing Gufo to the Grade 1, $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar. He earned an automatic entry into the race when capturing the Grade 1 Resorts World Sword Dancer on August 28 at Saratoga. 

“Gufo ran a great race. He came back a little stiff from his race yesterday, but not bad,” Clement said. “We’ll live to fight another day. The winner was impressive. No decision has been made yet. I’ll have to see how he comes out of it a week-to-10 days before we commit to the Breeders’ Cup.”

In rounding out the Joe Hirsch trifecta, Gufo maintained a never-off-the-board record in a baker’s dozen starts, which include victories in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational last October and the Grand Couturier in July at Belmont. He was a respective second and third in his first two starts of the year in the Man o’ War and Manhattan, both Grade 1 races at Belmont.

One race prior to the Joe Hirsch, Clement saw his maiden winning juvenile filly Gal in a Rush display a devastating turn of foot to run second at 29-1 odds in the Grade 3, $150,0000 Matron.

“She ran huge. It was a very good performance, I loved the way she ran,” Clement said. “She was out of it in last, swinged out four or five wide and showed a great turn of foot. Unfortunately, she did not win but I loved the performance.”

Not all was lost on Saturday for Clement, who saddled a trio of winners on the program. In the second race, he sent out impressive first time starter Shad Nation for owners Wonder Stables, Madaket Stables and Golconda Stable. The daughter of Cairo Prince earned a 73 Beyer for a 1 ¾-length victory going 1 1/16 miles over the Widener turf.

“She’s a nice filly,” Clement said. “She never showed that much on dirt all summer long so we switched her back on turf, and moved her to Saratoga in early September. All of her works have been nice. Every single one of them. She’s obviously a very nice filly with the way she won yesterday.”

Clement said Shad Nation could target the $100,000 Tepin on November 28 at Aqueduct.

“At the moment, if she trains well, the Tepin would make sense. But you have to deal with the ground and that kind of thing,” Clement said.

Clement also saddled West Point Thoroughbreds-owned Phantom Smoke and Voodoo Zip to respective victories.

Phantom Smoke, a son of Ghostzapper bred in New York by Kathleen Schweizer and Daniel Burke, defeated winners for the first time in a six-furlong allowance event over the inner turf.

Voodoo Zip scored a third lifetime win with a narrow victory going six furlongs over the inner turf at allowance optional claiming level. The son of City Zip has never finished off the board in a dozen lifetime starts.

On Sunday morning, Clement worked Grade 1-placed juvenile filly Pizza Bianca over the inner turf in 50.02. Owned and bred by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, the daughter of Fastnet Rock was second in the Grade 1 Natalma in September at Woodbine after a first out victory at Saratoga.

Clement said Pizza Bianca is possible for the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 5 at Del Mar.

“At the moment, we’re not for sure, but she will train [like we’re running in] the Breeders’ Cup,” Clement said.

Clement also stated that Waterville Lake Stable’s New York homebred Derrynane, winner of the September 19 Woodbine Cares, will point to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. 

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