Archive for the ‘Jockey Paco Lopez’ Category.

Eloquist ($33.80) noses Barese in Discovery Stakes

Eloquist, at 16-1, edged favorite Barese by a nose to win his third straight race Sunday in the $150,000 Discovery at Aqueduct.

It was another five lengths back in third to Naval Aviator.

The Discovery, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, was run over a muddy, sealed track. It was one of three stakes on the card.

Eloquist ($33.80) moved to the lead soon after the start of the Discovery, and proceeded to set fractions of 24.07 seconds for the opening quarter, 48.49 for the half-mile and 1:13.51 for six furlongs. Barese was a constant threat through the stretch, and the two went hoof to hoof late with Eloquist winning in a photo finish. He covered the distance in 1:53.33.

“It was close, but when we got close my horse kept going and I thought I had it at the wire today,” winning rider Paco Lopez told the New York Racing Association.

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“I rode him the last two races and I knew the longer distances would be better for this horse. A mile is a little too short for him.”

Butch Reid trains Eloquist. The horse came into the Discovery off back-to-back conditioned allowance victories, one at Parx Racing in September and the other at Delaware in October.

Eloquist is a son of Nyquist who races for Cash Is King and LC Racing. He has now won 5 of 12 starts for career earnings $243,010.

Maiden takes Tepin

Sweetlou’sgotaces won her maiden in the $120,000 Tepin, when she led throughout for a four-length victory over Smokie Eyes. It was another head back in third to Alluring Angel.

The Tepin was a one-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies. The course was good.

Sweetlou’sgotaces ($6.50) set fractions of 24.76 for the opening quarter, 49.23 for the half-mile and 1:14.01 for six furlongs. She spurted clear through the lane, while covering the distance in hand in 1:38.49.

Joel Rosario was aboard the winner for trainer Raymond Handal.

Sweetlou’sgotaces is a daughter of Constitution who races for the partnership of Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Twin Sports Racing. From four starts, she has earned $104,750.

Star Devine takes Autumn Days

Star Devine was always prominent for a 1 1/4-length win over Change of Control in the $150,000 Autumn Days. It was another length back in third to Lady Edith.

The Autumn Days was a six-furlong turf race for fillies and mares. The course was good.

Star Devine ($8.40) tracked the pace set by Athwaaq, who led through fractions of 23.05 seconds for the opening quarter and 46.83 for the half-mile. Star Devine put in a steady, determined run through the stretch to cover the distance in 1:11.78.

Jose Ortiz was aboard the winner for trainer Jorge Abreu.

Star Devine is a daughter of Fastnet Rock who races for Lawrence Goichman.

:: Want to learn more about handicapping and wagering? Check out DRF’s Handicapping 101 and Wagering 101 pages.

Great Racing and Ample Sunshine on Maryland Million Day

R. Larry Johnson and RDM Racing Stable’s Sky’s Not Falling, making just his second start of the year, raced near the lead approaching the stretch before taking over the top spot and holding off Rock the Boat through the lane for a half-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Million Turf Sprint.

The 5 ½-furlong Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up was the first of three grass stakes on the 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program of eight stakes and four starter stakes on ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.

Also on the grass were the $125,000 Turf for 3-year-olds and up and $125,000 Ladies for fillies and mares 3 and older, both at 1 1/8 miles. Serving as the headliner was the $150,000 Classic for 3-year-olds and up going nine furlongs on the main track.

With Paco Lopez subbing for jockey Victor Carrasco, injured in a spill Friday, Sky’s Not Falling completed the distance in 1:02.75 over a firm All Along Turf Course to avenge his 1 ½-length defeat in last year’s Turf Sprint to Grateful Bred. Favored at 3-5 to defend his title, Grateful Bred got squeezed back out of the gate and raced near the back of the pack before finishing a non-threatening fifth.

“Michael he told me he’s a nice horse and put him right there,” Lopez said. “The favorite was outside of me. I don’t know what happened to the favorite, if he stumbled in the gate at the break. Around the three-eighths [pole] I figured [I] was in a little tight and took him to the middle. This is a little longer straight. I move a little early, but this is a nice horse and he made it to the wire.”

Sky’s Not Falling broke sharply but was outrun for the lead by Boss Man JJ and Cynergy’s Star, who raced together through a quarter-mile in 21.12 seconds as Sky’s Not Falling settled in third. Cynergy’s Star began to drop back as Lopez shifted off the rail into second midway around the turn, ranged up on Boss Man JJ and edged past once straightened for home for the long run to the second wire.

“That wire has been my enemy for quite some time,” Trombetta said. “It usually winds up hurting you more than it helps you.”

Rock the Boat was a clear second, 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Showtime Cat, who edged Cynergy’s Star by a neck for third. They were followed by Grateful Bred, Boss Man JJ, Pickin Sea Glass and Island Philo. Maryland-breds Can the Queen, Justwaveandsmile, B Determined, Monster Mason and Where Paradise Lay were scratched.

