Horses bred in the Empire State will have the spotlight to themselves when New York Breeders' Showcase Day returns to Saratoga Race Course for the sixth time on Friday.
Featuring six stakes worth $1.15 million, including the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds, Showcase Day kicks off the Travers Racing Festival with 11 races devoted exclusively to New York-breds. Although many of the stakes were already in existence at the Spa, in 2014 the decision was made to coalesce them along the lines of special state-bred cards at Belmont Park in the spring and fall.
“This day has a special significance,” said Michael Dubb, the New York Racing Association's leading owner for five straight years and a staunch supporter of the New York-bred program. “The people who breed in New York, we endure the long, cold winter and a lot of challenges – even the business environment is tough.
“It's significant to have these races,” he added. “It's significant to have these purses and it's most significant for everyone to know there's opportunity out there for New York-breds.”
The marquee race of the day is the Albany, which will be contested for the 37th time Friday as Race 10 on the card.
Multiple stakes winner Bankit, from the barn of Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, will carry high weight of 124 pounds in facing nine challengers, including some familiar faces, as he seeks to add the 1 ⅛-mile Albany to his win on July 24 in the New York Derby at Finger Lakes.
Back from that race will be beaten favorite and runner-up Not That Brady, who was 1 ¼ lengths back after an eventful journey; third-place finisher Just Right, and Blind Willie McTell, who was fourth and is one of two entrants for trainer Linda Rice along with Daddy Knows.
Bankit, a son of Central Banker, will be ridden from Post 2 under Ricardo Santana, Jr., while Not That Brady drew post 7 with Jose Lezcano in the irons. Just Right and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will leave from Post 8 with Blindwillie McTell drawing post 5 under Jose Ortiz.
Rounding out the field are Dancers for Token, Make Motime, Funny Guy, Doups Point, and Kazmania.
The sister race to the Albany, the $200,000 Fleet Indian, will kick off the stakes action as Race 3. After back-to-back stakes wins on turf, Bad Boy Racing's Kid Is Frosty will be looking to notch her second NYSSS race of the Saratoga meet when returning to the main track in the 1 ⅛-mile race for sophomore fillies.
Wait A Minute, who won the 1 1/16-mile New York Oaks on July 24 at Finger Lakes for trainer Jackie Stauffer, will make her Saratoga bow off consecutive wins.
Newly Minted, a two-time stakes winner on the dirt for trainer Linda Rice, will be returning to dirt after running third behind winner Kid Is Frosty in the NYSS Cupecoy's Joy at Belmont Park.
Bolstering the field is Elegant Zip, third in the New York Oaks, returning to the track where she broke her maiden at second asking last August for conditioner David Donk ; Maiden Beauty, facing stakes company for the first time in five starts for trainer Gary Contessa, and Behind the Couch, who will carry a 1-2-1 in four career starts for trainer Jeremiah Englehart into the contest.
Peter Brant's Fifty Five, who boasts a record of 9-4-5 from 19 starts, will look to earn her first victory at the Spa in Race 5 when she makes her second appearance in the $150,000 Yaddo, a 1 1/16-mile route on the Mellon turf fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward.
Trained by Chad Brown, the 5-year-old Get Stormy mare, bred by Empire Equines, finished third in the 2018 Yaddo, a neck and a nose back of La Moneda and Lady Joan.
Brown said the ultra-consistent Fifty Five, who has banked $825,038 in purse earnings, is training well into Friday's test.
“She's doing really well,” said Brown. “She hasn't run her best races at Saratoga, that's my one concern, but she's training well and looks well.”
A talented Yaddo field of nine includes the one-two finishers of the Saratoga Dew, both Chester and Mary Broman homebreds trained by Phil Serpe, in Out of Orbit and Held Accountable.
Out of Orbit, a 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon, boasts a record of 2-1-2 from seven starts. She led gate-to-wire under returning rider Luis Saez in the nine-furlong Saratoga Dew held on a fast Saratoga main track. She will look for her first turf win in her third attempt.
