Grannys Connection to target $125K Dancin Renee; Portos to make New York return in $125K Excelsior
Mar 24, 2023
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Grannys Connection to target $125K Dancin Renee; Portos to make New York return in $125K Excelsior

by NYRA Press Office

  • Grannys Connection to target $125K Dancin Renee; Portos to make New York return in $125K Excelsior
  • Options aplenty for $100K Damon Runyon winner Looms Boldly; Eyeing Clover targets ‘Midwest Derbies’ as long term goal
  • Aqueduct Racetrack spring meet Week 1 probables

Orpen Horses, Jack Hardin Towell, Jr., and Alan Griffin’s talented Grannys Connection earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure for her 5 1/4-length victory in a second-level optional claimer for older New York-bred fillies and mares on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack. 

Trained by Tom Morley, Grannys Connection led at every point of call in the six-furlong sprint under regular pilot Eric Cancel and drew away in-hand to post the eye-catching victory in a final time of 1:13.61 over the fast main track. It was the third consecutive win for the 4-year-old daughter of Connect, who entered from a dominant 9 3/4-length score in a first-level state-bred allowance over the same distance and course on February 25 where she garnered a career-best 88 Beyer. She graduated at second asking in a seven-furlong maiden facing open company on January 15 at the Big A. 

“We’re really pleased with Sunday’s effort over what was obviously a very tiring track,” said Morley. “She’s run a lot faster than that and I genuinely think we’ll see the best of this filly when she gets on, not a wet track or anything, but one with plenty of moisture. I don’t think you saw the best of her over the weekend and she probably regressed a little because we ran her back quite quickly. When these races come along at the right distance and the horse is doing well, she could still win it regressing.”

Morley said the long-term goal for Grannys Connection is the six-furlong $125,000 Dancin Renee for older New York-bred fillies and mares on June 25 at Belmont Park. 

“She’ll have one run between now and the Dancin Renee and we’ll give her five or six weeks first,” said Morley. “We’ll look for an open ‘a-other-than’ and then go to the stake.” 

Though Grannys Connection did not debut until the end of her sophomore season, Morley said the bay filly always showed promise from the time she first arrived in his barn. 

“The first time I worked her I had a feeling she might be very, very fast,” said Morley. “She just hangs out. She’s no trouble and she rests a lot, but then she’s a tiger to train. You can’t overtrain her because she wants to do a little bit too much every day.” 

Bred by Paul Pompa, Jr., Grannys Connection is out of the six-time winning Old Fashioned mare Granny’s Drink and was purchased for $57,000 at the 2021 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training where she breezed an eighth of a mile in 10 seconds. 

Other upcoming stakes engagements for Morley include the $125,000 Excelsior on April 1 where he has nominated both graded stakes-placed Portos and the three-time winner Curbstone. 

Flying P Stable’s Portos, who recently joined Morley after running third for trainer Ron Faucheux in a March 11 optional claimer at Fair Grounds Race Course, breezed three furlongs in 37.85 seconds Friday over the Belmont dirt training track. 

Portos, a 6-year-old grey son of Tapit, made both his seasonal and turf debut on January 28 in the 1 1/2-mile Grade 3 John B. Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston where he finished a distant seventh over soft footing. He is in search of his first win since an allowance coup in April 2021 at Keeneland. 

“Ron and I have been in constant contact through the winter and mapped out a plan,” said Morley. “We wanted to try him on the grass as he’s by Tapit and out of an Empire Maker mare. We ran him at Sam Houston and it rained all day – it was soft ground in Texas, so that went out the window. He had the allowance race earlier this month and now he’ll go to the Excelsior.” 

Patricia Moseley’s Kentucky homebred Curbstone, a 4-year-old Street Sense gelding, is pointing to a Thursday allowance at the Big A going nine furlongs, with the Grade 2, $250,000 Brooklyn on June 10 at Belmont in consideration as a long-term target. 

