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New York Thunder won the 2023 Amsterdam Stakes (G2) at Saratoga, dominating his dirt debut while remaining undefeated through 4 starts. The even-money favorite Drew’s Gold finished third, losing a photo finish to Deer District.
Is the Jorge Delgado trainee the top pick for the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) here on August 26? Watch the replay for the Racing Dudes’ expert analysis, then tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
AMO Racing USA’s New York Thunder was lightning fast in the early stages and stormed home a 7 1/2-length winner of his dirt debut in Friday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for sophomores, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Jorge Delgado and piloted by Tyler Gaffalione, the Nyquist bay ripped through splits of 21.48 seconds, 43.56 and 1:07.77 over the fast main track with Drew’s Gold tracking his early foot. New York Thunder opened up a three-length advantage at the stretch call and strolled home a 7 1/2-length winner under a hand ride in a final time of 1:14.65.
New York Thunder’s six-furlong split of 1:07.77 is faster than Saratoga’s six-furlong track record of 1:07.92 set by Imperial Hint in the 2019 Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt.
Delgado said he wasn’t concerned about the swift fractions.
“I wasn’t really worried. I worry in the mornings because he breezes so fast that it scares you,” Delgado said. “He goes 46 and 47 in hand and you can relate it to the afternoons. Every surface he’s been on – Keeneland [for workouts], here, at different racetracks – he’s breezed the same fractions, so that tells you that he can handle any surface in my opinion and he proved that today.”
The shape of the race changed dramatically when graded-stakes winner Ryvit, who entered on a five-race win streak for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, stumbled at the break. New York Thunder, exiting the outermost post 5, was quickest away and seized control, putting away Drew’s Gold in the turn. The Martin Garcia-piloted Deer District rallied from fourth to nose out Drew’s Gold for place honors with Gilmore and Ryvit rounding out the order of finish. Joey Freshwater was scratched.
“He’s fast,” understated Gaffalione, who was aboard New York Thunder for the first time in the afternoon. “He broke running and I tried not to get in his way too much. He was wanting to do a little bit too much, but he was doing it well within himself. Coming to the quarter pole, I think someone started coming up to my outside, so I just took a squeeze on him and he went on again and galloped out well.”
Delgado, the 33-year-old nephew of Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Gustavo Delgado, said he felt confident with Gaffalione in the irons.
“Tyler rode for me many times and helped me out at the beginning in Florida and he used to ride mostly claimers when I started,” Delgado said. “I have really good chemistry with him and I can feel when he has a lot of horse. I saw him looking back and I know he had a ton of horse, he wouldn’t play like that unless he had tons of horse. Once he asked the horse, I knew my horse was prepared and it was just so fun.”
New York Thunder entered undefeated in three starts, winning on synthetic and turf at Gulfstream Park before shipping up to Woodbine Racetrack to win the six-furlong Woodstock over Tapeta.
He was entered in the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun on June 10 at Belmont Park but scratched due to a bruised foot. He trained into the Amsterdam with a series of swift works at Monmouth Park.
“The owner wanted a graded stakes and I just followed his plan and in the end it worked. He felt like we have a really good horse and he wanted to add something like this to [his ledger],” Delgado said. “It’s been a little frustrating at times with him over the summer. I feel like we lost a lot of his schedule, but definitely [happy] he came back and won the way he did today.”
Delgado said New York Thunder will point to the seven-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Allen H. Jerkens Memorial on August 26 at Saratoga Race Course.
“If everything goes well, yes. Let’s see how he comes back. Right now, I just want to enjoy this,” Delgado said.
Garcia, aboard the runner-up Deer District, could only tip his cap to the winner.
“That’s the fastest race I’ve ever seen,” Garcia said. “They went [a half-mile] in 43. My horse is fast, but going 43 is a little quick. We were in the back and fighting a little bit for position inside, but soon as I moved him out he started running.”
New York Thunder is out of the Midshipman mare Start Over, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-placed Degree of Risk. His third dam, Surf Club, produced 2012 Grade 1 Forego-winner Emcee.
Bred in Kentucky by Gatewood Bell and Forgotten Land, New York Thunder banked $110,000 in victory while maintaining his perfect record through four starts. The $130,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase returned $13 for a $2 win bet as the fourth-longest shot in the field of five horses.
Live racing resumes Saturday at Saratoga with a 12-race card, featuring the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap in Race 8 and the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes in Race 10. First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.
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