Lobsta nets second straight stakes score in Say Florida Sandy
by NYRA Press Office
Eddie F’s Racing’s Lobsta garnered an 89 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory by disqualification in Saturday’s $100,000 Say Florida Sandy, a seven-furlong sprint for New York-breds 4-years-old and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trainer Gary Sciacca credited Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano for keeping Lobsta out of trouble, despite having to sacrifice lengths with a wide trip.
“The inside was golden yesterday, but Javier is a world-class rider and I'm glad he flew in from Florida to come ride him,” Sciacca said. “Lobsta ran huge. I was real pleased with him.”
The 4-year-old Emcee colt entered from a game half-length score over returning rival My Boy Tate in the seven-furlong NYSSS Thunder Rumble on December 5 at the Big A.
Lobsta earned a career-best 96 Beyer in the Thunder Rumble where he enjoyed a six-pound advantage over My Boy Tate, but the foes were on even terms in the Say Florida Sandy, carrying a co-field high of 124 pounds.
“He probably bounced a little bit because he ran such a high number last time,” Sciacca said. “I would hope to see him improve off of this one and go even further.”
Castellano, who retained the mount on Lobsta from post 4, settled outside rivals in third position as Alpha Chi Rho, piloted by Jose Ortiz, led through splits of 22.84 seconds and 46.41 over the fast main track.
The Kendrick Carmouche-piloted Battle Station pressured in second position to the outside of Alpha Chi Rho late in the turn as Chestertown [Jose Lezcano] surged up the rail with My Boy Tate [Eric Cancel] queuing up behind rivals.
Battle Station angled over and put a head in front at the stretch call as a fading Alpha Chi Rho took back.
My Boy Tate, full of run and in need of racing room approaching the eighth pole, squeezed through a narrow opening to the inside of Battle Station and to the outside of rail-surging Chestertown, who checked and was forced to take back.
Lobsta continued to advance five-wide and squared off with My Boy Tate, the 2018 Say Florida Sandy champ, through the final sixteenth with the latter prevailing by a neck in a final time of 1:25.63. It was a further four lengths back to Battle Station in third, who was two lengths clear of Chestertown.
A stewards’ inquiry and multiple claims of foul were launched, including Ortiz claiming foul against Battle Station at the top of the stretch which was disallowed.
A trainer and jockey’s objection from the connections of Chestertown against My Boy Tate for interference at the eighth pole was allowed, resulting in My Boy Tate being disqualified from victory and placed fourth behind Chestertown. Battle Station was elevated to second with Chestertown placed third.
Sciacca said the disqualification was merited.
“It was a rough-run race and I guess the horse deserved to come down. He squeezed his way in there and put a lot of pressure on Lezcano [aboard Chestertown] down inside,” Sciacca said.
Lobsta now has two wins in as many starts after a five-month freshening going into the Thunder Rumble.
Sciacca said Lobsta had gone off the boil after a brisk spring/summer campaign that included third-place finishes in the Mike Lee at Belmont in May and the New York Derby in July at Finger Lakes.
“His feet were bothering him a little bit and he just needed to grow up,” Sciacca said. “He's a big horse and I wanted to give him some time. The owner is a patient guy and he said to give him all the time he wants, which is nice.”
Sciacca said Lobsta, who sports a ledger of 9-4-1-2 with purse earnings of $276,400, will target the $100,000 Haynesfield on March 20, a one-turn mile for New York-breds 4-years-old and up.
“I'm leaning towards that. That mile would hit him right between the eyes,” Sciacca said.
Out of the Chief Seattle mare Salty Little Sis, Lobsta is a full brother to the 5-year-old Chowda, who finished a game a second in an open allowance sprint on Saturday’s undercard. Both horses were bred in the Empire State by Fedwell Farm.
Sciacca said Chowda is likely to come back at the same condition after Saturday’s strong effort.
“He ran a big race. He probably should have won, but he just missed,” Sciacca said.
Chowda, who won the 2020 Gander at the Big A, finished fourth after pressing Lobsta’s early pace in the Thunder Rumble.
Sciacca will saddle J.H. Racing Stable’s Belleshazza for her dirt debut in Thursday’s fifth race at the Big A, a six-furlong maiden special weight for sophomore fillies.
