Antiquarian garners 88 BSF for G3 Peter Pan victory
May 12, 2024
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Antiquarian garners 88 BSF for G3 Peter Pan victory

by NYRA Press Office

  • Antiquarian garners 88 BSF for G3 Peter Pan victory
  • Neecie Marie earns career-best 92 BSF in G3 Beaugay score
  • G3 Runhappy-winner Joey Freshwater points to G2 True North

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher earned a record-extending fifth win in the Grade 3, $200,000 Peter Pan Saturday at Belmont at the Big A as Centennial Farms’ Antiquarian captured the prestigious nine-furlong event for sophomores by three-quarter lengths.

Pletcher, who also trained third-place finisher Protective, adds to a list of Peter Pan winners that includes Purge [2004], Sunriver [2006], Madefromlucky [2015] and Promise Keeper [2021]. It was the first graded score for Antiquarian, who pounced from just off the pace under Hall of Famer John Velazquez to sweep by The Wine Steward inside the final sixteenth and complete the course in 1:48.99.

NYRA will waive the entry and starting fees to the Belmont Stakes, excluding the supplemental fee, for the first three finishers of the Peter Pan.

Pletcher said both Antiquarian and Protective, who is still a maiden despite two graded stakes placings, exited their efforts in good order.

Antiquarian improved from an even sixth-place finish in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in March at Fair Grounds Race Course where he broke through the gate before the start. Pletcher said he had worked with the son of Preservationist on his gate skills leading up to the Peter Pan.

“We did work on it, but it had never been an issue before that,” said Pletcher. “It hasn’t been an issue since then either. It obviously helped that he broke alertly yesterday – he kind of got sandwiched at the start, but he was able to get in a good position and a good rhythm. We were happy to see it.”

Pletcher said both Antiquarian and Protective are set to ship north to Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma training track sometime next week, with Antiquarian eyeing a start in the 10-furlong Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 8 at the Spa.

Pletcher said the added distance should benefit Antiquarian.

“He certainly acts like it,” said Pletcher. “We didn’t get him in until October, but he’s always done everything very professional.”

Pletcher added that Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Fierceness has already arrived at Saratoga to make his preparations for the Belmont Stakes and is training well after a distant off-the-board finish as the post-time favorite in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 4.


Godolphin’s multiple graded/group stakes-winner Silver Knott was awarded a lofty 106 Beyer Speed Figure for his romp in Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Man o’ War going 1 3/8 miles over good inner turf at the Big A.

Trained by Charlie Appleby, the Lope de Vega gelding doubled up on stakes scores after a prominent victory in the 1 1/2-mile Grade 2 Elkhorn on April 20 at Keeneland. He cut back slightly in the Man o’ War and rallied from six lengths off the pace under Flavien Prat to sweep past his pace-pressing stablemate Nations Pride in the lane and cross the wire 4 1/2 lengths in front of the rallying Ohana Honor in a final time of 2:13.80.

Both Silver Knott and Nations Pride shipped to Saratoga early Sunday morning to make their preparations for engagements at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival slated for June 6-9.


Neecie Marie earns career-best 92 BSF in G3 Beaugay score

Michael Milam’s Neecie Marie made her seasonal debut a winning one with a visually-appealing last-to-first rush to best Grade 1-winner Whitebeam by a neck in Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Beaugay at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Butch Reid, Jr. and piloted by Hall of Famer Joel Rosario, the 4-year-old Cross Traffic bay entered the 1 1/16-mile outer turf test for older fillies and mares from a nearly six-month layoff since her fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Mrs. Revere in November at Churchill Downs.

Neecie Marie was content to track from last-of-5 in the early running Saturday as last year’s Grade 1 Diana-winner Whitebeam and the in-form Spirit And Glory – who entered with two listed stakes wins in her last three outings – dueled on the front end. Neecie Marie still had seven lengths to make up from the top of the lane, but closed steadily with a four-wide move to overtake Whitebeam in the shadow of the wire with Spirit And Glory another head back in third.

