New York-bred Venti Valentine gearing up for G1 Kentucky Oaks; Runaway Rumour to target G3 Beaugay
by NYRA Press Office
- New York-bred Venti Valentine gearing up for G1 Kentucky Oaks; Runaway Rumour to target G3 Beaugay
- A compact but quality field awaits Sail By in $100K Memories of Silver
- Bank On Anna hopes to turn the tables on Yo Cuz in NYSSS Park Avenue; Queen's Plate champ Safe Conduct back in New York
Trainer Jorge Abreu will celebrate a milestone in his training career when he sends out multiple graded stakes-placed New York-bred Venti Valentine as his first starter in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 6 at Churchill Downs.
“It feels great,” said Abreu, with a laugh. “It’s a great experience and it’s very exciting. Having a horse with a shot helps even more. We’ll see.”
Owned by NY Final Furlong Racing Stable and Parkland Thoroughbreds, Venti Valentine has compiled a resume that has placed her in seventh on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 94 points. The chestnut filly began her journey to the Kentucky Oaks with a close runner-up effort to subsequent Grade 1 Ashland winner Nest in the Grade 2 Demoiselle on December 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Venti Valentine returned triumphantly with a seven-length romp in the Busher Invitational three months later at the Big A, providing a mild upset after stalking the pace under Manny Franco. With her spot in the Oaks already secured, Venti Valentine made her final prep in the Grade 3 Gazelle on April 9 at the Ozone Park oval, setting the pace before losing her advantage at the sixteenth pole and finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind Nostalgic.
Following the Gazelle, the Firing Line filly’s potential next start was between the Kentucky Oaks and the Grade 1 Acorn on June 11 at Belmont Park. Her owners decided the trip to Churchill Downs was too elusive to pass up.
“The owners want to take a chance and it’s not like she’s impossible,” Abreu said. “She faced one of the favorites already in Nest. There’s plenty of speed in that race and she’s always one that wants to be forwardly placed but not on the lead.”
Abreu said Venti Valentine continues to train forwardly at Churchill Downs and will have a work with jockey Tyler Gaffalione sometime next week.
“She’s doing well,” said Abreu. “I’m hoping to get two breezes into her and next week, Gaffalione will breeze her. He’s going to ride her in the Oaks.”
Abreu also reported that Lawrence Goichman’s multiple graded stakes-placed Runaway Rumour will look to make a start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay on May 14 at Belmont Park.
The New York-bred stakes-winning daughter of Flintshire had been under consideration for the $100,000 Plenty of Grace last Saturday at Aqueduct but was rerouted after she came down with a fever.
“Everything is fine with her,” Abreu said. “She spiked a little temperature and I didn’t want to take the chance of making it worse. It just wasn’t ideal timing.”
Abreu, who was a longtime assistant to four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, ventured out on his own in 2016 and saddled his first winner that summer at Saratoga Race Course. Since then, the 47-year-old conditioner has trained seven individual stakes winners and sent out Stellar Agent to earn a Grade 1 placing in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf behind multiple graded stakes winner Newspaperofrecord.
A compact but quality field awaits Sail By in $100K Memories of Silver
Treadway Racing Stable homebred Sail By will attempt to turn the tables on Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Pizza Bianca when she makes her sophomore debut in Sunday’s $100,000 Memories of Silver on Closing Day of the spring meet at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Sail By, trained by Leah Gyarmati, is one of three contenders for Sunday’s 1 1/16-mile test who last ran in the Juvenile Fillies Turf November 5 at Del Mar. Pizza Bianca, the winner of the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and sixth-place finisher Consumer Spending also make their 2022 debuts in the Memories of Silver.
The daughter of Astern finished 13th in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, where she settled in mid-pack down the backstretch to the outside of runners and was six-wide into the final turn before retreating. The only horse she finished ahead of was Turnerloose, who came back to win the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra in February at Fair Grounds Race Course.
While Sail By faces a much shorter field on Sunday, the quality is still stacked with all entrants having either won or placed at stakes level.
“I’m not throwing out the Breeders’ Cup race, but I don’t know that it was indicative of her,” Gyarmati said. “It was a huge field of horses on that small track, she was wide and there was some bumping. A six-horse field could tell us a little more. I think she’s versatile. She can lay closer on these longer distances, and she can close in the sprints.”
Following the Breeders’ Cup, Sail By enjoyed a freshening at Hidden Brook South in Ocala, Florida, where she worked three times before arriving at Gyarmati’s barn in early March. Since her return to New York, she has worked weekly over the Belmont training track.
“She looks great,” Gyarmati said. “She’s a really mellow filly that enjoys training and does what you want her to do.”
Sail By was a 28-1 winner of her career debut, a six furlong inner turf maiden in June at Belmont Park.
“It was a bit of a surprise just because she doesn’t telegraph in the morning where she is,” Gyarmati said. “It’s not that I didn’t think she could win, but she doesn’t really tell you where she is. She’s not dragging you around there wanting to keep going. She just does exactly what you want her to do.”
Sail By proved her maiden coup was no fluke, earning black type in her next three starts. After finishing second in the Colleen at Monmouth, she completed the trifecta in an off-the-turf edition of the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga one month later. She posted yet another upset score over Belmont’s inner turf when she displayed tactical speed to capture the Grade 2 Miss Grillo on October 2 en route to the Breeders’ Cup.
Gyarmati said both she and owner Jeffrey Treadway were a little surprised with how tough the Memories of Silver came up.