Held Accountable, a 4-year-old daughter of Exchange Rate, graduated at first asking in a maiden turf sprint in August 2017. She won a pair of allowance events last year in eight starts and will seek her first win of the season under regular pilot Eric Cancel.
Rounding out the field are Take Charge Aubrey, Kreesie, Munchkin Money, Wegetsdamunnys, English Soul and Belle of the Spa.
The sixth running of the $200,000 Seeking the Ante for 2-year-old fillies, Race 7, will feature a rematch between Gold Square Racing's Stillwater winner My Italian Rabbi and Nice Guys Stables' Fierce Lady, who were separated by a nose in the July 18 race.
Luis Saez retains the mount for My Italian Rabbi and conditioner Jeremiah Englehart as does Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who will be aboard Fierce Lady for trainer Dermot Magner.
Also returning from the Stillwater is Time Limit, who will be joined by new shooters Wharf Cat for trainer Oscar Barrera, Violent Point for conditioner Mark Casse and Dutchess Views Farm's Big Q, who will look to improve off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Adirondack for trainer Gary Gullo.
A field of nine juveniles will assemble for the $200,000 Funny Cide going 6 ½ furlongs over the main track.
The Funny Cide pays homage to the “gutsy gelding” who is the only New York-bred to win the Kentucky Derby. The Barclay Tagg trainee, owned by Sackatoga Stable, went on to win the Preakness Stakes before subsequently running third in the Belmont Stakes. He retired at the age of 7 with over $3.5 million in career earnings and five graded stakes wins.
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez will saddle Sky of Hook, who is the lone stakes victor in the field, and impressive maiden winner Bull of Bayern.
Sky of Hook, owned by E. V. Racing Stable, won the Rick Violette on July 17 over a sloppy main track at Saratoga last time out, while Bull of Bayern led at every point of call last out to break his maiden by 6 ¼ lengths over the main track at Belmont Park.
Sky of Hook will have the services Luis Saez from post 7 while Bull of Bayern will be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. and will leave from the rail.
Completing the field are No Lime, City Man, Mission Wrapitup, Opportunist, Theitalianamerican, Cleon Jones, and Listentoyourheart.
Michael Dubb, Nantucket Thoroughbred Partners, Bethlehem Stables, and G. Aisquith's Offering Plan, a 7-year-old son of Spring At Last, will make his fourth appearance in the $150,000 West Point presented by Trustco Bank in search of a first win in the 1 1/16-mile turf route.
The race for 3-year-olds and upward will be run as Race 9.
Offering Plan, a late-rallying gelding, finished third in the 2016 West Point, defeated just a neck by victorious King Kreesa, and second in the last two editions when missing by a half-length to Get Jets and Kharafa respectively.
Offering Plan posted a perfect in-the-money record last season of 3-2-1 topped by stakes wins in the Kingston and Mohawk at Belmont Park. Although winless in three starts this season, Offering Plan completed the trifecta in the Kingston and was a deceptively good seventh in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple when defeated just three lengths after being pinched at the break.
Brown said Offering Plan, a veteran of 26 starts, is training well into the West Point.
“He's doing super,” said Brown. “He's been disappointing this year and on paper it looks like he may have lost a step, but he does look good in his morning drills so hopefully he can get back into form.”
To win the West Point, Offering Plan will have to topple a talented field of nine that includes Grade 1-winner Voodoo Song. Trained by Rice for Barry Schwartz, Voodoo Song is an eight-time winner from 20 starts highlighted by a score in the 2018 Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap.
Off the board in a pair of starts this season, Voodoo Song will look to return to the winner's circle under new rider Jose Ortiz.
Oak Bluff Stables' Therapist, trained by Christophe Clement, captured the Elusive Quality over a yielding Belmont turf to launch his 4-year-old campaign. A six-time stakes winner from 13 starts, Therapist, co-bred by his owner and trainer, has banked $459,490 in purse earnings. He will be piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Rounding out the field are Rapt, Dot Matrix, Hoboe, Everyonelovesjames and Mo Maverick.
First post on the 11-race card is 1 p.m. Eastern.
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