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.
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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.
Ready for Rye battled the mud and a four-wide trip in the $100,000 Diablo Stakes on Sunday, May 8 at Belmont Park and, with the wire in site, seemed to have conquered all of those and six seasoned rivals in the race to oppose him when heartbreak struck and he was passed in the final strides. The 6-5 race favorite, Ready for Rye raced next-to-last during the early stages before beginning his rally around the turn, running a very brisk second quarter-mile that may have sapped some of his reserves. With his second place finish, Ready for Rye added another $20,000 to his burgeoning bankroll, which has already exceeded a half-million dollars.
Consistent, courageous, gritty. When it comes to Night Officer and his accomplishments, it’s easy to list superlatives. The amazing eight-year-old was at it again on Sunday, May 1 at Laurel, finishing a game third to future Hall-of-Fame candidate, Ben’s Cat, in a $62,608 Allowance race over 5-1/2 furlongs on the turf (the same course and distance where he holds the course record, incidentally). It was the fifth time in his last 6 starts that Night Officer has finished either second or third and helped push his earnings past the $400,000 mark ($405,994).
Ready for Rye returned to Keeneland race course for the first time since competing in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint there last Fall. This time, he gave the dirt track a try, finishing a valiant second in the $250,000 Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes at 7 furlongs. Held just off the pace, Ready for Rye really showed his courage in the latter stages, narrowly holding off the show horse— and race favorite— the entire length of the stretch. Ready for Rye earned $50,000 for his effort, pushing his earning past the half-million dollars mark. He shipped to New York after the race where he will continue his Spring/Summer campaign.
After four months away from the races, Ready for Rye made his 2016 debut in the $100,000 Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes at the Hallandale oval on Saturday and finished a game third. Normally a sure-starter, Ready for Rye stumbled leaving the gate, conceding ground and being forced to rally from fifth place while racing 3-wide around the turn. In the end, he came up just short but figures to move forward off the effort.
con·sist·ent: 1. unchanging in achievement or effect over a period of time. 2. Night Officer. OK, so maybe the 8-year-old Chalk Racing veteran hasn’t earned an entry in Webster’s just yet, but it’s hardly for lack of trying. His most recent effort came on Saturday in the $75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Stakes. As usual, Night Officer broke slowly before rallying from 6th place entering the stretch to finish third, beaten a long neck for the win while recording a personal best 98 Beyer for his toil. The ultimate professional, Night Officer is now less than $1,500 from $400,000 in lifetime earnings.