Ready for Rye may have spotted the winner 7 pounds on the scales but he conceded nothing in heart and determination. Racing for the first time in more than a month, Ready for Rye finished a game third in the historic Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving. Carrying regular rider, Luis Suez, and 130 pounds, Ready for Rye posted a 97 Beyer, in line with the 95 average Beyer he has maintained throughout the year. After working on Thanksgiving, he will receive a well-deserved vacation this winter in Ocala before beginning his 2017 campaign.
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Nearly three months to the day after suffering an agonizing defeat in the Jim McKay Stakes at Pimlico Race Course despite a remarkable comeback, Night Officer left little to chance in a $93,000 Allowance race at Saratoga on Thursday, rallying from 5th place entering the stretch to win by 1/2-lengths. Despite being bumped at the start and racing 5-wide into the stretch, Night Officer delivered another in a long line of courageous performances. Since turning 7 last year, Night Officer has finished first, second or third in 9 of his 11 races, nearly half of them Stakes! He seems to be getting better with age!
Fringe Benefits was determined to find the winner’s circle on Monday, passing 6 rivals in the span of about a furlong leaving the turn then pouring it on down the stretch to win by 4-1/2 lengths. Just how easy was her victory? Jockey, Shanon Uske, never used the whip on the 3-year-old daughter of Cape Blanco. The race itself, a $15,000 maiden claiming affair at Delaware Park was designed to build her confidence moving forward. On that and every other count, mission achieved!
Latigo Trail made his 2016 debut a winning one, rushing to an early lead then holding on down the stretch to earn the winner’s share of a $22,000 purse at Monmouth Park on Friday. Ridden by leading jockey, Paco Lopez, Latigo Trail blazed the first quarter-mile in 21.23 seconds and earned a career best 86 Beyer Speed Rating for the 5-furlong turf affair. Trainer, Bruce Brown, and his team did an outstanding job preparing Latigo Trail for the race. The five-year-old bay gelding earned his third career win and been in the money in all but two of his last half-dozen starts. His next start will be at Saratoga.
“Never, never, never give up.” Winston Churchill may not have used those words to describe Ready for Rye, but they certainly apply. Race in and race out, Ready for Rye always delivers his best — and his record proves it! In 15 career starts, Chalk Stable’s remarkably consistent 4-year-old gelding has finished worse than third only once. He was at it again at Belmont Park on July 9, 2016, rallying from near last to finish third in the Grade 3 Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes. Forced to race 6-wide turning for home, Ready for Rye rallied strongly and easily put away the race favorite while failing to catch the top two. The $48,000 he collected for the race pushed his career earnings to over $634,000 and his average earnings per start now stand at $42,317. Apparently never giving up has its rewards!
Talk about precocious beginnings! One of only two horses in the field to race without lasix, Manifest Destiny made his career debut at Belmont and simply dazzled. It was only a race until leaving the far turn; thereafter it was simply a tour de force. The two-year-old son of City Zip led the field through fast early fractions while maintaining a short lead before drawing away down the stretch to win by nearly 9 lengths. With the race in hand, Manifest Destiny was slowing down approaching the wire but still managed to complete the 5-1/2 furlong distance in 1:04.86. After such a brilliant start, we’re looking forward to the encore.
Ready for Rye didn’t win the Grade 3 Jaipur Invitational Stakes at Belmont Stakes on Saturday, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Racing in tight quarters, Ready for Rye had to suspend his rally until deep stretch. When he finally had room to run, he gained a length-and-a-half on the winner and passed two horses before settling for third, a nose ahead of the race favorite. The Jaipur Invitational has a long and storied tradition and this year’s edition didn’t disappoint. The winner set a new course record (1:06.76) for six furlongs and Rye’s time was just a sliver slower (1:06.97). In 14 career starts, Ready for Rye has finished worse than third only once— in the Breeders Cup against the best horses in the world! He is closing in on $600,000 in earnings.
At a time when high school graduation ceremonies throughout the country have ended and young adults everywhere are preparing to leave home to go to college, it seems almost fitting that Rare Eagle, a fixture around the Chalk Racing Stables since he was only two, would make was was very likely his last start under our colors after being claimed on June 2, 2016. The details of the race are almost unimportant: Sent away the even odds favorite, Rare Eagle rallied from fifth place to finish second in a $16,000 claiming at Belmont Park. That was fitting, too. Rare Eagle didn’t win a lot of races but he ran with tremendous heart and was always in contention, finishing in-the-money over half the time and earning over $129,000 during his 18 race career with us. He will be missed. We wish him and his new connections the very best!
No one ever described the “agony of defeat” better than legendary ABC Wide World of Sports broadcaster, Jim McKay. But Night Officer, running in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes that bears his name, may have come closest without saying a word. Pinched at the start, Night Officer broke dead last and remained there until approaching the quarter pole. More then 10 lengths behind with 2 furlongs to go in a 5 furlong race, any average horse would have been through. But not Night Officer. The gallant 8-year-old somehow managed to gain 8-1/2 lengths and pass half the field before finishing fourth, less than 2 lengths behind the winner. Remarkably, it was the 11th straight race (dating back to 2014) the son of Officer has finished 4th or better. His career earnings now stand at $411,994.
In what was perhaps an ode to poet, Robert Frost, Rare Eagle certainly took the road less traveled en route to finishing third in the second race at Belmont Park on May 11, 2016. It certainly wasn’t boring! The 9-5 favorite, Rare Eagle broke out at the start then proceeded to race 5-wide up the backstretch, 6-wide around the turn while encountering traffic, and finally 8-wide into the stretch. Even so, he still managed to pass four rivals in the final quarter mile and was comfortably ahead of the fourth-place finisher at the wire. It was his first race since late January.