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.
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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.
Latigo Trail lost another heartbreaker at Belmont Park on Wednesday, September 16, leading a field of 6 other foes for all but the last four jumps before the wire. Even so, it was another solid performance on the Belmont sod, where he improved to 7-1-4-1 lifetime. By now, it should come as no surprise the hard-hitting gelding finished in the money; throughout his career he has finished third or better more than half the time!
Ready for Rye proved (yet again) that he excels on all types of surfaces with an easy win in the Allied Forces Stakes at Belmont Park. Originally scheduled for the turf, the race was moved to the main track due to the soggy conditions. It hardly mattered. Ready for Rye broke on top, dueled for the lead until just outside the quarter pole, then drew away under a hand ride from Javier Castellano to win by nearly 5 lengths. His final time⎼ a quick 1:10.57 given the adverse conditions⎼ earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.
Like fine wine, Night Officer keeps getting better with age. Racing over the Laurel turf course where he’s never been worse than third in 6 career starts, Night Officer delivered yet another valiant performance before grudgingly settling for second place in the $100,000 Laurel Dash Stakes. The race was remarkably reminiscent of his previous effort in the Mister Diaz Stakes in August. He once again finished a half-length behind the winner and posted an identical 90 Beyer Speed Figure while drawing clear of the rest of the field.
For a while it looked as though Night Officer was destined to win the Mister Diaz Stakes at Laurel Park. Entering the stretch, the hard-knocking 7-year-old was a half-length in front and digging in after racing 3-wide around the turn. What’s more, he’d already demonstrated a propensity for big performances on the Laurel surface, setting the track record for 5-1/2 furlongs (1:00.53) on the turf in 2012. But despite delivering a game effort, he was caught just inside the final sixteenth, finishing a close second while drawing clear of the rest of the field. Night Officer exited the race with a lifetime record of 40-7-4-10 and $355,158 in earnings.