Monday, November 10, 2008


FAMILIAR FACES SHINE IN NEW YORK STALLION SERIES


It was nearly three decades ago, in 1979, that Ramon “Mike” Hernandez was named the top trainer of New York-breds by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders. Sunday afternoon, the 85-year-old Hernandez, the oldest active trainer on the New York Racing Association circuit, showed he has not lost his touch, saddling veteran Classic Pack and juvenile Lookin At Her to win two of the six New York Stallion Series stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack.

John T. Becker’s Classic Pack, a five-year-old son of Regal Classic, rallied from fifth with a three-wide move on the turn to take the $75,000 Cormorant Division, while Lookin At Her, a two-year-old son of Hook and Ladder, won the $100,000 Great White Way Division in front-running fashion.


It was a big day as well for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., who also saddled a pair of stakes winners, and for jockeys Cornelio Velasquez and Jose Lezcano, who rode three winners apiece on the day.

Dutrow kicked things off by saddling Sugar Maple Farm’s Sarah Accomplished to win the $100,000 Fifth Avenue Division for two-year-old fillies and closed out the stakes events with Mor Chances in the $75,000 Thunder Rumble Division.

Under Velasquez, who also won the second race, a non-NYSS event, Classic Pack completed the 1 1-16th miles on the yielding turf course in 1:45.56, earning his first victory of the year in seven starts, with two seconds and one third.

"Well, you know this horse, he's always been very honest,” said Hernandez of Classic Pack, who earned $45,000 and returned $6.70. “When we put him on the grass he always runs well. Last year he had a little problem in Saratoga but this year he's come back strong and healthy and here he is."

Two and one-half lengths behind Classic Pack was Pennington, followed by favored Logic Way, Kettle Two, Theconfidenceman, Fairway Drive, and Baxter.

In the $100,000 Great White Way Division for two-year-old colts, Lookin At Her popped out on top and never looked back in running off to a 5 ½-length upset of 4-5 Tall Poppi. Ridden by Velasquez, Lookin At Her zipped through fractions of 22.66, 46.88 and 58.81 before pulling clear through the stretch, covering the six furlongs in 1:11.09.

“Well, we could not be any happier,” said Hernandez. “I thought the horse was doing very, very well and has shown that he can move. He broke super, he was relaxing well, and I thought we had a heck of a chance.”

A son of Hook and Ladder, Lookin At Her earned $60,000 for owner Michael Yurch with his second win in five starts. Sent off at 10-1, he returned $22.20 for a $2 win bet. Following Tall Poppi under the wire were Fotografia, Gargantua, Bitabaz, Early Response, Head Heart Hoof, and Scooty the Pro.

Sugar Maple Farm’s Sarah Accomplished started the day’s stakes events off with a rousing run through the stretch to edge favored Mother Russia by three-quarters of a length in the $100,000 Fifth Avenue Division for two-year-old fillies. Under Lezcano, the daughter of Performing Magic stalked the favorite through fractions of 22.71, 46.60 and 58.76, then moved up to challenge at the head of the lane, taking the lead in the final yards to hit the wire in 1:11.54.

“It looks like she had a good trip and ran big,” said Dutrow of Sarah Accomplished, whose stablemate, Anjorie, finished sixth as part of an entry. “[Anjorie] ran terrible today, I guess they’re switching back and forth.”

Sarah Accomplished, with two wins in four starts, earned $60,000 to boost her bankroll to $93,486. She returned $6.50 for a $2 win bet.

Completing the order of finish behind Mother Russia were She’s Prime, Gem for Hook, Kiss and Fly, Anjorie, and Sneakin Up.

Mor Chances closed out the afternoon’s stakes events with an upset in the $75,000 Thunder Rumble Division, rallying through the stretch to post a three-quarter length victory over Good Card under Lezcano.

The four-year-old son of American Chance, who covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.68, was making his first start for Dutrow after being claimed last month for owners Vincent Scuderi and Sullivan Lane Stable. Sent off at 7-1, Mor Chances returned $16.40 and earned $45,000 for his third victory in 12 starts this year.

Gold and Roses was a head back in third, followed by Almighty Silver, favored Spanky Fischbein, Irish Blast, Oedipus O’Neal, and Prince of Peace.

Michael Pegram’s heavily-favored Under Serviced barely held off a determined late rally from longshot Point Me to It to win the $75,000 Staten Island Division for fillies and mares by a nose. Ridden by John Velazquez, the three-year-old daughter of Hook and Ladder led the field of seven through fractions of 22.72 and 45.83 and turned for home seemingly in complete command.

