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Lukes Alley narrowly prevails in Gulfstream Turf

LukesAlleyHALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – As consistent as he had been, Lukes Alley still took his game to another level Saturday. The Ontario-bred Lukes Alley won his first stakes on turf and his first Grade 1 by wearing down Shining Copper in a hard-fought 34th running of the Grade 1, $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

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Lukes Alley, with Paco Lopez up, prevailed by a neck for his eighth win in 14 career starts while The Pizza Man, the evenmoney favorite in a field of eight older horses, labored most of the 1 1/8-mile trip when checking in fifth.

Lukes Alley, said trainer Josie Carroll, “is a gutsy horse. We knew he’d go down fighting if he lost, but he gutted it out. The horse really deserves this.”

As Shining Copper and jockey Joel Rosario cut out fractions of 24.54 seconds, 48.12, and 1:13.63, the field crept closer at the top of the lane, with Lopez swinging out his mount for a clear run. It took the length of the stretch, but Lukes Alley finally poked his head in front of a gritty Shining Copper a few strides from the wire. He returned $12.20 after finishing in 1:48.20 over a firm course.

Bred and owned by Eugene Melnyk, Lukes Alley now has six wins and four seconds from his last
10 starts. Most of those races, however, had come over the Polytrack at his home base of Woodbine in Canada.

“He’s good on either surface,” said Carroll. “Mr. Melnyk breeds a very, very good horse. I was always felt like we were coming into this with a good chance.”

Lukes Alley, a 6-year-old horse by Flower Alley, earned $210,490, lifting his bankroll to $758,956. His prior graded wins had come in the fall of his 4-year-old year, in the Grade 3 Durham Cup and Grade 2 Autumn, both on Polytrack.

Clearly the disappointment in the race was The Pizza Man, a 2015 divisional finalist in the older turf-horse division. Vanned here from New Orleans in mid-week, the 7-year-old Illinois-bred The Pizza Man lagged near the back most of the way and had no major response when asked by jockey Javier Castellano leaving the half-mile pole.

The $2 exacta (1-8) paid $67, the $1 trifecta (1-8-4) returned $216.90, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-8-4-7) was worth $78.66.

Jewel of a Cat scores narrow victory in Windley

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The breeding shed may have to wait a little longer for Jewel of a
Cat if she continues her winning ways as she did Sunday at Gulfstream Park with a game neck
decision over a troubled Tesalina in the $75,000 Windley Key Stakes.

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Trainer Carlo Vaccarezza said Jewel of a Cat is under consideration to be bred to Empire Maker this season, but if she keeps winning, it’s going to be hard not to keep her in training for another year. Jewel of a Cat was transferred to Vaccarezza’s barn earlier this fall after majority owner John Williams purchased the remaining shares in the filly from her previous owners following her eighth-place finish in Parx’s Turf Amazon on Sept. 7. Williams is a partner with Vaccarezza in the restaurant business in south Florida.

Jewel of a Cat, who defeated the boys winning the Sunshine Millions Turf Preview last month at Gulfstream Park West, was pressured on the lead from the outset of the five-furlong Windley Key but showed her gameness by putting away early challenger Aquinnah in late stretch before withstanding a final surge from Tesalina. The latter might have been best if not for having to steady briefly splitting horses leaving the turn, after which she finished best of all and just missed. Catching Fireflies, who loomed boldly outside the leaders but hung at the end, finished another neck farther back in third.

Jewel of a Cat, a 5-year-old daughter of Wildcat Heir, paid $4.80 in the field of eight filly and mare turf sprint specialists.

“She’s a very quality mare,” said Vaccarezza. “They put a lot of pressure on her today, and she showed me a lot of what she was made out of today. She likes it here at Gulfstream. She won here a year and a half ago for Ben Perkins, and she also beat the boys last time at Gulfstream West. We’re debating to breed her to Empire Maker, but as long as she keeps winning, we’ll probably keep her in training one more year. Right now, there’s really no reason to retire her. Whether we breed her at 6 or 7, it doesn’t really matter.”

