Stakes Advance
May 12, 2022
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Senbei makes seasonal bow in $100K Gold Fever

by Mary Eddy

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Darlene Bilinski’s Senbei will make his sophomore and open-company debut for trainer Christophe Clement in Sunday’s $100,000 Gold Fever for 3-year-olds sprinting six furlongs over the main track at Belmont Park.

“He’s doing very well,” Clement said. “He had a complete break and now he’s in full work. It’s all good.”

A New York-bred son of Candy Ride, Senbei kicked off a juvenile campaign that earned him a nomination for Champion New York-Bred 2-Year-Old Male with an impressive debut maiden win sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over a muddy and sealed main track in July at Saratoga Race Course. Senbei made the step up to stakes company for his first start against winners, making easy work of the added furlong in the restricted Funny Cide over the same course.

The chestnut colt was handed his only loss in the seven-furlong Bertram F. Bongard in his first go around Big Sandy in September, finishing second two lengths back of the well-regarded Shipsational. He quickly rebounded in his next outing, cutting back to six furlongs in the New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes Racetrack where he stalked in second and drew away to an easy four-length win.

His most recent effort was an eye-catching triumph in the Notebook on November 21 at Aqueduct, taking command from the gate and never looking back under a confident hand ride from regular rider Manny Franco. Senbei crossed the wire 8 1/4 lengths the best and was awarded a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

Clement said he was uncertain whether to send out Senbei against open company for his first start off the layoff or wait for the $125,000 Mike Lee against fellow state-breds on May 30.

“It’s tough because you don’t have a choice when you win too many races. You just have to go one step at a time,” Clement said. “It gets tougher, but it’s also a good thing because you’ve been winning races. He belongs. He’s a nice horse; not just a nice New York-bred, but a nice horse altogether.

“The choice was either to come back at six furlongs in the open company or at seven-eighths against New York-breds on May 30,” Clement added. “I don’t know if I did the right thing or not, but he’s ready to run now and that’s good.”

Senbei has posted a long series of works at Belmont since March, most recently breezing five-eighths in company with stakes winner Listentoyourheart in 1:02.12 over the main track Monday.

“He went well. It was a good work,” Clement said.

Franco, who has been aboard for all five of Senbei’s starts, has the call from the outermost post 6.

MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm’s Provocateur ships in from Florida for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher in search of his second stakes victory. A son of Into Mischief, Provocateur was a last out winner of the Hutcheson on March 13 at Gulfstream Park.

Provocateur broke his maiden at third asking in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Tampa Bay Downs, stalking just off the pace and taking over at the top of the lane to earn a professional 4 1/2-length victory. The bay colt made his stakes debut next out in the seven-furlong Pasco where he briefly took command at the stretch call but was put away by Markhamian in mid-stretch.

The $600,000 2020 Keeneland September Yearling purchase improved in his most recent outing to take the Hutcheson, earning a career-high 90 Beyer Speed Figure for the two-length victory. Provocateur zipped through the six furlongs in 1:09.60. 

Out of the Cherokee Run mare Cayala, Provocateur is a full brother to Grade 3 Southwest winner One Liner.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride from post 3.

Curragh Stables’ Fluid Situation, trained by John Terranova, enters from a speedy seven-furlong maiden score on March 27 at Tampa Bay Downs where he earned a field-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure under Samuel Camacho, Jr.

The bay Florida-bred son of Warrior’s Reward led at each point of call and improved his margins throughout, drawing away from his seven rivals and winning in hand by 5 3/4 lengths. The effort was much the best of his three starts, improving from a sixth-place finish on debut and a well-beaten fourth in his second outing. 

Fluid Situation made his final preparations Monday over the Belmont main track, breezing a half-mile in 48.34 seconds.

Joel Rosario, who was aboard for Fluid Situation’s debut, will ride again from post 4.

Cypress Creek Equine’s Don’t Wait Up returns to trainer Tony Dutrow after making a trip to Evangeline Downs with trainer Ricky Courville. Don’t Wait Up, who was on the bench since finishing a distant 13th in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity in October at Keeneland, put up a game fourth-place effort and was just bested for show honors in the Lafayette on April 16 for his first start off the layoff.

The bay Upstart colt started his career with Dutrow and finished second by a nose on debut in August at Saratoga before breaking his maiden at second asking and defeating eventual Grade 1 placed Commandperformance by two lengths.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez will guide Don’t Wait Up, who adds blinkers, from post 5.

Rounding out the field are Richie’s World Stables’ Grade 3 placed Dance Code [post 1, Jose Ortiz] for trainer Juan Vazquez; and Scott Zimmerman’s two-time winner Runninsonofagun [post 2, Luis Saez] for trainer John Toscano, Jr.

The Gold Fever, which honors the multiple graded stakes winner trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for Cynthia Phipps, is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern. 

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