Jason Cook and Three Technique each notch their first graded win in G2 John A. Nerud
by NYRA Press Office
- Jason Cook and Three Technique each notch their first graded win in G2 John A. Nerud
- G3 Dwyer winner Fort Bragg and runner-up Saudi Crown earn 106 BSF
- Northern Invader points to G2 Hall of Fame following stylish maiden score
- G1 Haskell, G2 Jim Dandy remain options for Kingsbarns
It took a few moments for trainer Jason Cook to fully believe he had just won his first graded stakes victory when Three Technique shipped to Belmont Park to capture Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 John A. Nerud by 3 3/4 lengths, but by Sunday morning the veteran horseman said it all became reality.
Owned by David Miller, Eric Grindley and John Werner, Three Technique rated off the pace and saved ground around the far turn under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano before tipping out in the clear past the quarter pole to draw off to a commanding victory and make the grade while earning a 99 Beyer Speed Figure.
“I had 87 texts within 5-to-8 minutes, but it probably took a few hours for it to really soak in,” said Cook, who turns 50 on July 6. “I appreciate it more because it’s well-earned and it’s a satisfying feeling. It means more to me for the people that I’m with than actually doing it. I had some people that were with me yesterday that were at work last week and then in the winner’s circle for a Grade 2 at Belmont. It means a lot to me for the people that I bring with me and the people I train for.”
Three Technique entered the seven-furlong John A. Nerud from a one-turn mile triumph in a Churchill Downs allowance optional claimer on May 27, where he defeated highly regarded Kupuna by a head.
Cook won a 27-way shake when he claimed Three Technique in November 2021 for $40,000. The 6-year-old Mr Speaker dark bay has proven to be an astute acquisition, winning last year’s restricted Knicks Go on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs at 36-1 odds. He also finished a close second to Cody’s Wish in the Hanshin last July at Churchill Downs before a third place finish in the Grade 3 Ack Ack in September at Churchill.
Prior to joining Cook’s stable, he raced for New York-based conditioner Jeremiah Englehart and retired NFL Head Coach Bill Parcells’ August Dawn Farm. He finished third in the 2021 John A. Nerud behind millionaires Mind Control and Firenze Fire for his previous connections.
Cook mentioned this year’s one-turn mile Ack Ack as a long-term objective for Three Technique and did not rule out a start at Saratoga Race Course before then. Three Technique broke his maiden at the Spa during his juvenile season.
“I know he loves this racetrack [Belmont Park] so I knew this would be a good spot,” Cook said. “I don’t think he likes Saratoga as much as he does Belmont, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. He’s running really well and how he does after this race and how he comes back from this will determine where we run him. I need a race in between this and the Ack Ack.”
A lifelong horseman, Cook is the son of the late jockey Lois "L.C." Cook, who captured the 1957 Kentucky Oaks with Lori-El. He said Saturday’s victory was a sentimental one.
“I’ve trained horses for David for about 25 years and my father galloped horses for [John] Werner’s grandfather, who used to train horses,” Cook said. “It is absolutely wonderful for me to have pictures at my house of David’s kids when they’re five, six years old and then to have pictures of David’s grandkids there. It’s as cool as it can be.”
Cook recalled Three Technique’s Knicks Go win on Derby Day last year, saying it was a special moment for everyone involved.
“This horse has given us thrills a couple of times. To win on Derby Day with all our families there was so cool. It was almost surreal,” Cook said. “Looking back, I think, ‘Could it really get any better than that?’ It got so wild that day when the horse won. All the families were up in the Gold Room out on the balcony. It got so wild when he won that the TV fell off. Nobody knocked it down, it was just from the vibrations of people jumping up and down.”
Cook, who learned the game from the ground up, said he appreciates all the horsemen that helped him along the way.
“I learned a lot from a lot of different people,” Cook said. “I always had a summer job from the time I was 15 and during spring break I would rub horses. I can remember a time when I was about 15, I helped out [trainer] Steve Penrod during spring break. Coming back from break everyone was talking about what they did and I said, ‘Steve gave me a check for $325. I’m rich, y’all are broke!’”
G3 Dwyer winner Fort Bragg and runner-up Saudi Crown earn 106 BSF
Racing’s newest graded stakes-winner Fort Bragg garnered a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure for a nose triumph over Saudi Crown in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Dwyer for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan, Fort Bragg stalked the pace set by Saudi Crown and challenged for the lead at the top of the lane, coming to even terms with his rival and dueling the length of the stretch as a stubborn Saudi Crown would not give in along the rail. Fort Bragg dug in under Hall of Famer John Velazquez and got his nose down first in a final time 1:35.37.
Fort Bragg’s effort came after recovering from a fever that forced him to scratch from the Grade 1 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun on June 10. He spent the past three weeks training at Belmont under the supervision of trainer John Terranova and his wife and assistant, Tonja, who reported the son of Tapit emerged well from his effort this morning.
“He looks great today,” said Terranova. “It was a great effort considering he had been sick and had to scratch.”
Fort Bragg notched his first stakes victory after earning graded black type with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity in December and a close second to General Jim in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on May 6 at Churchill Downs. He was purchased for $700,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.
