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A total of 100 New York-breds are entered for a special 10-race card on Closing Day Sunday at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet to celebrate the best of New York for the annual Empire Showcase Day, featuring eight stakes races worth $1.6 million, led by the $250,000 Empire Classic and $250,000 Empire Distaff.
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“Empire Showcase Day is the highlight of the fall racing calendar for New York owners and breeders,” said Najja Thompson, Executive Director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. “We’re proud each of our three Showcase Days on the NYRA circuit throughout the year have proven to be premiere days displaying the strength and competitiveness of the New York-bred program for all participants.”
First post on Sunday’s Closing Day card is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s multiple stakes-winner Barese [post 5, Ruben Silvera] enters the co-featured Empire Classic [Race 10], a nine-furlong test for 3-year-olds and up, from a score in the Genesee Valley Breeders’ on September 4 at Finger Lakes.
Trained by Mike Maker, the 4-year-old Laoban colt boasts a record of 16-6-2-3 for purse earnings of $531,252 led by 2022 stakes scores in the Rego Park, Gander and New York Derby. Bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds and Lakland Farm, Barese, who will add blinkers, finished third in this event last year after a troubled trip in which he bobbled at the start and bumped with rivals before making a wide run to miss place by a neck and the win by one length behind the victorious Dr. Blute.
Trainer Linda Rice will saddle a trio of contenders in last year’s runner-up Curlin’s Wisdom [post 1, Kendrick Carmouche], graded stakes-winner Un Ojo [post 8, Jose Lezcano] and the consistently in-the-money Sheriff Bianco [post 7, Jose Ortiz].
A talented field includes multiple stakes-winner Lobsta [post 3, Heman Harkie], stakes-winner Drake’s Passage [post 6, Manny Franco], stakes-placed Olympic Dreams [post 4, Trevor McCarthy], stakes-placed Aggregation [post 2, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and allowance winners Cicciobello [post 9, Javier Castellano] and Straight Arrow [post 10, Jairo Rendon].
The co-featured Empire Distaff [Race 5], a nine-furlong test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, is headlined by NY Final Furlong Racing Stable and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ multiple graded stakes-placed Venti Valentine [post 5, Manny Franco].
Bred by Final Furlong and Maspeth Stable, the Jorge Abreu-trained daughter of Firing Line is a five-time stakes winner, boasting scores in the 2021 state-bred Maid of the Mist; the open-company Busher Invitational and state-bred Bay Ridge last year; as well as state-bred scores in her last two outings in the Johnstone Mile in August at Saratoga and the Jack Betta Be Rite on October 2 at Finger Lakes.
She will be challenged by Vincent Stanzione’s Sunset Louise [post 3, Kendrick Carmouche], who has won 3-of-5 starts this year for trainer Bruce Levine. The 4-year-old Tonalist chestnut, bred by Schiano Racing, won her first three starts this year, including a pair of open-company optional-claiming tilts. She was off-the-board after a troubled trip in the Johnstone Mile and enters from a distant runner-up effort in a match race with Gerrymander in the Noble Damsel on October 8 here.
A robust field includes stakes-winner Ichiban [post 7, Jose Ortiz], multiple stakes-placed Know It All Audrey [post 2, Javier Castellano], five-time winner Tough Street [post 6, Dylan Davis] and three-time winners Sweet Mystery [post 4, Trevor McCarthy] and April Antics [post 1, Jose Lezcano].
The stakes action kicks off in Race 2 as Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Patty Searles and Peter Searles’ fan favorite City Man [post 2, Joel Rosario] will attempt a title defense of the $200,000 Mohawk, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for 3-year-olds and upward.
Trained by Christophe Clement, City Man boasts 10 career stakes conquests, including graded scores in last year’s Grade 3 Forbidden Apple at Saratoga and Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park. The 6-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man, bred by Moonstar Farm, enters from a third-place finish in the Ashley T. Cole on October 6 at Belmont at the Big A where he finished behind returning rivals Spirit of St Louis and Jerry the Nipper. This year, City Man added two state-bred stakes wins to his ledger, including the May 29 Kingston at Belmont Park and the West Point presented by Trustco Bank on August 27 at Saratoga, which he won last year.
Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Richard Schermerhorn’s Spirit of St. Louis [post 4, Manny Franco] will attempt two straight stakes triumphs for trainer Chad Brown after earning his first stakes win in the Ashley T. Cole. Bred by Chester and Mary Broman, the 4-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro has never finished worse than second in six lifetime starts, including a debut victory over the main track. In four starts on grass, Spirit of St. Louis’ only turf loss was when running second to City Man in the West Point.
Repole Stable’s Jerry the Nipper [post 6, Jose Ortiz] has proven to be ultra-consistent this season for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher. The 6-year-old Liam’s Map bay is still in search of his first stakes triumph but has placed in all four of his attempts at that level this year. He was second beaten a nose to City Man in the Kingston his 2023 debut before completing the trifecta in the Hudson Valley on July 3 at Belmont Park. Following an open company allowance optional claiming score at Saratoga, he finished third in the West Point and enters from a runner-up effort in the Ashley T. Cole. He was bred by St. Elias Stable and Peta Ryan.
Completing the field are Dakota Gold [post 1, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], Call Me Harry [post 3, Javier Castellano], Kaz Sugar Bank [post 5, Tyler Conner], Ruse [post 7, Dylan Davis], and Noble Huntsman [post 8, Romero Maragh].
In the $200,000 Maid of the Mist, a one-turn mile event for juvenile fillies in Race 3, Richard Greeley’s Cara’s Time [post 5, Dylan Davis] will look to back up a 22-1 upset triumph in the last out Joseph A. Gimma for trainer Mitchell Friedman.
The Not This Time gray, bred by Stephen Crestani, Jr., earned an 80 Beyer Speed Figure in the seven-furlong test at Belmont at the Big A, fending off a late rally from returning rival Caldwell Luvs Gold to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
Dicke Racing’s Caldwell Luvs Gold [post 4, Manny Franco] will attempt to turn the tables on Cara’s Time and earn a second stakes score for trainer Brad Cox. Two starts back, the Goldencents bay captured the Seeking the Ante on August 27 at Saratoga where she earned an 80 Beyer. She was bred by Jeremiah Desmond and Drumkenny Farm.
Completing the field are Tricky Temper [post 1, Katie Davis], Bernietakescharge [post 2, Trevor McCarthy], My Mane Squeeze [post 3, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], Valentine Gift [post 6, Javier Castellano], Kaz’ Rose [post 7, Tyler Conner], and Lika Rolling Stone [post 8, Kendrick Carmouche].
Lawrence Goichman’s homebred Runaway Rumour [post 7, Jose Lezcano] looks to double up on stakes scores in the $200,000 Ticonderoga [Race 6], a 1 1/16-mile inner turf route for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, after taking the nine-furlong John Hettinger last out against fellow state-breds on September 22.
Trained by Linda Rice, the multiple graded stakes-placed daughter of Flintshire won this event last year by a head when in the care of conditioner Jorge Abreu, adding to a score in the 2021 Wild Applause at Belmont.
Marjorie Krohn’s Sweetie [post 2, Javier Castellano] streaks in off a pair of allowance victories for trainer Gary Sciacca, most recently taking a 1 1/16-mile state-bred optional claimer on September 14 in off-the-pace fashion. Bred by Hidden Lake Farm and Fred Rosen, the Effinex dark bay has hit the board in 4-of-5 lifetime outings and has banked in excess of $140,000.
Trainer Christophe Clement sends out a pair of contenders in Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Steven Rocco and Tango Uniform Racing’s stakes-winner Silver Skillet [post 8, Joel Rosario] and Waterville Lake Stables’ homebred Waterville [post 9, Dylan Davis]. The former, bred by Robert Chasanoff, won the state-bred Suzie O’Cain two starts back at the Spa and finished second to Sacred Wish in the open-company Winter Memories last out on September 15. Waterville, a Kitten’s Joy gray, enters from a fourth in a local optional claiming tilt traveling one mile against state-breds.
Completing the field are maiden winner Saratoga Chrome [post 1, Romero Ramsay Maragh], dual winner Can’t Fool Me [post 5, Kendrick Carmouche], five-time winner Itsakeyper [post 6, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], stakes-winner Whatlovelookslike [post 4, Manny Franco] and multiple stakes-placed Spungie [post 3, Jose Ortiz]. Amanda’s Folly has been entered for the main track-only.
