Edited NYRA Staff Release — Shadowfax Stable’s New York-bred Down Royal bested the boys with a furious inside rush to defeat Chief Justice by a neck in Wednesday’s Grade 1, $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga Race Course.
The 8-year-old daughter of Alphabet Soup was piloted to her first graded victory by Bernard Dalton, husband of trainer Kate Dalton, closing from off the pace in the 2 1/16-mile test over the hurdles.
The victory came on the eve of the couple’s 14th wedding anniversary, which the pair are honoring in true horseman fashion as they make their way home to South Carolina.
“We’re celebrating on the I-81 going south,” said Kate Dalton, with a laugh. “Hopefully, we’ll get to have a day somewhere along the way here pretty soon. We’ve gotten as far as North Carolina, so we’re getting closer. The filly wants to know if we’re there yet. Her nose keeps hanging out of the trailer.”
Dalton said the grey mare will enjoy a little down time after running her win streak to four, dating back to her first stakes score in the Randolph D. Rouse in August at Colonial Downs.
“She’ll get a nice couple of days turned out lowkey in her paddock getting dirty,” Dalton said. “She cooled out real well yesterday and seems to be doing just fine.”
The Daltons, who also bred the mare, met in Saratoga 20 years ago when Kate was working for Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard and Bernard was riding out for Kiaran McLaughlin.
“We’ve had plenty of fun in Saratoga over the years,” Dalton said. “We met when Bernie was freelancing for a woman who was stabled in the annex on the backside of Jonathan’s, so every day I’d finish up and be messing around in the shedrow and that’s how we met.”
The pair have enjoyed an incredible journey together in racing, including a score with Diplomat in the 2017 Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup [now the Jonathan Sheppard]. They earned a $27,000 breeders’ bonus for Wednesday’s remarkable score with Down Royal, who launched her career on the flat with trainer Peter Pugh in July 2016 at the Spa. She finished off-the-board in a trio of starts on the NYRA flat circuit before graduating over the hurdles that November at Charleston.
Kate Dalton said the breeding came together almost by accident thanks to a smart score by the Bernard Dalton-piloted Italian Wedding in the 2013 Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup.
“We had campaigned the mare Miss Crown. She was a steeplechaser of ours and a New York-bred,” said Dalton. “When it came time to retire her, we had her in New York on Joe McMahon’s farm and Bernie had just won the Turf Writers for Jonathan Sheppard on Italian Wedding, who was by Alphabet Soup. Coincidentally, the next year, Alphabet Soup went to stand at McMahons.”
When it came time to find the right stallion for Miss Crown, the answer was staring the Daltons in the face.
“Didn’t Bernie just win a Grade 1 on one of them?” recalled Kate, with a laugh.
While Down Royal’s flat career didn’t pan out, Kate Dalton said they always knew she could have a steeplechase career as a backup plan.
“She was always a very good jumper,” Dalton said. “She was always going to be a steeplechase horse unless she lit up the board on the flat, which she definitely did not. We were jumping her over fences as a 2-year-old getting her ready to become a jumper.”
Down Royal’s Grade 1 win was eight years in the making and it nearly didn’t happen when the Daltons considered making her a broodmare at the end of last year.
“She’d just started getting really good last year and we thought about it and decided we’ll go one more year,” Dalton said.
And after two wins in as many starts this season, it’s safe to say the decision to keep racing was a good one although the breeding shed looms at year’s end.
“She works well with a deadline,” joked Dalton. “Win lose or draw, this is it for her. She’ll be nine next year and 10 before she has her first foal. It was a little slow getting there, but we got there in end. It’s a steeplechase, you have to pace yourself and come running at the end.”
Dalton said she’s not sure yet if Down Royal will return to the Spa for the Grade 1, $150,000 Jonathan Sheppard, a 2 3/8-mile test on August 17.
“It’s a long trip,” Dalton said. “It’s a thousand miles nearly from South Carolina to Saratoga and she’s just up and run her eyeballs out and now a thousand miles home. I feel like it’s a big ask to do it a second time. But if she comes out well and is in good form again, how could you not keep it in mind. It’s a maybe.”
Dream Central to target NYSSS Statue of Liberty
Eddie F’s Racing’s Dream Central garnered a career-best 74 Beyer Speed Figure for her dramatic head score in Wednesday’s $125,000 Suzie O’Cain, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for New York-bred sophomore fillies.
Trained by Gary Sciacca and ridden by Jose Lezcano, the Central Banker bay rallied from the back of the six-horse field and reeled in She’s a Mia for the narrow score. The victory came on the heels of a startling 39-1 graduation in her seventh career start in the NYSSS Cupecoy’s Joy, a seven-furlong turf sprint on June 19 at Belmont Park.
Sciacca said the addition of Lezcano for the Cupecoy’s Joy is part of the recent upswing in form with the veteran rider able to get Dream Central to switch leads inside the final eighth of a mile and kick clear of She’s a Mia, who appeared to be home and cooled out under Joel Rosario.
“Something clicked in and she’s got it all together now. Yesterday was very impressive,” Sciacca said. “That horse got the run before her and got the jump on her and of course, she had Rosario on her and he always has something left at the end. That’s what he’s famous for – when they hit the sixteenth pole, he always has something left, but they came and got her.”
The victory provided owner Eddie Fazzone, proprietor of Eddie F’s Eatery in Saratoga Springs, with his first win at the Spa. Sciacca and Fazzone’s friendship dates back three decades and the two have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years with stakes-winners Lobsta and Chowda.
“Eddie is the greatest,” Sciacca said. “He’s a good guy and he deserves it. Nobody loves the game more than Eddie.”
Sciacca said Dream Central will point to the $150,000 NYSSS Statue of Liberty, a one-mile test for eligible New York-sired sophomore fillies on August 18 at Saratoga.
“If everything looks good, that’s where we’ll go,” Sciacca said. “She came out great this morning. She’s doing really well.”
Out of the stakes-placed Deputy Wild Cat mare Dreamed to Dream, Dream Central is a half-sister to the multiple graded-stakes placed Dreamalildreamofu.
Dream Central was bred in the Empire State by Fedwell Farm, who also bred Eddie F’s Raing’s cleverly-named full brothers Chowda and Lobsta, both by Emcee and out of the Chief Seattle mare Salty Little Sis.
The 5-year-old Chowda, a gelding, won the 2020 Gander at Aqueduct Racetrack and boasts a record of 17-3-2-3 for purse earnings of $212,363. Lobsta, a 4-year-old colt, sports a consistent record of 12-4-2-2 for purse earnings of $308,150 led by scores at the Big A in last year’s NYSSS Thunder Rumble and the Say Florida Sandy in January.
The duo are soon to be joined on track by a half-brother by Micromanage in the 2-year-old Oysta, who has a sophomore full brother named Salty Heir, a maiden for Sciacca and My Mary Stables.
Sciacca said Oysta has been gelded and is training well at the Spa, posting a three-eighths breeze in 39.94 over the Oklahoma training track on July 16.
“Oysta is doing tremendous,” Sciacca said. “He’s doing well up here and we’ll hopefully get started with him by the end of the meet.”
Sciacca said that rather than overcooking Chowda and Lobsta through the summer months, the duo have been freshened and will be return to stir the pot at the Big A.
“We’re giving them both a little time to relax,” Sciacca said. “They’ve both done great and won stakes and have done good for us. They need a little time, so we’re giving it to them now.”
Ny Traffic will look to play spoiler in G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt; Of a Revolution could target G2 Amsterdam
Grade 1-placed Ny Traffic has always been up for a challenge. He nearly defeated eventual 2020 Horse of the Year and Grade 1 Kentucky Derby victor Authentic in that year’s Grade 1 Haskell, running the race of his life when he stalked the pace and flew to the finish to come up a nose shy of Grade 1 glory.
Ny Traffic could have to duplicate that effort or perhaps give an even better showing of himself to take down the accomplished 2021 Champion Sprinter Jackie’s Warrior in the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt on July 30, but trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. said the grey son of Cross Traffic will give it his all.
“Now we’re going to face the class test, and that’s the big test,” said Joseph, Jr. “But on his best day, I think he’s capable of running well. I can’t tell you he’s going to beat Jackie’s Warrior, but he’s going to show up.”