Sky’s Not Falling had two wins and four seconds from nine starts in 2021, but went to the sidelines over the winter after ending his sophomore season running second in an optional claiming allowance at Laurel. He returned 10 months later in the Sept. 24 Laurel Dash at historic Pimlico Race Course, running last of seven.

“He wasn’t quite screwed down tight enough to compete at that level against those horses, but this was the obvious call. We wanted to get this one in,” Trombetta said. “We brought him in here in February and out of nowhere he popped a really nasty shin splint that just needed time. I figured, ‘Gosh, this is going to be tough. We got him going in enough time to at least get the one race. I would have loved to have had two, but there just wasn’t enough time.

“He hasn’t missed much since he’s been back at it pretty good here. I knew the race at Pimlico he had no chance. We told Victor to try to make the best of it and do the best you can,” he added. “They scooted away from him and he chased them all the way around and that was about all that we could get. I would have loved to have another one, but maybe it was better I didn’t.”

It was the second Maryland Million win for Lopez, who captured the 2019 Classic with Forest Fire. Trombetta moved into a tie with Hall of Fame horseman King T. Leatherbury for second all-time with his 10th Maryland Million victory.

Charles J. ‘Chip’ Reed’s homebred Johnyz From Albany, the son of a two-time Maryland Million winner, lived up to the family tradition by jumping out to an early lead and never looking back in rolling to a front-running five-length triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 Nursery at Laurel Park.

The Nursery for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies, both sprinting six furlongs, were among eight stakes and four starter stakes that comprised the 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program, ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.

Johnyz From Albany ($10.20) is by Blofeld out of the Oratory mare Monster Sleeping, winner of the 2013 and 2015 Maryland Million Lassie going long on the grass. Similarly owned by Reed and trained by Dale Capuano, Monster Sleeping also won the 2015 Jameela sprinting six furlongs on the turf.

“Hopefully he’s like his mother. She won at [six furlongs] on the turf and a mile and an eighth twice. So, maybe he can do the same,” Capuano said after extending his Maryland Million record to 15 career wins. “I told Chip all along I think he’s going to be a better 3-year-old, so we’re excited about him.”

Ridden by Jorge Ruiz, who won the 2020 Nursery with Capuano-trained Kenny Had a Notion, Johnyz From Albany exited sharply from Post 7 in a field of 11 and quickly established command through a quarter-mile in 22.75 seconds. His stablemate, Luis Ulman and Neil Glasser’s Lost Weekend, found early trouble after breaking inwardly and bumping Tiz No Clown to his outside.

Johnyz From Albany was two lengths clear as the field raced down the backstretch and maintained his advantage into the turn when Heldish and Wildhunch, an Oct. 13 maiden special weight winner at Delaware Park that went off as the 2-1 favorite, launched their bids. Ruiz had plenty left after a half in 46.37 seconds, opening up on his rivals once straightened for home and cruising to the line in 1:11.35 over a fast main track.

Heldish finished second, 1 ½ lengths head of Wildhunch, who edged Bestsugardaddyever by a neck for third. Lost Weekend, Tiz No Clown, Pride of Payton, Paymengold, Indybound, Bo’s Bourbon and Bandits Heart completed the order of finish. Feeling Woozy and Maryland-breds Super Acclerate and Hop and Scotch were scratched.

“The plan was to go to the front, and my horse ran very well,” Ruiz said.

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Johnyz From Albany broke his maiden at first asking in a five-furlong maiden special weight Aug. 21 at Laurel. He came back to be third behind Super Chow in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance Sept. 10 at historic Pimlico Race Course, beaten a neck for second by Heldish, and most recently ran second to Recruiter Oct. 2 in the slop at Laurel.

“When he was two in front down the backside I was like, ‘Holy cow.’ He was doing it easy. His work for this race was the best work that he’s had, so he came into it really well. It helps when they have races. He had three races under his belt and I’m old school. I like to run ‘em,” Capuano said. “As excited as I am about this one I was that much disappointed with [Lost Weekend] because he didn’t get a chance to run his race.”

Capuano said Johnyz From Albany’s will likely remain sprinting for the time being, but he would ultimately like to try the gray or roan gelding on the turf.

“I’d really like to get him on the grass even though he went well today on the dirt and his dirt races have been good,” he said. “His grass breeding is good, and he worked phenomenal on the grass. Next year I’d like to try him; how far he goes, I don’t know.”

Coconut Cake, nearly two years since she last visited the winner’s circle, held off a game Double Fireball to win the $125,000 Maryland Million Ladies by a head. It was three-quarters of a length to Amplio Esquema in third.

A 5-year-old mare by Bandbox, Coconut Cake has been competitive from five furlongs to Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile distance, but she hadn’t won since Dec. 31 of 2020. But the gray mare had competed during that time in nine stakes races and had been close a number of times, including a third-place finish in the All Brandy and a fourth-place finish in her last start in July in the Big Dreyfus.

Despite the lack of winner’s circle photos, trainer Tim Keefe never lost confidence in her ability.

“My biggest concern was figuring out what she liked,” Keefe said. “She’s such a racehorse and tries every time I’ve run her. She’s won short, long, dirt and turf. I finally come to the realization her preference is running long on the grass, and that’s what I’ve tried to focus on.”

