Fluffy Socks earns 91 BSF for G2 Sands Point win
by NYRA Press Office
Head of Plains Partners homebred Fluffy Socks posted a sharp victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sands Point, garnering a 91 Beyer Speed Figure in the nine-furlong inner turf test for sophomore fillies at Belmont Park.
Trainer Chad Brown said following the race that the now two-time graded stakes winner could potentially target the Grade 1, $300,000 American Oaks on December 26 at Santa Anita.
Fluffy Socks, with the red-hot Joel Rosario up, split rivals down the lane to overtake pacesetting stablemate Higher Truth and fended off the late rally of stakes winner Runaway Rumour to secure a narrow neck score.
Fluffy Socks is by New York-based stallion Slumber, who stands at Rockridge Stud in Hudson, New York.
“Joel gave her a great ride. She consistently shows up,” said Brown’s assistant Dan Stupp. “We’ve always really liked her. She really came through yesterday and came out of the race great.”
Fluffy Socks, who sports a consistent ledger of 10-4-3-1, entered the Sands Point from a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on August 21. She notched her previous graded stakes triumph at the California oval when completing her juvenile season with a victory in the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante.
All four of Fluffy Socks’ wins have come over different ovals. During her 2-year-old season, she broke her maiden at second asking at Kentucky Downs en route to a victory in her stakes debut in the Selima last October at Pimlico.
Jeff Drown, Michael Ryan and Team Hanley’s Higher Truth earned black type for the fourth straight race, finishing less than one length of victory all times. The daughter of Galileo set an easy pace up front and was poised for victory in the stretch run but was ultimately collared by Fluffy Socks inside the sixteenth pole.
Higher Truth, who contested all three legs of NYRA Turf Triple series for fillies, saw a considerable cut back in distance from the 1 3/8-mile Jockey Club Oaks Invitational, where she was a close second beaten three-quarters of a length. She previously was a respective second and third in the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational and Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational.
“She comes up a touch short in her races, but she’s been very consistent,” Stupp said. “I think she has a bright future ahead of her and she’ll get better with age. She’ll definitely stay.”
For the second week in a row, Brown secured a triumph in a major stakes race at both Belmont Park and Keeneland. Some 90 minutes after the Sands Point, Shantisara bested stablemate Technical Analysis in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.
Owned by Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Robert V. LaPenta, Shantisara tracked Technical Analysis’ moderate fractions from third down the backstretch and took command in upper stretch to win by five lengths, earning a 99 Beyer.
Last week, Brown notched the exacta in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic with Rockemperor and Serve the King before Blowout and Regal Glory ran one-two in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland.
“It’s been a fun run here the last few weeks,” Stupp said. “Shantisara has trained extremely well here since she arrived at Belmont. They did great with her at Saratoga. She had a nice campaign and a lot of confidence. You could see it in her training that she moved forward all throughout the fall. She just looked great before she left.”
Shantisara Queen Elizabeth II victory followed triumphs in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational and the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park.
“Off that [Jockey Club] Oaks victory in the fall, you could just see how much she was improving,” Stupp said.
Mr. Buff tunes up for $300K Empire Classic
Chester and Mary Broman’s New York-homebred Mr. Buff breezed Sunday morning in preparation for the $300,000 Empire Classic - the 1 1/8-mile feature event on Empire Showcase Day, slated for October 30 at Belmont.
Trained by John Kimmel, the popular 7-year-old Friend Or Foe chestnut went six furlongs in 1:14.01 under jockey Junior Alvarado over the Belmont main track.
Mr. Buff, an earner of more than $1.4 million, has won the last two editions of the Empire Classic. A victory would make him the first horse to win three straight runnings of the race as he seeks his first trip to the winner’s circle since capturing the Stymie on February 27 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
“We’ve had him on a weekly work schedule and today was probably the most major thing he’ll do before the Empire Classic,” Kimmel said. “The track was a little wet and we were running into a pretty big headwind but we had it all set up. Junior came out and I gave them a horse to chase. I thought he worked really well. He galloped out in 1:27 and came back fine. It’s kind of the same schedule we had him on last year off the layoff.”
Mr. Buff, who last raced when fifth in the Evan Shipman on August 11 at the Spa, arrived off his previous Empire Classic coups following unplaced efforts at Grade 1 level at Saratoga.
Kimmel added that recent allowance winner Call Me Harry could target the $200,000 Mohawk, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for state-breds 3-years-old and up on Empire Showcase Day.