“It’s a salty race and it’s a small field,” Gyarmati said. “But we have the winner of the Breeders’ Cup and everyone in there is well meant for this race. Depending on how everyone has developed it will be interesting to see where she is. Jeff is excited but he looked at the race, too. It’s a little surprising the race came up as deep as it did. It’s her first race back and there are some others who are making their first start back as well.”
Jose Lezcano will pick up the mount aboard Sail By, who breaks from post 4.
In addition to the trio of Breeders’ Cup contestants, the Memories of Silver also includes On Alert and Miss You Ella, both graded stakes placed in Florida earlier this year, as well as Alittleloveandluck, who won the Ginger Brew on January 1 at Gulfstream Park.
Bank On Anna hopes to turn the tables on Yo Cuz in NYSSS Park Avenue; Queen's Plate champ Safe Conduct back in New York
WellSpring Stables’ Bank On Anna brings a two-race win streak into Sunday's $200,000 NYSSS Park Avenue, a 6 1/2-furlong main track sprint for eligible New York-sired sophomore fillies, on Closing Day of the spring meet at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Phil Serpe, the dark bay daughter of Central Banker, bred in New York by Lou Corrente, breezed a half-mile in 51.44 seconds Monday over the Belmont dirt training track.
"She's doing good. It's been business as usual and she's ready to go," Serpe said.
Bank On Anna launched her streak with a six-length romp over returning rival Kisses for Emily in a six-furlong state-bred maiden special weight on January 22 that garnered a career-best 74 Beyer Speed Figure. She exited that effort to notch a rallying half-length score last out after a troubled trip in a six-furlong state-bred optional-claimer on March 18 at Aqueduct.
Serpe said he was impressed by Bank On Anna's determination last out after stumbling at the start before closing into sharp splits of 22.56 and 46.42 set by eventual third-place finisher Ready A. P.
"I thought it was a very impressive effort,” Serpe said. “I realize the pace was kind of quick up front, but for her to recover from that stumble and go wide through the turn and run down those horses in the stretch, it really showed a lot of what she is."
Bank On Anna finished second in her November debut at the Big A and followed one month later with an even fifth in the $500,000 NYSSS Great White Way won by Yo Cuz, who is listed as the 3-5 morning-line favorite in the Park Avenue.
Serpe said he has always thought highly of Bank On Anna, whose dam, Young Anna Lee, is a full-sibling to multiple stakes winner Blindwillie McTell.
"We thought a lot about this filly last summer at Saratoga and unfortunately she came down with a temperature a week before the race and was unable to make the races there," Serpe said. "She was showing a lot of ability to us in the morning, so we had to play the waiting game a little bit. But she's really come through for us in the past few starts."
Serpe said a more seasoned Bank On Anna is in a better position now to take on the formidable Yo Cuz, who has won stakes in each of her last three starts.
"We were asking a lot of her to go into a stake right off her maiden effort,” Serpe said of the Great White Way. “We also think she may be limited to sprint distances because of the build she has. She's a very robust, quarter-horse type looking filly. We were trying to play catch up and it just didn't play in our favor so we backed up a few steps, and now she's moving forward. The results have been good for us."
Bank On Anna, listed at 9-2 on the morning line, will emerge from post 5 under Jose Lezcano.
WellSpring Stables' Safe Conduct, winner of the $1 million Queen's Plate in August at Woodbine Racetrack, returned to Belmont on Thursday after wintering at Gulfstream Park in Florida.
The 4-year-old Bodemeister colt, bred in Ontario by Mitchell Kursner, was piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr. to a game head score in the 10-furlong Queen's Plate, first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. He followed with an off-the-board effort in the Breeders', the 12-furlong final leg of the Triple Crown in August over the Woodbine turf.
Safe Conduct completed his sophomore campaign with 1 1/16-mile efforts on the turf, posting a second-place finish in the Gio Ponti in November at the Big A and a third in the Tropical Park Derby on December 26 at Gulfstream. Both of those events were won by Never Surprised for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
"He's doing well. He ran well in Florida behind a really good horse for Todd Pletcher, finishing third in a stake during the winter and had a rough trip, otherwise we thought he would clearly be second,” Serpe said.
Safe Conduct was off-the-board in his seasonal debut in the 11-furlong Grade 2 Mac Diarmida in March at Gulfstream and subsequently scratched out of the Grade 3 Appleton on April 2 at the Hallandale Beach oval.
Serpe said he scratched Safe Conduct in favor of a return to New York turf racing.
"We tried running him at a longer distance but it just didn't work in our favor,” Serpe said. “We just thought we would be better off taking a step back off of a bad race and getting him ready. The book was out for New York with turf, so I got together with Bob Vukovich, who owns WellSpring Stables, and thought it would be better all-around to just wait and get him ready for New York."
Serpe said Safe Conduct will look to regroup with an allowance event in May at Belmont with the nine-furlong Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy as a backup plan.
"If the allowance doesn't fill we would probably point to the Fort Marcy," Serpe said.
Serpe said he’s hopeful a more mature Safe Conduct will continue to improve upon his impressive ledger of 11-3-2-1 with purse earnings of $647,664.
"He was always a big horse, even as a 2-year-old, and a very aggressive horse with a lot of energy. He's settled down a little bit, which is good, and he's filled out. It's not that he's gotten taller, but he's filled out,” Serpe said. “Turf horses really get to be their best when they're 4-and-5-years-old and fully grown. He's filled out some and even up to the Appleton, he's been training a lot better and coming back to a higher level."