Jockey Sheldon Russell, who picked up the mount when regular rider Kevin Gomez was injured Friday, said he got the perfect trip.

“She broke and she put me in a great spot. I knew going around the first turn, she was just traveling so smoothly,” Russell said. “I was able to just tuck her behind and around the second turn she was really eager…If anything, I just jumped on her at the top of the stretch, and she just battled; fair play to her. She was well-prepared.

“I feel very bad for Kevin Gomez. This one is for him. I’ll make sure to take care of him and give him 50 percent of the purse because he’s done all the work with her. Today, I just got lucky to ride her.”

Coconut Cake covered the firm course in 1:50.22

It didn’t start out the way they planned, but CJI Phoenix Thoroughbreds and No Guts No Glory Farm’s Fille d’Esprit made sure Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Million Distaff at Laurel Park ended exactly the way they hoped.

Already with three career stakes wins Fille d’Esprit ($5.40) became a Maryland Million winner for the first time in the 11th start of her 6-year-old season with a 1 ¼-length triumph over fellow multiple stakes winner Malibu Beauty in the seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3 and up.

The Distaff and $100,000 Sprint for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs were among eight stakes and four starter stakes that comprised the 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program, ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.

Under jockey Xavier Perez, Fille d’Esprit covered the distance in 1:25.05 over a fast main track to give trainer Jerry Robb his ninth career Maryland Million win and second in the Distaff following Anna’s Bandit in 2019, also with Perez. Fille d’Esprit and Anna’s Bandit share the same sire, Great Notion, and grandsire, No Armistice.

“I told Xavier that we had to beat [Malibu Beauty] so try not to let her get the jump on us, but she did anyway. He sat and waited for it to open up and when it did, she fired big,” Robb said. “I thought we were the better filly because I have other fillies that beat [Malibu Beauty], like Street Lute, and this filly is better than Street Lute. She just needed a run and, luckily, she got it.”

Malibu Beauty, exiting an eight-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile George Rosenberger Memorial Oct. 1 at Delaware Park, was hustled to the front from Post 2 and led through a quarter-mile in 23.19 seconds and a half in 46.79 pressed by 13-1 long shot Fool Yourself. Perez and Fille d’Esprit settled in third, got into striking position on the turn, overcame a game Malibu Beauty turning for home and edged clear.

“The intention breaking from the rail was to use the same tactic we used [before] and just try to head for the lead,” Perez said. “We got a perfect rail ride. Turning for home I saw [Fool Yourself] start slowing down and I tipped out, and it was game over from that point on. She switched to her right lead, and she just fired on.”

Malibu Beauty stayed up for second, a length ahead of Sweet Gracie with Bourbon Wildcat another 2 ½ lengths back in fourth. They were followed by Fool Yourself, Wicked Hot, Breviary, Summer Odds and Courageous Girl. Maryland-breds R B’s Star and Edie Meeny Miny Mo were scratched.

Fille d’Esprit ran sixth behind Hello Beautiful’s historic victory in last year’s Distaff, her first start in more than 10 months. Claimed for $10,000 in August 2020 out of her third career start, Fille d’Esprit won for the fourth this year and 11th overall, pushing her over the $500,000 mark in purse earnings.

“I was so confident. I know she was just going to keep on going and not let anybody go by her,” Perez said. “She’s got such a heart. She’s got the same bloodlines as Anna’s Bandit and that’s the reason Jerry claimed her to begin with.

“She never disappoints me, even when she’s a little naughty in the morning. She misbehaves sometimes but I understand,” he added. “I’ve been dealing with her for two years, so we’ve gotten to bond pretty nice. Hopefully she keeps kicking [butt].”

Chickieness, the 4-5 favorite, drove past Skylar’s Sister and Bosserati inside the final sixteenth to win the $100,000 Lassie, covering six furlongs in 1:12.58 under jockey Jaime Rodriguez.

A 2-year-old daughter of Blofeld trained by Jamie Ness, Chickieness won by 1 ½ lengths over Skylar’s Sister. It was three-quarters of a length back to Bosserati.

Co-owned by breeder Jagger Inc. and Morris Kernan, Chickieness has been a model of consistency. After breaking her maiden in her second career start, Chickieness finished second in the Blue Hen and Small Wonder at Delaware over the summer.

While Bosserati took the field past a :22.57 opening quarter and was challenged by Skylar’s Sister past a :46.29 half, Rodriguez raced Chickieness in third before driving by both inside the final sixteenth to run the fillies record to two wins and three seconds in five lifetime starts.

Wicked Prankster, who raced six days earlier after coming off a three-month layoff, led gate-to-wire to win Saturday’s $125,000 Turf over Street Copper.

Owned and trained by Samuel Davis, Wicked Prankster, a 4-year-old gelding by Mosler, covered the firm 1 1/8-mile course in 1:49.44 under jockey Richard Monterrey. The gelding had won at a mile over a good turf course Oct. 16 at Laurel after having last raced in July.

