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Jan 10, 2021
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Patience with Our Last Buck leads to first stakes score for J and N Stables

by NYRA Press Office



  • Patience with Our Last Buck leads to first stakes score for J and N Stables
  • Smooth With a Kick possible for $100K Ladies Handicap
  • Rossa Veloce on target for $100K Franklin Square, followed by brief freshening
  • Rodriguez barn heating up at Big A winter meet


Saturday’s victory in the $100,000 Say Florida Sandy for 
Our Last Buck at Aqueduct Racetrack rewarded the patience of trainer Michelle Nevin and owner J and N Stables, who saw the gelded son of Courageous Cat make his first stakes appearance in his 18th career start. 

For besting a five-horse field of New York-breds 4-years-old and up by 3 3/4 lengths in his 7-year-old bow, Our Last Buck earned a personal-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure. The rallying score saw Aqueduct meet-leading rider Kendrick Carmouche pick off three rivals with a strong outside move when straightened for home in the seven-furlong sprint, outkicking 4-5 favorite and runner-up Funny Guy.

“I was very fortunate and excited and I’d just like to thank Michelle and Kendrick,” said owner Thomas Newkirk, who heads the Saratoga Springs-based J and N Stables. “Kendrick gave him a neat ride. It looked like at the head of the stretch that he could go inside or outside, and he chose correctly.” 

The effort marked the first stakes victory for the ownership group, which started racing in 2012 and entered yesterday with a 9-8-10 record in 65 career starts. J and N Stables still owns a stake in Our Last Buck’s dam Buck Mountain.

“We still own an interest in Buck Mountain, so we might have some more offspring coming and we’re excited about that possibility,” Newkirk said.

Bred in the Empire State by Gerardus S. Jameson, Our Last Buck broke his maiden at second asking in November 2018 at the Big A under previous trainer George Weaver. After being transferred to Nevin’s care in 2019, he enjoyed a career resurgence, winning five of his six career races since his 6-year-old campaign last year.

Our Last Buck, who won back-to-back races starting at Aqueduct on March 15 and then over Big Sandy during Belmont Park’s spring/summer meet, is now on his second career winning streak, with his stakes effort following a 1 ½-length victory against allowance company on December 12 at the Big A.

“It takes a little bit of patience,” Newkirk said. “He had a couple of operations before and we gave him some time to heal. It’s great now to see a 7-year-old do this. He’s probably in the best shape of his life right now.” 

Newkirk praised NYRA’s New York-bred program for providing opportunities for the late-blooming Our Last Buck to reach his potential.

“It’s a credit to NYRA that they have a 4-year-old up and classification for those older horses,” Newkirk said. “The New York-bred program is just awesome and I think it’s the right thing to do for the owners and breeders in the state. Not everyone can go down to Florida, and I think the Aqueduct cards make it a great place to be.” 

Newkirk said he’s also excited for the impending 3-year-old debut of homebred Dancing Buck, who broke his maiden at second asking on New Year’s Eve at the Big A. The War Dancer colt, who ran second in his debut on November 29 at the same track, could make his next start later in the winter meet. 



Smooth With a Kick possible for $100K Ladies Handicap

Jeff Drown’s three-time winner Smooth With a Kick is likely to face stakes company next out in next Sunday’s $100,000 Ladies Handicap, a nine furlong test for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at Aqueduct. 

Trained by Chad Brown, the daughter of multiple champion producing sire Candy Ride was a distant fifth in her graded stakes debut last out in the Grade 2 Falls City on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs, following an optional-claiming triumph on October 11 at Keeneland. 

In her Keeneland score, Smooth With a Kick was in behind horses for most of the journey, made a bid along the rail and established command around the far turn holding off a late charge from next out winner Luna Fortis to win by 3 ¼ lengths. 

Smooth With a Kick, who owns a record of 13-3-3-3, is still seeking her first stakes triumph but notched black type when finishing third in the Twixt on September 5 at Laurel Park. 

“I think she’s more than capable of beating stakes horses,” Brown’s assistant Whit Beckman said. “She’s proven that she’s a quality allowance filly and now that she’s taking that jump up to stakes company, starting her back here in the winter is one of the best places you can get her going.”