Reid, Jr. scratched Neecie Marie from the one-mile Dahlia on April 20 at Laurel Park in favor of the longer Beaugay, which was originally scheduled to be run last weekend.

“We'd had a couple spots picked out along the way but to finally get her over there and get one in her was the whole objective, and it was an added bonus to get the money,” Reid, Jr. said. “For a moment, I thought a good third would be nice but Joel wasn't thinking that way. He did a great job, and it was a masterful ride to get her up in time - just a tremendous job.”

The Pennsylvania-bred Neecie Marie posted two solid runner-up efforts to the Charlie Appleby-trained favorite Eternal Hope over this course last fall when a neck in arrears in the 11-furlong Grade 3 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational and a half-length back in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Sands Point.

Reid, Jr. said he is convinced that Neecie Marie is a better horse than last year.

“She came back well and we're really happy with her,” Reid, Jr. said. “She's a bigger stronger filly this year than she was last year and we're hoping for another really big year with her.”

Neecie Marie is now under consideration for the Grade 1, $750,000 New York presented by Rivers Casino, a 1 3/16-mile turf test for older fillies and mares on June 7 as part of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course.

“It's possible, but I hadn't really looked past yesterday,” Reid, Jr. said. “We're going to be involved in that Belmont Stakes weekend and maybe we'll bring her along for the ride.”

Neecie Marie, a modest $25,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling Sale purchase, has banked $361,950 through a 10-5-2-0 ledger.

LC Racing’s Ninetyprcentmaddie narrowly missed making the grade with a rallying neck defeat to Joey Freshwater in Saturday’s six-furlong Grade 3, $175,000 Runhappy here.

The 4-year-old Weigelia gelding won the six-furlong off-the-turf Carle Place here in October with Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, closing from last-of-four to win by a neck. Ortiz, Jr. looked to replicate that trip yesterday, angling five-wide off the turn and closed with every stride but could not reel in his rival.

The Pennsylvania-bred registered a career-best 90 Beyer in the Runhappy, matching the figure earned with a runner-up result last out in the state-bred Page McKenney Handicap on April 22 at Parx.

Reid, Jr. said the five-time winner, who last year won the City of Brotherly Love at Parx and was a close second in Laurel Park’s Federico Tesio around two turns, has found his home in one-turn tests.

“I'm very happy with his race. He only made his yearly debut less than three weeks ago, so I was really happy with his effort,” Reid, Jr. said. “He looked good, acted good and he's a much more mature horse now that we've settled in to strictly sprinting.

“We tried him long last year and he had success, but it looks to me like he wants to be a closing sprinter,” Reid, Jr. added. “He just missed yesterday. It was a great ride by Irad - he got a little trapped at the three-eighths pole and Irad thought if he got through clean he might have won the race. But that's OK, he came back great and we'll be looking for another spot.”

That next spot could come with Ortiz, Jr. at the helm as part of a rematch with Joey Freshwater in the Grade 2, $350,000 True North presented by F. W. Webb, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older horses on June 8 Belmont Stakes Day at Saratoga Race Course.

“Going 6 1/2-furlongs might be the best distance for him,” Reid, Jr. said. “Irad fits him perfect - nice and relaxed in the early part and then he comes rolling for you.”

Maximus Meridius, trained by co-owned by Reid, Jr. with LC Racing and Cash is King, is exiting a pair of runner-up efforts at Aqueduct having completed the exacta in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Bay Shore in April and the six-furlong Listed Gold Fever on May 5 when 2 1/2-lengths back of the victorious Doncho.

“He came out of it fine. He's another horse that's just learning,” Reid, Jr. said. “I think he's got better with each start. We're looking for middle distances for him, seven-eighths to a flat mile. He's been back to the track and training well.”

Reid, Jr. did not dismiss tackling Doncho once more in the seven-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun on June 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

“It's not an impossibility,” Reid, Jr. said. “I think the distance is good and we're looking to have a fun weekend up at Saratoga. It’s our favorite spot and the owners really enjoy it, so maybe we'll have a small entourage up there.”

Michael Milam and LC Racing’s Uncle Heavy was initially slated to take part in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes but is now confirmed for Saturday’s Grade 1 Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.

