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Book’em Danno won the 2023 Futurity Stakes (G3) at Belmont at the Big A, a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint that was rained off the turf.
Atlantic Six Racing’s heavily favored Book’em Danno posted a decisive victory in Sunday’s off-the-turf running of the Grade 3 Futurity, which was contested at six furlongs on the main track after it was originally slated for the same distance on the outer turf, at Belmont at the Big A.
An automatic berth into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint through the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” was not immediately awarded to the winner of the Futurity, pending a Breeders’ Cup panel review on Monday, due to the Futurity being run off the turf.
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Trained by Derek Ryan, the son of Bucchero entered from a successful stakes debut in the Smoke Glacken on September 9 at Monmouth Park and remained undefeated through three lifetime outings that began with a debut score in August at the Jersey Shore oval.
Ryan said he was not deterred by the race moving to the dirt, a surface the dark bay gelding has won each of his races on.
“It doesn’t really hurt that it came off,” said Ryan. “I’m not disappointed that it came off, we’ll try the turf down the road.”
Piloted to victory by Jose Ortiz, Book’em Danno emerged from the outermost post 5 while Ruddy Buddy stumbled badly to his inside and trailed the field as Works for Me broke sharpest of all and led through an opening quarter-mile in 22.09 over the fast main track.
Book’em Danno tracked in fourth down the backstretch under patient handling from Ortiz as Jimmythetooth kept close watch in second and was nudged along by Manny Franco approaching the turn. Book’em Danno advanced with purpose from his stalking position and was swung three-wide by Ortiz to make his bid for the front as Works for Me clocked the half-mile in 45.27.
Works for Me turned back the brief challenge from Jimmythetooth exiting the turn, but was left to deal with a looming Book’em Danno as Ortiz gave left-handed encouragement and Where’s Chris kicked into gear from 15 lengths off the pace. Book’em Danno proved too much for his rivals and swept past Works for Me with ease approaching the sixteenth marker to draw off to the 6 1/2-length triumph in a final time of 1:09.47.
A game Works for Me fended off the late charge of Where’s Chris by a head for place honors with Jimmythetooth and the slow-starting Ruddy Buddy completing the order of finish. Please Advise, Lamorna and Apollo Ten were scratched.
2023 Breeders’ Cup
Ryan compared Book’em Danno’s potential versatility to that of his multiple graded stakes-winner Musket Man, who won his first two starts at six-furlongs ahead of a stretch-out when taking the seven-furlong Pasco and a pair of graded dirt route scores before finishing third in the 2009 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.
“He’s very versatile. You can sit or do whatever you want with him,” said Ryan. “He’ll go as far as I want him to go. I had a horse a few years ago – Musket Man – and everyone told me [about stretching out], ‘he’s six furlongs, he can’t do that.’ You train them to do whatever you want.”
Ortiz, who rode Book’em Danno for the first time in the afternoon, said the pace scenario worked out well.
“He broke well and I had a good trip. Two horses went to the front and I was just stalking them from off the pace,” said Ortiz. “When I asked him to go, he responded very well.
“I rode him like much the best and he was much the best,” Ortiz continued. “I worked him in the morning and he showed in the morning that he’s a good horse. I was very confident. I got a great post today and he just responded very well for me when I asked him. He’s a nice horse.”
The Futurity was the fourth stakes triumph of the weekend for Ortiz, who piloted Northern Invader to a win in Friday’s Gio Ponti here, and celebrated a Grade 1 double yesterday at Keeneland with Up to the Mark in the Coolmore Turf Mile and Locked in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity.
“Those were two nice horses won for me yesterday,” Ortiz said. “We’re on a roll right now, I just hope we can keep it going.”
Ryan added Book’em Danno could come under consideration for the one-mile $150,000 Nashua on November 5 at the Big A.
“We’ll see what we’re going to do with him. We might try the Nashua, but I don’t like to over-run a young 2-year-old,” said Ryan. “Next year is a long year. I might be tempted to go a little further, who knows.”
Bred in New Jersey by Gregory J. Kilka and Bright View Farm, Book’em Danno is a half-brother to multiple dirt stakes-winner Girl Trouble and banked $82,500 in victory. He returned $2.80 for a $2 win ticket.
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