Vaccarezza said Jewel of a Cat would make her next start against males in the Sunshine Millions Turf on Jan. 16.

“BUTTON DOWN” WINS G3 CARDINAL HCP

internetLOUISVILLE, Ky. – In seven starts in Europe prior to coming to North America, Button Down was a maiden and not a very good one at that. But on this continent, she has developed into a higher
class of filly – a fact on display Saturday when she took the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs to score her first graded stakes victory.

Relishing a rain-dampened Churchill course contested on yielding ground – similar conditions to what she faced when she ran second in the Grade 2 Canadian at Woodbine in September – she stalked the leaders as they set a legitimate pace in the Cardinal over the tiring grass and blew past in early stretch to score a comfortable 1 1/2-length victory over the longshot Lady Fog Horn. The 2-1 favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Cardinal, Button Down was well positioned by jockey Paco Lopez, settling in midpack behind early fractions of 24.02 seconds and 48.85, set by Invading Humor. Then as the pace slowed to 1:14.94 on the second turn, she advanced into third, and after asserting command in early stretch, she maintained a clear advantage over Lady Fog Horn,
who chased her in vain after being in traffic early.

“I had a little trouble in the first turn, bumped a little bit,” said Lopez.”Then the second quarter, I had better position.”

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With success now comes reward. Winning trainer Josie Carroll said Button Down, a 4-year-old British-bred daughter of Oasis Dream, now has earned herself a five- to six-week winter vacation
before she embarks on a 5-year-old campaign in 2016. Owned by Greenwood Lodge Farm, she raced 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:56.19, a slow clocking reflecting the tiring conditions of the course.
It was the only turf race contested Saturday at Churchill Downs after a prior turf race was moved to dirt due to inclement weather. Longshots followed Button Down across the wire, with runner-up Lady Fog Horn going off at 20-1, followed by the third-place Lacy at 23-1 and the fourth-place Street of Gold at 36-1. Carroll, reached by telephone at Woodbine, where she also won the Glorious Song with Ami’s Mesa on Saturday, said that when she came to her last winter, “I was surprised she was a maiden.”

She said she couldn’t pinpoint why Button Down had improved so much, other than the obvious. “I know she likes our racing,” she said.

Bagg O’Day goes last to first in Bet on Sunshine

A race earlier, Bagg O’Day rallied from last to first behind a hot pace to take the $82,700 Bet on Sunshine Stakes under Joe Rocco Jr.
Wisely allowed to fall farther off the pace than usual as longshot and eventual last-place finisher Brewing set a furious opening quarter in 20.74 seconds, Bagg O’Day swooped into contention on the turn, and from there, he proved the strongest finisher, outrunning W.B. Smudge by threequarters of a length, with Alsvid another half-length back in third.
The winner, a 4-year-old gelded son of Four Star Day, raced six furlongs on a fast Churchill track that had been dampened by light rain in 1:09.91.

“ISABELLA SINGS” WINS THE G2 $200,000 MRS. REVERE STAKES

Untitled-1LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trifecta bettors wouldn’t normally expect a very big payoff when the respective 1-2-3 finishers are trained by Todd Pletcher, Graham Motion, and Christophe Clement.
But given the wide-open nature of the Grade 2, $200,000 Mrs. Revere Stakes on Saturday, the whopping $9,514.60 payoff on a winning $1 tri combination came richly deserved.

Isabella Sings, a 27-1 shot ridden by Paco Lopez, took the early lead from 13 other 3-year-old fillies in the 1 1/16-mile turf race and never looked back, holding off 44-1 Rainha Da Bateria by a half-length. Devine Aida was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third. “My filly relaxed real nice,” said Lopez. “She was strong when I asked her.”