Owned by John Fanelli, Cash is King, LC Racing, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley, the New York-bred Ny Traffic has put together a respectable campaign in which he has amassed over $873,000 in earnings and five graded stakes placings, including runner-up efforts on the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby behind Wells Bayou; and the Grade 3 Matt Winn where he was defeated just one length by dual Grade 1-winner Maxfield.
In October 2021, Ny Traffic cut back in distance and announced his presence in the dirt sprint division with authority, romping to an 8 3/4-length victory in the restricted Hudson Handicap over sloppy and sealed going at Belmont Park. He returned five months later to begin his 5-year-old campaign with a distant fifth behind the well-regarded Speaker’s Corner in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile before finding his groove again with a pair of sprint stakes victories this spring in the restricted Affirmed Success at Belmont and open Chocolate Town on June 17 at Penn National in his last outing.
Joseph, Jr. said Ny Traffic, who earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his front-running Affirmed Success victory, may be in a position to put some pressure on the prominent Jackie’s Warrior if no other horses want to press the pace.
“Ny Traffic, since we cut him back in distance, has run some nice numbers,” said Joseph, Jr. “We’d like someone else to put some pressure on Jackie’s Warrior – he’s a very fast horse and he’s obviously a champion. But if nobody puts the pressure on, we’ll have to try.”
Along with Jackie’s Warrior, Ny Traffic’s other foes may include graded stakes winner Long Range Toddy and the multiple graded stakes-placed War Tocsin.
Joseph, Jr. will also hope to see Saratoga stakes success with Gentry Farm’s A.P.’s Secret, who was last seen finishing an even third in the Texas Derby on May 30 at Lone Star Park. The son of Cupid briefly made an appearance on the Road to the Kentucky Derby this year with off-the-board finishes in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream and the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
Joseph, Jr. said the grey colt could be ready to break through at the stakes level in the restricted $135,000 Curlin on July 29 at the Spa.
“He arrived here yesterday and he’s in good order,” said Joseph, Jr. “I thought he ran decent [in the Texas Derby] and that he’s a better horse than he’s shown so far. He hasn’t run the kind of race we know he has in him, so hopefully the Curlin will be that.”
Bassett Stables, Madaket Stables and Wonder Stables’ Of a Revolution could also look for his first stakes victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam on July 31. The son of Maclean’s Music has never finished off the board in five lifetime starts and picked up a graded placing with a third in the Grade 3 Swale in February at Gulfstream.
Of a Revolution, who went 2-for-2 as a juvenile, was a last-out winner of a first-level optional claimer sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on June 18 at Gulfstream.
“He could run in the Amsterdam. We wanted to get him back in an easier spot, so that’s why we went [in the allowance],” said Joseph, Jr. “We wanted to win there and then target something like the Amsterdam. Everything is in good order. He was a very quick 2-year-old and I was happy to see he trained on as a 3-year-old – he’s kind of small, so you never know if they will. He’s been just as good as a 3-year-old and we think he’s a good sprinter.”
Joseph, Jr. noted that Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets third-place finisher Skippylongstocking, who was eyeing a start in the Curlin, will instead be pointed to the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby on August 6 at Mountaineer Racetrack.
Butterbean readies for G1 CCA Oaks; Crazy Beautiful returns to Saratoga in G2 Shuvee; Creative Minister and Wolfe County target Curlin
Magdalena Racing and William Klimashousky’s Butterbean will make her Grade 1 debut in the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks, a nine-furlong test for sophomore fillies on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Butterbean became a graded stakes winner last time out in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks on July 9 going 1 1/16-miles at Prairie Meadows. Butterbean came from last-of-8 before drawing away by three lengths under jockey Glenn Corbett. It was the third consecutive victory for the daughter of Klimt, who graduated at sixth asking on May 27 at Churchill Downs. Between graduation day and graded stakes success, Butterbean captured the Panthers, where just like in the Iowa Oaks, she came from last to win going away by 5 3/4-lengths.
“She’s a filly that just draws back early in the race and she’s just going to make a run,” said trainer Ken McPeek. “She’s won three in-a-row and we’re proud of what she’s accomplished.
“I think it might be the best chance ever for her to get Grade 1 placing or win,” McPeek added. “I realize she’s a longshot, she’s in with the best fillies in the nation. She’s been a pleasant surprise, she’s been a filly that just really came around this spring. I do think that she does really well coming from way off the pace.”
