On a day when the winner ran out of his mind and the place horse was the 3-2 favorite, Night Officer still managed to finish third in the $100,000 guaranteed Turf Sprint Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, January 9. Indeed, despite encountering traffic problems that may have cost him second place, Night Officer finished strong, passing 4 horses inside the final furlong while gaining ground. All in all, it was a successful 2016 debut for the classy eight-year-old, who shows no signs of slowing down!
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So Cruel started the New Year with a bang, winning a mile affair at Aqueduct to break her maiden. In the end, she made it look easy. But it didn’t start out that way. Content to race in last place for more than half the race, she trailed the field by nearly 16 lengths after a quarter-mile and more than a dozen lengths at the half while racing greenly. Entering the stretch 5-wide, she was still way behind. But then she started to run! Passing 4 horses in the final furlong, she sped away to a ¾-length victory and the winner’s share of the $31,000 purse.
Why Not Whiskey, closed out his tour of the Big Apple with another second place finish on the turf at Aqueduct on December 5. The 6-year-old New York bred son of WhyWhyWhy spent most of Saturday’s race forwardly placed in fourth before launching his bid nearing the five-sixteenths pole. Well-regarded at 7-2, Why Not Whiskey closed stoutly but could not catch the winner, who’d raced out to a big early lead. His fall campaign now over, he’s leaving his home state for warmer weather at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, where he’ll spend the winter. He’s just $10,055 away from $200,000 in lifetime earnings.
Fringe Benefits is certainly patient. As was the case in her debut, she once more stood calmly biding her time inside the starting gate for over three minutes while the others were loaded. When the gates finally opened she was squeezed between the two fillies on each side, forcing her to break last. She continued to exercise great patience to the quarter pole before rallying to finish fourth. Her relaxed manner during her two career starts give us confidence she will enjoy running over longer distances moving forward. She will ship to Palm Meadows for the winter and race at Gulfstream Park.
Why Not Whiskey took the long way around the Aqueduct turf course on Sunday, November 15, racing 3-wide around both turns, and wider still entering the stretch, but still ran well to finish second in the mile and a sixteenth affair. The 5-2 race favorite, Why Not Whiskey was well positioned in the middle of the field of 9 runners before commencing to rally leaving the final turn. Future plans call for the 6-year-old son of Whywhywhy to race once more in New York before the end of the year.
Fringe Benefits, Chalk Racing’s 2-year-old homebred, didn’t exactly burst onto the racing scene in her debut. Just the opposite. After enduring a 3-minute delay inside the starting gate due to a late scratch, she broke last in the field of nine. Things improved thereafter, however, as she made up ground before assuming a position in the middle of the pack. She raced evenly for most of the six furlongs, eventually finishing fifth. Her finish was encouraging and we look forward to her second start at a longer distance.
No, this wasn’t the sequel to the movie “Dreamer.” The fairly tale ending did not come true and Ready for Rye did not win the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, finishing seventh in the field of 14 horses. All the same, he put in another game effort, refusing to fold after breaking from the 12-hole and leading the field by more than a length after an initial quarter-mile in 22 seconds flat over a turf course labeled “good” at best. His heart and class were further revealed when it was later discovered he may have had the thumps (a sort of “equine hiccups” that are often associated with an electrolyte imbalance and significant fluid loss brought on by exhaustive effort). Talk about giving it your all! For now, Ready for Rye’s brilliant season is over. He finished the year having won four of eight starts with earnings of $409,360. Rye is on a short vacation, before beginning his 2016 campaign at Gulfstream Park.
Ready for Rye is going to the Breeders’ Cup! Chalk Racing’s brilliant 3-year-old sprinter was one of 14 horses (plus two also eligibles) chosen from 40 entries to compete in the $1 million Turf Sprint at 5-1/2 furlongs on Saturday, October 31. A win in the Breeders’ Cup would represent the crowning achievement of an already remarkable sophomore campaign that has seen Ready for Rye reach the winner’s circle 4 times while earning more than $400,000. Ready for Rye will have Triple Crown winning jockey, Victor Espinoza, in the saddle and will break from post position 12 as the 10-1 fourth choice in the morning line. Ready for Rye has never lost on turf, where he is 2-for-2.
Two old racing warriors went to battle on the same day at Belmont and both performed well. Night Officer fought gamely down the stretch to finish third in a $90,000 Allowance race on the turf (run in a lightning fast 1:07.87 for 6 furlongs) and, earlier, Why Not Whiskey had to rally from behind a wall of horses to finish fourth in a mile and a sixteenth affair, also on the grass. Both horses were ridden by Forrest Boyce, a leading Mid-Atlantic rider who made the trip to Belmont to ride them.
Why Not Whiskey is well-regarded around the Chalk barn for his friendly personality, but he’s not nearly as easy-going on the track. In fact, he’s downright stubborn. At Belmont Park on Thursday, Why Not Whiskey showed his tougher side, staging a furious rally down the stretch to finish second, less than a length behind the winner. It was his second start after a long layoff and he received a 79 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort.