Lord Miles targets G2 Wood Memorial; White Abarrio works for G1 Carter Handicap
Mar 26, 2023
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Lord Miles targets G2 Wood Memorial; White Abarrio works for G1 Carter Handicap

by NYRA Press Office

  • Lord Miles targets G2 Wood Memorial; White Abarrio works for G1 Carter Handicap
  • G2 Wood Memorial hopeful Slip Mahoney breezes in company with G3 Gazelle probable Capella
  • Law Professor works for $125K Excelsior; Rossa Veloce nominated to G3 Distaff Handicap
  • Transect under consideration for G2 Wood Memorial

Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. boasts a stellar 7-3-0-2 record in graded stakes at the Big A, including wins by Mischevious Alex in the 2021 Grade 1 Carter Handicap, Drain the Clock in the 2021 Grade 3 Bay Shore and Officiating in last year's Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap.

He will look to add to his local success when he sends out Vegso Racing Stable's Kentucky homebred Lord Miles in the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 8. The Barbados native could also send Run Cory Run or Knox for the final local Kentucky Derby prep which offers 100-40-30-20-10 qualifying points to the top-five finishers.

In addition, he will send Grade 1-winner White Abarrio up to New York from his Gulfstream Park base for the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets, a seven-furlong sprint for older horses on the same card. 

Joseph, Jr. has started three horses in the Wood – all of them longshots - finishing fourth in 2019 with Math Wizard [64-1], while Skippylongstocking[17-1] and A.P.'s Secret [49-1] ran third and fourth, respectively, in last year’s tilt that featured a photo finish between two eventual Classic winners in the victorious Mo Donegal [Belmont Stakes] and Early Voting [Preakness].

Joseph, Jr. said he has no fear of being a longshot in sophomore stakes.

“With 3-year-olds, you never know when they're going to step up,” Joseph, Jr. said. “The Wood has been a productive race for us. We haven't won it, but those horses ran well and that gave us confidence to try different races with them off of that.”

Lord Miles, by Curlin and out of the Majestic Warrior mare Lady Esme, made his first three starts at Gulfstream Park. He graduated on debut in a six-furlong sprint in November before a rallying third in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man in which he was defeated just three-quarters of a length.

"He trained very good for his debut, but he was very green that day. He broke good and then dropped back and that's been a problem we've had with him. But he still won that day going away," Joseph, Jr. said. "In the Mucho Macho Man, at an extended distance, he should have been able to sit more handy, but it was a similar thing. He broke good and dropped back - at the quarter pole he was last and then he came running and just got beat."

Joseph, Jr. attempted to address the lack-of-focus issue by adding blinkers to Lord Miles’ repertoire for the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Holy Bull in February, but the bay colt broke poorly and never factored. Last out, with blinkers off in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 11, Lord Miles again posted an in-and-out performance, when sitting as close as fourth early on before dropping back to eighth and eventually finishing fifth. 

"He put on blinkers in the Holy Bull and I was very disappointed. He didn't run up to par that day,” Joseph, Jr. said. “He came back in the Tampa Bay Derby and ran sneaky good again, but he's inconsistent in his races and how he travels. At the quarter-pole last time, it looked like he was completely done and then he came back on and ran fifth."

Joseph, Jr. said he is hopeful stretching out to nine furlongs will benefit Lord Miles.

"I think the distance will be good for him, but we just need to teach him to be more handy throughout the races," Joseph, Jr. said. "It just seems like he's always struggling on-and-off the bridle. We're hoping he can put it together. In the morning, he's very handy, it's just in his races he's been doing this. If he can run a complete race, he has the ability."

Gentry Farms’ Run Cory Run, by Accelerate, was purchased for $32,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He graduated at second asking in January at Tampa Bay Downs traveling one mile and 40 yards to best next-out winner Summer Cause.

The Kentucky-bred Run Cory Run finished fourth last out in a nine-furlong optional-claiming tilt won by likely Wood Memorial rival Classic Catch, who is trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.

“He broke his maiden well at Tampa and is coming out of a decent allowance race," Joseph, Jr. said. "He's a horse that's progressive and the distance shouldn't be a problem, so it would be a chance to see where we're at."

Run Cory Run is out of the Indian Charlie mare Frere Pilgrim, who is a half-sister to graded-stakes winner Tamarind Hall.