The Florida-bred daughter of Exaggerator made her first two starts on turf, finishing sixth in her maiden special weight debut in October sprinting six furlongs at Belmont ahead of a closing fourth in a maiden claimer on November 20 traveling one-mile at the Big A.
Sciacca said Belleshazza, a $70,000 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase, has breezed well over the dirt, including an easy three-eighths in 38 seconds flat January 3 over the Belmont dirt training track.
“She's breezing OK and doing well. I hope she runs well. I think she will,” Sciacca said. “You have to run where you can get in. We'll sprint this time and next time I'll run her long.”
Cancel will guide Belleshazza from post 5 in the eight-horse field.
Happy Medium returns to work tab; no plans determined for My Boy Tate
Jay Em Ess Stable's Happy Medium, a winner of 3-of-4 starts, recorded his first breeze since a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claiming victory on December 18, going an easy half-mile Sunday in 51.22 seconds over the Belmont training track.
The 4-year-old son of Runhappy has won his last three starts by a combined 21 1/4-lengths. Following a 9 1/4-length maiden score over two next-out winners in September at Belmont, he defeated winners at the Big A in November before recording a career-best 104 Beyer in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claimer on December 18.
Nevin said no definitive plans have been made for Happy Medium’s next start.
“He worked well this morning. It was just an easy breeze, which was what I wanted,” Nevin said.
Nevin said My Boy Tate was in good order following Saturday’s Say Florida Sandy at Aqueduct, where he crossed the wire first before being disqualified to fourth for interference in the stretch drive.
Trained, bred and co-owned by Nevin with Little Red Feather Racing, the six-time stakes-winning New York-bred son of Boys At Tosconova captured the 2018 Say Florida Sandy in his first stakes triumph and has banked $723,788 through a career of 30-11-8-2.
My Boy Tate won the six-furlong Hollie Hughes in February and one-mile Haynesfield in March last year at the Big A in a productive campaign that also included a win in the Leon Reed Memorial in October at Finger Lakes.
Nevin said she had no plans yet for My Boy Tate.
“He came out of it well,” Nevin said. “He’s tough as nails. He goes out and puts out an effort each and every time.”
Green Light Go returns in Thursday allowance for Jerkens
Stronach Stables’ Green Light Go will be making his 5-year-old debut Thursday at Aqueduct, contesting a one-turn mile optional claimer in Race 8.
The bay son of Hard Spun will be making his first appearance since a runner-up effort in the Big A’s six-furlong Grade 3 Fall Highweight on November 28.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Green Light Go enjoyed a successful juvenile campaign, breaking his maiden at first asking with a wire-to-wire win sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Belmont Park. Stretching out to 6 1/2 furlongs in his next outing, Green Light Go captured the Grade 2 Saratoga Special at Saratoga Race Course by a convincing 3 3/4 lengths in his stakes debut.
The bay’s first go at a one-turn mile came with a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Champagne to wrap up his juvenile year, finishing four lengths behind eventual Belmont and Travers winner Tiz the Law. Green Light Go then hit the board in both of his sophomore starts, finishing third in the Grade 3 Swale and second in the Roar, both at Gulfstream Park.
After an eight-month layoff, Green Light Go was transferred to the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer to run the first part of his 2021 season at Oaklawn Park. Green Light Go won 1-of-4 starts for Hollendorfer before moving to Woodbine and making his lone start for trainer Michael Doyle, finishing off the board in the Grade 3 Vigil in August.
Now back in Jerkens’ barn at Belmont, Green Light Go appears to be the same horse he was before the move.
“He hasn’t changed a whole lot since he was two,” Jerkens said. “He doesn’t quite look the same as then because he’s gotten more races into him, but that’s OK.”
Competing off a nearly four-month layoff in the Fall Highweight in his return race for Jerkens, Green Light Go made up ground late from off the pace under strong urging from Dylan Davis, losing by a head to Hopeful Treasure in a final time of 1:11.19.
Jerkens believes that despite the flying finish, a mile still may not be the perfect distance for Green Light Go.
“It’s not always the case that they want more ground,” Jerkens said. “He did win going a mile at Oaklawn, but just because they’re closing in a sprint doesn’t mean they want to go further. Seven furlongs would probably be ideal for him. He’s done good and has a lot of good works in between [the last race and this one].”