The gelding set fractions of :23.42, :48.28 and 1:11.91 Saturday while being pressed a bit down the backstretch and around the turn by Nick Papagiorgio and then Crabs N Beer.

“I figured a week would not hurt him [between races],” Davis said. “Instead of breezing him last week we would run him and just get ready for this race.”

Smart Angle LLP’s Fortheluvofbourbon, off at 1-2, moved three-wide entering the stretch under jockey Paco Lopez and drove to victory in the $125,000 Sprint.

A 5-year-old gelded son of Bourbon Courage, Fortheluvofbourbon covered the six furlongs in 1:10.96 and beat Karan’s Notion by 1 ½ lengths. It was a neck back to Alwaysinahurry in third.

Fortheluvofbourbon has now won 12 of 23 starts for more than $600,00 and is seven of nine on the year for trainer Michael Pino.

Heir Port broke on top in the Sprint and set an opening quarter in :22.57 and half in :45.87 while Karan’s Notion sat just outside. Entering the stretch, Fortheluvofbourbon moved three wide outside the leaders. Despite game efforts by Heir Port and Karan’s Notion, the 1-2 favorite proved too good.

Hemp, Air Token, Elusive Agent, Rominski and Katie’s Notion were scratched.

Fortheluvofbourbon rallies to take Maryland Million Sprint

LAUREL, MD. – Fortheluvofbourbon continued his winning ways Saturday at Laurel Park when he rallied from off the pace to take the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint for 3-year-olds and upward at six furlongs.

It was the sixth consecutive victory for Fortheluvofbourbon ($3), who has won 11 of 18 starts since being claimed by trainer Michael Pino for $50,000 out of a fifth-place finish at Churchill Downs on May 29, 2020. Among those wins were four stakes at his Parx Racing base.

Perhaps Fortheluvofbourbon wasn’t at his best as he returned on only 19 days’ rest following a win in Parx’s Liberty Bell over sloppy going on Oct. 3, but he was simply too good for this field.

Heir Port made the lead from the start and set splits of 22.57 and 45.87 seconds while pressured by 2020 Sprint winner Karan’s Notion.

Fortheluvofbourbon, parked outside of the leaders three wide, loomed turning into the stretch, and grinded down Karan’s Notion to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:10.96. Alwaysinahurry rallied belatedly for third, a neck behind Karan’s Notion.

Pino was a bit concerned about the short rest and noted that the Sprint wasn’t necessarily his first choice.

“To be honest, the owners [Smart Angle LLP] wanted to take a shot. They never bother me about anything, and I gave it to them.”

Bred in Pennsylvania by Hidden Acres 4-D Farm, Fortheluvofbourbon is eligible for the Maryland Million because his sire, Bourbon Courage, stands in the state.

Pino said that Fortheluvofbourbon will now receive a break.

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Starter handicaps:

Four $50,000 starter handicap races were also featured on the Maryland Million card.

* Apparently, Beltway Bob ($27.20) saves himself for the big days.

The veteran gelding fended off a furious late charge from Super E to become a two-time winner of the Turf Starter for 3-year-olds and upward at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Beltway Bob, 8, was bred by Robert Gerczak, is owned and trained by Gregory Wilson, and was ridden to victory by Lauralea Glaser. He completed the distance in 1:44.58 seconds. His sire, Baltimore Bob, won the race in 2020 when he upended Air Token at odds of 20-1.

* The Wolfman ($6) utilized stalk-and-pounce tactics to grab the starter handicap for 3-year-olds and upward at 7 furlongs.

Owned and trained by Joanne Shankle, The Wolfman won his third consecutive start. A 4-year-old gelding by Bandbox, The Wolfman was bred by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes and has won 8 of 23 starts.

* Ruiz utilized different tactics from his Nursery victory when he guided Mavilus ($5.20) to a late-running score in the Distaff Starter for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

Unrequited Love set very quick fractions of 22.52 and 45.86 seconds while hounded by Sommer Velvet. Meanwhile, Ruiz had Mavilus well off the pace. They swung to the far outside in the stretch and rambled by a tiring Sommer Velvet in the final sixteenth.

Mavilus completed the distance in 1:25.59 seconds as the betting favorite. Fellow closer Startwithabang rallied for second over longshot Sheriff’s Kid with Unrequited Love a tired fourth.

* Pounding Music ($19.40) dug in gamely along the inside to nip late-running favorite Downtown Katie by a head in the Turf Distaff Starter Handicap.

It was the second win from 17 starts for Pounding Music, a 5-year-old mare by Hangover Kid. Trained by Linda Albert for Mrs. Allen Murray Jr., Pounding Music hit the board in her previous three starts. Most recently, she was beaten a nose in a $16,000 claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime.

Carrasco sidelined

Jockey Victor Carrasco was injured in a spill at Laurel Park on Friday and did not compete on Maryland Million Day.

Carrasco’s agent, Scott Silver, said the rider suffered a dislocated thumb and will miss 1-2 weeks. Carrasco was scheduled to pilot Sky’s Not Falling in the Turf Sprint.


