Chester and Mary Broman's Mr. Buff, a narrow nose winner of this event last year, will look to defend his title when taking on a field of six in Saturday's $100,000 Alex M. Robb at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Set to make his ninth start of the year, multiple stakes winner Mr. Buff will look to rebound off a 10th place finish in the Grade 1 Clark On November 29 at Churchill Downs in the nine-furlong test for New York-breds 3-year-olds and upward.
A 5-year-old homebred son of Friend or Foe, Mr. Buff has made 33 career starts with eleven wins and has amassed over $875,000 in earnings. He kicked off his 2019 campaign at the Big A with a victory against open company in the Jazil and has gone on to also capture the Saginaw, Evan Shipman, and Empire Classic versus fellow New York-breds.
Mr. Buff has finished off-the-board in his three graded starts, including his last-out tenth.
“It was a disappointing effort last out,” said conditioner John Kimmel. “You know you're always in tough against graded stakes competition. Last time, it seemed like he never really got settled and just faded off the front end. But he seems to have rebounded well.”
The sizable gelding breezed four furlongs in 50.50 seconds on the Belmont training track this morning with Junior Alvarado up and Kimmel, who is overseeing his winter stable in Florida, said reports were the work went well.
“Junior was aboard and from what he said he's continued to show good energy,” said Kimmel. “He's always ran well against fellow New York-breds and especially at the 1 1/8 miles distance. We'll use this race to see if we can hopefully just draw a line through his performance in the Clark.”
With a stellar seven wins from eleven starts at the distance, Mr. Buff will leave from post 5 under Alvarado.
Entering for trainer Linda Rice is Big Gemmy for Martin Racing Stable. The 4-year-old Gemologist colt joined Rice's barn in February and since then has won five races from seven starts, along with a good third in the Genesee Valley Breeders' at Finger Lakes.
“He really has come along and continued to progress since he's joined us,” said Rice. “We know it's a big step up from has last two starts, but he ran a good race at Finger Lakes and is doing well so we thought he deserves the opportunity to compete in here.”
With Dylan Davis aboard, Big Gemmy will leave from post 3.
Drawing Away Stable's Twisted Tom will look to win his second consecutive start for trainer A.C. Avila coming off a one-length second level allowance win on December 8 at Aqueduct. The 5-year-old Creative Cause gelding has an impressive four wins from eight starts at the distance and will be making his first stakes start since finishing seventh in the Even Shipman on August 7 at Saratoga.
Twisted Tom, denied by Mr. Buff last year in the Alex M. Robb, will leave from post 2 with Reylu Gutierrez aboard.
Also entered is Gio d'Oro (post 1, Jose Lezcano) for trainer Brad Cox and Red Diamond Stable; Fleet Irish (post 6, Oscar Gomez) for ML Racing and trainer Alexandra Hillegass; and Dynamax Prime (post 4, Manny Franco) for conditioner Rob Atras and owner Robert Bone.
The Alex M. Robb is slated as Race 4 on Saturday's nine-race card. First post is 12:30 p.m. Eastern..
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