Arindel’s Florida-homebred Knox, by Brethren, boasts a record of 6-1-1-1. He graduated at first asking in June at Gulfstream and most recently closed to finish second in a seven-furlong optional-claimer at the Florida oval.

“He always gives himself a lot to do. We’ve been trying to get him into longer races here and the races just won't go,” Joseph, Jr. said. “He ran good here the other day and the distance will be no problem with him.”

Out of the stakes-winning Afleet Alex mare Alexandra Rylee, Knox’s full brother, Clapton, captured the one-mile Gil Campbell Memorial Handicap last year at Gulfstream.

C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable’s multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire White Abarrio captured the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in April en route to finishing 16th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. He completed a productive 7-2-1-1 sophomore campaign in December with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets.

The 4-year-old Race Day colt, a five-time winner at Gulfstream, made his seasonal debut with an eighth-place effort in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

Joseph, Jr. said White Abarrio will now focus on one-turn tests after an impressive optional-claiming win sprinting seven furlongs on March 4 at Gulfstream that garnered a career-best 103 Beyer. 

“He ran really well when we got him back to seven-eighths and we're going to stick to one-turn with him,” Joseph, Jr. said. “We tried the Pegasus because he's so good on this track here, but at this stage of his career I think that one turn is best for him.”

White Abarrio worked a half-mile in 49.50 Saturday at Gulfstream and Joseph, Jr. said a good effort in the Carter could propel the popular grey colt to a start in the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan on June 10 at Belmont Park.

“The Met Mile could come into play, too, but this race [the Carter] is important,” Joseph, Jr. said. “If we can add another Grade 1 to his resume, it's very important to his career as a stallion going forward.”


G2 Wood Memorial hopeful Slip Mahoney breezes in company with G3 Gazelle probable Capella

Gold Square’s graded stakes-placed Slip Mahoney, who is targeting the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 8 at Aqueduct Racetrack, breezed a half-mile in 48.40 seconds on Saturday with assistant trainer Dustin Dugas up over the Belmont Park dirt training track. 

Slip Mahoney, trained by two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox, completed the work in company with Juddmonte’s stakes-placed Capella, who is aiming for a start in the Grade 3, $250,000 Gazelle on Wood Memorial Day. Capella was piloted through the work by jockey Manny Franco. 

“The work was great,” said Dugas. “Slip Mahoney was on the inside and it was a really good move from the both of them. They broke off well and galloped out in 1:01, so it was a good gallop out. I was happy with it and both came back really well.”

The Wood Memorial is the final local prep for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs, awarding 100-40-30-20-10 qualifying points to the top-five finishers. Similarly, the Gazelle is the last local prep for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 5, offering the same point structure to the top-five finishers. 

Slip Mahoney, a grey son of Arrogate, was last seen finishing a closing second in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 4 here, rallying from 13th-of-14 to finish 7 1/2 lengths back of the victorious Raise Cain. He earned 20 qualifying points for the effort and is currently 26th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard as of Sunday. 

“He didn’t really require much encouraging yesterday,” Dugas said of the work. “He was going about it in a really nice way.” 

Capella, a bay daughter of Quality Road and a half-sister to the Cox-trained multiple graded stakes-winner Bonny South, earned 15 Kentucky Oaks points when finishing third in the Busher on March 4 at the Big A, placing her in 28th on the leaderboard.

Dugas said he and Franco have been encouraged by Capella’s recent string of works. 

“Manny was really happy with her,” said Dugas. “Just the way she works and does things, she does it very professionally and well within herself. She’s a really cool and honest filly. She’s really settled in since she’s been here and she took a second to get her bearings, but she’s very comfortable now. Fingers crossed if everything goes well that we can make it to the first Friday in May.”

Cox is also expected to start Gary and Mary West’s graded stakes-winner Hit Show in the Wood Memorial on the heels of a dominant 5 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Withers on February 11 at the Big A. Dugas said Hit Show, who breezed six furlongs in 1:12.60 Saturday at Fair Grounds, is expected to ship to Belmont Park after an anticipated final work next weekend at the Louisiana oval. 