Cash is King and LC Racing’s Tuskegee Airmen won the $107,900 Rocky Run Stakes at Delaware Park today.

With Paco Lopez aboard, the 2-year-old son of Street Sense won by 3 ¼ lengths. The Kentucky-bred trained by John Servis returned $3.00 as the favorite in the field of six. In his only other career outing, he broke his maiden by 5 1/2-lengths going seven furlongs at Parx on September 24.

Midnight Trouble, with Jeremy Rose, finished second 3 1/2-lengths in front of Riccio, with Xavier Perez, in third. The final time for the one mile was 1:37.74 over a good-main track.

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Tuskegee Airmen survived a claim of foul from the rider aboard Riccio, Xavier Perez, but the stewards ruled there was insufficient evidence for a disqualification.

Tuskegee Airmen made trainer John Servis a little nervous during the running of the race.

“He is nice horse and this was a really nice race, but he still has no clue to what he is doing yet,” said winning trainer John Servis. “I will be honest with you, at the 3/8ths pole, I was worried. I did not think we were going to beat a horse. I guess at that point he just decided I will start running.”

Tuskegee Airmen is a colt by Street Sense out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Lucky Cover. A $290,000 auction purchase as a yearling, Tuskegee Airmen is now two-for-two with $120,000 in career earnings.

“He is very talented and the thing that is going to help this horse the most down the road, is he is so laid back,” Servis said. “Nothing seems to really bother him. We are not sure where we are going next. He beat himself up pretty good in the behind, so we will check him out good and see how he comes out of this. But he will get at least a month and we will go from there.”

Oxana leads throughout Roamin Rachel, one of the day’s four MATCH series finals

Oxana went right to the front and splashed home to post a mild upset in Monday’s Roamin Rachel Stakes for fillies and mares traveling 6 1/2 furlongs over sloppy going at Parx Racing.

The Roamin Rachel was one of four $100,000 stakes on the program, along with the Liberty Bell for 3-year-olds and up at 6 1/2 furlongs, the Bucks County for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, and the Salvatore DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.

The latter two races were moved from turf to the main track due to excessive rain. The four stakes concluded the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship Series.

A 4-year-old filly trained by Tim Hills for Tee-N-Jay Farm, Oxana was the second stakes winner on the card piloted in front-running fashion by Paco Lopez.

Oxana broke cleanly from the inside post and set fractions of 22.73 and 45.97 while pressured from the outside by Fille d’Esprit.

Oxana dismissed Fille d’Esprit turning for home, opened a clear advantage, and had just enough in the tank to outlast late-kicking Dr B by a half-length in 1:17.93 seconds. It was another 5 1/4 lengths back to Fille d’Esprit, who nipped Kalypso for third. Oxana returned $11.40 to win.

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Favored Chub Wagon chased the pace outside, but never looked comfortable and was eased in the stretch.

Hills said Lopez executed the game plan perfectly. “Be aggressive, especially out of the one-hole, you had to go.”

The Roamin Rachel was Oxana’s first stakes victory. She had placed in three consecutive stakes leading up to Monday’s start, including a runner-up effort in Laurel Park’s Shine Again on Sept. 10.

“She’s not a big horse, but she’s really tough,” Hills added. “She’s a never has a bad day kind of horse. She has that little bit of swagger to her.”

Oxana was bred in Pennsylvania by Uptowncharlybrown Stud and issired by Uptowncharlybrown. She has won 5 of 14 lifetime starts and is 2 for 2 over wet tracks.

Oxana will now “get a little break,” according to Hills.

Liberty Bell

Fortheluvofbourbon ($4) won his fifth consecutive start with a gate-to-wire triumph in the Liberty Bell.

Trained by Michael Pino for Smart Angle LLC, Fortheluvofbourbon burst right to the lead under Lopez, set fractions of 22.36 and 45.55 while pressured by second choice Beren, and went about his business to score by three lengths over Five Dreams. It was another 5 1/2 lengths back to Jalen Journey, who nipped Beren for third in the shadow of the wire. Fortheluvofbourbon completed 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.88 seconds.

Fortheluvofbourbon, 5, utilized stalking tactics in his prior races, but Pino decided to “take the race away from” Beren because of that horse’s affinity for a wet track. Coming into the Liberty Bell, Beren had won four of five races over wet tracks.

“He always breaks good,” said Pino. “We started to take him a little off it because he has a better punch that way. It was a different kind of track and Paco said he broke so good. It was a great plan.”

Claimed for $50,000 at Churchill Downs on May 29, 2020, Fortheluvofbourbon has now won 11 of 22 starts. He is 11 for 17 at Parx. The Liberty Bell was his third stakes victory.

Fortheluvofbourbon is a gelded son of Bourbon Courage. He was bred in Pennsylvania by Hidden Acres 4-D farm. Pino said plans for Fortheluvofbourbon’s next start will be determined in the next few days.

Bucks County

Shooger Ray Too ($12.80), entered main track only, benefited from a quick pace to down favored Tax by 5 3/4 lengths in the Bucks County.

