Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano won a pair of stakes, including a sentimental win aboard 7-year-old veteran Offering Plan, on Friday at Saratoga Race Course on New York Breeders' Showcase Day; the second of three days on the New York Racing Association calendar devoted exclusively to New York-breds.
Owned by Michael Dubb, Nantucket Thoroughbred Partners, Bethlehem Stables, and G. Aisquith, Offering Plan surged between rivals in deep stretch under Castellano to capture the $150,000 West Point presented by Trustco Bank in Race 9.
The dark bay horse conditioned by Saratoga's leading trainer Chad Brown was making his fourth appearance in the West Point, having previously been defeated by a half-length or less when finishing third in 2016 and second in 2017 and 2018.
“I'm so proud of him, at his age to come back another year and give a really good performance and finally win this race,” said Brown of Offering Plan, whose resume through the years includes victories in the 2018 Mohawk and the 2017 and 2018 Kingston. “It's definitely his last year of racing, but we'll try to run him some more at the end of the year. But it's definitely his last year, I can tell you that. He's done a lot for us.”
Everyonelovesjames set a swift tempo in the West Point marking the opening quarter-mile in 23.03 seconds as Mo Maverick tracked his early foot from second with Therapist laying patiently in third.
Offering Plan rallied late in the turn and gained ground steadily down the lane as Everyonelovesjames faded. Therapist held a brief lead late, but Offering Plan saved his best for last and kicked home for the narrow neck win outside of Therapist under outside pressure from Dot Matrix, who completed the exacta.
“I've fallen in love with this horse,” said Castellano, who earlier on the card won the $200,000 Seeking the Ante aboard Fierce Lady. “I've been riding him for so many years and have been on him for his last 12 races, and he always shows up. He's always in the money, one-two-three. He never gives up. I think the way he did it today was phenomenal. I'm very proud of him.”
Bred by C. W. Swann and Cygnet Farm, Offering Plan improved his record to 9-5-6 from 27 starts while banking $82,500. He paid $6.40 for a $2 win ticket and has now earned $863,973.
Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable's Funny Guy held off a late charge from Bankit to capture the featured $250,000 Albany at nine furlongs on the main track rated fast in Race 10.
The Albany, the third and final leg of the Big Apple Triple, featured the winners of the first two legs of the New York-bred series comprised of the Mike Lee, captured by Blindwillie McTell on May 27 at Belmont Park, and the New York Derby, won by Bankit on July 24 at Finger Lakes.
Not That Brady led the nine-horse field through splits of 23.54 and 47.46 seconds with Blindwillie McTell and Kazmania chasing the early pace. Funny Guy, saving ground in fifth position under Rajiv Maragh, angled off the rail as the field straightened away and powered past four rivals to take command as Bankit, who rallied inside of rivals through the final turn, was tipped wide by Ricardo Santana, Jr. for the stretch run.
Bankit, gaining ground with every stride, tried in vain to reel in Funny Guy falling a head short in a final time of 1:49.36.
Funny Guy, bred by Hibiscus Stable, captured the Times Square division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series in April for his first stakes win. Trained by John Terranova, Funny Guy improved his record to three wins and four seconds from nine starts while banking $144,375. He paid $17 for a $2 win ticket.
The stakes action begin in Race 3 with the $200,000 Fleet Indian, a 1 ⅛-mile main track event for 3-year-old fillies won in dominant fashion by Newly Minted.
Pressing Maiden Beauty through fractions of 22.99 and 46.66 seconds, Newly Minted claimed the lead on the upper turn, repelled a bid from Kid Is Frosty, and extended her advantage in the stretch to win by nine lengths while racing under jockey Jose Lezcano's tight hold. Kid Is Frosty was 5 ¾ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Elegant Zip.
Trained by Linda Rice for Beach Haven Thoroughbreds, Newly Minted completed the distance in 1:50.63 and returned $4.30 as the 23-20 favorite.
“She's very talented,” said Lezcano of Newly Minted, who was bred by Chester and Mary Broman. “Whatever you ask her to do, she does.”
Newly Minted began her career with three wins, including the NYSSS Park Avenue in April at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Bouwerie in May at Belmont Park. She entered the Fleet Indian off a third in her lone race on turf, the NYSSS Cupecoy's Joy on June 23 at Belmont. The $110,000 winner's share of the Fleet Indian purse lifted her career earnings to $340,850.