“Curbstone is doing great. He was meant to run on Sunday, but the race didn’t go,” said Morley. “It’s coming back for Thursday and if it doesn’t go, I would still consider running in the Excelsior. He’s nominated because I think he is that good, but I would rather not run him against Portos – I’d like to win an allowance and then move on [to a stake]. It’s tough to go and run in a race like the Brooklyn off an ‘a-other-than,’ but if he won an allowance and did it impressively, I would consider that.”

Curbstone, who has been with Morley since November, has been on-the-board in 3-of-4 starts since being transferred from the barn of Brendan Walsh, including a 12 1/4-length victory in a starter allowance on January 28 where he earned a 96 Beyer. He was last seen finishing a closing second in a February 26 allowance traveling 10 furlongs. 

Morley’s other top distance horse, Flying P Stable’s stakes-winner Locally Owned, will look to return to winning ways in tomorrow’s $75,000 Stud Muffin going 1 3/8 miles. Locally Owned won the 2021 Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational for Morley before being claimed for $20,000 out of a nine-furlong route at Saratoga Race Course five starts later. Morley and Flying P claimed him right back for $40,000 in his next start and have been happy to have the veteran gelding back in their care. 

“I’m excited to see him run tomorrow,” said Morley. “He’s a stakes winner, although it seems like many moons ago. We knew we were probably going to lose him at Saratoga, but we were always going to claim him back no matter the price, whether it be $40,000 or $50,000. He needed to win again because I think he had lost his confidence a bit, so it was good and it’s worked out really well.” 

Morley said the 7-year-old son of Distorted Humor has become a part of the family and a favorite of his wife, NYRA paddock analyst Maggie Wolfendale. 

“He certainly is, and my wife already has her eye on him when he retires,” said Morley, with a laugh.


Options aplenty for $100K Damon Runyon winner Looms Boldly; Eyeing Clover targets ‘Midwest Derbies’ as long term goal

Ten Strike Racing’s Looms Boldly made his stakes debut a triumphant one when taking on fellow New York-breds in Sunday’s $100,000 Damon Runyon at Aqueduct Racetrack. The sophomore son of Goldencents could return to racing action as early as next month according to Ten Strike co-owner Marshall Gramm. 

Looms Boldly, trained by Brad Cox, was a pacesetting second-out winner in November at the Big A over next-out stakes placed Lifetime of Chance. He entered the six-furlong Damon Runyon off a distant third to returning rival What’s Up Bro in a February 20 state-bred allowance optional claimer going the same distance. He redeemed himself when returning to frontrunning tactics and fended off a late rally from graded-stakes placed Andiamo a Firenze to win the Damon Runyon by a half-length under Manny Franco. 

Gramm, who owns and operates Ten Strike Racing with Clay Sanders, said Looms Boldly is under consideration for a pair of spots at Belmont Park in either the open company $150,000 Gold Fever on May 12 going six furlongs or the seven-furlong $125,000 Mike Lee against New York-breds on May 29. 

“We haven’t discussed with Brad yet. We wanted to see how he comes out of the race, but the Mike Lee looks like a spot. It’s two months in between starts and we may try to find a sooner spot,” Gramm said. “If not a New York-bred race, there’s some regional six-furlong races we could run him in. He’s still eligible for the open a-other-than and I don’t know that we run him against olders in the two-other-than yet. We may look for something in April. Our options are good when you break your maiden and win a stake with an early 3-year-old. It really depends on how he’s training and what Brad thinks.”

Gramm said fitness was a likely factor in earning the victory on Sunday. 

“He was just more fit going into the race,” Gramm said. “He’s a horse that takes a lot of training. He gets fat really quickly. When he came out of his maiden win in November, we gave him a little extra time and he came into that first race a little short. He was certainly ready for this spot. He looked a little bit loose once there was the scratch of the other speed and got up there and held on. We were extremely pleased and excited.”