Trained by Tyler Servis for Vintage Thoroughbreds, Shooger Ray Too saved ground in a stalking position while the two favorites, Tax and Wolfie’s Dynaghost, engaged in a prolonged pace battle through fractions of 23.67, 47.71, and 1:11.95.

Jockey Abner Adorno eased Shooger Ray Too into the clear in upper stretch, and they readily ran by Tax. Shooger Ray Too completed the distance in 1:51.43 seconds.

Shooger Ray Too, 5, earned his first stakes victory. Bred in Kentucky by Haymarket Farm, he is a gelded son of Wicked Strong.

Salvatore DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup

Deciding Vote ($20) just needed to meet the starter to capture the overall MATCH Championship.

The 5-year-old did more than that as she rallied from well off the pace to push past Tic Tic Tic Boom by a half-length after 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.67 seconds

Trained by Edward Graham for owner-breeder William Pape, Deciding Vote relaxed near the back as Gravitron controlled solid fractions of 23.53, 48.11, and 1:13.32 while racing well off the rail.

Tic Tic Tic Boom made a strong outside bid to make the lead on the second turn, but Deciding Vote was in full stride. She collared a game Tic Tic Tic Boom nearing the wire to notch her first victory on a dirt track.

A daughter of Mr Speaker, Deciding Vote has now won stakes on both turf and dirt. She grabbed the Dahlia Stakes at Laurel in her seasonal debut on April 23.

He Does Not Want To Give The Lead Up When He Gets It’: Ridin With Biden Cruises Gate To Wire For Greenwood Cup Triumph

Cash Is King and LC Racing’s Ridin With Biden took his seven foes gate to wire in the 15th running of Saturday’s $200,000 Greenwood Cup Stakes (G3) at Parx Racing. The 4-year-old gelding by Constitution notched his first graded stakes victory, finishing the 1 1/2 miles on the fast main track in 2:32.92 under jockey Paco Lopez.

Trainer Butch Reid’s plan was to take control of the race on the front end after noticing a lack of early speed in the race. Lopez followed orders and piloted Ridin With Biden to the front under a stout hold, setting moderate fractions of :24.73 and :49.51, with Brooklyn Strong and The Reds giving chase.

Ridin With Biden and Lopez took the field to the quarter pole with Magic Michael and jockey Frankie Pennington launching a challenge to their outside. They proved no match for the winner as he bested Magic Michael by a length at the finish with Brooklyn Strong checking in third. Western River, Forewarned, Bossmakinbossmoves, Fearless, and The Reds completed the field.

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The Greenwood Cup was the fourth career graded stakes start for the Kentucky-bred gelding, who recently finished fourth in the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park. Ridin With Biden returned $19.20 as the 8-1 fifth choice.

Winning trainer Butch Reid: “He really likes Paco’s feel. You can’t take too much hold of this horse, because he’ll run off with you, but Paco just did a tremendous job putting them to sleep down the backside and that was it. I thought after looking at the race that he was going to make the lead. I was pretty comfortable about that once he slowed down and I saw close to 50 (seconds) for the half. Then I felt good.”

On being gelded this winter as a 4-year-old: “He’s a new horse now. He’s really changed personally. For all the owners out there watching, if you ever question yourself about gelding a horse, do it. Even if its late, you do it. I don’t geld too many 4-year-olds.”

Next race: “We haven’t really looked at the next spot. It would’ve been the Breeders’ Cup Marathon years ago, but they don’t have that anymore, so we’ll find something.”

Winning jockey Paco Lopez: “I was very happy. I saw the scratch. Butch said to go and do what you decide. He is no easy horse to ride, he is very strong. He rated very good. I didn’t see no other speed and I took the lead and got very good position. He gives me a lot of heart attacks to ride this horse. He is a classy horse, though. He does not want to give the lead up when he gets it. I liked my chances and Butch said he was ready to go.”

Trainer Jamie Ness (Magic Michael, second): “I thought I was going to get him, but there was just no pressure on (Ridin With Biden). The other speed (Double the Heart) scratched out and we knew there was probably going to be no pressure on him and it was going to take a heckuva run to get him. We couldn’t get him. We tried. We had a perfect trip. We were just second best. Our horse tried. I am proud of him. Wish we had a little more pace to run at, but that is the way the chips lay. As soon as I saw the scratches and the other speed was out, I said this 5 is going to be tough to catch. Hats off to them.”

Jockey Frankie Pennington (Magic Michael, second): “He tried his heart out. The horse in front got an easy lead and kind of kept on going with it, but he tried hard all the way around. He always tries so hard every time. I figured once we hit the stretch that was going to be our best shot, he was just second-best.”

Love in the Air Adds Another Stakes Win to Her Resume With Plum Pretty Score – Past The Wire

BENSALEM, Pa.— Pennsylvania-bred filly Love in the Air added another stakes win to her resume when she was triumphant in the $200,000 Plum Pretty at Parx September 24.

Breaking from post position 2, Love in the Air broke fastest of the seven fillies and mares. Under Paco Lopez, clad in the silks of Main Line Racing Stable, she dashed to the front, setting a measured pace on the inside. Through a quarter in 24.22 and a half in 48.43, Love in the Air faced pressure from Midnight Obsession, narrowly leading over her stablemate.