Wait a Minute and Maiden Beauty completed the Fleet Indian order of finish. Behind the Couch was eased.
Belle of the Spa battled bravely to register a 31-1 upset in the $150,000 Yaddo for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course in Race 5.
Deftly rated on the front end by Dylan Davis, Belle of the Spa set soft fractions of 25.08, 50.51, and 1:15.63 while being tracked by 8-5 favorite Munchkin Money. Belle of the Spa briefly lost the lead in upper stretch, but came back along the inside to defeat Munchkin Money by a neck and complete the journey in 1:43.75.
“We've been kind of pointing to this race all winter knowing and thinking what kind of horse she was,” said winning trainer Bruce Brown. “I would have been happy with second mid-stretch, but she just kept fighting.”
The Yaddo was the stakes debut and third start of the year for Belle of the Spa, winner of a turf sprint optional claimer for New York-breds in June at Belmont and sixth in an open entry-level allowance July 31 at Saratoga. The 5-year-old Pure Prize mare has a record of 4-1-1 from 11 starts with $224,697 in earnings, including $82,500 for her Yaddo victory.
Belle of the Spa, bred and owned by Anthony P. McCarthy, returned $64 for a $2 win wager.
Kreesie finished 1 ¼ lengths behind Munchkin Money in third and was followed by Wegetsdamunnys, English Soul, and Held Accountable. Fifty Five, entered in the Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa on Saturday, was scratched. Take Charge Aubrey and Out of Orbit were entered for the main track only.
Favored City Man captured the $200,000 Funny Cide, making his move right before the eighth pole to outkick pacesetter Bull of Bayern and draw away to a 4 ¾-length victory in the 6 ½-furlong race for 2-year-olds.
Bull of Bayern led the nine-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 22.25 seconds and the half in 45.35 and still held the lead out of the turn before City Man, under jockey Joel Rosario, charged from the outside and surged in the stretch, hitting the wire in 1:16.93 in Race 8.
The Christophe Clement trainee, bred by Moonstar Farm, improved to 2-for-2 in his career and returned $6.50 for a $2 win bet.
“I was expecting him to be further off the pace,” said Clement, who trains the Mucho Macho Man colt for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, and Peter and Patty Searles. “Exact opposite, but he ran a very good race.”
Cleon Jones, trained by Jeremiah Englehart and ridden by Jorge Vargas, Jr., was second, a length ahead of the Clement-trained Listentoyourheart. TheItalianamerican, Bull of Bayern, Opportunist, Mission Wrapitup, Sky of Hook and No Lime completed the order of finish.
Nice Guys Stables and Steve Hornstock's Fierce Lady gained ground on Time Limit from the outside and dueled with the pacesetter in deep stretch before overtaking her in the final jumps to win the $200,000 Seeking the Ante for state-bred juvenile fillies in Race 7.
Fierce Lady, a six-length debut winner on June 22 at Belmont Park before running second in her stakes bow in the Stillwater on July 18 at the Spa, was fourth early as Time Limit set fractions of 22.24 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.11 for the half. Coming out of the turn, Castellano put her under a drive and she went on to win by a neck, completing 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.73.
“We thought we'd be on the lead, but we weren't so Javier went to Plan B,” said winning trainer Dermot Magner. “She's a little race horse.”
Off as the even-money favorite, the Sugar Maple Farm-bred Fierce Lady returned $4.20 and more than tripled her career bankroll to $164,100.
Time Limit, trained by Mike Maker, cruised 5 ¼ lengths clear of My Italian Rabbi for second. Violent Point, Big Q and Wharf Cat completed the order of finish.
Empire State Breeders' Showcase Day is slated for October 19 as part of the Belmont at the Big A meet.
Live racing resumes on Saturday with the 150th running of the $1.25 million Runhappy Travers as the centerpiece of a 13-race card featuring seven stakes and six Grade 1s, including the, $850,000 Sword Dancer; $700,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti; $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina; $600,000 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor; and $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.
The “Mid-Summer Derby” will be televised live on FOX from 5-6 p.m. Eastern. Undercard coverage will also be televised on a special Travers Day edition of Saratoga Live, airing nationally on FS2 from 11:30-5 p.m. ET. Regional coverage of Saturday's Saratoga Live can be found on MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket and Altitude. First post on Travers Day is 11:35 a.m.
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