Unbeaten from three starts on Tapeta or turf, AMO Racing USA’s New York Thunder dazzled on the switch to dirt in Friday’s $194,000 Amsterdam (G2) at Saratoga. The 5.50-1 chance lived up to his name with a blistering exhibition of speed, romping in a final time of 1:14.65 for 6 1/2 furlongs.
New York Thunder has now rocketed into the picture for the Aug. 26 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1), in what could be quite a Travers Day for the Delgado family. His trainer, Jorge Delgado, is the nephew of Gustavo Delgado, whose Kentucky Derby (G1) star Mage is Travers-bound.
By 2016 Derby champ Nyquist, New York Thunder was slated to make his dirt debut in the June 10 Woody Stephens (G1) on Belmont Day. A bruised hoof, however, prompted him to scratch.
The Amsterdam provided a class test versus the Woody Stephens runner-up, even-money favorite Drew’s Gold. Judging by how ruthlessly New York Thunder hurled Drew’s Gold aside, he would have given Woody Stephens winner Arabian Lion a fight.
While projected pace rival Ryvit stumbled at the start, New York Thunder blasted to the lead from his outside post 5 and shot across through an opening quarter in :21.48. Drew’s Gold appeared to be traveling well in second, even drawing to within a half-length of the leader passing the eye-popping half in :43.56.
Then Tyler Gaffalione gave New York Thunder the cue, and the race was over. The unbeaten colt surged three lengths clear of Drew’s Gold, a margin that swelled to 7 1/2 lengths despite easing down late.
Deer District closed to snatch second by a nose, relegating the rubber-legged Drew’s Gold to third. Gilmore, always far back after a troubled start, was along for fourth. Ryvit, who had recovered from his miscue to chase in third early, faded to last of the quintet. Joey Freshwater was scratched.
“That’s the fastest race I’ve ever seen,” jockey Martin Garcia said after lifting Deer District into second.
Delgado is used to seeing New York Thunder’s warp speed.
“I wasn’t really worried,” the trainer said of the colt’s fractions. “I worry in the mornings because he breezes so fast that it scares you. He goes :46 and :47 in hand, and you can relate it to the afternoons. Every surface he’s been on – Keeneland, here, at different racetracks – he’s breezed the same fractions, so that tells you that he can handle any surface in my opinion, and he proved that today.”
“He’s fast,” said Gaffalione, who was aboard for the first time in a race. “He broke running and I tried not to get in his way too much. He was wanting to do a little bit too much, but he was doing it well within himself. Coming to the quarter pole, I think someone started coming up to my outside, so I just took a squeeze on him and he went on again and galloped out well.”
Jockey Jose Ortiz realized that Drew’s Gold was just up against a monster winner.
“Perfect,” Ortiz said of his trip. “He broke well. I put myself in the clear to keep him out of trouble. The winner went to the lead. I was in range every step of the way, but he got away and was much the best today. He ran very fast – 1:07, 1:14. That’s pretty fast.
“We went for the win and that cost us second. Very proud of my horse.”
New York Thunder shaded the Spa’s six-furlong track record, clocking a 1:07.77 split compared to Imperial Hint’s 1:07.91 from the 2019 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1). His final time was nearly a second off Quality Road’s track mark of 1:13.74 from the 2009 Amsterdam.
Now 4-for-4, New York Thunder has earned $232,323. The $130,000 Keeneland September yearling was purchased by agent Robson Aguiar, who handles the pre-training for Kia Joorabchian’s AMO Racing. The bay accordingly shipped to Aguiar’s base in Ireland for his early lessons before returning stateside to join Delgado.
That background explains why New York Thunder started out on the Tapeta at Gulfstream Park, wiring a Nov. 27 maiden by 6 1/2 lengths. His margin was a less gaudy 1 3/4 lengths in a turf allowance at the same venue Dec. 30. New York Thunder ventured north to Woodbine’s Tapeta for his stakes debut in the April 30 Woodstock S. and rolled by 7 1/2 lengths.
“We work like a team,” Delgado said of the AMO operation. “These guys have a lot of horses in Europe, and I get along with a guy that trains the horses there that prepares them there. He told me he was really good on grass and synthetic, and I took it from there. Since we have synthetic at Gulfstream, I tried it and when you win like that first time out, you don’t think about switching the surface. I was trying to find more synthetic races that offer good money, but I could only find one at Woodbine, and we won that.”
New York Thunder is living up to his all-surface pedigree. Bred by Gatewood Bell and Forgotten Land in Kentucky, he is the first foal from the Midshipman mare Start Over, who is a half-sister to Grade 1-placed Degree of Risk. New York Thunder’s third dam, the prolific Surf Club, is responsible for Grade 1 victor Emcee and Group 2 scorer Surfer. Surf Club is also the granddam of multiple Grade 1-winning sire Constitution as well as graded winners Boynton, Jacaranda, and Marzo.