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OZONE PARK, NY – Chester and Mary Broman’s New York-bred legend Mr. Buff will attempt to notch his 11th career stakes victory in Saturday’s 65th running of the $125,000 Stymie contested at a one-turn mile at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 7-year-old son of Friend Or Foe has put together a notable resume, which includes back-to-back wins in the Alex M. Robb at Aqueduct in 2018-19 and Empire Classic at Belmont Park in 2019-20 as well as victories in the 2019 Saginaw and Evan Shipman and the 2020 Haynesfield at the Big A, which he won by an astounding 20 lengths while recording a 106 Beyer Speed Figure.
Mr. Buff arrives at the Stymie off a 7-length romp in the 9-furlong Jazil on January 23, which he won for the third straight year in a stellar 2021 bow. The sizable homebred, who sports a 43-16-8-4 lifetime record, has banked $1,295,786 in earnings while boasting a highly consistent 16-9-4-0 ledger at Aqueduct.
Mr. Buff has trained forwardly for conditioner John Kimmel since earning a 102 Beyer for his Jazil score. He has breezed 3 times over the Belmont training track, most recently a 1/2-mile move in 48.40 on February 20.
“He’s doing fine, and even though he’s 7, he’s acting like he’s 3. He’s handling everything really well right now,” said Kimmel, who won the 2001 Stymie with Windrush.
Kimmel said that Mr. Buff’s optimal conditions include the freedom to get into his own rhythm and avoid being forced into speed duels.
“He’s got good tactical speed, but the times he’s gotten in trouble is when he’s been pushed past his comfort zone and intent on going to the lead,” Kimmel said. “As he has shown in races past, he has been able to sit behind horses that have shown a little more speed. That’s key to this race being an eighth of a mile shorter. There might be a little more pace in there. He’s always been a good gate horse. The most important thing is getting him to find his rhythm in the first part of the race.”
Jockey Manny Franco will ride Mr. Buff from post 3.
Runnymoore Racing’s Alwaysmining ships to New York from Laurel Park for trainer Austin Trites, who saddled the son of Stay Thirsty to a 1-mile optional-claiming score on January 30 at Laurel Park. The 10-time winner of 24 starts has won at least 2 stakes races in his last 3 seasons, which began with a pair of juvenile victories in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity and the Heft in December 2018 at Laurel while under the care of trainer Kelly Rubley.
Alwaysmining’s sophomore campaign encompassed victories in the 2019 Miracle Wood, Private Terms, and Federico Tesio at the Maryland oval before a distant 11th in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico.
In 2020, Alwaysmining kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with 2 more stakes victories, beating fellow Maryland-breds in the Jennings before stepping to open company in the John Campbell, where he garnered a career-best 101 Beyer.
Despite capturing most of his stakes wins in front-running fashion, Alwaysmining registered his most recent victory coming from fifth, 4 lengths off the pace, and was in command inside the 1/8 pole kicking clear to a 3-length win last month.
Jorge Vargas Jr. has the mount from post 5.
Michael Dubb’s Musical Heart will try and build on stakes black type from his last two efforts for trainer Rob Atras.
The 6-year-old Maclean’s Music chestnut was claimed by Atras for $62,500 following a close second to Backsideofthemoon going 9 furlongs on November 13 over a sloppy and sealed Aqueduct main track. He followed up with a more distant second to his familiar foe in the Queens County on December 19 before finishing third in the Jazil behind winner Mr. Buff.
Musical Heart, who has placed in 7 of his last 8 starts, will break from post 2 under Dylan Davis.
Completing the field are Brian and Kerry Novak Inc.’s Limonite (post 4, Eric Cancel), who is fresh off a 5-length allowance score going 9 furlongs at Aqueduct for trainer Amira Chichakly; and John O’Connor’s Tintoretto (post 1, Trevor McCarthy), a German-bred who seeks his first triumph in North America for trainer Tom Albertrani.
The Stymie is slated as Race 3 on Saturday’s nine-race card. First post is 1:05 PM Eastern.
The race honors Ethel D. Jacobs’ 1945 Champion Older Horse, who captured some of New York’s marquee events such as the Whitney, the Metropolitan Handicap and the Manhattan. Campaigned by Hall of Famer Hirsch Jacobs during his prosperous years, Stymie retired with $918,475 in earnings and a record of 131-35-33-28. He was elected to the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1975.
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