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Unchallenged through fractions of 23.50 seconds, 48.07, and 1:13.41, Isabella Sings continued along her merry way as a group of would-be closers gave futile chase after straightening for home.
Onus, the 2-1 favorite, and Partisan Politics, the 3-1 second choice, were among a group that swung wide at the quarter pole, but neither had any kick when finishing ninth and fifth. Only Rainha Da Bateria, who had weaved her way through rivals down the stretch under Robby Albarado, kept the race from being a stunning blowout.

Isabella Sings returned $56.60 to win after finishing in 1:44.74 over a course rated good. She is the second-longest-priced winner in the 25- year history of the race, after Caught in the Rain (32-1) in 2002. Isabella Sings, bred and owned by Siena Farm, is a Kentucky-bred by Eskendereya. The victory was her fourth from 11 career starts and her first in a graded race, with the $112,840 winner’s share lifting her earnings to $303,950. In her two preceding starts, she had finished second by a head in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs in September and a tired fourth in the Pebbles Stakes behind Partisan Politics and Devine Aida in October.

Pletcher, speaking from New York after the Mrs. Revere, said Isabella Sings will now get a freshening at Siena in Paris, Ky., before being sent to Florida to get started on a 4-year-old
campaign. Besides the giant trifecta, mutuel payoffs also included a $2 exacta (10-13) of $1,799.20 and a 10-cent superfecta (10-13-6-12) worth $6,381.79.
A trophy presentation was made by Dr. Hiram Polk and the family of Dr. David Richardson, who was unable to attend. Polk and Richardson campaigned Mrs. Revere in the mid-1980s.

“HEBBRONVILLE” WINS PERRYVILLE STAKES

Untitled-1Hebbronville snuck up the rail under jockey Joe Bravo to kick off Saturday’s card at Keeneland with a flying finish, stealing the $100,000 Perryville Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters in the final strides. The race was one of three stakes on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.

In a wild scramble down the backstretch, Lewys Vaporizer, making his stakes debut, assumed command through a brisk opening quarter of 22.15 seconds. The gelding still led through the half in 44.79, but Lord Commander and Prime Engine were revving up on his outside. Lewys Vaporizer fended off those initial challenges, but Hebbronville ($18) and Bravo, who had saved ground all the way after breaking from the rail, rallied up the inside to seize the lead inside the final sixteenth, edging his way to a half-length margin at the wire. The colt stopped the clock in 1:09.78 on Keeneland’s track, rated fast.

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Bayerd rallied on the outside to edge Lewys Vaporizer by a head for second, with the top three finishing another four lengths clear of Prime Engine. Hebbronville, trained by Lynn Whiting, was
coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Gallant Bob at Parx, a race Bayerd was also a close third in. The race’s runner-up, Limousine Liberal, goes later in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Earlier in the summer, Hebbronville won the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Stakes. He now owns five career stakes wins or placings.

BRAVO LOADED WITH CONTENDERS IN BREEDERS CUP

Untitled-1LEXINGTON, Ky. – On the morning of May 2, with the focus of the racing world on Churchill Downs and the 141st Kentucky Derby, jockey Joe Bravo was at the Louisville airport, taking the first flight out of town. While 20 of his colleagues were getting ready for their chance of a lifetime, Bravo was just happy to have a chance to ride that afternoon at Belmont Park.

Entering that day, Bravo in 2015 had ridden just seven winners from 157 mounts, not the kind of numbers that attract interest from a trainer with a Derby contender. However, at Belmont Park that day, there were important races to be run and significant horses in need of a rider. Bravo made the most of the opportunity, winning five races, including the Grade 3 Westchester on Tonalist, the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on Big Blue Kitten, and the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay on Rosalind.

“My phone was blowing up,” said Bravo, who listened to the Kentucky Derby on the radio on his drive home to New Jersey that night. “Twenty-seven texts before I got to the jocks’ room, double that on the way home that night. It’s a good feeling to be wanted. I’m not going to lie, it was nice.” It was also the start of a remarkable turnaround for Bravo, who had enjoyed so much success for so long that the slump he was enduring in the first quarter of this year was hard to fathom.