Law Professor works for $125K Excelsior; Rossa Veloce nominated to G3 Distaff Handicap

Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ graded-stakes winning Kentucky homebred Law Professor worked a solo half-mile in 49 flat Saturday over the Belmont Park dirt training track in preparation for this Saturday’s $125,000 Excelsior, a nine-furlong route for older horses, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Rob Atras and piloted through the breeze by exercise rider Jesse Sauder, the 5-year-old Constitution gelding built on a similar effort on March 19 in which he covered a half-mile in 48.42.

“It was a good breeze. He was moving pretty good and finished up nice,” Atras said. “We weren't looking to work him too strong coming back in six days and he had a pretty sharp work last week. But that's him, he's been in the bridle and coming into the race pretty sharp.”

Law Professor captured the restricted Tapit in September in his first start for Atras, posting a half-length score in the one mile 70 yard test over the Kentucky Downs turf. He followed with a strong runner-up effort to multiple Grade 1-winner Life Is Good in the Grade 1 Woodward in October here ahead of an even fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Keeneland.

He made his seasonal debut a winning one with a 7 1/2-length romp in the nine-furlong Queens County on January 7 at the Big A, but was a distant third last out in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap on February 18 at Oaklawn Park.

The Kentucky homebred is out of the multiple stakes-winning Ghostzapper mare Haunted Heroine - a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Celestine, who won the 2016 Grade 1 Longines Just a Game at Belmont Park.

Atras debuted Huntington, a half-brother to Law Professor by Uncle Mo, in Race 6 on Saturday here over a good main track. The 3-year-old bay gelding, also a Kentucky homebred for Twin Creeks Racing, settled near the back of the pack in the one-mile tilt and made a middle move before racing greenly at the top of the lane and settling for sixth.

“This horse shows some ability in the mornings, but still acts a little green mentally,” Atras said. “He was a little spooky in the paddock and the weather didn't help, but he made a middle move before the wind hit him and knocked him sideways. He'll be OK. There's definitely some ability there and he just needs a couple starts to figure it out.”

Robert Derr’s New York-bred Rossa Veloce has made her last five starts at the Big A since being claimed for $32,000 in September at Saratoga, winning four times led by a last out gate-to-wire romp under Manny Franco in the six-furlong Correction against open company.

The 5-year-old Girolamo mare, a $12,000 purchase at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, has banked $476,510 through a record of 25-9-4-2. 

Her recent run of form includes a 5 1/4-length romp in an open optional-claiming tilt on January 27 ahead of her Correction coup by the same margin. She garnered a career-best 102 Beyer four starts back when a half-length winner over graded-stakes placed Beguine in November. 

Atras said he was pleased to see Rossa Veloce break through at stakes level.

“I thought she ran great. We expected her to run good, and she got a great break and went on with it,” Atras said. “She came into the race great, so we were expecting that effort. Her last two races have been real nice.”

Atras said he has nominated Rossa Veloce to the seven-furlong Grade 3, $150,000 Distaff Handicap for older fillies and mares on April 7 at the Big A.

“It's probably going to be pretty tough. Seven [furlongs] is not her preferred distance, so we'll see,” Atras said. “We don't want to ship her and we want to keep Manny with her, so we'll look at it.”


Transect under consideration for G2 Wood Memorial

OXO Equine’s Transect, who finished tenth in the Grade 3 Gotham here March 4, could return for the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 8 at Aqueduct. The nine-furlong test for sophomores offers 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers.

Trained by Paulo Lobo, the Gun Runner colt failed to handle a muddy and sealed main track in the Gotham, finishing a distant 10th-of-14 in the one-turn mile that saw the victorious Raise Cain garner 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

“He did not like the muddy track three weeks ago in New York,” Lobo said.

Transect breezed back a bullet half-mile in 48 flat on March 18 over the dirt surface at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Kentucky, and is scheduled to breeze again this week.

Lobo said the added ground in the Wood Memorial would benefit the Gun Runner colt, who is out of the A.P. Indy mare Divine Escapade - a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Mi Sueno.

“The way that he works and gallops out, I think it will help him,” Lobo said.

Transect, a $300,000 purchase from the 2020 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, entered the Gotham from a pair of wins sprinting 6 1/2-furlongs over Tapeta at Turfway Park, including a debut score from off-the-pace on January 20 ahead of a frontrunning effort on February 10.

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