Archive for May 2015

Red Vine wins Majestic Light Stakes

Red Vine made the first 13 starts of his career on turf. He has made his last three on dirt and won them all – nicely.
Red Vine showed a sharp turn of foot to engage the front-running Valid entering the stretch of the $75,000 Majestic Light Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday. He then quickly put the race to
rest, winning by two lengths while not being asked for his best late. “A lot of horse, he did it easy,” Joe Bravo said after scoring his 5,001st career victory and second of the day.
Red Vine is a 5-year-old son of Candy Ride trained by Christophe Clement. He now has won 5 of 16 starts and $335,715 for owners Jon and Sarah Kelly. Red Vine made his first main-track start in December, when the second-level optional-claiming race he was entered in was taken off the turf. He won by 3 1/2 lengths.

On April 1, he rated early, then showed the same acceleration as he did Saturday to win an optional race by three lengths.

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Valid set the pace in the Majestic Light while being tracked by the 14-1 longshot Congenial. Stormin Monarcho raced within striking distance while farther out in the track. Red
Vine was farther back while saving ground. On the far turn of the mile-and-70-yard race, Orlando Bocachica put Valid to a drive and opened daylight on his closest pursuers.
Bravo followed on Red Vine, went outside for the drive, and quickly pulled away.

The fractions for the race were 23.17 seconds, 46.22, 1:10.08, and 1:36.09. Red Vine paid $3.80
after completing the course in 1:40.51. Valid was second best, eight lengths in front of Souper Lucky. Stormin Monarcho was fourth, six lengths farther back.

Eleven horses were originally entered for the Majestic Light, but six scratches reduced the field to five. A fun-loving crowd of 23,483 turned out Saturday at Monmouth for the races and day 1 of the ontrack food truck festival. More than 30 food trucks will be at the track Sunday and Monday also.

Milestone 5,000th win for jockey Joe Bravo

Jockey Joe Bravo guided in his 5,000th career winner May 23 when Boss Man won the sixth race at Monmouth Park (VIDEO).
Bravo joins the elite company of just 30 other riders to reach the 5,000-win plateau. “I want to thank all the people that were there when I wasn’t doing this good,” said Bravo, who was born just a few miles from Monmouth Park in Long Branch, N.J. “I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career and to get today’s win right here at Monmouth is even more special. I’ve been at this for more years than I wish to count now and it’s been a great ride so far.”

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Through Saturday’s sixth race, Bravo’s lifetime record also includes 4,435 seconds and 3,752 thirds from 27,453 mounts that have earned nearly $150 million, making him the 27th all-time money-earning rider.

In the annals of New Jersey horse racing, no single rider has accomplished what Bravo has. The resident of Eatontown, N.J. has won nearly half his career races at Monmouth, including all of the track’s top events, most notably the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) with Lion Heart in 2004.
In 1991, Bravo became the first rider in New Jersey history to win jockey titles at Garden State Park, Meadowlands, and Monmouth in a single season. He followed that up with a record 12 more championships at Monmouth. On four occasions, he rode a then-record six winners on a single card.

“New Jersey is home,” Bravo said. “I am so grateful that so many of my friends were here today for this. And a special thank you to the fans. So many people have supported me through the years and I will always be grateful for their kindness, support, and most importantly, their friendship.”

The 5,000 club now features 14 active riders, among them eight Hall of Fame members, including the all-time leader Russell Baze, who has 12,555 victories.

For win 5,000, Bravo sat patiently aboard Michael Gabriel’s Boss Man before finding clear run near the eighth pole and kicking away to a decisive three-length score. Trained by Jason Servis, the son of English Channel returned $2.80 as the odds-on choice in the mile turf claiming event.

Joe Bravo gets his 5000 winner


Joe Bravo became the 31st rider in history to win 5,000 races in North America when he won the sixth race at Monmouth Park on Saturday aboard Boss Man for trainer Jason Servis.
Bravo, who has led the Monmouth rider standings 13 times, is the third rider to reach 5,000 North American wins this year. Alex Solis won his 5,000th race in January and Gary Stevens turned the trick in February. Both are Hall of Famers.