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As Midnight Obsession began to fade rounding the turn, Love in the Air maintained the lead, repelling favored Leader of the Band, who raced up to challenge after six furlongs in 1:13.0. Soon she began to edge away, in front by one and a half lengths in the stretch, one mile run in 1:38.47. Leader of the Band continued to rally but was clearly second-best to Love in the Air, a two-length winner of the mile and seventy yards event. She stopped the clock in 1:42.69.

Behind second place finisher Leader of the Band was Ninetyprcentbrynn. Following those three were Midnight Obsession, New Hire, Trolley Ride, and Titanic Rose. The ultra-talented Chub Wagon, 2021 Pennsylvania-Bred of the Year, was scratched.

The top three finishers paid 7.60, 2.10, and 4.20, respectively.

Love in the Air, a four-year-old bay daughter of Consitution, out of undefeated stakes-winning Freud mare, Lovely Syn, was most recently victorious in the $100,000 Mrs. Penny Stakes. Her win in the Mrs. Penny marked her first stakes success, following a second in Penn National’s Lyphard Stakes and a third in Parx’s Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial.

Purchased for $130,000 by her owner along with trainer John Servis at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale, Love in the Air has more than doubled that price tag with total earnings of $305,331. In 12 starts, she has only been off the board once.

Monmouth Park Meet Concludes With Solid Handle Gains; Lopez, Gonzalez Take Titles – Horse Racing News

Monmouth Park 2022 Meet Leaders, Paco Lopez (L) Leading Rider and Claudio Gonzalez, Leading Trainer. Photo By Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Monmouth Park showed a 25.2 percent increase in total handle and a 16.07 percent increase in on-track handle while Paco Lopez won his ninth riding title and Claudio Gonzalez earned his first training title as the Jersey Shore track closed out its 77th season on Sunday.

Total handle was $217,243,199 this summer compared to $173,511,611 a year ago. On track handle was $17,753,794 in 2022 compared to $15,216,978 a year ago.

Total attendance was 368,101.

Monmouth ran 60 live days of racing this year compared to 55 a year ago.

“We’re extremely pleased by the increase in handle for the 2022 meet, which we feel is a reflection of the quality of the product we were able to offer and the commitment from the horsemen to our program,” said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park. “The numbers show the strength of our product and the willingness of bettors to wager on it.

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“From start to finish this was a meet everyone involved with Monmouth Park can be proud of, highlighted by Cyberknife’s track record performance in the Haskell Stakes (G1). As we look forward to 2023, we want Monmouth Park fans and horsemen to know they can count on our ongoing commitment with additional facilities upgrades and to the highest quality of racing we can offer.”

Thoroughbred racing in New Jersey now shifts to the Meadowlands Racetrack for a nine-day all-turf meet that gets underway Friday, Sept. 23, and runs through Saturday, Oct. 22. First race post time throughout the meet will be 7 p.m. (ET).

Lopez, 36, easily outdistanced the competition with 91 winners. His nine riding titles leave him behind only Joe Bravo’s 13 for the most in Monmouth Park history.

He punctuated his latest title with a four-winner day on Sunday.

“Every title for anyone I think is special,” said Lopez. “It’s going to be hard to catch Joe Bravo but I’m going to try. It’s not going to be easy.

“But I am going to enjoy this one. Winning the title at Monmouth Park is always special for me. I’m very grateful to all of the owners and trainers who put me up on horses and helped me have success.”

Gonzalez, who started his career at Monmouth Park as an assistant to Ben Perkins Jr. in 1995, owns 16 training titles at Laurel and two at Pimlico. But winning one at Monmouth Park, he said, is particularly meaningful.

He finished with 32 winners, three better than runner-up Kelly Breen.

“I started here. I still feel like this is my home,” Gonzalez said of Monmouth Park. “I feel this one is special for me. I really wanted to win the title here this year, especially after we got off to such a fast start. And we got it. I’m very happy. I have a great crew of workers. Any time you win a title it’s a team effort.”

Leading owner wound up as a four-way tie with eight winners between Bergen Racing, Dave Gruskos, Monster Racing, and the partnership of Joseph and Gayle Ioa and Chuck Spina.

The six-race Meadowlands cards will be conducted every Friday and Saturday from Sept. 23 through Oct. 22 with the exception of Saturday, Oct. 15, when Far Hills conducts its 101st steeplechase meet.

The $75,000 Honey Bee Stakes on Friday, Oct. 7, and the $75,000 Born to Run Stakes on Friday, Oct. 14, highlight the abbreviated Meadowlands meet.

After Two Years On Sidelines Due To COVID, Jockey Jairo Rendon Back In Action At Monmouth Park

After taking off nearly two years from riding to be with his family in Medellin, Colombia, as COVID-19 raged, jockey Jairo Rendon said it was almost as if he had never left the sport when he showed up at Monmouth Park this spring to resume his career.

“It was normal, like I hadn’t missed a day,” he said.

