Stud Muffin, a $35,000 claim back in March, came through with his biggest effort on the biggest day of the year for New York-breds as he stormed to a 1 ½-length victory in the 33rd running of the $250,000 Empire Classic Handicap – the nine-furlong feature race on New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park.
A crowd of 6,911 was on hand for this day, dedicated to the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding & Racing Program, and they got plenty of excitement on this brisk autumn afternoon. There was a 75-1 winner and Stud Muffin himself returned $10 to help foil the Pick 6 players. In fact, there will be a carryover into Sunday’s Pick 6 pool of $394,437.
“He’s just been unlucky,” said trainer David Duggan. “I could sit down for 10 minutes and give you reasons why he got beat. In his last race, the track was pure soup and (jockey) John Velazquez said to just throw it out. He came back and was doing good; in fact, exceptionally well.”
Stud Muffin, a 4-year-old son of Raffie’s Majesty, picked up a new jockey for the Empire Classic in Alan Garcia, who kept him inside off a pace of 24.44, 47.61, 1:11.60 and 1:36.27, then angled him outside to get a clear run home.
“At the top of the stretch, I thought I was in front too soon,” Duggan said. “But the last sixteenth of a mile, I was smiling.”
So, too, was Garcia, as they won in 1:49.08.
“He broke good today and he had a good trip,” Garcia said. “Everything was fine for him. He came on the inside and by the quarter-pole he was getting started. He ran very good.”
That’srightofficer was second, followed by Love Abroad and Spanky Fischbein.
Trainer Dominic Galluscio, who had won the Empire Classic in 2006 with Organizer and last year with is brother Dr. V’s Magic, had hoped for a third straight win here with their sister, Raffie’s Treasure.
She beat only two horses, however, and there was a bit of a sting in the loss.
Stud Muffin was claimed from Galluscio at Aqueduct on March 13.
DUTROW, PRADO TEAM CLICKS AGAIN IN MOHAWK
Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. and jockey Edgar Prado teamed up to get their respective third and fourth wins on Saturday’s New York Showcase Day card, when Logic Way got up to win the 30th running of the $150,000 Mohawk Handicap for three-year-olds and up at nine furlongs on the inner turf course. The 4-year-old Freud colt returned $26 for his fourth win in six starts this season
“I am surprised he went off at the price because he fits with these,” Dutrow said. “He got a perfect trip with a rider that knows him well. Edgar does not want the lead with this horse. He waits to the bitter end, like he did last time. Plus, he had a perfect post and he likes five days (between races). The racing office deserves a lot of credit.”
So does Prado, who patiently stalked Get Serious’ pace of 25.19, 49.17, 1:12.50 and 1:35,79, before letting his mount go on to the neck victory in 1:47.71 on the firm inner turf course.
“Beautiful! The horse ran on the turf very nice,” said Prado, whose 40 wins places him on top of the leading jockey standings for Belmont Park’s Fall Championship meet. “He liked the distance. He tried to save ground going into the first turn, and he did. He broke sharp and was able to save ground. He was in the second position and I guess he knows where the wire is. He just tried real hard.”
Get Serious held on to nose Hangingbyathread for the place. Favored Banrock, who had won three state-bred stakes races this year.
“Anytime you win three stakes races at Belmont Park is a great day,” Dutrow said. “The only one who didn’t sun well was Sara Accomplished (seventh in the Maid of the Mist).”
ICE COOL KITTY GETS HELP TO WIN IROQUOIS
Already staked to a blistering early pace, Lansdon Robbins III’s and Kevin Callahan’s Ice Cool Kitty got another break when front-running By the Light drifted out late and opened the door for Ice Cool Kitty’s one-length victory in the 30th running of the $125,000 Iroquois Handicap for fillies and mares at seven furlongs on the fast main track.
Under Serviced and By the Light hooked up early to set a torrid pace of 22.34; 44.82 and 1:09.69. In mid-stretch, By the Light began to pull away; meanwhile, Ice Cool Kitty, who had stayed inside, came up the rail under jockey Mike Luzzi. By the Light drifted out and Ice Cool Kitty came through with her 10th career win in 1:24.11.