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After his milestone win, Bravo made a point to thank everyone who helped him, especialy when things were not going well for him. “When you’re doing good, everyone wants you, but when you’re not you really find out who believes in you,” he said.
Bravo, who began riding in 1988, has almost 2,000 wins at Monmouth. A native of Long Branch, N.J., he has another 1,200 wins in his home state at the Meadowlands, Atlantic City, and Garden
State. Bravo has won the biggest races at Monmouth, the Haskell Invitational on Lion Heart (2004) and the United Nations with Big Blue Kitten (2013) and Turbo Compressor (2012).
He has at least one Grade 1 win a year since 2011. Last year, he won the Arkansas Derby on Danza for Todd Pletcher and the Spinaway on Condo Commando for Rudy Rodriguez. Bravo, 43, said he has no intentions of retiring and is already looking forward to his next winner.

Bravo’s competitive spirit still burns brightly

Joe Bravo had a busy Preakness week.
On Monday, he rode at Parx Racing; on Friday, he was at Belmont Park; and on Saturday, he finished second on 25-1 shot Cage Fighter in the Grade 2 Dixie and third on Happy My Way in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint at Pimlico.
Back home at Monmouth Park on Sunday, he notched career win No. 4,999. His milestone 5,000th victory could come as early as Wednesday, when he is scheduled to ride for trainer Jason Servis in the ninth race at Belmont.
Bravo spent last week driving up and down the East Coast because his desire to win is as strong now as when he started out in 1988. It’s what makes him tick.
“If there has been one downfall in my career that’s maybe held me back a little, it’s that I want to win so bad,” said Bravo, 43. “And if I don’t win, I can get grumpy after a race. I’m just that competitive.”
Winning 5,000 races is not a longevity award. Sure, you have to ride a long time to reach it, but you’d better keep winning in bunches. Bravo’s career win average is more than 18 percent.
Only 30 jockeys have ridden 5,000 North American winners. Oddly, Bravo is on the verge of becoming the third to do so this year. Hall of Famers Gary Stevens and Alex Solis joined the club over the winter.
“I am really thankful to everyone who has helped me along the way,” Bravo said. “You can’t be successful in this job by yourself. You can’t do it alone.”
Riding racehorses is a streaky business. Sometimes your services are in demand, and other times you have to fight for mounts.
“It may sound funny, but I would like to especially thank everyone who has helped me out at points in my career when I wasn’t doing good – those guys who put me on a winner when I needed it,” Bravo said. “When you’re doing good, everyone wants you, but when you’re not, sometimes the opposite is true, even if you’re riding like you always have.”
Bravo’s name is synonymous with Monmouth Park, where he won 13 riding titles between 1991 and 2007. Although Monmouth races only during the summer, he has almost 2,000 wins there. The native of Long Branch, N.J., has another 1,200 wins in his home state at the Meadowlands, Atlantic City, and Garden State.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Bravo has more than 600 wins at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga and almost 700 wins at the southern Florida tracks of Gulfstream Park and Gulfstream Park West, formerly Calder.
Bravo is proud of the caliber of races he has won. With more than $149 million in purse earnings, he ranks 27th on the career money list.
Bravo has won the biggest races at Monmouth, the Haskell Invitational on Lion Heart (2004) and the United Nations with Big Blue Kitten (2013) and Turbo Compressor (2012).
He has at least one Grade 1 win a year since 2011. Last year, he won the Arkansas Derby on Danza for Todd Pletcher and the Spinaway on Condo Commando for Rudy Rodriguez.
Bravo, a natural lightweight at 112 pounds, had a huge day at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby Day, when a number of the New York riders were at Churchill Downs. He won five races, including all three stakes. Christophe Clement gave him the mount on his best horse, Tonalist, in the Westchester. He also won two stakes for Chad Brown, the Fort Marcy on Big Blue Kitten and the Sheepshead Bay on Rosalind.
While 5,000 wins is a tremendous accomplishment, don’t expect Bravo to spend very long thinking about it. His eyes are set on wins down the road.
“I feel great right now,” Bravo said. “As long as my body allows me to keep riding, I have no intention of retiring. It was so cool to see Kerwin Clark win the Kentucky Oaks and Ashland on Lovely Maria. He’s way older than me and still getting the job done.”

