New York-bred champion City Man is one of the stars on Monday’s Big Apple Showcase Day card at Belmont Park. Janet Garaguso/NYRA Photo.
By Tom Law and Sean Clancy
The Memorial Day weekend comes to a close Monday but not before a spectacular day of racing at Belmont Park with the annual Big Apple Showcase Day card for New York-breds.
One of three special programs of the year for state-breds – the others are set for the summer at Saratoga and this fall at Belmont – the Big Apple Showcase features six stakes for big purses and four complimentary events that pack a punch. The team at The Saratoga Special is again privileged to preview all of the action, and more, with a special edition of The Big Apple Showcase Special.
The Showcase Special offers the perfect primer for anyone heading to Belmont for the day’s action, or those watching from home. And we’ve thrown in some of the popular features you see every summer in The Saratoga Special.
Here’s the primer for Monday May 29. Safe journeys and good luck.
By the Numbers
96: Horses entered for Monday’s Big Apple Showcase Day program.
6: Stakes on the Showcase Day card.
8: Entries on Showcase Day for Linda Rice, the most of any trainer. Mike Maker and David Donk have six entrants apiece.
10: Mounts for Irad Ortiz Jr. on the day.
1,220,000 Dollars in purses offered on Showcase Day, including $900,000 in stakes purses.
Names of the Day
Race 1. Miracle. We’re suckers for one-word names and this is a good one. The 3-year-old filly is by Mendelssohn and out of Good Omen.
Race 3. Timeless Journey. The 6-year-old mare is by Verrazano and out of Matchmadeinheaven.
Race 9. Whittington Park. The 4-year-old colt is out of See The Forest. When you’re in Hot Springs, make sure you enjoy the shade of Whittington Park.
Race 10. Utamaro. We always like horses named after artists.
“Big Apple Showcase Day is not only a celebration of the New York-bred program but also a culmination of the achievements of New York breeders who continue to raise the bar in the quality of racehorses foaled in New York State each year. We are thankful for our longstanding partnership with NYRA in highlighting each of our three annual Showcase Days throughout the year for all participants in the New York-bred program with lucrative purses and competitive fields for handicappers to wager on as a marquee event for racing fans on the Memorial holiday.”
New York Thoroughbred Breeders Executive Director Najja Thompson
“These smaller guys are the backbone of the game. The first five races a day are filled by the little guys, and without them, the game wouldn’t survive. We need small owners and syndicates to keep us going.”
Trainer Bobby Ribaudo
“He’s been training well and I’m very happy with him. He’s so consistent and he’s just so exciting. It’s been a positive experience with him and he makes you feel good.”
Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, on Commentator contender Bankit
As for the races …
Race 1. Bouwerie Stakes. $125,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs. Post time 1:00 p.m. ET. Miracle scratched out of last weekend’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico for this spot. She’s deserving off chance coming off back-to-back graded stakes tries. Daughter of Mendelssohn meets old rival Les Bon Temps, who beat her by a length in last year’s Maid of the Mist on Empire Showcase Day. Downtown Mischief, the 7-5 favorite, exits runner-up in off-the-turf open stakes after winning three straight to start her career.
Race 2. Allowance-optional claiming, $85,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs, turf. Post time 1:30 p.m. Plenty of stakes competitors in the field, including Moonage Daydream, Howdyoumakeurmoney and Fleetfooted.
Race 3. Critical Eye Stakes. $200,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles. Post time 2:03 p.m. Strong field of six led by Classy Edition, Venti Valetine and Sterling Silver for co-featured event. Classy Edition makes first start in state-bred ranks since winning back-to-back stakes at end of her 2-year-old season in 2021. Don’t discount Let Her Inspire U, either, as she walloped foes in last year’s Empire Distaff and sports a strong record against fellow New York-breds.
Race 4. Mike Lee Stakes. $125,000, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs. Post time 2:32 p.m. Fairly evenly matched group of seven, including Maker’s Candy, NYSS winner Lifetime of Chance and Damon Runyon winner Looms Boldly. Maker’s Candy crossed the finish first in the Gander Stakes in late February but was disqualified. He then finished fifth in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby. Looms Boldly comes in off back-to-back wins.
Race 5. Allowance. $80,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, turf. Post time 3:03 p.m. Smokie Eyes didn’t care for the dirt last time in her return but should be plenty tough on the grass for Christophe Clement, who also sends out Waterville.
Race 6. Mount Vernon Stakes. $125,000, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 mile, turf. Post time 3:34 p.m. First of two turf stakes on the card and a good one. Marvelous Maude makes her first start since last fall, when she ended the season in the Grade 2 Flower Bowl (sixth), John Hettinger (second) and Ticonderoga (fourth). Daughter of Slumber is 2-for-5 on the course and meets top challenger in Runaway Rumour, who makes her first start for trainer Horacio De Paz.
Race 7. Allowance. $80,000, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs. Post time 4:06 p.m. Pineapple Man, second in similar spot last time out in his return, takes on nine others including Pete N Billy, Zeebear, Daufuskie Island and East Coast Girl.
Race 8. Kingston Stakes. $125,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, turf. Post time 4:40 p.m. City Man, crowned champion turf male for 2022, returns to the state-bred ranks after three straight starts in graded company. He’s won his last two against New York-breds, in the Mohawk and Ashley T. Cole last fall during the Belmont at the Big A meeting. No layup here though, with the likes of multiple New York-bred champ and graded stakes winner Somelikeithotbrown, Dakota Gold and Jerry the Nipper in the field.
Race 9. Commentator Stakes. $200,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles. Post time 5:12 p.m. Dr Ardito saw his six-race win streak come to an end last time in the Grade 3 Westchester. He looks to get back on track here against veteran stakes winner and $1,296,405-earner Bankit, multiple stakes winner Barese, the improving Ouster and nine others in strong renewal of the co-feature.
Race 10. Maiden special weight. $75,000, 3-year-olds and up, 7 furlongs, turf. 5:44 p.m. Perfect way to close the card and with plenty of time to make it to the late afternoon cookout. Launch Control returns to the grass for Todd Pletcher, while Kreesa does the same for David Donk. Barry Schwartz’s homebred Cairo Prince gelding Utamaro makes his debut for Linda Rice. He’s out of Mindy Gold, and a half-brother to stakes winner Sharp Starr and stakes-placed Papa Shot.
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