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Smooth With a Kick is out of the three-time stakes-placed Mineshaft mare Minesave and was purchased for $650,000 from the 2018 OBS April 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale from the Ricehorse Stable consignment barn. 

Beckman also spoke highly of recent maiden winner Carillo, a 3-year-old son of Union Rags who won first out on Friday at the Big A for the Estate of Paul Pompa, Jr. 

With Manny Franco up, Carillo overcame a difficult start to rally and score by 2 3/4-lengths to earn a 75 Beyer in the one-turn maiden special weight mile.

The Kentucky homebred is scheduled to go through the sales ring at the Keeneland January Sale as part of the late Pompa’s dispersal. He is listed as Hip 1566 and will be consigned by Lanes’ End. 

“His effort the other day was professional,” Beckman said. “For a firster to get squeezed back early and not necessarily have his own way. It was a very professional race.”

Carillo is out of the Bernardini mare Proper Mad and comes from the same family as 2000 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status – the dam of 2009 Belmont Stakes runner-up Dunkirk. 



Rossa Veloce on target for $100K Franklin Square, followed by brief freshening

Following a December 20 triumph against her New York-bred counterparts, Rossa Veloce will take things up a notch in Saturday’s $100,000 Franklin Square at the Big A for trainer Ray Handal, who co-owns the daughter of Girolamo in partnership with Blue Streak Racing. 

Rossa Veloce will be seeking her first stakes win in the 6 ½-furlong event for sophomore fillies bred in the Empire State after finishing second in the Key Cents at the Big A, where she was 5 ½ lengths back to Vacay. 

Handal said Rossa Veloce will likely receive a 30-day freshening following the Franklin Square. 

“After the Franklin Square, we’ll send her down to Ocala at Sandhurst which is where a lot of my babies are kept with Nick Esler and Carl Allstop,” Handal said. “They do pretraining and layup with young horses and they have these big, beautiful paddocks. Win, lose or draw, she’s earned a nice little vacation.”

Rossa Veloce won on debut on August 5 at Saratoga over next out winner No Mo Spending, who subsequently won the Joseph A. Gimma on October 1 at Belmont Park. 

Bred by John Scott Rogers, Rossa Veloce was acquired for $12,000 by Conor Foley’s Oracle Bloodstock at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton October Yearling Sale in Kentucky. She is out of the two-time winning Hard Spun mare Spuntastic. 

Perrine Time Thoroughbreds’ stakes-placed Kansas Kis has been entered on Friday’s card in a six-furlong allowance event and will attempt two consecutive victories after an upset win off a five-month layoff on November 28 at the Big A. 

The daughter of Constitution was a game second in the Busher Invitational on March 7 at Aqueduct going a one-turn mile, finishing just a nose shy of victory to Water White.

Kansas Kis breezed a half-mile in 50.26 on Sunday morning over the Belmont training track. 

“She beat a tough field last time,” Handal said. “She’ll run on Friday going one mile. I want to figure her out a little bit before we step forward. That was a big race after a long break, so I didn’t want to go straight into stakes company after that. I wanted to see her going a mile because she did run a big race here going a mile. She’s not small, but she’s average height. She has a lot of balance to her so I want to get some questions answered in this race before making a decision after that.”

Handal has the $100,000 Maddie May, a one-turn mile for state-bred sophomore fillies on February 20 in mind for Irish Constitution, who was last out second beaten a neck to No Mo Spending in the Joseph A Gimma on October 1 at Belmont. 

“She had some minor issues. I had her in the other day and scratched her,” Handal said. “I’ve been taking my time with her. She breezed [Saturday] and went a nice three-eighths [in 39.25 seconds]. A soft target spot is the Maddie May at the end of February.”

Owned by Perrine Time Thoroughbreds and West Paces Racing, Irish Constitution is out of the D’Wildcat mare D’Wild Ride. She was bred in the Empire State by SF Bloodstock.

Bush Racing Stable and Scott Labooliere’s Timely Tradition, who scratched out of the January 3 La Verdad, will opt for a lighter spot according to Handal. The 7-year-old First Defence bay mare is an 11-time winner of 32 starts and was a close third two starts back in the Iroquois on October 24 at Belmont to Collegeville Girl. 