In some ways, it’s almost as if he was simply able to pick up where he left off in 2019, when he won 139 races overall. Entering the four-day racing weekend at Monmouth Park that gets underway with an eight-race card on Friday, Rendon has emerged as a major factor in the rider standings with 27 wins (29 overall), which puts him in the middle of the chase to finish as the runner-up to perennial riding leader Paco Lopez.

Rendon, who has five mounts Friday and five more on Saturday, is in fifth place in the jockey standings at Monmouth Park.

“I was almost two years away, so I knew people were going to ask `where has this guy been?’ ” said the 38-year-old Rendon. “But I think that’s over now. I think I have shown people I am back to where I was before I left.

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“Everything is good right now. I’m riding well and winning and more people are noticing and putting me up on their horses.”

The decision to put his career on hold in his prime was strictly a personal one. Rendon rode his last race on March 15, 2020 and didn’t return until April 20 of this year.

In between he spent time working on his farm with his dad, brother and two children in Medellin. He didn’t ride once during his absence.

“I was thinking it was going to be five or six months and I’d be back,” said Rendon. “I wound up staying almost two years. No one knew how bad COVID would be and I wanted to be with my family until things got better.

“I really wasn’t worried about how it would affect my career. I’ve been doing this for 22 years. I knew I could come back and win races. Weight is never a problem for me. I’m always light. And I stayed in shape. I just needed people to believe in me and put me up on horses.”

More Monmouth Park horsemen are believing these days, especially in turf races. More than half of Rendon’s wins (15) this year have been on the grass – which he finds ironic, since he had never ridden on the turf until his first career win aboard eventual $1 million earner Morticia at Gulfstream on Jan. 14, 2017.

“When I was leading rider in Panama in 2007, and then when I went to ride in Saudi Arabia for almost seven years (under contract to the Royal Family) I never rode on the grass,” he said. “I never rode on the turf until I came to the United States.”

Among Rendon’s wins this summer at Monmouth Park are victories in the Jersey Shore Stakes (Provocateur) and the Tyro Stakes (Sharp Aza Tack). His next major goal, he said, is to win a graded stakes, something he has managed just once in the United States, doing so aboard Golden Brown in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes in 2018.

He is hoping Great Navigator, a promising 2-year-old who was second in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga after a dazzling debut at Monmouth Park, will be his next one.

“He is supposed to go in the Sapling Stakes (at Monmouth Park on Aug. 27) and if he does well then to the Breeders’ Cup, and if the owners keep me on him I will go with him,” said Rendon, whose first full season of riding at Monmouth Park was 2019. “Whatever happens I am happy with the way I have been able to come back and show I can win races again.”

Governor’s Stakes one of three for Cox

Though the Brad Cox-trained Home Brew finished fourth in the West Virginia Derby after a troubled start, Cox had another banner day at Mountaineer. As was the case in 2018, Cox won three stakes including the $200,000 Grade III Governor’s Stakes.

All three were ridden by Paco Lopez, who came in from Monmouth Park for five mounts, all trained by Cox.

Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Fulsome capped it off with a 1 1/4-length score in the Governor’s Stakes. The 3-year-old Into Mischief colt was sixth but never far back in a bunched field and took over at the top of the stretch.

The time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.48 and the winner paid $3.40.

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Fulsome, a three-time Grade III stakes winner before his first trip to Mountaineer, now has four, and he cleared the $1 million mark in earnings.

“Paco rode a good race,” said Cox assistant Ricky Giannini, who usually handles the duties on West Virginia Derby day. “He didn’t have him too far back even though the horse likes to drop back early. Sometimes when he gets clear he loses focus, but Paco said he didn’t. He’s just a notch below the Grade I-type of horses but he’s very honest and consistent.”

Giannini said several races are on the table for Fulsome — a race at Churchill Downs or the Parx Dirt Mile in September, and the Grade II Fayette Stakes at Keeneland in October.

Cox also won the $75,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards with Adventuring, and the $75,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup for 3-year-olds and up at one mile and 70 yards with Price Talk. Both races were taken off the turf.

Godolphin homebred Adventuring hadn’t raced since December 2021 but had been working regularly at Horseshoe Indianapolis. The 4-year-old

Pioneerof the Nile filly has now won on dirt — fast or wet — turf and the synthetic Tapeta surface.

Price Talk, owned by Gaining Ground Racing, was claimed for $80,000 in June and followed up with a near-miss second in an allowance race at Horseshoe Indianapolis for his new connections. The 5-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding prefers grass but has now won twice on dirt.

“It was a good race off the layoff,” Giannini said of Adventuring’s effort.

“She broke her maiden in an off-the-turf race last year. Paco said she wasn’t flat, but she didn’t accelerate like she has on the turf. We’re looking at a race at Kentucky Downs for her.

“Hopefully there are bigger and better things for (Price Talk). There is a restricted race at Kentucky Downs for him. He has improved a lot since we got him.”

Though four races were transferred to the main track from the turf because of heavy showers in the morning, total pari-mutuel handle on the nine-race Mountaineer program was $2.26 million, up 29.2 percent from 2021.

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