But inside the sixteenth pole, 19-1 Point Me to It made a race of it, drawing on even terms in the final strides only to fall short in a head-bobbing finish as Under Serviced hit the wire in front in 1:23.54 for the seven furlongs.

The victory was the fifth in seven starts for Under Serviced, who also won the Schenectady Handicap at Belmont Park on September 7, and extended her earnings to $226,880. The 1-2 favorite, she returned $3.10.

Completing the order of finish behind Point Me to It were Raffie’s Treasure, Twistaway, Laurentide Ice, City Vice, and Waytotheleft.

Follow My Dream won her first race in more than a year when she took the $75,000 Perfect Arc Division for fillies and mares going 1 1/16th miles on the turf.

Ridden by Lezcano, Follow My Dream stayed just off longshot Mamie B as she led the field of seven through fractions of 26.04, 53.19, and 1:18.45 over the yielding course. On the turn, she moved up along the rail to take charge at the head of the stretch and held off the late challenge from Sax in the City to win by a half-length in 1:49.22.

"The filly has been very unlucky this year,” said trainer Colum O’Brien of Follow My Dream, a five-year-old daughter of Freud owned by George Santangelo. “She should have won four or five races but everything just went wrong because she's a come-from-behind horse.”

With the win, her first since September 12, 2007, Follow My Dream earned $45,000 and extended her lifetime record to 4-3-3 from 26 starts. She returned $9.40.

Third was Borrowing Base, followed by Ocala Gator, Mamie B, favored Bella Attrice, and Western Slang.


NEW YORK STALLION SERIES FIFTH AVENUE DIVISION QUOTES

Winning trainer Rick Dutrow of Sarah Accomplished (No. 1a): “It looks like she had a good trip and ran big. [Anjorie, part of entry] ran terrible today; I guess they’re switching back and forth.”

Winning jockey Jose Lezcano: “She ran really nice, she’s quite a filly, what can I say. She could have given me a little more; she broke a little over, but after that she started picking good.”


NEW YORK STALLION SERIES GREAT WHITE WAY DIVISION QUOTES

Winning trainer Mike Hernandez of Lookin At Her (No. 4): “Well, we could not be any happier. I thought the horse was doing very, very well and has shown that he can move. He broke super, he was really relaxing well and I thought we had a heck of a chance. We don’t know where we’re heading yet. I hope we stay in the New York-bred program and hope we go the mile. After today, we’ll see.”

Winning jockey Cornelio Velasquez: “He broke two or three lengths in front and took the lead easy. When I asked at the quarter pole I had a lot of horse.”


NEW YORK STALLION SERIES STATEN ISLAND DIVISION QUOTES

Tonja Terranova, assistant to winning trainer Bob Baffert, of No. 2, Under Serviced: "The filly has been training well and Johnny [Velazquez] said she was waiting on some horses a little bit, but you know, we were happy, she was the best in this race and she got it done."

Winning jockey John Velazquez: "We knew she was going to be close to the lead or holding the lead. She was going pretty easy and I thought she was going to get away from the group, but she got up a little bit and then started waiting for the other horses, but she held on.”


NEW YORK STALLION SERIES PERFECT ARC DIVISION QUOTES

Winning trainer Colum O’Brien of Follow My Dream (No. 8): "The filly has been very unlucky this year. She should have won four or five races but everything just went wrong because she's a come-from-behind horse. He [Jose Lezcano] rode her perfect. He could not have ridden her any better. I'm very pleased with the ride; that's what can win a race. Now she's going to get turned out for the winter and we'll bring her back next year"

Winning jockey Jose Lezcano: “She broke good, you know. I figured out she didn't want to be too far behind so I put her right there on the pace and when I asked her, she gave a good kick. She stalked well behind the horses until it was time to go."


NEW YORK STALLION SERIES CORMORANT DIVISION QUOTES

Winning trainer Mike Hernandez of Classic Pack (No. 7): "Well, you know this horse, he's always been very honest. When we put him on the grass, he always runs well. Last year he had a little problem in Saratoga, but this year he's come back strong and healthy and here he is. This race he saved a lot of ground. He's been training well and he liked the track, I guess."

Winning jockey Cornelio Velasquez: “He broke good, standard procedure, and when I asked, he went OK. He ran well, he's a nice horse -- a very nice horse.”


NEW YORK STALLION SERIES THUNDER RUMBLE DIVISION QUOTES

Winning trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. of Mor Chances (No. 2): “"We did good today. It looked like the horse was ready to run. The jock [Jose Lezcano] gave him a really good ride, the horse ran a really big race and it all adds up."

Winning jockey Jose Lezcano: “Nothing went wrong, that's all there is."


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