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Six months later, as the racing world converges on Lexington, Ky., for the 32nd Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, that slump is a distant memory. Bravo is smack dab in the middle of the action with
seven mounts, including Sheer Drama, the potential favorite in Friday’s $2 million Distaff (http://www.drf.com/events/breeders-cup-distaff) ; Greenpointcrusader, the 4-1 morning-line second choice in Saturday’s $2 million Juvenile (http://www.drf.com/events/breeders-cup-juvenile) ; and Big Blue Kitten, an 8-1 morning-line shot in Saturday’s $3 million Turf (http://www.drf.com/events/breeders-cup-turf). His mounts Watsdachances (Filly and Mare Turf (http://www.drf.com/events/breeders-cup-filly-mare-turf) ) and Conquest Daddyo (Juvenile Turf (http://www.drf.com/events/breeders-cup-juvenile-turf) ) are not without a chance. Merry Meadow (Filly and Mare Sprint (http://www.drf.com/events/breeders-cup-filly-mare-sprint) ) and Mr. Z (Dirt Mile (http://www.drf.com/events/breeders-cup-dirt-mile) ) are longshots.

“If you take any one of these horses, it would probably be my best chance ever in a Breeders’ Cup,” Bravo said.
Bravo, 44, has had only eight previous Breeders’ Cup mounts, with three of those rides coming in 2007 at Monmouth Park, a track at which Bravo dominated in the 1990s and 2000s, winning 13
riding titles. His best finish in any Breeders’ Cup race was a fourth on Mystic Rhythms, a 23-1 shot in the 1995 Juvenile Fillies. His most recent Breeders’ Cup mount was Big Blue Kitten in the 2013 Turf. He finished eighth, beaten only 4 1/2 lengths. Bravo began riding Big Blue Kitten in the summer of 2013, finishing second on him in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes. When he got off the horse that day, he asked trainer Chad Brown to let him ride the horse back in the Grade 1 United Nations.

“Joe got off that horse and said, ‘I’m going to ask you a favor. I want to ride that horse in the U.N. I really learned so much about him today. I’m telling you, he will win for sure,’ ” Brown recalled Bravo telling him. Big Blue Kitten won the U.N., and Bravo has been Big Blue Kitten’s regular rider since. In 13 rides on Big Blue Kitten, Bravo has finished first or second 11 times with him, including another victory in this year’s U.N. and, most recently, a win in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont. Brown further credited Bravo with giving him “terrific feedback” on Big Blue Kitten throughout the horse’s career.

“He’s got a turn of foot better than any turf horse I ever sat on,” Bravo said. “I can’t wait to see what his babies are going to do.” Bravo became the regular rider of Sheer Drama this year. They finished second the first time he rode her, but he was given the opportunity to ride her again by trainer David Fawkes. They finished second again in the Grade 3 Rampart after the winner, House Rules, came in near the eighth pole, forcing Bravo and Sheer Drama to check. The stewards let the result stand, but many felt that House Rules should have come down.
Sheer Drama has three wins and four seconds this year and comes into the Distaff off Grade 1 victories in the Delaware Handicap and Personal Ensign. It helped that Fawkes and Bravo are close friends. During the winter at Gulfstream, Bravo and Fawkes went fishing on dark days. While the two had a good time, Fawkes could tell that Bravo was disappointed in the lack of business – and success – at the Gulfstream meet. Fawkes recommended that Bravo hire Cory Moran as his agent.

“It’s really been a very good marriage,” Fawkes said. “Joe’s the kind of guy, he likes an agent that does the job and leaves him alone. Joe doesn’t want to be bugged to do this and do that. He likes to do his own thing. Cory and him, it really worked out well.” Bravo said he wasn’t that discouraged about his slow Gulfstream meet, during which he went just 7 for 126 from Jan. 1 through April 9. Bravo said he allowed himself to enjoy the south Florida weather while getting himself in shape.

