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ELMONT, NY – Bankit secured millionaire status with a powerful score in the $200,000 Commentator on a holiday Monday card devoted to New York-breds featuring 6 state-bred stakes worth a combined $900,000 at Belmont Park.
A special Memorial Day card saw state-breds take center stage with six trainers and five jockeys sharing the spoils in front of a vociferous crowd.
“The thrilling on-track performances on Big Apple Showcase Day was a culmination of the hard work by everyone involved in our state-bred program,” said Najja Thompson, Executive Director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. “The depth and value of the New York-bred program, with lucrative purses offered, was fully on display and it’s great to see the Empire State’s owners and breeders celebrated along with awards from the tremendous opportunities available in the New York-bred program.”
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Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Bankit dominated the ninth running of the Commentator in Race 4 under a stylish ride from Jose Lezcano for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
The 5-year-old son of Central Banker, bred by Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing, angled between pacesetting Winners Laugh and the tracking Mr. Buff late in the turn of the 1-mile test and drew off to a 13 1/4-length win in a final time of 1:34.52.
Bankit, who netted $110,000 in victory, improved his record to 30-6-10-4 with purse earnings of 1,027,875. He returned $6.90 on a $2 win wager.
Rounding out the order of finish were Danny California, Winners Laugh, Captain Bombastic, Mr. Buff, and Sea Foam.
Trainer John Terranova’s Bank Sting broke on top and never looked back in the $200,000 Critical Eye in Race 9, capping off a fantastic slate of New York-bred stakes action.
Entering the Critical Eye for older fillies and mares on a 3-race win streak, Bank Sting, a 4-year-old daughter of Central Banker, was again resilient in the stretch of the 1-mile dirt race, fending off a stubborn Good Credence to complete the distance in 1:36.34.
Bred by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds and owned in partnership by Hidden Brook Farm and Joseph and Anne McMahon, Bank Sting returned $10.40. She was followed home by Good Credence, 2/1 favorite Mrs. Orb, Timeless Journey, Dancing Kiki, and Espresso Shot.
Singular Sensation was pulled up at the 5/8 pole and humanely euthanized on track.
Cloud Nine Stable’s Betsy Blue overtook pacesetter Secret Love in the stretch and powered home a 5 1/4-length winner of the $125,000 Bouwerie for sophomore fillies sprinting 7 furlongs to start the stakes action in Race 3.
Betsy Blue, trained by Linda Rice and bred by Cloud Nine Stable, won for the fourth consecutive time and posted a 1:24.33 final time on the muddy and sealed main track in her stakes debut. Off at 3/1, the daughter of Tonalist paid $8.10, with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons for the victory.
Rice has trained 5 of the last 6 Bouwerie winners. Beach Banker finished in third, with Rainbow Gal, Pay Grade, and Laobanonaprayer completing the order of finish.
Stretch-out sprinter Robin Sparkles led wire-to-wire to take an off-the-turf edition of the $125,000 Mount Vernon in Race 6, which was forced onto the main track due to extensive rain over the weekend and run at 1 mile with a much-depleted cast of older fillies and mares.
A 4-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality bred by Hibiscus Stables, Robin Sparkles was sent off as an overwhelming favorite at 1/5 in the Mount Vernon but nearly ran out of gas late as she held on to a desperate victory over Kilkea, who hounded her throughout the race, and longshot Vienna Code. The Bruce Brown trainee owned by Michael Schrader completed the distance on a muddy track in 1:38.37 and returned $2.70.
Light in the Sky and Dancingwthdaffodls rounded out the order of finish in the Mount Vernon.
Robert G. Hahn’s River Dog rewarded his 4/5 favoritism, besting runner-up Market Alert by 1 3/4 lengths to capture the $125,000 Mike Lee for 3-year-olds going 7 furlongs in Race 7.
The homebred Twirling Candy colt, who won his debut on May 2, notched his second consecutive victory in a month, staying off Excellent Timing’s early fractions before River Dog overtook him exiting the turn and drew away to stop the clock in 1:23.38 under jockey Jose Ortiz.
The Jeremiah Englehart trainee returned $3.60. Lobsta ran third, while Excellent Timing, Dr. Blute, and Devious Mo completed the order of finish. Thin White Duke, who ran third in Sunday’s Paradise Creek, scratched, as did Here’s Waldo.
In Race 8, Noda Brothers’ Vintage Hollywood stalked pace-setting Mo Ready from the outset of the $125,000 Kingston before taking over turning for home and powering clear of late-charging Control Group in the 1 1/16-mile off-the-turf affair.
Ridden by Dylan Davis for trainer Orlando Noda, the son of Country Day finished up on the muddy and sealed main track in 1:44.30 after sectionals of 23.77 for a 1/4-mile, 47.66 for a 1/2-mile, and 1:12.89 for 6 furlongs. The margin of victory was 5 1/4 lengths, with another 22 lengths separating Control Group and Mo Ready in a race that was scratched down from 10 to three competitors.
Bred by Harry Landry and sent off at odds of 2/1, Vintage Hollywood won for the eighth time in 29 starts and paid $6.90.
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