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!
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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.
Ready for Rye tried something different in the $100,000 Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga on Thursday, August 6 but the result was the same— another superlative performance! Instead of gunning for the lead as usual, though, the remarkable sophomore rallied from off the pace before drawing away to a 1-1/2 length win under a hand-ride. Sent away the 9/5 favorite, Ready for Rye blazed the 5-1/2 furlong distance in a blistering 1:01.47. The victory marked his second straight win on the turf.
Night Officer is known around the barn for his easy-going, laid-back demeanor but he’s clearly a different animal on the track. On the track he’s a fighter, never willing to concede an inch. He showed these characteristics again on Friday, July 31 when he finished a game third in an Optional Allowance Claiming Race at Saratoga. Held close to a fast pace (21.73 seconds for the quarter and 43.94 seconds for the half), Night Officer just missed the place spot by a nose. Night Officer’s the portion of the $90,000 purse pushed his career earnings to $343,158 and improved his lifetime record to 39-7-3-10.
The fireworks came early at Belmont Park on Saturday when Ready for Rye, making his first start on turf, turned in yet another dazzling performance! Away quickly, Ready for Rye led the field through swift early fractions en route to an easy 2-3/4 length win. With Javier Castellano merely along for the ride, Ready for Rye cruised the 7 furlong distance in a blistering 1:20.94. In seven career starts, the ever consistent gelding has earned $350,960 and has yet to finish off the board.
They say all good things are worth waiting for… or is it fighting for? No matter, Latigo Trail did both. Loaded first into the gate, Latigo Trail and jockey Manuel Franco had to endure a 3-1/2 minute wait while the assistant starters backed another horse out of the gate and loaded the others in a 12-horse field. The delay proved soporific for Latigo Trail, who broke fourth to last and had to fight his way into contention. He was in front after a quarter-mile, though, and never looked back, opening up a 3-length lead entering the stretch and holding on to win by just under a length in a sizzling 1:08.76 for six furlongs. It was his second start after a layoff. His next start will likely be at 5-1/2 furlongs at Saratoga.
Rare Eagle broke his maiden in exciting style at Belmont Park on Sunday, June 14, rallying from sixth place entering the stretch to win by a head at the wire. His trip to the Winner’s Circle was aided by a perfect ride from future Hall of Fame jockey, Javier Castellano. Away last in a tightly bunched field, Rare Eagle was never more than 5-1/2 lengths behind the leader and, despite going 5-wide around the turn and leading just 2 other horses, nonetheless entered the stretch with less than 3 lengths to make up. His strong finish in the race, contested at 1-1/16 miles around one turn, makes us anxious to see him around two turns at Saratoga later this summer.
In a race that felt like a prize fight down the stretch, Night Officer, our courageous 7-year-old gelding making his first start of the year, emerged victorious. Like all great boxing matches, this one went to the judges. Bumped three times and pushed off stride trying to pass the leader nearing the wire, Night Officer was declared the winner by disqualification after initially fallling short by just a nose. Night Officer rallied from last place in the 6 furlong turf affair and, despite getting beat up down the stretch, still managed to run the final eighth of a mile in just over 11 seconds.