Friend or Foe takes Empire Classic in stakes-record time
"He's so deceiving -- he feels like he's going so slow, but he has that high cruising speed. At the five-eighths pole he switched leads and that horse came next to him, he got back in the bit. From then on I just sat, and got on him at the three-sixteenths and let him go."
Winner of his first three starts -- a maiden score in open company, a victory over elders in a state-bred allowance and a triumph in the Mike Lee S. for three-year-old state-breds in June -- Friend Or Foe next stepped up into open stakes company and finished fourth in the Jim Dandy S. (G2). He ran a rough-and-tumble sixth in the Travers S. (G1) on August 28, in which he suffered a puncture wound in his left foreleg that subsequently became infected. This one lifted Friend Or Foe's record to 6-4-0-0, and doubled his earnings to $252,134 with the winner's check.
"This is a good horse," Kimmel said. "As he started widening at the eighth-pole, I didn't think anyone was going to catch him. If he stays healthy, I think he's got a real nice future. He's capable of running with any kind."
Kimmel said the next start for Friend Or Foe could be the Cigar Mile H. (G1) at Aqueduct on November 27.
"He's pretty versatile, he can run seven-eighths to 1 1/8 miles," the trainer explained. "This horse has shown me now what he does in the mornings is no mirage, and that what he does is translating into being a serious horse on the racetrack."
Six additional stakes for New York-breds also posted contentious renewals on Saturday afternoon at Belmont.
POCKET COWBOYS (Wild Event) wore down his rivals in the $125,000 Mohawk S. under Edgar Prado, pulling off the 1 1/4-length victory after rallying four wide rounding the turn.
"He's the kind of horse you can do whatever you want with; he doesn't have to be in front, he can come from off the pace," Prado said. "Today, he loved the turf and he loved the distance."
Bred, owned and trained by Scott M. Schwartz, the gelding stopped the clock in 1:48 2/5 for the 1 1/8-mile, firm inner turf affair to finally return to the winner's circle in a stakes. Hero of last year's New York Derby, the bay was second in his prior two starts, the Ashley T. Cole S. and West Point S., but now boasts a line of 19-5-6-2 to go along with $347,290 in earnings.
"We've got the best of both worlds: the father's (Wild Event) stamina and the mother's (Lotsa Sprinkles [Thunder Puddles]) speed," Schwartz said.
Craig Bernick's YOU GO WEST GIRL (Mr. Greeley) closed into tepid fractions to successfully defend her title by two lengths in the $125,000 Ticonderoga S. Jockey Jose Lezcano had the six-year-old dark bay settled in the rear early and, as the field turned for home, he guided You Go West Girl to the outside for running room. The Tom Proctor trainee kicked in late to mow down the field, running 1 1/8 turf miles in 1:49 1/5.
"We've kept her pretty much in the New York-bred program all year, with the exception of a race or two," Proctor said. "We were hoping she'd give a good account of herself, and if she did, we knew she'd be right there. I was a little nervous with 70 yards left!"
You Go West Girl earned her first stakes victory of the year in this spot, but placed in the Yaddo S. and William B. Fasig S. at Saratoga. Second by just a head in last year's Cardinal H. (G3), the mare increased her earnings to $621,193 and now shows a 28-9-7-5 line.
Goldmark Farm, Michael Imperio and Elizabeth Loftus' GENERAL MAXIMUS (Freud) returned to his winning ways with a 1 1/2-length victory in the $125,000 Hudson S. for trainer John Terranova. Patiently tracking the early pace set by Be Bullish (Pure Prize), the chestnut colt ranged up to challenge in the lane before taking command and finishing up the six-furlong test in 1:08 4/5 on the main track. Third behind Endless Circle (Precise End) and Be Bullish in the Easy N Dirty S. prior to this one, General Maximus adds this win to a score in the Times Square division of the New York Stallion S. back in May.
"In his last race, it was unfortunate that he ended up way behind horses," assistant trainer Tonja Terranova said. "He had to check a couple of times, but he still came running. We figured he could have won if he hadn't encountered all the trouble. We are really happy for him."
"I had a beautiful trip today. Today, I rode him the way it's supposed to be, and he responded," jockey Javier Castellano said. "I'm very happy with the horse. He's a special horse. Today is a big day, it's my birthday, and I'm enjoying my day."
General Maximus also placed in the Mike Lee S. and has now banked $212,950 to go along with a 8-4-1-1 mark.
Henry, Jamie and Joseph Terranova's MEESE ROCKS (Rock and Roll) put in a terrific front-running performance to take the $125,000 Iroquois S. by 2 1/4 under jockey Ramon Dominguez. Sent to the lead from post position 10, the five-year-old mare set swift fractions of :22 2/5 and :45 4/5. Trained by Edward Barker, Meese Rocks shook loose and widened her advantage at the top of the stretch, completing seven furlongs on the dirt in 1:23 3/5.
"I thought she was the best horse in the race," Barker said "She's easy to train, she's a joy to be around, and we've had a ball. I know people have been saying she couldn't get seven-eighths of a mile, but I knew she could as long as she switched leads, and Ramon got her to switch."
Meese Rocks has blossomed this year against state-bred stakes company, taking the Union Avenue S. at Saratoga and Personal Girl S. at Aqueduct, as well as placing in the Fleet Indian S. and Anniron S. With this third stakes win, the bay mare's resume now stands at 17-8-3-2, $356,410.Friend Or Foe
Widest of all around the turn and into the stretch, Hillwood Stable's BANDBOX (Tapit) still scored a decisive 1 1/4-length score in the Sleepy Hollow S. The two-year-old was confidently ridden by Dominguez after stumbling at the start biding his time down the backstretch in seventh. The Rodney Jenkins charge launched a five-wide bid as the field headed into the turn, picking off opponents one by one and striking the lead with a furlong left to run.
"He stumbled a little bit at the start. As soon as he came back up, he was very relaxed for me and on the bridle," Dominguez said. "I always felt like I had a lot of horse. When I chose to go around horses, I felt like I had much the best. Around the turn, he started to shy away from the others, but as soon as he was able to get ahead of them, he just relaxed for me, came forward, and did it pretty nicely."
Bandbox ran the seven-furlong affair in 1:24 1/5 to push his career earnings to $133,680. The gray colt, who is now undefeated from three career starts after breaking his maiden on the turf at Laurel Park and taking the Charles Town Juvenile S. by 9 1/2 lengths, earned a shot at the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3) on November 20 with this victory.
"He's still very green, somewhat of a baby," assistant trainer Eveline Kjelstrup said. "He wants to be a nice horse. The Delta Jackpot is in the plans, provided he comes out of this race all right."
J Z B Racing Stable SENTIMENTAL LASS (Freud) dominated by 10 1/2 lengths in her Belmont Park debut on September 26 and, while the margin wasn't as extreme, continued her winning ways at Big Sandy with a one-length score in the $100,000 Maid of the Mist S. Wiring the nine-juvenile filly field under jockey Rajiv Maragh, the David Duggan trainee finished seven furlongs in 1:24 3/5 to improve her record to 3-2-1-0, $93,800. Her only loss to date came as a runner-up effort in her career bow at Saratoga in early September.
"We were stepping up here today to the seven-eighths and she proved to be very gutsy," Duggan said. "I thought she was beat at the eighth-pole and she re-broke again. She's tough. The good ones always make you look good."
Send this article to a friend