“I wasn’t as busy as I personally would have liked to have been, but everything happens for a reason,” Bravo said. “Maybe it was time to take a step back, enjoy the winter of sunshine in
Florida, working out and getting my body physically right. I didn’t plan it that way. I went to Gulfstream to try to do the best I could.”

Two weeks after his five-win day at Belmont, Bravo rode his 5,000th career winner, becoming the 31st jockey to hit that milestone. Appropriately enough, it came at Monmouth Park. This summer,
Bravo went on a whirlwind tour of America’s racetracks, winning graded stakes at 10 different venues, including Arlington Park, Belmont Park, Delaware Park, Mountaineer, Presque Isle Downs, and Saratoga.

“What was I thinking on the flight home every night?” Bravo said. “How did that just happen?” Regardless of what happens this weekend at Keeneland, Bravo will be on a plane bright and early Sunday morning headed for California to ride Living The Life for Gary Mandella in the $200,000 Goldikova Stakes at Del Mar.
For the last six months, Bravo has certainly been living right.

“ANNUAL REPORT” WINS G2 $200,000 FUTURITY

Untitled-1ELMONT, N.Y. – Annual Report got squeezed soon after the start and had to go six wide in the stretch. No problem, not with Joe Bravo in the irons.

Annual Report overcame the adversity to run away from his five rivals in the stretch and win Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Futurity by 1 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park. King Kranz, the 8-5
favorite despite being a maiden, finished second by 4 1/2 lengths over the pacesetting Manhattan Dan. Ready Dancer, Full Salute, and Legend Keeper completed the order of finish.

For Bravo, it was his third graded stakes win of this meet – he won the Grade 1 Champagne and Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic – and his 17th of the year. The latter total is a personal best.
Annual Report, a son of Harlan’s Holiday, was dismissed by the bettors perhaps in part because his high-profile New York connections sent the horse to Parx to win his debut, a 5 1/4-length victory for which he was assigned only a 58 Beyer Speed Figure. But trainer Kiaran McLaughlin had explained that he and owner Godolphin Racing had another horse, Mohaymen, to run in a maiden
race that same day at Belmont Park. Mohaymen won.

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Unlike his debut, which he won on the front end, Annual Report came from last after getting squeezed back at the start by King Kranz and Legend Keeper. He was seven lengths behind after Manhattan Dan ran a quarter in 22.24 seconds. Annual Report got pushed out into the No. 4 path down the backside and moved into fifth place approaching the quarter pole. Six wide but in the clear turning for home, Annual Report ran toward the leaders, lugged in a step on King Kranz before changing leads, and edged clear. Annual Report, a $600,000 purchase as a 2-year-old in training, covered the six furlongs in 1:09.82 and returned $16.80 as the secondlongest price on the board.

Bravo said he wanted to put Annual Report into the race early but couldn’t when he got squeezed at the break.

“What makes a good horse is their head,” Bravo said. “He was really settled and quiet after all that, went a good eighth of a mile down the backside breathing and comfortable while they put on
a good, honest pace. At the three-eighths pole, when he got into gear, it was a nice feeling. It was an even better feeling at the eighth pole when he switched leads and leveled off.” McLaughlin was happy to see Annual Report win from off the pace after going to the lead at Parx. “He took the dirt well and finished strong,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll stretch him out before too
long.”

McLaughlin is pointing Mohaymen to the Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 4. Mohaymen and/or Annual Report would be considered for the Grade 2, $300,000 Remsen at Aqueduct on Nov. 28 or the Grade 2, $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club the same day at Churchill Downs.

“BRAVO SET TO RIDE FIVE BREEDER’S CUP CONTENDERS”

Joe_Bravo_2014_615x400_origJoe Bravo couldn’t contain his excitement Tuesday morning as he walked the Keeneland barn area, checking in on two of his five expected mounts for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships here Oct. 30-31.

Riding since 1988, Bravo, 44, is enjoying his best year in a decade. He is 13th in North American earnings with $7,458,828, within striking distance of breaking his career mark of $8,169,405 for a single season set in 2004. On May 23 at Monmouth, Bravo became the 31st North American rider to reach 5,000 career wins. He has ridden the earners of more than $155.4 million in his career.

