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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Sport Model broke through in stakes competition last out and will look to sustain that momentum in Wednesday’s $150,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series (NYSSS) Statue of Liberty for eligible New York-sired 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga Race Course.
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The 19th edition of the NYSSS Statute of Liberty, contested at 1 mile on the inner turf course, will see Sport Model look to notch her second consecutive stakes win in the series after besting fellow contender Funwhileitlasted by a 1/2-length in the Cupecoy’s Joy on June 19 going 7 furlongs on Belmont Park’s Widener turf.
The daughter of Freud, a $100,000 purchase at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-Bred Yearling Sale, enters on a 2-race win streak.
Sport Model graduated in a state-bred maiden claiming event on May 7 at Belmont, surging home a 3 1/4-length winner over a turf course rated good. Stepping up to stakes company for the first time last out, Sport Model was forwardly-placed by rider Luis Saez and again finished strong, earning a 79 Beyer Speed Figure for her victory over firm going.
Trainer Christophe Clement said Sport Model has continued to train forwardly at Belmont since that effort as she stretches out to a mile for the first time.
“She’s doing well. She’s been training really well and came in from Belmont this morning,” said Clement, who won last year’s Statue of Liberty with Fresco. “It’s all good. She’s taken steps forward. We have a small question mark on the distance. She won going 7/8, but she’s doing well. It’s a New York-sired race, so we can’t miss it; it’s too big of a deal.”
Bred in New York by Mr. and Mrs. James P. Curran and Dr. and Mrs. John McDermott, Sport Model will pick up the services of 3-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. for the first time, breaking from post 5.
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Turf Stable Racing’s Funwhileitlasted has improved her Beyer numbers in each of her 3 starts this year, including a 78 for the Cupecoy’s Joy that marked her first stakes appearance in her ninth career start.
The daughter of War Dancer (who won the 2013 Virginia Derby [G2] and the 2014 Louisville Handicap [G3]) was kept off the early speed in the Cupecoy’s Joy before closing strong. Jose Lezcano will retain the mount from the inside post.
“She has been training great. We brought her back to Monmouth after the Belmont race and she’s been doing really well,” Sweezey said. “I think the added distance should help her. Lezcano knows her now, so I think we have a real, live shot.”
Funwhileitlasted has been well-traveled, competing at six different tracks. Sweezey said getting her to this spot in Saratoga was the long-term aspiration since she started her career in June 2020 at Tampa Bay Downs.
“This race has been the goal with this filly since I first got her,” Sweezey said. “This has been the target they’ve been looking for. The people who owned her owned a big chunk of War Dancer when he was running and they stayed in on him to try and make him as a stallion, and it’s worked out pretty good for them; I think they have a nice horse.”
Funwhileitlasted, bred in Pennsylvania by Roberta Schneider, will rematch Sport Model, Shesadirtydancer (who ran fourth in the Cupejoy’s last time), Big Time Lady (fifth), and Show Me the Honey (sixth).
“She’s grown a lot from 2 to 3; she’s carrying great weight and her coat looks good and we think we can have a big day up there,” Sweezey said. “I hope she shows up for us. She’s very laid-back. She’s a really good girl in everything she does; she just does it real easy.”
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Shesadirtydancer, owned by conditioner Rudy Rodriguez along with Michael Imperio, will be making her seventh start this year, with her best stakes performance a runner-up effort to Shaker Shack in the NYSSS Park Avenue on April 18 over the Aqueduct main track.
Bred by Bill Frothinger in New York, Shesadirtydancer ran 7 of her first career 8 starts on the dirt before Rodriguez moved her to turf for her last 2 races. Stretching out to 1 mile for the first time, Shesadirtydancer will have Luis Saez will ride from the outermost post 8.
“She’s doing good, she arrived this morning from Belmont,” Rodriguez said. “I’m not sure if she wants to go this far, but we’ll see what she has and hope for the best.”
Her stablemate, Repole Stable’s Big Time Lady, will also enter off the Cupecoy’s Joy, which marked her first stakes since finishing third in the Tepin in November at Aqueduct that capped her 2-year-old year.
“We’re hoping for firm turf and see what happens,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a good series and a lot of money and if you get lucky and win, you hit a home run.”
Saratoga Ten General Partner’s Show Me the Honey won her debut in October at Belmont and was fourth in the Stewart Manor in November at Aqueduct. The lightly raced Michelle Nevin trainee returned off a 7-month layoff in the Cupecoy’s Joy and will make her fourth start, drawing post 3 in her Saratoga debut with Manny Franco in the irons.
Seidman Stables’ Exact Change ran fourth in her first start on July 22 at Saratoga for trainer Carlos Martin. The daughter of Central Banker will waste no time in turning back in a little more than 1 week’s time, stretching out from 5 1/2 furlongs to a mile. Bred in the Empire State by William Hebert, Exact Change will depart from post 4 with Luis Rodriguez Castro aboard.
Rounding out the field is Byhubbyhellomoney, making her first stakes appearance, for conditioner Bob Dunham (post 2, Eric Cancel). Shaker Shack is entered for the main track only.
The NYSSS Statue of Liberty is slated as race 5 on the 10-race card that will also feature the $120,000 Shine Again for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going 7 furlongs on the main track. First post is 1:05 PM Eastern.
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