by NYRA Press Office
Chester and Mary Broman's homebred Mr. Buff muscled his way to the lead in the final turn and cruised home a 3 1/2-length winner in Wednesday's $100,000 Evan Shipman at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by John Kimmel, the 5-year-old Friend Or Foe chestnut arrived at the nine-furlong route for New York-breds 3-years-old and up from a commanding 6 1/4-length score in the restricted Saginaw on June 30 at Belmont Park.
Emerging awkwardly from post 2 under Junior Alvarado, Mr. Buff tracked in third position as Sea Foam led the field through an opening quarter-mile in 23.82 seconds and the half-mile in 47.78 on the main track labelled fast.
Alvarado, patient through the opening turn, urged his charge into action down the backstretch squeezing up the rail to command the lead from Sea Foam entering the final turn.
Gio d'Oro, tracking from third position, failed to find more as Mr. Buff picked up the pace through the turn and put away Sea Foam. The sizable Mr. Buff, at 17.2 hands tall, strode away from the field down the lane with large strides as Dynamix Prime made a late gain up the rail. Never threatened, Mr. Buff, the 3-5 mutuel favorite, stopped the clock in 1:51.65.
Dynamix Prime completed the exacta, 2 1/2-lengths in front of Winston's Chance. Sea Foam, Vincento, Gio d'Oro, and Twisted Tom rounded out the order of finish. Evaluator, off slowly, trailed throughout and was pulled up down the lane. Control Group was scratched.
Alvarado said Mr. Buff endured some trouble leaving the gate, resulting in a more patient trip.
"Sometimes, you just have to be confident. I didn't have the best break. I wanted to be on the lead because it seems that's where he's most comfortable. But he got his hind leg stuck in the gate right before the break," said Alvarado. "He wasn't standing great when we broke, he kind of missed the start. I had to hurry in front inside and be confident working my way through the field, and he was there for me every step of the way. He just does what he needs to do to win."
Kimmel was full of praise for the now 10-time winner.
"He didn't break sharp and for a horse that's got a lot of 1s in his past performance line, for him to be in behind horses and come up the inside and outrun these horses, I was pretty proud of the effort," said Kimmel.
Kimmel noted that a start in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets, a nine-furlong test slated for August 31 could be in the cards for Mr. Buff.
"He's home here. We've been tinkering of the idea of a nice mile and an eighth, two-turn race, and we'll evaluate him," said Kimmel. "If he comes out of this race without any issues, we'll probably keep him eligible for the Woodward."
Mr. Buff banked $55,000 in victory, while improving his record to 10-6-4 from 30 starts. He paid $3.20 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes on Thursday at the Spa with a 10-race card highlighted by the $100,000 Saratoga Dew. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.