A New York homebred, Looms Boldly is out of the Forestry mare See the Forest, who also produced Critical Value – a stakes-winner going both seven furlongs and one mile – as well as 10-year-old routing veteran Grit’n’grind. 

Gramm said it’s too early to tell where the distance ceiling lies for Looms Boldly. 

“He’s sort of blocky and built like a sprinter. The dam has thrown some sprinters and has a 10-year-old in Pennsylvania that’s a closing router,” Gramm said. “It’s a little undetermined in terms of the pedigree, but he’s likely to stick with sprints. There’s some New York-bred sprints that fit him nicely.”

The Cox-trained Eyeing Clover, owned by Ten Strike Racing in partnership with Michael E. Kisber and Colin Reed, finished fourth in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 4 as the lukewarm favorite. The sophomore son of Lookin At Lucky was sitting close to a swift pace down the backstretch and finished fourth beaten nine lengths by the victorious Raise Cain. 

Eyeing Clover has since worked once at Churchill Training, going a half-mile in 49.40 seconds on March 18. Gramm said he will make his next start in the $200,000 Hot Springs on April 1 at Oaklawn Park with long-term goals including the $300,000 Texas Derby on May 29 at Lone Star Park, the $250,000 Iowa Derby on July 8 at Prairie Meadows, and the Grade 3, $300,000 Indiana Derby on July 8 at Horseshoe Indianapolis. 

“I’m optimistic about his ability to get a distance of ground because the Gotham had a very fast pace that he was involved in and I thought he ran the second best of all the horses that were in the race,” Gramm commented. “We’re going to try him on the Arkansas Derby undercard in the Hot Springs. It’s a two-turn mile with a short stretch. Well go from there and hope this summer he can be an Iowa Derby, Indiana Derby, West Virginia Derby, Texas Derby kind of horse. It really just depends on how he handles a distance of ground.”

Bred by Mike Abraham, Eyeing Clover is out of the Forest Wildcat mare Floral Park, making him a half-brother to graded stakes winning female sprinter Heavenhasmynikki.

Ten Strike Racing’s New York-bred sophomore filly Majestic Return romped to a 6 1/2-length graduation at second asking on March 11 for trainer Michelle Giangiulio. 

Majestic Return, bred in the Empire State by Marshall Gramm, Raymond Sauer and Mike Pietrangelo, was in control throughout and registered a 68 Beyer Speed Figure for the win. 

Although turf will likely be in the daughter of Long On Value’s future, Gramm expressed desire to stick to dirt for the time being and even said he had considered her for today’s $100,000 East View. 

“She’s got turf breeding and looks like a turf horse and has the quick turn of foot. Long On Value was a Grade 1 winner on turf that we campaigned toward the end of his career,” Gramm said. “We actually looked at the East View for her, but it was coming back on too short of rest. I think she would have fit in there, but it was only two weeks and we didn’t want to rush her. We may look for a state-bred a-other-than. Michelle liked her before her first start, and that first start was a learning experience. We think she’s got a big future and maybe in the long run she’ll run on turf, but we’ll probably spend a lot of the rest of the year on dirt.” 

Majestic Return is out of the Majesticperfection mare Majestic Mist. She comes from the same extended family as English Affair, a graded stakes winner on grass, as well as turf graded stakes-placed Seruni.


Aqueduct Racetrack spring meet Week 1 probables

Saturday, April 1

$125,000 Excelsior

Probable: Bourbonic (Todd Pletcher), Doppelganger (Brittany Russell), Forewarned (Uriah St. Lewis), Law Professor (Rob Atras), Portos (Tom Morley)

Possible: Curbstone (Morley), Miles D (Chad Brown)

Sunday, April 2

$100,000 Top Flight

Probable: Falconet (Todd Pletcher), Kathleen O. (Shug McGaughey), Timeless Journey (Ray Handal)

Possible: Easy to Bless (James Ferraro), Hybrid Eclipse (Brittany Russell), Idiomatic (Brad Cox), Mommasgottarun (Linda Rice)

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