April was a productive month both in sales and on the racetrack. We were delighted to pick up three horses from the OBS April Sale: a Cairo Prince colt for Rainbow’s End Racing and Mike Lyden; a Pennsylvania-bred Classic Empire filly purchased from Top Line Sales for VinLaur Racing; and a Gun Runner colt for new client Steven Rocco. Three hopefully very promising horses for the second part of this year. The Cairo Prince and Classic Empire we’d like to debut in Saratoga. The Gun Runner is a big backward horse who likely won’t make it to Saratoga and will eye a start in the fall at Belmont.

April was a solid month in New York with Salute to America breaking his maiden very impressively under Javier Castellano over a sloppy track on April 7. He travelled like the winner all the way around there and won in hand which was fantastic to see. He’s a horse who’s always shown ability in the morning but being big and heavy it just took a number of races to get the seasoning in for him to be able to do what he did that Thursday afternoon.

It was great to see Flying P’s patience with Dot’s Dollar rewarded on April 10. This is a horse who got very sick after we claimed him at the Fair Grounds and so we gave him plenty of time and brought him back to New York. He won very cozily under Javier Castellano as well. He just recently ran in a Starter Allowance and won again despite the race coming off of the turf and being run on a sealed, sloppy track at Belmont on May 19.

It was good to see Straight Skinny give the long odds-on favourite a real run for his money, finishing second on April 15 at Aqueduct. It was also very encouraging to see Deep Cover make his four-year-old turf debut on April 23. A real troubled trip for a horse who’s got a lot of speed, he had to be checked two or three times during the race but showed a lot of grit at the end to stay on through a gap and finish second. He recently ran on May 21 and won in dominant fashion for owners MyRacehorse.

Half Birthday broke her maiden on April 22. This is a filly that VinLaur Racing Stables claimed with the sole plan of getting her on the turf. She’s a filly who had done some moderate running on the dirt but had a much better turf pedigree. It was great to see their plan rewarded first off the claim. She came out of that race in such good form that I actually ran her back a week later and she finished a solid third in her first start against winners and older fillies on April 29. We will look for a similar type of spot for her next time out.

A couple of starts ago Sweet Franny Lu ran in an Allowance at Aqueduct and got tired at the eighth pole. She came back on May 6 to win an Allowance Other Than for New York-bred fillies impressively under a super patient ride from apprentice Jose Gomez. This is a filly we thought a lot of in the second half of last year as she started to make some dramatic improvement. In her last start of 2021, she ran like a filly who was a little tired, so we went ahead and gave her the winter off. To have her come back and finish third on April 10 and then win at the beginning of May was fantastic to see. She’ll now step up to the Two Other Than against state-breds. Hopefully she’s good enough to win and if so, we’ll consider a race like the Yaddo in Saratoga.

Always great to get the old warhorses back into action, especially Locally Owned who we tried to do something very difficult with in the Flat Out Stakes. He was originally scheduled to make his season debut in the Excelsior at Aqueduct on April 2 but stepped on a stone about two weeks before the race and was very foot-sore, meaning he missed the race. So, we ran him at Belmont in the Flat Out going a mile and three-eighths on a very wet track on May 6 and I was absolutely thrilled to see him return to the level of form that he’d shown last year. He cruised into the race like he might give the winner a real run for his money but then got tired towards the end. He’s come out of that in really good shape and will point towards the Brooklyn Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day over a track he seems to really enjoy running two turns on.

Assertive Style ran third in the Vagrancy Handicap (Gr.3) on May 14. This is a filly we claimed at the Fair Grounds with a view that we’d try to get her on the turf for one of these stakes. We missed a race earlier in the month, which was a little frustrating, but it was fantastic to see her come back to run a gutsy third and pick up Graded Stakes Black Type along the way for her new owners Flying P.

The day before, Two Down made an encouraging debut, finishing third. It was a rock-solid performance from him, staying on very well down the lane. We’ll look at trying to find a similar spot for him next out. On the same card, it was pleasing to see Fifth Anniversary, our first runner for Reagan Jack Racing, run a respectable fourth against older fillies in a tough Two other Than. She’s a filly by Runhappy and will point to the five and a half furlong, three-year-old turf stakes races the remainder of the year, the first one going at Laurel next month and then two at Saratoga.

It’s great to have some of the babies in. We have a colt called Son of a Birch, by Temple City, who’s doing all the right things. An exciting looking filly for Perrine Thoroughbreds. And a very elegant Bolt d’Oro filly named La Grotte. A very promising group and one I’m very much looking forward to planning for in the year ahead.

On slightly sadder terms, I’m sorry to report that my father died on April 18 after a very lengthy battle with Parkinson’s; he died peacefully, surrounded by his sons and my mum. It was wonderful to see so many of his great friends turn out for his memorial service on May 11. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me during this time. I greatly appreciate your support.

The Timonium Fasig-Tipton Sale in Maryland was May 23-24. I was on the ground Sunday at 8am picking out horses for various clients. Will have more on that in the next blog.

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