In his final drill for his start on Thursday, Green Light Go posted a bullet five furlongs January 4 in 1:01 flat over Belmont’s dirt training track. Though listed as fast, Jerkens noted the track had taken some precipitation the night before.
“He worked really good on a pretty slow track,” Jerkens said. “He went by himself and did well.”
Along with Green Light Go, Jerkens will also send out The Sound in Race 8 on Thursday in his first start since transferring from the barn of trainer Brad Cox.
Also a 5-year-old son of Hard Spun, The Sound won 3-of-7 starts for Cox, was last seen finishing a well-beaten sixth in an optional claimer at Churchill Downs in April. The Sound was transferred to Jerkens’ care when owner Shortleaf Stable decided to keep the horse in New York for the winter.
“They didn’t want to take him to Oaklawn even though he won there,” said Jerkens. “He was already here for a race that didn’t fill and Brad didn’t want to leave any horses here for the winter. I’ve had a couple of Shortleaf horses anyways, so they left him with me.”
The Sound has a mile win at the Big A under his belt, earning a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure for his 4 3/4-length optional claiming victory in November 2020.
Jerkens said he has yet to see that kind of speed in the mornings from the dark bay, who most recently breezed five-eighths in 1:02.90 over Belmont’s training track.
“He hasn’t really been showing anything like that in his works,” Jerkens said. “Maybe he’s just gotten wiser in his old age, but he hasn’t really given us what we want to see in the mornings. Some horses do that when they get older. When you get them over [to the races] and they pop out of the gate, it can be a different story. I hope that’s the case.”
The Sound’s start on Thursday may prove to be a tune-up race after being away from the races for nearly eight months.
“I always thought he was the kind of horse who would run good right from the get-go, but I don’t know him very well and he’s turned out to be a different horse than I thought he was,” Jerkens said. “I thought he was a real eager work horse but he’s not, so we’ll have to run him and see.”
Green Light Go will exit post 2 under Davis, while Eric Cancel will guide The Sound from the inside post. The five-horse field includes nine-time winner Lil Commisioner [post 3, Kendrick Carmouche], Hanalei's Houdini [post 4, Jose Lezcano] and graded-stakes winner Majestic Dunhill [post 5, Manny Franco].
Chiefswood Stables’ Grade 3 Gotham winner Weyburn is currently stabled at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and is gearing up for his 4-year-old campaign after his sophomore season ended in September with an eighth in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing.
The dark bay Ontario-bred son of Pioneerof the Nile most recently breezed five furlongs over the grass in 1:03.45.
“They worked him on the turf down there and weren’t really thrilled with it,” Jerkens said. “We’re backing off him a little bit and regrouping.”
Constitutionlawyer remains on target for G3 Withers
Perrine Time Thoroughbreds and West Paces Racing’s Constitutionlawyer impressed trainer Ray Handal enough in his last out maiden victory to make the jump to graded stakes level for the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on February 5 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The nine-furlong Withers is a qualifying race for the 2022 Kentucky Derby, offering 10-4-2-1 points to the top-four finishers.
The son of 2021 leading third-crop sire Constitution displayed different dynamics when graduating at third asking on January 2 at the Big A, adding Lasix and leading gate-to-wire to win by 3 1/2 lengths while registering an 85 Beyer.
“He got a big figure the other day. We’re just hopeful that it wasn’t just the Lasix,” Handal said. “He ran a monster race and he’s a real stayer. That’s the one benefit about him. From start to finish he has a high cruising speed.”
Handal noted that Constitutionlawyer showed improvement at the gate in his maiden victory. In his previous two starts, he was placed toward the rear of the field early on and closed late to finish a respective fourth and third to next-out stakes-winners Mo Donegal in October and Courvoisier in December.
“He broke a lot better. In his first two starts, he broke with the pack and then he’d check himself out of it and get a little tardy,” Handal said. “Four days before this last race, I popped him out of the gate just to make sure he was sharp and could do what he needed to do. He broke super on race day, and he was able to do whatever Dylan [Davis] needed for him to do that day.”
Constitutionlawyer, a $170,000 purchase from the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is out of the Lawyer Ron mare Lawyer Brockmeyer.
While Constitutionlawyer is likely to dive into stakes company off a maiden win, Handal said he will likely run December 11 maiden winner Mischievous Diane through a condition.