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“To be honest with you, I’m just glad to be part of the game,” Bravo said. “If I don’t win another race the rest of the year, I’m (still) ecstatic. It’s just nice to be able to come out here (and ride). I’ve been injured a bunch and it sucks to sit on the sideline and watch the game go by. Every day I can come out here and do this, I’m happy.”

Bravo’s biggest Breeders’ Cup shot could be Harold L. Queen’s homebred Sheer Drama, a leading contender for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) on Oct. 30. He has guided the 5-year-old mare by Burning Roma to three wins, including the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga and the Delaware Handicap (G1), and four second-place finishes in seven starts this year.

On Oct. 30, he also is to pilot Conquest Stables’ Conquest Daddyo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The next day, Bravo is to ride Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Big Blue Kitten in the Longines’ Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1); Michael Kisber, Bradley Thoroughbreds and Nelson McMakin’s Watsdachances (IRE) in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1); and St. Elias Stable, MeB Racing Stables and Brooklyn Boyz Stables’ Greenpointcrusader in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

Bravo, who rode full time at Keeneland during the Spring Meet and won the Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) on 30-1 longshotDramedy, said he’s looking forward to participating in the Breeders’ Cup.

“I would rank Keeneland as one of my favorite tracks,” Bravo said. “(Coming here) brought it all back to reality when I had a 1-5 shot that got beat and the crowd was sincere in saying, ‘Good try.’ Anywhere else in the country, it’s more of a gambler’s aspect and people are pretty upset (if you lose on a 1-5 shot). Here, everyone is a horseman and about the horse. That’s why I love Keeneland.”

“GREENPOINTCRUSADER” WINS G1 $500,000 CHAMPAGNE

Untitled-1ELMONT, N.Y .- It was not the start jockey Joe Bravo or trainer Dominick Schettino had envisioned for Greenpointcrusader in Saturday’s Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, but it was a finish they will never forget. Breaking last after being impeded leaving the starting gate, Greenpointcrusader recovered nicely and rallied six wide in the stretch to record a dominant 4 1/2-length victory in the $500,000 Champagne and earning a fees-paid berth into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland on Oct. 31.

The longshot Sunny Ridge finished second, two lengths ahead of the maiden Portfolio Manager. It was a half-length back to Sail Ahoy, who was followed, in order, by Tale of S’Avall, Ralis – the 8-5 favorite – Magna Light, and Ready Dancer. Rafting scratched. The victory was the first in a Grade 1 for Schettino, 49, who saddled his first winner in 1993 at Aqueduct. Schettino had won just two prior Grade 3 stakes, both with Serious Spender in 1994.

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“It’s exciting, first Grade 1, you try hard, you work hard, you need the horses,” Schettino said. As late as Monday, Schettino didn’t have a rider for Greenpointcrusader. Javier Castellano had won on him, but he was committed to ride Ralis, whom he had ridden to victory in the Grade 1 Hopeful two days after Greenpointcrusader won. Schettino and the ownership group led by Anthony Bonomo and Vincent Viola ultimately chose Bravo. Schettino wanted Bravo to have Greenpointcrusader up close, but that plan changed when he was impeded by both Ready Dancer and Magna Light leaving the gate. Greenpointcrusader was last.

Bravo said his heart dropped but Greenpointcrusader “recovered so good and so comfortable. He was so relaxed down the backside, he gave me the confidence when we turned for home that he
was going to kick.” Greenpointcrusader was sixth, but only four lengths off the pace as Tale of S’avall ran a half-mile in 46.78 seconds, chased by Ralis and Sunny Ride. Around the turn, Bravo moved Greenpointcrusader further outside and into the clear as Sunny Ridge, under Junior Alvarado, was about to confront and overtake Tale of S’avall. Sunny Ridge had the lead in mid-stretch, but Greenpointcrusader charged down the center of the sloppy main track and drew away while being taken in hand by Bravo in the late stages. Greenpointcrusader, a son of Bernardini, covered the mile in 1:36.25 – 1.51 seconds faster than Nickname’s time for winning the Grade 1 Frizette for juvenile fillies – and returned $15 as the fourth choice.

