Trainer Gary Contessa is enjoying a resurgent 2018 campaign with 46 wins on the season, already 12 more victories than he recorded a year ago. The veteran conditioner reflected on his success during Thursday's nightcap at Belmont Park as Poshsky splashed to victory in the slop to provide Contessa with his 13th win of the Belmont Fall meet, good for second in the trainer standings.
“Every day, it means a lot to win. It's really been going well for us. It's just having the right horses. In this business, when you're not going well, people think you've forgotten how to train,” Contessa said. “Right now, we have good owners that are claiming decent horses. I have guys that let me buy the 2-year-olds that I wanted, so we've won a bunch of 2-year-old races. It's a good mix of horses that belong.”
Chief among the juvenile standouts are Grade 1 winner Sippican Harbor and restricted stakes winner Maiden Beauty, who scored on debut at Belmont in the Lynbrook for New York-bred juveniles, at odds of 22-1.
“I bought her for $40,000 out of the Ocala sale and I always liked her. When I worked her she always did everything right. She's very straightforward and has a very good mind,” Contessa said of Maiden Beauty, a bay daughter of Revolutionary who was bred in New York by Sandy Glenn Stables.
“When you have a baby with a good mind, you win races. Half the battle is them not doing something stupid,” said Contessa. “She has a great mind and while maybe not precocious, she was far advanced from other horses her age mentally and that's a big plus.”
Following a strong second in the Seeking the Ante on August 24 at Saratoga, Maiden Beauty returned to Belmont to finish a troubled sixth in the Joseph A. Gimma.
“She lost her race at the break. At the break, she got smashed and then they went the first quarter in 23 [seconds] and change and she had no shot. It ended up being a merry-go-round race,” Contessa said. “She had two dream trips and two good races, and it was decreed that she would have a bad trip and that's what happened.”
Maiden Beauty breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 on October 8 at Belmont and will make her next start in the $250,000 Maid Of The Mist on Empire Showcase Day which is slated for Saturday, October 20 at Belmont.
“She came out of her last race well and will be back in the New York-bred stake on Saturday,” Contessa confirmed.
Stable star Sippican Harbor remains on track for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 2 at Churchill Downs. Owned by Lee Pokoik, the slight daughter of Orb sprinted to a startling 17-length score at second asking on August 12 at Saratoga, setting up a memorable Grade 1 win when traveling last to first in the Spinaway.
“She's a little sweetie pie you would expect to see in a riding academy. She's very cool and has a sensational mind,” Contessa said. “She's lightyears ahead of other 2-year-old fillies because she's so cool about everything.
“When we were saddling here for the Spinaway, and there were all those people looking at her, she yawned,” he continued. “She really doesn't care at all. She trains and then lays down all afternoon. She's cool under fire.”
Her off-the-turf maiden romp didn't impress the punters who sent her to post at odds of 16-1 in the Spinaway, but the $260,000 Fasig-Tipton selected yearling sale purchase wasn't looking at the tote board. A new challenge awaits Sippican Harbor in Kentucky when she attempts two turns for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies.
“She legitimized herself [in the Spinaway]. We're in an enviable position with her. And the way she trains, the further she runs, the better she's going to get,” said Contessa.
Sippican Harbor will put in two more serious works at Belmont before shipping to Louisville.
“My intent is to work her here at Belmont on Tuesday and again the following Tuesday and then send her to Kentucky,” said Contessa. “I'd like to put the finishing touches on her here at Belmont and then maybe blow her out at Churchill.”
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