Mr. Buff led at every point of call and got back to his winning ways with an in-hand triumph in Sunday afternoon's $100,000 Saginaw, a 1 1/16-mile race for New York-breds 4-years old and up at Belmont Park.
Chester and Mary Broman's 5-year-old Friend Or Foe chestnut stumbled slightly coming out of the gate but was nudged a few times by jockey Junior Alvarado and took command leading a tightly packed five-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 24.03 seconds with 3-1 second choice Sea Foam tracking just to his outside a length behind in second and Mo Diddley in third.
With the half-mile covered in 47.66 seconds, Sea Foam began to inch his way closer to the leader, but Mr. Buff was able to keep him at bay around the far turn. Mr. Buff was under a hand ride within the final furlong and cruised home under the wire to win by 6 ¼ lengths in a time of 1:41.21 on the fast main track.
Dynamax Prime got up for second 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Sea Foam. Twisted Tom and Mo Diddley completed the order of finish.
Alvarado was pleased with the horse's effort and said he felt there was plenty left in the tank at the top of the stretch.
“He's a big horse that likes to be on the lead. He's a fighter,” Alvarado said. “Today, he got the lead and we were able to control the race the way we wanted to. From the three-eighths pole, I knew how much horse I had. When I started to feel Sea Foam coming at me, I just let him get loose. At that point, I knew I still had a lot of horse.”
Mr. Buff picked up his third career stakes victory in the Saginaw. This past winter he defeated fellow New York-breds in the Alex M. Robb on December 29 at Aqueduct before defeating open company by 5 ¼ lengths in the Jazil. He entered the Saginaw off of a narrow-third place finish in the Commentator on May 27, where he was beaten three-quarters of a length to Pat On the Back.
Kimmel was highly satisfied with Mr. Buff's performance.
“He's big. He's 17.2 hands and probably every bit of 1,100 pounds. He's just a big, strong horse and has some natural talent,” said Kimmel. “Today, he laid over that group of horses. Junior [Alvarado] said he lost a little bit of focus turning for home because there was nobody near him. Junior asked him to get going and I think if he had felt a little bit of pressure, he had a lot more in the tank.”
Kimmel did not rule out a start in the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 3.
“It was a good effort and it sets him up well,” Kimmel said. “One of these days, he's going to show up on a big race day – maybe the Whitney. He loves two-turn races and he's run very well at Saratoga. So, we might show up there.”
After cashing a check for $55,000 from a triumph in the Saginaw, Mr. Buff enhanced his lifetime earnings up to $623,786. His record now stands at 9-6-4 in a total of 29 career starts.
Mr. Buff, the odds-on favorite, returned $3.90 for a $2 win wager. Bred in New York by his owners, Mr. Buff is out of the Grade 2 placed Speightstown broodmare Speightful Affair.
Live racing resumes on Wednesday at Belmont Park with an 8-race card. First post is 1:30 p.m.
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