Perrine Time Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old daughter of Practical Joke graduated at six furlongs and saw a cutback in distance from her previous start when second to next out stakes-winner Kathleen O going seven furlongs.
While the seven-furlong $100,000 Ruthless on February 6 was enticing, Handal said he would rather keep Mischievous Diane at six furlongs for now.
“I was maybe going to the Ruthless, but I may try the 1X,” Handal said. “Right now, I’d rather go six with her. I know she got beat by Kathleen O the day she went seven and ran second, which is nothing to snub your nose at because she came back and won a stake at Gulfstream. Right now, if I can keep her going six, I will.”
Mischevious Diane was a $67,000 purchase out of the 2020 Keeneland January Sale and is out of the Lion Heart mare Lioness Lahr, whose other two progeny to race are winners.
Handal said stakes-winner Just Read It, who captured the Cicada in March at Aqueduct, could enter Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale in February.
Owned by Handal in partnership with Ken Russell and Brown Road Racing, Just Read It captured a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claimer on January 6 in her most recent effort. She boasts a consistent record of 7-3-0-1 with earnings of $165,550.
“We might run her through the sale,” Handal said. “She’s by Constitution and she’s a stakes-winning filly. She’s done everything right. We might try and cash in on her.”
Handal said Merrylegs Farm’s homebred Thinking It Over will point to Saturday’s $100,000 Franklin Square for New York-bred sophomore fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs.
G2 Demoiselle runner-up Venti Valentine breezes in Florida
NY Final Furlong Racing Stable and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ Venti Valentine is enjoying some time in Florida before making her next start on the road to the Kentucky Oaks.
Trained by Jorge Abreu, the New York-bred daughter of Firing Line was last seen finishing a determined second in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct on December 5, beaten just a neck by the Todd Pletcher-trained Nest.
Venti Valentine posted a half-mile breeze in 50.80 January 8 at Palm Meadows Training Center.
“She’s doing really good and that was a great run from her last time,” said Edgar Estevez, assistant to Jorge Abreu. “Jorge is very pleased with the way she came out of the race and he decided to give her a little bit of a rest and start her back up down at Palm Meadows. She’s taking it easy right now.”
Venti Valentine’s Demoiselle effort came after going 2-for-2 in her first two outings, breaking her maiden at first asking in a maiden special weight at Belmont in September. After eking out a nose victory and defeating 11 fellow state-breds sprinting six furlongs on debut, Abreu stepped the filly up to stakes company next time out in Belmont’s Maid of the Mist.
Venti Valentine made easy work of the stretch-out to one mile in the Maid of the Mist, coming from off the pace to secure a 3 3/4-length victory. Applying the same off-the-pace tactics in the Demoiselle, Venti Valentine came up just short but earned a career-best 77 Beyer in defeat.
Bred in the Empire State by Final Furlong Racing Stable and Parkland Thoroughbreds, Venti Valentine earned four qualifying Kentucky Oaks points for her runner-up finish in the Demoiselle, tying her with seven other fillies on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard. The filly’s next start is still to be determined.
“With horses, every day is something different,” Estevez said. “The plan is still the Oaks and hopefully everything goes to our advantage.”
Aqueduct Racetrack Week 5 stakes probables
Saturday, January 15
Probable: Aunt Kat (Bill Mott), Glass Ceiling (Charlton Baker), Regal Retort (Steve Asmussen)
Possible: Don’t Call Me Mary (Todd Pletcher), Fancy Feline (H. James Bond), Fraudulent Charge (Lacey Gaudet), Hibiscus Punch (Justin Nixon), Jakarta (Mike Trombetta), Vegas Weekend (Linda Rice)
$100K Franklin Square
Probable: Classy Edition (Pletcher), Flip My Id (Mike Maker), Leeloo (David Duggan), Meraviglioso (Claudio Gonzalez), Moam (Horacio DePaz), Sandy’s Garden (Joseph Lee), Shesawildjoker (David Donk), Thinking It Over (Ray Handal)
Sunday, January 16
$100K The Ladies
Probable: Battle Bling (Rob Atras), Exotic West (Gary Sciacca), Its Cold In Dehere (Linda Rice), Miss Leslie (Claudio Gonzalez), Vienna Code (Andrew Williams)
Possible: Artful Splatter (Kieron Magee), Kiss the Girl (Mike Trombetta)