“He leveled off beautiful. The horse in front I was worried about because he kicked away from horses nicely,” Bravo said. “But the stride that this big boy has; that was fun. The last sixteenth of a mile I geared him down. I didn’t want to get to the bottom of him. You want to save something for the next one.” The next one will most likely be the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where he will get to run 1 1/16 miles around two turns. “That’s a big effort, being back there and to come wide like that,” Schettino said. “What’s good about it the more distance the better for him.”

Jason Servis, the trainer of Sunny Ridge said, he would also consider the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He felt his horse prefers to be covered up, but understood why Alvarado had the horse so close
to the pace. “That’s not the way he wants to run, but I understand with the bias what Junior was doing,” Servis said. “If I had to do it all over again and I was back covered up … but he ran big.” Ralis backed up to sixth after being in contention for six furlongs. Jockey Javier Castellano said he believes that perhaps he didn’t handle the wet track. “He was in a great spot turning for home and when I asked him he didn’t respond at all,” Castellano said. “He was spinning his wheels when I tried to ride.”

JOE BRAVO HAVING BANNER 2015

JoeBravo_BigBlueKitten_winners_circle_2015JoeHirsch-684x456Big Blue Kitten’s tenacious three-quarter length victory in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park was the third graded stakes win of the year for the son of Kitten’s Joy.
Aboard for all of the 7-year-old’s starts this season has been ‘Jersey’ Joe Bravo, who is having a banner year. The New Jersey native reached the 5,000-win milestone in May and has captured 15 graded stakes so far. That places him in a tie with Gary Stevens and Irad Ortiz Jr. for fourth on the American Graded Stakes Standings jockey list.

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In addition to winning the Turf Classic, Bravo has found the winner’s circle on Big Blue Kitten in the G1 United Nations and G3 Fort Marcy. He has also notched victories with Sheer Drama (G1 Personal Ensign, G1 Delaware Handicap, G2 Royal Delta), Watsdachances (G1 Beverly D.Stakes), Conquest Daddyo (G2 Summer), Dramedy (G2 Elkhorn), Living the Life (G2 Presque Isle Masters),
Madefromlucky (G2 West Virginia Derby), Tonalist (G3 Westchester), Middleburg (G3 Cliff Hanger), Rosalind (G2 Sheepshead Bay), and Strict Compliance (G3 Boiling Springs). Beholder’s victory in the G1 Zenyatta Stakes provided jockey Gary Stevens with his 15th graded stakes winner of the season, which kept him in step with both Bravo and Ortiz Jr. on the AGS jockey list. The Zenyatta was Beholder’s fourth graded stakes win of the year to go along with the G1 Pacific Classic, G1 Clement Hirsch, G3 Adoration.

Stevens has also had success with Ashleyluvssugar (G2 San Luis Rey, G2 Charles Whittingham), Catch a Flight (G2 Californian, G2 San Diego), Avansare (G2 Arcadia, G2 Del Mar Mile), Diversy Harbor (G2 Buena Vista), Om (G2 Del Mar Derby), Taris (G3 Rancho Bernardo), Kobe’s Back (G3 Commonwealth), and Firing Line (G3 Sunland Derby). Saham’s victory in the G3 Jefferson Cup provided his sire, Lemon Drop Kid, with his sixth graded stakes winner of 2015, placing him in fifth on the AGS sire list. Lemon Drop Kid is also the sire of Don’t Leave Me (G3 Bourbonette Oaks, G3 Ontario Colleen), Da Big Hoss (G3 Kentucky Cup Turf), Itsaknockout (G2 Fountain of Youth), and Middleburg (G3 Cliff Hanger).

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