Acquired for a bargain $35,000 last November at the Keeneland Horses of Racing Age sale, Value Engineering has turned out to be an incredible bargain for owners Michael Hui and Phil Forte, and trainer Mike Maker, who saddled the seven-year-old to a second stakes win in three starts for his present connections in Saturday’s $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Under Jose Ortiz, Value Engineering rallied from just off the pace gamely turned back a serious bid from Marward by three parts of a length. Master Piece rallied for third, while the 2.80-1 favorite Highest Honors finished fourth.
“Today I was a little concerned he didn’t get away as clean as I’d hoped,” said Maker, who was winning the Mac Diarmida for the fourth time in the last five years. “Jose knows him and rode a beautiful race.”
Value Engineering returned $13.40 after covering 1 3/8 miles in 2:14.20 over a firm turf that saw plenty of stakes action on Fountain of Youth Day.
Value Engineering has had a tremendous Gulfstream meet so far, preceding this victory with a win in the Dec. 26 H. Allen Jerkens S. over 1 5/8 miles on the Tapeta, and following up with a second behind stablemate Red Knight in the Jan. 28 William L. McKnight (G3) over 1 1/2 miles on the turf.
A Kentucky-bred by Lemon Drop Kid, Value Engineering was produced by Frozen Treat, a Dynaformer half-sister to Grade 2 winner Masseuse. Frozen Treat has also reared the stakes-winning Catrageous and is the second dam of Grade 3 winner High Velocity.
Emmanuel and Steady On provided Todd Pletcher with a one-two finish in the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3), with the 13-10 favorite prevailing by a half-length following a late surge under Javier Castellano. Fort Washington finished third, a neck behind Steady On.
Now 2-for-2 this season after a 1 3/4-length score in last month’s Tampa Bay (G3), Emmanuel returned $4.60 after completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.31. He is owned by WinStar Farm and Siena Farm.
“We’re very happy with his two races here at four,” said WinStar’s Elliott Walden. “We learned a lot again today. He was in a bit of traffic trouble but found his way through and kicked well.”
This was the third graded triumph for Emmanuel, who also captured the Pennine Ridge (G2) at Belmont in his turf debut last June. He had also previously placed in the Blue Grass (G1) on the dirt at Keeneland.
Bred in Kentucky by the Helen Groves Revocable Trust, Emmanuel is by More Than Ready and out of Hard Cloth, a Hard Spun half-sister to English highweight Hawkbill and Grade 1 winner Free Drop Billy.
Mylady made an impressive last-to-first bid around the far turn and then held sway through the stretch to win the $150,000 The Very One (G3) for fillies and mares in her first outing for trainer Chad Brown.
Classic-placed in her native Germany twice last season but a troubled sixth in her North American debut in the E.P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine, Mylady scored by three parts of a length over stablemate Higher Truth. Transient finished a neck behind in third, while 9-5 favorite Virginia Joy, also trained by Brown, finished fourth in her title defense of the 1 3/8-mile test.
“The race did not unfold as we planned, since we wanted to be closer to the pace,” jockey Edgard Zayas said. “She didn’t have a good start, so I decided to bide my time and make the one move.
“The only advice I got from Chad was, ‘There are three turns in this race; you are only allowed to go wide in one,’ which was actually something Bobby Frankel used to say to jockeys. I think I made him proud.”
Owned by Michaela Faust, the four-year-old Mylady returned $19.60 after completing the course in 2:15.14.
A two-time stakes winner in Germany, including last year’s Dr. Busch Memorial (G3) against males at Krefeld, Mylady later missed by three parts of a lengths in both the German 1000 Guineas (G2) and German Oaks (G1) for previous trainer Markus Klug.
Bred by Gestut Karlshof, Mylady is by The Grey Gatsby and out of Minoris, by Dabirism.
The most lightly raced filly or mare in the $150,000 Honey Fox (G3) proved best as the Brown-trained Faith in Humanity led gate-to-wire for a neck victory in the one-mile grass test.
Debuting only last July, and with just three starts to her credit, Faith in Humanity was left unchallenged on the front and just held off a late charge from White Frost under Joel Rosario. She returned $12 after covering the course in 1:34.12.
Princess Theorem, a 44-1 longshot, finished third, while the Brown-trained 8-5 favorite Speak of the Devil finished fifth in the field of 11.
“When she drew the inside position there, it was pretty much set we were going to try to go to the lead if she broke well,” said Brown, who trains the four-year-old daughter of Lope de Vega for Klaravich Stables. “Joel, first time riding her, really executed it perfectly.”
The French-bred Faith in Humanity won on debut at Monmouth Park, and the finished second in the restricted Riskaverse S. at Saratoga in late August. The Honey Fox was her first start since bagging the Pebbles (G3) at Aqueduct on Sept. 18.
“We really didn’t map a race beyond this,” Brown said. “You have the Jenny Wiley (G1), which is a very prestigious race at Keeneland that we’ve had some success in, would be an obvious target. She has the whole season ahead of her and with these nice horses, you just try to keep them sound all year.”