“I saw Ice Cool Kitty coming, so I was okay with that. I seen she was the only one who had a chance to catch By the Light,” said trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who earlier on New York Showcase Day, won the Hudson Handicap with Stormin Normandy. “Ice Cool Kitty is a very nice filly when she runs her race. Last year, she was one of the best New York-bred fillies around. And she really likes Belmont, too. We’ll have to see what’s next for her.”
Jockey Mike Luzzi rode the winner, who returned $25.80
LOVE COVE WIRES TICONDEROGA
Laue Ranch’s Love Cove led all the way under jockey Kent Desormeaux on Saturday afternoon to win the 28th running of the $150,000 Ticonderoga Handicap for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on the inner turf.
Trained by Tom Albertani, the 4-year-old Not for Love filly halted a five-race losing streak as she set a soft pace of 25.09, 50.13, 1:14.75 and 1:37.88 on the firm course. Her winning time was 1:49.33.
“We inherited the lead today and she was in control the whole way,” Albertrani said. “Our plan was to be out in front. Kent (Desormeaux) did a good job to slow the pace down and take full control of it. She just ran huge today.”
It was Love Cover’s first win of the year. She entered the day with two second and two third in 2008.
“Tommy (Albertrani) gave me confidence,” Desormeaux said. “The trainer said take what comes easy and don’t drag her back if you can get up there and be comfortable. She’s capable of doing that. She was comfortable all the way around there. She ran a big race. We’ve been knocking on the door, and she decided to do well on a big day.”
Love Cove returned $11.60
STORMIN NORMANDY GETS EVEN IN HUDSON ‘CAP
IEAH Stable’s Stormin Normandy, who won the 2007 Hudson Handicap by a neck over Ferocious Fires only to be disqualified, took matters into his own hand and won Saturday’s 31st edition of this $125,000 six-furlong main track sprint by a half-length over Rollers. It was a neck back to Ferocious Fires and another neck back to Megapixel.
“Looked like everything worked out our way and our horse was ready to run today,” said trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. whose charge set the pace of 22.18, 44.59 and 56.48 before winning in 2:09.18. “The last two times that he’s run: we shouldn’t have taken him to Monmouth, I don’t know why I did that. And the last time, he really wasn’t so crazy about a muddy track. So, today, I thought I he had a shot, but there looked like there was that speed horse on the outside of him, but he put him away early and he ran a huge race today.”
It was the third winner of the afternoon for jockey Edgar Prado and it was worth $12 to the $2 win players.
“Seems like the horse runs better on the front, so we try to use that as plan A: let him run and take the lead,” Prado said. “He rolls out of the gate and just keeps on going.”
STORMY SMILE RAINS ON MAID OF THE MIST AT 75-1
On a day when short-priced horses were coming through, Francis J. Paolangeli’s Stormy’s Smile got on the lead in the 15th running of the Maid of the Mist and didn’t stop as she scored a 3 ½-length victory over 11 other two-year-old fillies in this one-turn mile.
Winless in two previous starts for trainer Dominic Galluscio, the Stormy Atlantic filly took jockey Jose Lezcano to the lead, where she set fractions of 22.60, 46.66 and 1:11.87 on the fast track. She got strong as the race neared the finish and came home in 1:38.05 to deliver a $2 win payoff of $153.
“We know she wanted to go long; her mother did nothing but go long,” Paolangeli said. “So, (Galluscio) was game to run a maiden and we know she wanted to go long. I’m just elated; I can’t believe the price!
“I thought she would run well and actually, we put her in here because we thought she would have some kind of chance. I would have been happy to share it instead of taking a whole piece of the pie.”
Sneakin Up put in a late rally for the place and favored Anjorie was third.
TRINITY MAGIC STAYS UNBEATEN IN SLEEPY HOLLOW
James and Treasa Donnan’s Trinity Magic continued his steady progress on Saturday afternoon with a front-running seven-length victory in the 15th running of the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow for two-year-olds at a mile.
Alone inside, the Performing Magic won the third race of career with ease and he carried jockey Edgar Prado through splits of 23.04, 46.27, 1:10.19 and winning in 1:35.95.
“He’s a very nice colt,” said Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussne. “ . On paper, he looked a standout, but it was his first time going a mile. He has done everything exactly the way you want a horse to do. I don’t know what the plans are for him.”
A possibility could be Aqueduct’s Grade 2, $200,000 Remsen at nine furlongs on November 29th, which would mark Trinity Magi’s debut against open company and at two turns.
He returned $4.40 to win.