Close menu
Brooklyn Strong and Laobanonaprayer in a Holding Pattern
Brooklyn Strong winning the Remsen (Credit: NYRA / Chelsea Durand)

Brooklyn Strong and Laobanonaprayer in a Holding Pattern

OZONE PARK, NY – Trainer Daniel Velazquez enjoyed a remarkable end to his 2020 campaign with New York-breds Brooklyn Strong and Laobanonaprayer.

On October 24, Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park, Velazquez won the first 2 stakes of his career when Laobanonaprayer, who he also owns, captured the Maid of the Mist to kick off the stakes action, followed in the next race by Mark Schwartz’s Brooklyn Strong taking the Sleepy Hollow.

( Content Continues Below Ad )

In December at the Big A, Velazquez returned to New York with another strong one-two punch as Brooklyn Strong, bred by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan, captured the 9-furlong Remsen (G2) and 10 Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points on December 5. Laobanonaprayer followed a day later with an eight-length romp in the NYSSS Fifth Avenue.

Velazquez said illness along with inclement weather at his Parx Racing base has disrupted the training schedule for both his stable stars. Brooklyn Strong is looking to get back on the work tab and Laobanonaprayer – who finished second in the Franklin Square on January 16 at Aqueduct- is also in need of timed workouts.

“It’s frustrating because everything went perfect going into the Remsen and Fifth Avenue, but since then, it’s been one hiccup after another,” said Velazquez. “Brooklyn got sick and we missed almost 2 months. We’re starting from scratch. He was supposed to have his first breeze back and that got pushed back because of the weather.”

Velazquez said he wanted to point Brooklyn Strong to the Gotham (G3) on March 6 at the Big A, but is now hoping he’ll have time to train into the $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino (G2) on April 3 at Aqueduct. That 1 1/8-mile contest is a 100-40-20-10 Derby qualifier.

“I thought I’d have him ready for the Gotham, so the new target is the Wood or the Arkansas Derby (G1) (on April 10 at Oaklawn Park),” said Velazquez. “They’re the only options we have to try and get into the Derby.

“I’m not worried about distance with him, but I want him to be ready,” added Velazquez. “Everyone goes into these races very prepared, and right now, I feel like we’re short.”

Laobanonaprayer winning the Fifth Avenue (Credit: NYRA / Chelsea Durand)

Velazquez said Laobanonaprayer, bred in the Empire State by Christina Deronda, should make her next start in the $250,000 Busher Invitational on March 6 at Aqueduct. She last worked on February 10 when covering 3/8 in 36.13 at Parx.

“The Laoban filly is pointed towards the Busher and I’m trying to squeeze 2 works into her, but this weather has been horrendous. All we’ve been doing is shedrowing,” said Velazquez. “I got one work into her last week going 3/8 and she was scheduled to work this weekend a 1/2-mile, and then I wanted to work her 5/8 after that so she’ll be ready, but this weekend is a bust because there hasn’t been any training here.”

Velazquez said the weather also played a part in the Laoban filly’s runner-up effort to Secret Love last out in the Franklin Square.

“We missed one key workout going into that race,” said Velazquez. “We just haven’t been able to get into a flow.”

Velazquez said he is confident that things will turn around for his two New York-bred stars.

“Everything went so right up until the Remsen,” said Velazquez. “We had good weather. I was training at Delaware and everything was good. It’s just the circumstances we’re in right now.

“But I don’t want to go to any race and feel unprepared,” he added. “These horses put 110% of themselves out there and I don’t want to short them and dishearten them. I don’t mind losing when I know they’re ready and we get beat by a better horse, but if we go short and finish third because I know I’m not fit, that eats my soul.”

Join the Inner Circle

Sign up for exclusive 10% discount on orders, plus be the first to access our daily free and premium horse racing picks, articles, podcasts, and more!

Sign Up