by Ryan Martin
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter Searles and Patty Searles’ City Man will strive for his 11th overall stakes score in Saturday's 47th running of the $125,000 Ashley T. Cole for New York-breds 3-years-old and upward going nine furlongs over the inner turf at Belmont at the Big A.
Trained by Christophe Clement, City Man boasts a record of 30-11-5-4 and earnings of $1,189,870. He enters from a win in the West Point presented by Trustco Bank on August 27 over good inner turf at Saratoga Race Course against state-breds. There, he stalked the pace from third and displayed a sharp turn of foot en route to a 1 1/4-length score over returning rival Spirit of St Louis. This effort came three months following a narrow win in the New York-bred Kingston at Belmont Park, where he defeated another returning rival in Jerry the Nipper by a nose.
A three-quarter length winner of last year’s Ashley T. Cole and third in an off-the-turf edition in 2021, City Man has secured stakes conquests against state-breds and open company alike. The now 6-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man defeated fellow New York-breds in the 2019 Funny Cide at Saratoga Race Course during his 2-year-old season as well as the 2021 West Point where he narrowly defeated former stablemate Therapist by a nose.
City Man’s open company stakes victories include the 2020 Gio Ponti, the Danger’s Hour last April over the Big A inner turf and the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale on December 31 at Gulfstream Park. Last July, he garnered a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure for a 2 3/4-length win in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple at Saratoga. He was named New York’s Champion Turf Male last year.
“He’s a very good horse. He’s been winning stakes since he was 2-years-old, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him run the way he did last time,” said Clement, who also saddled Lubash to non-consecutive Ashley T. Cole scores in 2012 and 2014. “He’s a fun one to train and we’re going to keep running. It’s not an easy race, but he’s doing very well.”
Bred in the Empire State by Moonstar Farm, City Man is out of the City Zip mare City Scamper and was bought for $185,000 from the Off The Hook consignment at the 2019 OBS April Sale.
Joel Rosario, aboard for eight of City Man’s 10 stakes wins, will return to the irons from post 2. City Man is assigned a field-high 126 pounds.
The field will be bolstered by another millionaire in Skychai Racing and David Koenig’s Somelikeithotbrown [post 1, Jose Lezcano, 124 pounds], who boasts field-high earnings of $1,712,893 and a 33-10-8-4 record for trainer Mike Maker.
The 7-year-old son of 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown was seventh behind City Man in the Kingston before finishing second beaten three lengths behind Dakota Gold in the Hudson Valley on July 3 at Belmont Park.
Somelikeithotbrown has remained at Belmont through the summer and breezed an easy half-mile in 51.37 seconds over the dirt training track on September 14. A graded stakes winner from 2019-22, Somelikeithotbrown won the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park at 3, the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga at 4, the Grade 2 Dinner Party at Pimlico at 5, and last year’s Grade 3 Mint Million at Kentucky Downs. He was bred by Hot Pink Stables and Sand Dollar Stables.
Repole Stable’s Jerry the Nipper [post 6, Jose Ortiz, 124 pounds], fourth in last year’s Ashley T. Cole, is four-times stakes placed against New York-breds and will attempt his breakthrough win for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
Never worse than fourth in 16 lifetime starts, the 6-year-old son of Liam’s Map was a third in the last two runnings of the West Point presented by Trustco Bank. This year’s West Point performance came one month following an open-company allowance optional claiming score over the Spa’s Mellon turf. He was previously a close second to City Man in the Kingston to kick off his 2023 campaign before finishing third in the Hudson Valley.
Bred by St. Elias Stable and Peta Ryan, Jerry the Nipper is out of the graded stakes-placed Pollard’s Vision mare Aqua Regia.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Chad Brown will saddle Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Richard Schermerhorn’s Spirit of St Louis [post 3, Manny Franco, 122 pounds], who will attempt to turn the tables on City Man.
The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro gelding boasts a record of 5-3-2-0, having found the winner’s circle at first asking on February 17 going a one-turn mile over a sloppy and sealed Aqueduct main track. He saw turf for the first time two starts later when defeating state-bred winners on June 10 over the Belmont inner turf and replicated his winning ways one month later at Saratoga in a state-bred second-level allowance optional claimer.
Bred by Chester and Mary Broman, Spirit of St Louis, out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Khancord Kid, is a full brother to 2017 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Bar of Gold.
Completing the field are last-out state-bred allowance winners Barrage [post 4, Dylan Davis, 122 pounds] for trainer Ray Handal and the Michelle Nevin-trained Born Dancer [post 5, Kendrick Carmouche, 122 pounds] as well as Kingdom On Paws [post 7, Jose Gomez, 122 pounds] for trainer Wayne Potts. Un Ojo, Dr Ardito, Drake’s Passage and Colloquy have been entered for the main-track only.
The Ashley T. Cole honors the late lawyer, politician and chairman of the New York State Racing Commission who was highly instrumental in the formation of the New York Racing Association.
The Ashley T. Cole is carded as Race 3 on Saturday’s 10-race program, which also includes the Grade 3, $150,000 Noble Damsel in Race 7. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
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