Empire Showcase Day, which offers eight stakes for New York-breds, includes a trio of $250,000 events in the Empire Distaff, Sleepy Hollow and Maid of the Mist. Also on tap will be the $200,000 Ticonderoga, along with a pair of $150,000 stakes in the Iroquois and Hudson.
Trombetta approaching milestone; Aug Lutes registers 92BSF in Glen Cove score
Trainer Michael Trombetta secured his 1,996th career win Friday when Aug Lutes rallied from tenth – nearly 10 lengths off the pace – to secure a 1 1/4-length score in the inaugural $100,000 Glen Cove, a seven-furlong Widener turf sprint for sophomore fillies.
Trombetta, a 54-year-old Maryland native, saddled his first winner in 1986 and rose to national prominence when his 2006 Illinois Derby-winner Sweetnorthernsaint exited the Kentucky Derby starting gate as the mutuel favorite, finishing seventh.
In addition to his Grade 1-winners Next Question and Wet Your Whistle, Trombetta captured a memorable edition of the Grade 1 Forego with Win Win Win in August 2020, contested over a sloppy and sealed Saratoga main track under stormy conditions.
With Hall of Famer Javier Castellano up, Win Win Win was last-of-11 early on before making a remarkable nine-wide move at the top of the lane to swoop past five rivals and collar Complexity for a half-length win.
Trombetta was still in a state of disbelief following the race.
"I honestly don't know what to say; he dropped so far back and his chicklet and number actually went off the screen and I couldn't even see across the track,” Trombetta said at the time. “I thought he was absolutely out of the race and might not have had a chance to even finish. But then turning for home, he came back on the screen. It's just unbelievable.”
Trombetta, who oversees 70-100 horses across divisions at Fair Hill, Laurel Park and Delaware Park, said he’s humbled to be approaching the 2,000 career win milestone.
“I've always enjoyed what I've done here.” Trombetta said. “It's went quickly and over the years it makes you appreciate all the effort that everyone puts into it to help get you to these points.”
Trombetta was quick to tip his cap to the backstretch staff that he works alongside each day.
“They're unbelievably dedicated individuals - and that's not just in my barn - that's in the other trainer's barns as well,” Trombetta said. “The lifestyle these employees live is truly all about the horses. It really means a lot.”
While the 19-1 score by Aug Lutes on Friday was no match in stature to Win Win Win’s Grade 1-coup, Trombetta was just as appreciative of the rallying effort from the dark bay daughter of Midnight Lute in her turf debut which garnered a career-best 92 Beyer.
“She ran really nicely. We were hoping she could handle the turf and run well, but that was beyond what we could have hoped for,” Trombetta said.
A winner of 4-of-5 starts, Commonwealth New Era Racing’s Aug Lutes made her first four starts on synthetic, including a runner-up effort in the seven-furlong Duchess at Woodbine on September 25.
Aug Lutes, with Jose Lezcano up, endured a troubled start in the Glen Cove which saw Caldee set swift splits of 22.53 and 44.50 over firm going. Aug Lutes was one of many chances at the top of the lane and the filly finished with aplomb to notch her first career stakes win.
“She got bumped leaving the gate and it may have been to her favor after the fact, but it sure didn't seem that way early on,” Trombetta said.
Trombetta said the $150,000 Autumn Days going six furlongs at Aqueduct on November 28 is one of a number of options going forward for Aug Lutes.
Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Biz Biz Buzz also endured a troubled trip when third in last Sunday’s Grade 3 Futurity, a six-furlong turf sprint for juveniles won by Slipstream.
“It was a peculiar situation. When I read the chart it said, 'hit by gate,'” Trombetta said. “I went back and watched and sure enough the left side of the gate opened but it didn't latch and it swung back and bounced off of him. I don't think it had anything to do with where he placed. It would probably have been more an impact for the jockey than the horse, but everything was fine.
By Fed Biz and out of the Candy Ride mare Candy Striper, Biz Biz Buzz graduated at first asking on the Laurel Park turf ahead of his stakes debut.
While Slipstream and Futurity runner-up Run Curtis Run are likely to enter the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, Trombetta said he has made no plans yet for Biz Biz Buzz.
“He's a talented guy. I'm not sure whether he's ready for the next big challenge like that but I'll watch him and see how he's doing and figure out a plan,” Trombetta said.
Trombetta will continue his quest for 2,000 career wins next week at Belmont when he sends out Arzak in Friday’s inaugural running of the $100,000 Carle Place, a seven-furlong Widener turf sprint for sophomores.