Big Blue Kitten wins G3 Fort Marcy

With a horse loaded with run, all jockey Joe Bravo needed was to find an opening in the $150,000 Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. IIIT) Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. IIIT) May 2 at Belmont Park (VIDEO).

When a hole opened up, the jockey shot through with favored Big Blue Kitten, who drew clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths ahead of 41-1 longshot Howe Great Howe Great. Middleburg was an even third a head back. It was Bravo’s third graded stakes win on Belmont’s Saturday card, as he took the earlier Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) with Rosalind and the Westchester (gr. III) with Tonalist Tonalist.

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“He’s a pretty cool horse,” Bravo said. “(Trainer) Chad (Brown) told me one thing about him—if you just point him at horses, he’ll run them down. And ever since the first time I rode, that’s all I’ve done—point him at horses.” The favorite at 9-5, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Big Blue Kitten sat last of eight horses, 12 lengths back, after Howe Great ran the first quarter in :24.52. The 7-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy improved to seventh after a half-mile in :48.96 and six furlongs in 1:13.15, before finding space to rally in the stretch.
Big Blue Kitten finished off the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.97 over a turf course rated firm. “(Bravo) took his chances inside again and this horse likes to be ridden that way–in cover–and if he finds a seam inside, he’s willing to go through it,” Brown said. “I’m so proud of this horse, at his age, how consistent he’s been for our barn.”

The winner paid $5.70, $3.70, and $2.90 across the board. Howe Great delivered $23.40 and $10. Middleburg returned $4.50 to show. Big Blue Kitten improved his record to 12-6-4 from 25 career starts and boosted his earnings to just more than $1.6 million. The Fort Marcy was his fourth graded score. Divine Oath was fourth, followed by Sky Blazer Sky Blazer, V. E. Day, Mr Speaker Mr Speaker, and Unbridled Ocean to complete the order of finish. Hyper was scratched. Big Blue Kitten was bred in Kentucky out of Unaccounted For mare Spent Gold.

Rosalind wins Sheepshead Bay

Beauty Parlor and Riposte were both sent off at 6-5 in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at Belmont Park on Saturday, with Beauty Parlor a slight favorite in the five-runner field. At the finish, they were fourth and fifth. Beauty Parlor set a relaxed pace of 25.54 seconds, 50.83, and 1:15.36 on a clear lead over firm turf in the 1 3/8-mile race. Riposted tracked in second about two lengths back while saving ground, with 7-2 third choice Rosalind just to her outside. Selenite, along the inside, and Maximova to her outside completed the field. The pace quickened nearing the far turn, with Beauty Parlor covering a mile in 1:38.78. Riposte mounted her bid outside of Beauty Parlor nearing the stretch, while Rosalind challenged three wide. The three battled for the lead in upper stretch, with Rosalind eventually gaining a short lead. She inched away as Beauty Parlor and Ripose began to flatten out. At the finish, Rosalind was 1 1/4 lengths clear
of runner-up Maximova, who in turn had a half-length on Selenite, who never left the rail. Riposte finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Selenite and a half-length in front of Beauty Parlor.
Rosalind paid $9.20 to win while completing the race in 2:02.41 under jockey Joe Bravo.
The win was the third of Rosalind’s career and her first since taking the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland in April 2014. A daughter of Broken Vow, Rosalind was making her third start for trainer Chad Brown and owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and Highclere America. “Joe rode a terrific race,” Brown said. “We had a plan leaving the paddock and I filled him in with a little about what we see in this horse, and he took that information and executed it perfectly. I’m so proud of the horse.” In her start prior to the Sheepshead Bay, Rosalind finished fifth in the Grade 2 Santa Ana at Santa Anita.
“She didn’t really handle the trip to California last time,” Brown said. “The report from the jockey was just that she was very quiet in the post parade. As you can see she had some pre-race antics in the paddock, she’s really a little difficult in the paddock and high strung, and for her to be that quiet in California it must have been the ship.”