“I knew that race was coming up tough,” Handal said. “We were just entering to see if something happened and then make a decision from there. We’ll target an open allowance which will be a lighter spot.”



Rodriguez barn heating up at Big A winter meet

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez entered Sunday’s Big A card on top of the trainer standings with a record of 47-10-2-5 and has a number of stakes contenders lining up to bolster purse earnings already at $429,253.

The 48-year-old conditioner, who has won 14 individual NYRA meet titles in his career, captured the 2018 winter meet with 38 wins.

“We’ve got a good group of people working for us, the same people that have been working for us all along,” said Rodriguez. “When the horses are running the way you see them train, that’s a plus. Some horses are running good and some horses are running a little better, we just have to keep working hard and hopefully things will keep working out.

“I’m not really thinking about winning titles, I’m just trying to keep my horses running good,” added Rodriguez. “If it works out that’s good, but I think we’ve been holding our own the past couple years”

The Elkstone Group’s Wudda U Think Now, a New York-bred son of Fast Anna, earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure for his half-length score on Friday when travelling seven furlongs in a first-level allowance sprint for state-breds. 

Bred by Mina Equivest, Wudda U Think Now was purchased for $60,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Yearling Sale. Out of the Unbridled Jet mare Unbridled Grace, Wudda U Think Now graduated at second asking in November when sprinting six furlongs on a muddy Big A main track and followed with a good second on December 10 to Jerry the Nipper, who came back to win a second-level allowance tilt.

Rodriguez said Wudda U Think Now has improved steadily since arriving in his care.

“He’s been very consistent since we got him,” said Rodriguez. “The people at the farm did a good job and the horse came back very good. I’m just trying to keep it together and the horse is showing that he can be any kind of horse.

“I’ll talk to the owner, Mr. Grant, and see what is next but we’d like to break the conditions and then see what we’ve got,” added Rodriguez. “I don’t want to take anything away from the horse. I like him a lot. He’s great body wise, behavior and training in the morning. He’s a straightforward horse that will improve with racing.”

Michael Dubb’s Pete’s Play Call was claimed for $62,500 out of a winning effort on November 27 at the Big A and captured the Gravesend on January 2 at first asking for new connections.

“He’s been very consistent. We were lucky the other day with five horses in the race and a horse in front to set it up,” said Rodriguez. “Speed held up good that day and thankfully it worked out for us.”

Rodriguez said he will consider pointing the 8-year-old Munnings gelding to the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan, a seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up on January 30.

“That’s what we’re pointing for and if he trains into that race the same way, I think we’ll take the chance,” said Rodriguez. 

E.V. Racing Stable’s Eagle Orb, winner of the Notebook for state-breds on November 14 at the Big A, finished second last out in the Jerome on New Year’s Day in a race won in frontrunning style by Capo Kane.

“I’m not sure if distance will be an issue for him, but the other horse ran a big race. We tried to make a run at the winner but we couldn’t catch him,” said Rodriguez. “The owner wants to point at the Gotham so we’ll give him another shot at the mile.”

The Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, a one-turn mile offering 50-2-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers, is slated for March 6.

Graded-stakes placed Water White, a 4-year-old Conveyance filly also owned by E.V. Racing Stable, was last seen on track in June when a distant third in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont.

The talented gray, who captured the Busher Invitational in March at the Big A, returned to the work tab on January 3 and added a second three-eighths breeze Sunday morning in 38.01 on the Belmont dirt tracking track.

Repole Stable’s Backsideofthemoon earned a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure for his six-length score in the nine-furlong Queens County on December 19 at the Big A. 

Rodriguez said the 9-year-old Malibu Moon gelding, who sports a record of 47-8-9-7, will likely return in the $100,000 Jazil, a nine-furlong test for 4-year-olds and up on January 23 at Aqueduct.

"It looks like he came out of the race well. We'll point for the Jazil and hopefully he can have another good year," said Rodriguez.

Backsideofthemoon won the 2018 Jazil and finished second in last year’s renewal to likely returning champion Mr. Buff.


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