Mark Anderson’s multiple graded stakes-placed Sterling Silver [post 5, Javier Castellano] seeks her third career stakes conquest in the $150,000 Iroquois [Race 7], a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
Trained by Tom Albertrani and bred by Mallory Mort and Karen Mort, the daughter of Cupid was last seen crossing the finish line first in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom on October 1, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch. The talented gray notched stakes victories against fellow state-breds last year in the Franklin Square and Bouwerie and was a game second to Wicked Halo in the Grade 2 Prioress at the Spa.
Sterling Silver will take on a field that includes graded stakes-placed Funny How [post 4, Katie Davis], stakes-winner Cairo Sugar [post 6, Manny Franco], four-time winner Leeloo [post 8, Jose Lezcano], multiple stakes-placed Captainsdaughter [post 1, Luis Rivera, Jr.], stakes-winner Bank On Anna [post 3, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], multiple stakes-placed Security Code [post 7, Jose Gomez] and three-time winner Vallelujah [post 2, Jackie Davis].
In the $200,000 Sleepy Hollow, a one-turn mile event for juveniles in Race 8, Barry K. Schwartz’s homebred El Grande O [post 1, Jose Ortiz] will look for his second stakes conquest for trainer Linda Rice.
The son of Take Charge Indy was second beaten a head by eventual Grade 1-placed The Wine Steward in the state-bred Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital on August 27 at the Spa one start before earning an 8 1/2-length triumph in the state-bred Bertram F. Bongard on September 24 at Belmont at the Big A. He spun back off short rest for the Grade 1 Champagne at the same oval, where he was a distant sixth.
Trainer George Weaver will send out Bertram F. Bongard runner-up Aggelos the Great [post 3, Dylan Davis] for NCAA Championship-winning basketball coach Rick Pitino’s RAP Racing. The son of City of Light, bred by Chester and Mary Broman, entered that event from a narrow second-out graduation ten days earlier over the same oval.
Completing the field are Bonne Chance [post 2, Javier Castellano], Skyler’s Starship [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], Solo’s Fury [post 5, John Velazquez], Detective Tom [post 6, Trevor McCarthy], B D Saints [post 7, Kendrick Carmouche], Mischief Joke [post 8, Manny Franco], Two’s a Crowd [post 9, Isaac Castillo], and Wine Responsibility [post 10, Jose Lezcano].
A talented field has assembled for the $150,000 Hudson [Race 9], a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up.
Leading the group is Reddam Racing’s dual stakes-winner Today’s Flavor [post 2, Javier Castellano], who was last seen posting a half-length score in wire-to-wire fashion in an off-the-turf edition of the six-furlong Belmont Turf Sprint. Trained by George Weaver, the son of Laoban was bred by Joseph Calvo and also captured the six-furlong Affirmed Success against fellow state-breds in April at the Big A by 3 3/4 lengths.
Steep opposition will be provided by breeder Phil Gleaves and Steven Crist, Ken deRegt and Bryan Hilliard’s Thin White Duke [post 7, John Velazquez], who finished a game second to Today’s Flavor last out in the Belmont Turf Sprint. Trained by David Donk, the Dominus gelding won the Harvey Pack two starts back sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over turf at Saratoga Race Course and finished third for a second consecutive year in the Grade 3 Troy in August.
John Fanelli, Cash is King, LC Racing, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley’s multiple graded stakes-placed Ny Traffic [post 8, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], bred by Brian Culnan, seeks a second win in this event after taking the 2021 edition at Belmont Park. Trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., the son of Cross Traffic returned victoriously last out after a more than year-long layoff with a 2 1/2-length optional claiming coup against open company on September 15 here.
Completing the field are multiple stakes-winner Rotknee [post 9, Jose Lezcano], three-time winner Be the Boss [post 3, Ruben Silvera], the streaking Win for Gold [post 5, Kendrick Carmouche], three-time winner Ocean’s Reserve [post 4, Manny Franco] and stakes-winners Amundson [post 6, Dylan Davis] and Jemography [post 1, Joel Rosario].
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