Tonalist wins Westchester

Tonalist won three graded stakes at Belmont Park last year, and the Tapit colt continued to make “Big Sandy” his personal playground with an eye-catching blowout of Saturday’s Westchester
Stakes in his 4-year-old debut. Spotting his three rivals a few lengths after breaking slowly from the inside post, Tonalist moved into striking distance under Joe Bravo as the quartet raced around the far turn, swung widest into the stretch, and blew past Confrontation, Souper Lucky, and Juba to win going away by 3 1/4 lengths.Untitled2
“He’s a special horse,” said Bravo, who won the Sheepshead Bay aboard Rosalind earlier on the card. “Everybody knows he’s the Belmont winner. You just don’t know with the time off if he’s
going to come back, and [trainer Christophe Clement] warned me. He said, ‘He might be a little slow leaving the gate; the hardest part is just get him running the first part.’ “Once that was all over, down the backside he just pulled us to horses, and it’s just beautiful to ride good horses. It really is. He was a boy [when Bravo rode him in his first two starts at
3], and it’s funny to now see him as a man. He just completely grew into himself.” Tonalist ($3.80), who took the Peter Pan, Belmont Stakes, and Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont at 3, had not raced as short as one mile since his debut as a 2-year-old. But with blinkers back on, he was sharp enough to get the distance in a brisk 1:34.07 over a fast track and earned $90,000 to bring his career bankroll to $2,042,000 for owner Robert Evans.

“The layoff was not a concern. I thought he trained very well, so I was happy with that,” said Clement. “The mile was a question mark because the horse was very sharp, obviously, last year.
For the Travers, we took the blinkers off, put him to sleep a little bit for the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeders’ Cup, where he came from last. We had to wake him up a little bit. He broke a little asleep. “I thought Joe did a great job putting him in the race. From the half-mile pole, you knew he was traveling very well. It’s fun. That’s what good horses do. They win. I guess we have to think about the Met Mile [on June 6].” Confrontation finished second by 1 1/4 lengths over Souper Lucky, with Juba completing the order of finish. Morning-line favorite Palace Malice, who won the Belmont in 2013 and last year took the Westchester and the Met Mile, was scratched Thursday due to a bruised right front foot.

“Bravo sweep all three graded stakes @ Belmont”

Joe Bravo completed a sweep of the three stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday by guiding Big Blue Kitten to victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy Stakes.
Big Blue Kitten, now 7, was making his first start of the year. He showed impressive acceleration in the stretch to blow by pacesetting Howe Great and win the 1 1/8-mile turf race going away by 2 1/4 lengths. He was timed in 1:47.97 over firm turf, following splits of 24.52 seconds, 48.96, 1:13.15, and 1:36.45. Big Blue Kitten is trained by Chad Brown and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey. He paid $5.70 as the favorite in the eighthorse field.

“I’m happy to reunite him with Joe, who rides him with so much confidence,” Brown said. “He took his chances inside again and this horse likes to be ridden that way, in cover, and if he finds a seam inside he’s willing to go through it. I’m so proud of this horse, at his age, how consistent he’s been for our barn. The win was Bravo’s fourth of the day. He earlier won the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay aboard Rosalind ($9.20) for Brown; the Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester on Tonalist ($3.80) for Christophe Clement; and a New York-bred allowance aboard Saltine Warrior ($10.40) for George Weaver. Many of the regular New York riders were at Churchill Downs on Saturday for the Kentucky Derby card.
Big Blue Kitten raced well off the pace in the Fort Marcy, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, saved ground into the stretch, and then stormed past Howe Great from the outside once a hole opened.
“He’s a pretty cool horse,” Bravo said of Big Blue Kitten. “Chad told me one thing about him, if you just point him at horses, he’ll run them down. And ever since the first time I rode, that’s all I’ve done, point him at horses.” Brown said one of the upcoming races that will be considered for Big Blue Kitten is the Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan at 1 1/4 miles on turf June 6, Belmont Stakes Day.

“Kudos to Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey for keeping him in training this year,” Brown said. “He had a couple of stud offers here and there. But they love this horse and believe in him and decided he
could make more on track than as a stallion.” Howe Great opened a long lead on the backstretch, then held second by a head over third-place finisher Middleburg. Divine Oath, who raced closest to Howe Great early, was fourth, threequarters of a length behind Middleburg. Travers Winner V. E. Day, making his 4-year-old debut and a return to turf, finished sixth after being fanned wide into the stretch.

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