August 6, 2020

New York Central, King for a Day and Lexitonian among Preakness undercard stakes winners

New York Central and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. win the Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) at Pimlico on May 18, 2019 (c) Horsephotos.com/Cecilia Gustavsson

New York Central capitalized upon a pace duel in Saturday’s $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3), closing fast up the inside to win going away by 1 ¾ lengths. The four-year-old colt notched his first stakes tally for WinStar Farm, China Horse Racing Club and SF Racing and Ricardo Santana Jr. had the call for Steve Asmussen.

The six-furlong event served as one of eight stakes races on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.

Lewisfield and 2-1 favorite Wentz dueled from the start, reeling off contested splits of :22.65 and :44.84. New York Central settled in fourth a few lengths back along the rail and the 2-1 co-second choice accelerated into contention leaving the far turn. The gray colt struck the front with about a sixteenth of a mile remaining and stopped the teletimer in 1:08.74.

“We got a clean break,” said Santana, who recorded his third straight victory in the Maryland Sprint (Whitmore and Switzerland). “That’s what we were worried about, because sometimes he doesn’t break. He broke pretty good today, and I just had patience that the rail would open. I know my horse. He’s a fighter and he’ll go through. As soon as I asked him, he went on through. I had plenty of horse…I just wanted to have plenty of patience to make the right move. I didn’t want to move too early. This is a long stretch. I just had to have a little patience, and thank God we took the win.”

Proforma rallied for second, a half-length better than Lewisfield. It was another four lengths to Wentz in fourth.

By Tapit, New York Central concluded his three-year-old season with a second in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He returned from a nine-month layoff with an allowance triumph at Oaklawn Park in mid-February and was making his third start of 2019 following a fifth in the Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland.

Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, New York Central sold for $750,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratogo yearling sale and has now earned $310,700 from a 9-4-2-1 record. He counts Grade 2 winner Corfu as a half-brother and this is the immediate female family of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Peace Rules.

King for a Day opened his three-year-old season with an easy win in the Sir Barton (c) Maryland Jockey Club/Jim McCue

King for a Day returned from a six-month layoff and kicked off the stakes action with a convincing tally in the $100,000 Sir Barton, scoring by 2 ½ lengths for owner/breeder Red Oak Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Uncle Mo was favored at 2-5 among four three-year-olds rivals and King for a Day established a new stakes record when completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.40.

“He’s a horse we’ve always had very high hopes for,” Pletcher said of the bay colt, who was making his first start since a close fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs last November. “He got a little behind schedule to make any of the Triple Crown races, but the owners are very patient, just wanted to give him every chance to meet his expectations…We were actually looking at an allowance race. It didn’t go. So this turned out to be a good spot.”

King for a Day tracked Trifor Gold in second before seizing command on the far turn.

“The horse right next to me broke awkwardly and actually kind of broke into my horse’s hind end,” jockey John Velazquez said. “But once we got into the first turn, I was comfortable with where I was and from there it was pretty easy. I knew he was going to be close, I didn’t know he would be on the lead because I expected the horse next to me to be on the lead. But I wanted to make sure I got into position going into the first turn to where he was comfortable and that’s where he ended up.”

King for a Day broke his maiden when stretching out to a route at Belmont Park last October and has now earned $120,550 from a 4-2-0-1 record. The Kentucky-bred counts stakes winners Ima Jersey Girl and Feel That Fire as half-siblings, with the latter being the dam of 2018 Hopeful (G1) winner Mind Control.

In the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for three-year-olds, Lexitonian surged late to post a 17-1 upset. The top three betting choices were no factor in the final outcome as the front-running Gladiator nearly stole the race at 8-1 before being denied in the final strides by a head. It was another head back to the rallying Admiral Lynch in third at 10-1.

Jose Ortiz recorded his third stakes win on the afternoon and Jack Sisterson trains the Calumet Farm homebred. Lexitonian saved ground while stalking a few lengths behind an early pace in :22.65 and :44.82. The Speightstown colt angled out for the stretch drive and rallied determinedly get up late, turning six furlongs in 1:09.74

Lexitonian captured his career debut at Saratoga last summer while under the care of Todd Pletcher but was transferred to Sisterson after concluding his juvenile season with a pair of unplaced finishes. Lexitonian didn’t make it back to the races until the May 4 Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs, recording a decent fifth in a stakes-caliber allowance, and moved forward significantly in his second start after the layoff. The chestnut has earned $172,410 from four starts.

The winner hails from the Tapit mare Riviera Romper, who is out of the Grade 1-winning Swap Fliparoo.

Nine female turf sprinters contested the $100,000 The Very One and Wild About Star overhauled pacesetter and even-money favorite Jo Jo Air in deep stretch to win by 1 ¾ lengths. Off as the 5-1 third choice, the Louisiana-bred mare snapped a three-race losing skein and recorded her first stakes victory.

The seven-year-old daughter of Star Guitar was making her first start for Jose Camejo after being previously trained by Al Stall Jr. Daniel Centeno was up on the Brittlyn Stable homebred and Wild About Star closely tracked Jo Jo Air in second before launching her move. She finished up the five-furlong turf affair in :56.93. Jo Jo Air held second by nearly a length over Misericordia.

Last seen finishing sixth in the restricted Costa Rising on the March 23 Louisiana Derby undercard, Wild About Star failed to place in her first three stakes attempts. The chestnut moved her overall scorecard to 16-6-2-2 with $188,200 in earnings.

In the $100,000 James W. Murphy, English Bee ran down Real News and earned his first stakes triumph with a half-length tally. Jose Ortiz was up for Graham Motion on the Calumet homebred and the three-year-old son of English Channel stepped one-mile in 1:35.60 on the firm turf.

English Bee was exiting a fifth in his stakes debut, the March 9 Columbia at Tampa Bay Downs, and has now bankrolled $120,150 from a 6-3-1-1 ledger. The chestnut Kentucky-bred rated just off the pace as Real News established splits in :24.65, :48.70 and 1:12.24 and the winner rallied boldly to collar the pacesetter by midstretch. Bettors dispatched English Bee as 9-2 fourth choice and 2-1 second choice Real News easily held second, with 2-1 favorite Current a non-threatening fourth.

Ickymasho dominated the $100,000 Searching as the 1-2 favorite, leading wire to wire for a 3 ¼-length victory. Jose Ortiz piloted the English-bred daughter of Multiplex through 1 ½ grassy miles in 2:29.58.

Campaigned by Triton Stable and trained by Motion, the seven-year-old mare made it two straight after registering her first stakes win in the April 26 Bewitch (G3) at Keeneland. Ickymasho was making her 10th start stateside after being imported following her five-year-old season and she increased her earnings to $343,392 from a 40-10-11-4 line.