FMQ Stables’ Saudi Crown made his stakes debut for two-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Brad Cox, entering with a perfect 2-for-2 record that included a first-out maiden score in April at Keeneland and a last-out victory in a first-level allowance sprint in May at Churchill. The son of Always Dreaming also earned a 106 Beyer for an effort that saw him fight back valiantly in his first real challenge after winning his first two starts by a combined 6 1/2 lengths.
“He’s a very nice horse and fought on, and he’s got a stake with his name on it for sure,” said Dustin Dugas, Cox’s Belmont-based assistant. “He ate up good, jogged good and his temperature was good. Everything is in good order. He’s one that Brad has always been high on.”
Out of the unraced Tapit mare New Narration, Saudi Crown was a $240,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, where he breezed an eighth of a mile in 10 seconds flat.
Northern Invader points to G2 Hall of Fame following stylish maiden score
West Point Thoroughbreds and David Ingordo's Northern Invader, a sophomore son of Collected, drew off to an impressive eight-length score on Saturday in a one-mile maiden special weight over the Widener turf for 3-year-olds and up.
Trained by Cherie DeVaux and piloted by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, Northern Invader bobbled at the break and settled in fourth position before making a three-wide move on the turn and taking a four-length lead at the stretch call. The talented chestnut kicked away in the final furlong under a strong hand ride to secure the win in a final time of 1:33.76 and garner a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure.
Northern Invader, bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms Ont. Inc. and Peter A. Berglar Racing Interests, made his first two starts on dirt at Churchill Downs, completing the exacta on both occasions.
DeVaux said she was cautiously optimistic of a good effort from Northern Invader in his turf debut.
"He's exciting for sure. The first two races we were trying to see if we should pursue going on the dirt. We always had a feeling he was a turf horse, but he had been training so well on the dirt," said DeVaux, who secured her first win at Belmont Park. "There's always some apprehension. The two races he ran on the dirt were really solid and the speed figures came back quite fast, so you're just hoping you make the right decision with the surface change."
DeVaux said Northern Invader is likely to target the Grade 2, $500,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at one-mile on turf for sophomores on August 4 at Saratoga Race Course rather than try the $1 million King's Plate, a 10-furlong Tapeta test restricted to Canadian-bred 3-year-olds on August 20 at Woodbine Racetrack.
"Right now, I think we'll stay the course on the turf and maybe try the Hall of Fame. Just see how he's training out of this and go from there," DeVaux said. "It's a big jump to go from a mile to that [10 furlongs], so we'll just have to see how he progresses in his training."
The well-bred $310,000 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase is out of the winning Arch mare Androeah, who is a full-sister to Grade 1-winner Archarcharch.
DeVaux credited Northern Invader's breeders, who also found success this meet with the sophomore Ontario-bred Kalik, who captured the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge here in June and is targeting Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational.
"They both do an excellent job with anything they have their hand in," said DeVaux of Anderson and Berglar. "They're family friends of ours and both do a really good job in their matings and how the horses are raised. My husband [Ingordo] bought [Grade 1-winner] Hard Not to Love off of Dave Anderson - he has a great breeding program up there."
Northern Invader, who shipped upstate to Saratoga this morning, was saddled on Saturday by DeVaux's sister and assistant trainer, Adrianne DeVaux, who visited with the budding star when he was a yearling.
"She was actually playing with him in the field and he was chasing her around. He wouldn't leave her alone, so the joke was always that he chose her. She's very attached to him," DeVaux said, with a laugh.
DeVaux, who will have 19 stalls at the Spa this summer, said dual graded-stakes winner Gam's Mission is on target for either the restricted $135,000 De La Rose on August 2 at Saratoga or the Grade 3 Matchmaker on July 22 at Monmouth Park.
The 5-year-old Noble Mission mare, a homebred for Lazy F Ranch, captured a pair of Grade 3 scores at Churchill, taking the 2021 Regret and the Mint Julep last June. She was last seen taking a Keeneland allowance in April by a neck over Bubble Rock, who exited that effort to win the License Fee at Belmont.
Omar Aldabbagh and Jeff Ganje's multiple graded-stakes placed Shotgun Hottie is on target for the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher on July 22 at Monmouth following her 5 1/2-length romp there last out on June 10 in the Lady's Secret.
The 4-year-old Gun Runner bay entered the Lady's Secret from a distant third-place finish in the Serena's Song on May 14 at the New Jersey oval. She boasts a perfect in-the-money record from three starts at Monmouth, including a runner-up effort in last year's Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks.
"She's doing really well. I'll point her to the Molly Pitcher," DeVaux said. "She had her last two races over the track and the impressive win, so I'm taking the next logical step with her."
Spendthrift Farm’s general manager Ned Toffey said graded stakes winner and Kentucky Derby alumnus Kingsbarns remains a possibility for either the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy on July 29 at Saratoga Race Course or the previous week’s Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park.
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Kingsbarns was narrowly defeated by Salute the Stars in the last-out Pegasus on June 17 at Monmouth after running 14th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs. The son of Uncle Mo captured his first three starts heading into the Kentucky Derby, including the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 25 Fair Grounds Race Course.
“We’re freshening him a little bit, keeping some options open,” Toffey said. “There’s the Haskell and the Jim Dandy and we’ll look at those, but we’ll talk with Todd and just keep things open. Obviously, it gets pretty tough with fewer spots for these good 3-year-olds. You won’t find too many soft spots. We still think he’s a nice horse and he should move forward off his last race.”