McPeek noted Butterbean was named by his daughters after the Nickelodeon series Butterbean’s Cafe, making a comparison between her and Grade 1 Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver.
“It’s been fun watching her. My daughter named her, and ironically she’s out of a Johannesburg mare – Swiss Skydiver was also out of a Johannesburg mare,” said McPeek.
Butterbean will break from the inside post in the five-horse field Saturday under jockey Julien Leparoux. The CCA Oaks is carded as Race 5 at 3:16 p.m. Eastern.
Phoenix Thoroughbred’s Crazy Beautiful will look to return to the winner’s circle in the Grade 2, $200,000 Shuvee for older fillies and mares travelling nine furlongs at the Spa on July 24.
The 4-year-old daughter of Liam’s Map became a millionaire last out when second in the Lady Jacqueline on June 25 at Thistledown. Crazy Beautiful’s lone Saratoga start came last summer where she finished sixth in the Grade 1 Alabama, won by subsequent Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Malathaat, whom she will see again Sunday.
McPeek said he believes his filly can turn the tables on Malathaat.
“It’s going to be a tough race, but I think she’s a filly that can run well in there,” McPeek said, “She’s a consummate professional. She loves to work every day.”
In addition to Malathaat, Crazy Beautiful is expected to see Grade 1 Ogden Phipps winner Clairiere.
Joseph Murphy’s Wolfe County will face stakes company for the first time on July 29 in the $135,000 Curlin, a nine-furlong restricted contest over the main track for sophomores who have not won a graded stakes at mile or over in 2022.
A homebred for Murphy, Wolfe County was last seen winning a maiden special weight on June 24 at Churchill Downs where he stalked the leaders before taking the lead in the stretch and prevailing by 1 1/2-lengths. That score came on the heels of a runner-up effort in a maiden claimer on June 9 at Churchill.
“I slipped him in for $50,000 claiming because his form was bad, and I think he needed a little confidence booster,” McPeek said. “I was actually glad to see him run second and then he came back and won maiden special.”
Wolfe County worked a half-mile in 50.02 over the Oklahoma training track on July 16 in company with Fern Circle Stable, Back Racing and Magdalena Racing’s Creative Minister, who is also expected in the starting gate for the Curlin.
“He held his own in the workout the other day with Creative Minister and look, he’s a developing 3-year-old doing everything right,” said McPeek.
Creative Minister, who finished fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, is a lightly raced 3-year-old son of Creative Cause, who came on the Triple Crown trail when he impressively won a first-level allowance on the May 7 Kentucky Derby undercard. That win gave McPeek enough confidence to supplement his horse to be eligible to run in the Preakness and Belmont, where he finished third and fifth, respectively.
“The Curlin is an ideal spot, with the goal after that being the Travers,” said McPeek.
McPeek also provided an update on Lucky Seven Stable’s Rattle N Roll and Smile Happy, the former remaining in Kentucky to train up to the Saint Louis Derby on August 20 at Fairmount Park and the latter still a little ways away from returning.
Pinehurst expected to make New York debut in G2 Amsterdam
SF Racing, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables’ Pinehurst is preparing to make his East Coast debut in the six-furlong Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam on July 31 at Saratoga. The 3-year-old son of Twirling Candy will make his first appearance since an off-the-board finish in the Group 2 UAE Derby on the Dubai World Cup undercard on March 26 at Meydan Racecourse.
Pinehurst, who is now under the care of conditioner John Terranova, won the Group 3 Saudi Derby at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in February one start before his trip to Meydan. The chestnut colt will look to recapture the good form of his juvenile season that included a debut maiden victory before taking the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in September.
Pinehurst, who has posted several bullet works at Santa Anita Park, arrived in Saratoga earlier this week. Terranova said he is excited to see what Pinehurst can do in the Amsterdam.
“He’s a nice, big and beautiful horse,” said Terranova “We’re hoping for a nice work over the weekend and then we’ll be ready for the Amsterdam.”