The Social Inclusion colt was a nose winner of the nine-furlong Grade 3 Withers here on February 3 but endured a troubled trip last out when a distant fifth in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 6 at the Big A.

Uncle Heavy has worked back three times at Parx, including a half-mile effort handily in 47.34 seconds Saturday.

“I was a little shocked at the time of his breeze yesterday and the kid said he felt like he was just floating over the ground,” Reid, Jr. said. “He ate up last night and he looked great this morning. I’m very happy with him and really excited about how he's going into the Preakness.

“We realize we're taking a shot but this horse has never been better and if ever there was a time to take a shot this is it,” he added. “He's coming up to his best race and he'll need to bring his best in that field, but we think he's capable and the distance will not be a problem with him.”

Bred in Pennsylvania by Reid, Jr.’s sister-in-law Barbara Reid, Uncle Heavy has banked $323,580 through a 5-3-0-0 record.


G3 Runhappy-winner Joey Freshwater points to G2 True North

Winning Move Stable’s Joey Freshwater made the grade with a narrow neck score over Ninetyprcentmaddie in Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Runhappy, a six-furlong sprint for older horses, at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Linda Rice, the 4-year-old Jimmy Creed colt has won 3-of-4 starts this year, beginning with a 1 3/4-length optional-claiming win in January and a swift optional-claiming score on April 4 sprinting six furlongs that registered a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

With returning rider Jose Lezcano up in the Runhappy, Joey Freshwater tracked in second position as Straight No Chaser – who stumbled at the break – led through splits of 22.01 seconds, 44.70 and 56.82 over the fast main track. Joey Freshwater surged to the lead inside the eighth pole and fought gamely to the wire to score in a final time of 1:09.41. The winning effort garnered a 91 Beyer.

“We were pretty excited about his back-to-back efforts. He came out of it well,” Rice said.

Rice claimed Joey Freshwater for $50,000 from a second-out graduation in November 2022 at Churchill Downs. He made 10 sophomore starts for Rice, winning the Grade 3 Bay Shore last April and hitting the board when third in the Jimmy Winkfield here and in Belmont Park’s Gold Fever as well as a runner-up effort in the off-the-turf Quick Call at Saratoga.

"I think he ran very well last year as a 3-year-old, but he was less experienced and less seasoned,” Rice said. “He had a few more mis-steps last year. We tried to take advantage of the straight 3-year-old races, and it got to the point where he was in need of a break, so we stopped on him for four months and gave him a nice rest. He certainly hasn't disappointed us coming back as a 4-year-old. He's showing more consistency, more seasoning and more maturity - all good things.”

Joey Freshwater will now target the Grade 2, $350,000 True North presented by F. W. Webb, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older horses on June 8 Belmont Stakes Day at Saratoga Race Course.

A victory in the True North could put Joey Freshwater among Rice’s top recent claims, including Pioneering Spirit, who was haltered for $40,000 last March and has since won six starts topped by scores in the Spa’s Listed Bernard Baruch and off-the-turf Listed Knickerbocker here.

Rice said Joey Freshwater has a ways to go to best the efforts of Palace, a $20,000 claim that banked more than $1.5 million through graded scores in 2014 in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, Grade 1 Forego and Grade 2 True North.

"We've had some very nice claims and he ranks right up there with some of the best - he hasn't quite matched Palace yet at this point, but he's been a good one,” Rice said.

KEM Stables’ multiple stakes-winner Hot Fudge worked five-eighths solo in 1:02.76 Sunday over the Belmont Park dirt training track in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Vagrancy, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares.

"She went very nicely. She's on schedule for the Vagrancy,” Rice said.

The talented 5-year-old Liam’s Map dark bay saw a five-race win streak come to an end last out in the Grade 3 Distaff on April 6 here where she stumbled from the gate and grabbed a quarter.

Hot Fudge won the Big A’s Garland of Roses, Listed Interborough and Correction during her winning streak to bring her career record to 14-8-1-1 for purse earnings of $500,905.

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