Curragh Stables’ Fluid Situation, who was last seen running third behind runaway winner Charge It in the Grade 3 Dwyer on July 2 at Belmont, is expected to come back in a first-level allowance at Saratoga. His lone win came in March at Tampa Bay Downs in a maiden-breaking effort that garnered a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
“It was a tremendous performance that day by Charge It, but everything came back good and he’s doing fine,” Terranova said of the Dwyer.
A son of Warrior’s Reward, Fluid Situation was a $200,000 purchase at the 2021 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.
Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Steven Schoenfeld’s Midnight Stroll became a graded stakes winning filly last out when she captured the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks on July 2 at Delaware Park. The 3-year-old daughter of Not This Time survived a rider’s objection in the Delaware Oaks to earn her third win in six starts and a career-best 86 Beyer.
Terranova said while her next start is still to be determined, a decision will be made soon for the dark bay who worked a three-eighths in 36.02 over the Saratoga main track on July 17.
“She had a breeze and is in great shape. We’ll know soon what’s next, but we have a couple options,” Terranova said.
Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable, Steven Schoenfeld and Smart Choice Stable’s Sweet Harmony, a debut winner on June 4 at Monmouth Park, scratched out of the Grade 3 Schuylerville on opening day at Saratoga and remained in training at Belmont Park.
Terranova said all is well with the daughter of Bayern as she now turns her attention to the Colleen, a five-furlong sprint over the turf on July 24 at Monmouth.
Sweet Harmony was purchased by Gatsas Stables for $135,000 at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training sale after breezing an eighth of a mile in a blistering :9.4 seconds.
Terranova also said the multiple stakes-winning New York-bred mare Bank Sting will make her next start on August 12 at the Spa in either the six-furlong $125,000 Union Avenue Handicap or the $125,000 Johnstone Mile Handicap, both restricted to state-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
Nations Pride and With The Moonlight breeze for second legs of Turf Triple Series
Godolphin homebreds Nations Pride and With The Moonlight had their first breeze back since posting runner-up efforts in their North American debuts in the first legs of the Caesars Turf Triple series on July 9 at Belmont Park. The Charlie Appleby-trained sophomores each went three-eighths solo over the Oklahoma training track Thursday in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 6 and the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks on August 7, respectively, at Saratoga Race Course.
Nations Pride, a colt by Teofilo, was clocked in 37.86 seconds while With The Moonlight, a Frankel filly, was timed in 37.98.
“They eased in and then galloped out nicely. We were happy with the way they went,” said Appleby’s traveling assistant Chris Connett. “It was their first gallop back from their run and we’ll look to do something a little more serious with a six-furlong gallop on the turf on Sunday.”
Frankie Dettori piloted both sophomores in their stateside debuts with Nations Pride breaking slowly from post 10 in the Grade 1, $1 million Casears Belmont Derby Invitational, closing from ninth to finish just three-quarters of a length back of the pacesetting winner Classic Causeway.
With The Moonlight had a prominent trip from post 4 in the Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, opening up a half-length lead at the stretch call only to be collared late by McKulick, who won by 1 3/4-lengths.
Both the Saratoga Derby and Saratoga Oaks are contested at 1 3/16-miles. The Caesars Turf Triple series concludes at the Belmont fall meet with the Grade 3, $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational at 12 furlongs and the 11-furlong Grade 3, $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks.
Creative Flair, who finished a close third in last year’s Saratoga Oaks Invitational, finished last-of-6 in the Grade 1 Diana on July 16 after chasing the frontrunning winner In Italian through a sharp three-quarters in 1:09.50 over the firm going before fading. Creative Flair, who entered the Diana from a win in the Group 2 Balanchine on February 4 at Meydan, shipped back to the U.K. on Tuesday.
“We were happy with the way she came out of it. The plan was to go forward with her and unfortunately, she got hooked up with a very fast pace and off of the long layoff that she had it probably just told at the end,” Connett said. “That filly [In Italian] was ready for the day. She jumped, ran hard and kept going. It was some performance.”
Appleby is also expected to be represented at the Spa this summer by Yibir, the reigning Champion Turf Male, in the 12-furlong Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer on August 27. The Sword Dancer offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Keeneland.
Yibir won the Jockey Club Derby Invitational in September at Belmont ahead of capturing the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Del Mar. He returned to Belmont in May to finish third in the Grade 1 Man o’ War ahead of a score in the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s on July 7 at Newmarket.