(Trainer Brendan Walsh / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Two decisive victories to launch his career have the connections of Prevalence considering a start in the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Brendan Walsh, the Godolphin homebred captured plenty of attention with a flashy and effortless 8 ½-length debut triumph going seven furlongs on January 23 at Gulfstream Park. The Medaglia d’Oro colt followed on Thursday at the South Florida oval with a three-length win going a one-turn mile, registering an 86 Beyer Speed Figure.

Jimmy Bell, President of Godolphin’s North American division, said that how Prevalence runs in his next start will be a large deciding factor as to how the horse will be campaigned on the Triple Crown trail.

“His maiden win told us something, his allowance win told us even more and his next race will decide where we go from there. Each race is its own entity,” Bell said. “We’ll all be curious to see what his best distance is. He showed a nice step up from seven-eighths to a mile.”

The Wood Memorial, along with the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 10 at Oaklawn Park and Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass on April 3 at Keeneland, are among the possible targets for Prevalence’s graded stakes debut. All three races are Kentucky Derby qualifiers awarding 100-40-20-10 points to the top-four finishers.

“It becomes a question of where his energy level is and it comes down to a timing thing,” Bell said. “His past races gave him some good experiences and when asked, he responded professionally.”

A Kentucky homebred, Prevalence is out of the Ghostzapper mare Enrichment – a full-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Better Lucky and stakes-winning turf sprinter Final Frontier. All three are out of the graded stakes-winning Seeking the Gold mare Sahara Gold, whose dam was 1995 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Desert Stormer.

Bell said last Saturday’s Heavenly Prize Invitational winner Lake Avenue could race back in the Grade 3, $150,000 Distaff on April 2 at Aqueduct.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 4-year-old daughter of Tapit out of Grade 1 winner Seventh Street utilized a frontrunning style during her 2-year-old season which included a score in the Grade 2 Demoiselle in December 2019 at the Big A.

A more settled Lake Avenue rallied from off-the-pace to notch an optional-claiming win going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park on February 3 at Gulfstream. In the Heavenly Prize, Lake Avenue settled in fourth, just 2 ½ lengths off the pacesetter and was in clear command in upper stretch when powering home to a 6 ¾-length win.

“In her last two races she showed different dimensions where she can break, settle and monitor the situation from off the pace. She got in a good position in both races and when the jockey said, ‘Go,’ she responded,” Bell said.

Lake Avenue went winless in four starts during her 3-year-old season, providing her best result with a third in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. The turnaround in form has given Bell confidence that 2021 will be a prosperous year.

“Her last two races really gave us a lot of confidence moving forward,” Bell said. “We were a little uncertain with her, but she just gave us two really good performances.”


Brooklyn Strong works for G2 Wood Memorial

Trainer Daniel Velazquez wanted to point Brooklyn Strong to last weekend’s Grade 3 Gotham at the Big A, but after a minor illness and lack of works due to inclement weather at his Parx Racing base, the New York-bred colt is on target for the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 3 at Aqueduct.

On Saturday, Brooklyn Strong posted his third breeze since February 26, covering five-eighths in 1:01.13 on Saturday at Parx.

Velazquez was not on hand for the breeze after incurring a lacerated liver and torn bicep earlier Saturday morning in a training accident at the Bensalem, Pennsylvania oval. The conditioner said he expects to be released from hospital later this evening.

“He went by himself from the pole. Hopefully, we can hit one work a week up to the Wood,” said Velazquez of Brooklyn Strong’s breeze.

Owned by Mark Schwartz, the Wicked Strong bay is out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Riviera Chic. Bred in the Empire State by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan, Brooklyn Strong was purchased for $5,000 at the OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training.

A winner at first asking in a one-mile maiden claimer in September at Delaware Park, Brooklyn Strong made his next two starts against state-breds at Belmont finishing third in the seven-furlong Bertram F. Bongard before capturing the one-turn mile Sleepy Hollow.

Brooklyn Strong stretched out to nine-furlongs on December 5 in the Grade 2 Remsen at the Big A and bested Ten for Ten by a neck to garner 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. A good result in the Wood, which offers 100-40-20-10 qualifying points, would put Brooklyn Strong in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.

“We know he can get the nine furlongs, I just want to make sure that he’s ready,” said Velazquez. “We have another three weeks before the Wood and if we can get all the works in without interruption, I know we’ll be ready.”

Velazquez said he does not have a rider lined up yet for the Wood. Joel Rosario was in the irons for the Remsen score while Jose Ortiz had the call in the Sleepy Hollow.

New York-bred sophomore filly Laobanonprayer, owned and trained by Velazquez, finished a disappointing fourth last out in the $250,000 Busher Invitational, an open one-turn mile on March 6 at the Big A.

With Big A winter meet leading rider Kendrick Carmouche up, Laobanonaprayer settled into a pocket trip in fourth but could not gain ground during the stretch run in which Search Results overtook the pacesetting Miss Brazil to earn the win.

“The race didn’t set up well for her,” said Velazquez. “It was a dead track and the pace was extremely slow in front of her. It wasn’t just that race in particular, every race was slow and the horses weren’t coming back. Kendrick said she felt good and she fired, but the pace makes the race.

“We’re going back to the drawing board with her. Maybe we’ll just keep her in the New York-bred races,” added Velazquez. “She heads back to the track tomorrow for the first time after she ran and I’ll know more after that.”

Bred in New York by Christina Deronda, the talented bay is by Laoban and out of the Raffie’s Majesty mare Raffie’s Chance. She was purchased for $15,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

Laobanonaprayer kicked off a memorable day for Velazquez on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park when capturing the Maid of the Mist to provide the conditioner his first career stakes win. Brooklyn Strong followed up one race later by winning the Sleepy Hollow.

The next likely open-company stakes spot on the NYRA calendar for Laobanonaprayer is the nine-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 Gazelle on April 3.


Atras nets four-win Saturday and looks to extend success with Big A spring stakes contingent

Trainer Rob Atras didn’t blast Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” from his office speakers, but it would have been warranted after he saddled four winners at Aqueduct on Saturday, highlighted by Sadie Lady outlasting Call On Mischief by a head to win the $100,000 Correction in her seasonal debut.

Atras had to wait an additional month for Sadie Lady to make her 5-year-old bow after a stakes race did not fill in February at the Big A. But the New York-bred Freud mare ensured the wait was worth it for her connections, winning for the fifth time in eight starts since turning 4 in 2020.

Sadie Lady earned a career-best 84 Beyer for her first career stakes score, going gate-to-wire at 5-1 under jockey Manny Franco, who earned his third win of the day and kept his charge pressed forward as Call On Mischief linked up with her in the final furlong through a head-bob finish.

“She came out of the race really good,” Atras said. “We were sitting on her for a little while after she won her last race in December. Unfortunately, the New York-bred stakes [Broadway] didn’t fill, so we pointed her towards this race and everything worked out. She trained good in the morning and is an aggressive horse and she’s battled like that before in races. I was so happy to see her compete like that in the lane.”

A future spot for Sadie Lady, owned by Dennis Narlinger and bred by JMJ Racing Stables, will be determined in the next week, Atras said.

“We’re not quite sure just yet. We never looked past this race,” he said. “We wanted to see how she performed and go from there. In the next few days, we’ll map out a plan.

Atras also teamed with jockey Dylan Davis to win with both Saint Selby [$8.90] in the opening race and Heavy Roller [$3.60] in Race 4. Storm Advisory, guided by meet-leading rider Kendrick Carmouche, gave Atras his third win of the day in Race 5 before Sadie Lady’s victory in the feature.

“I’m just really grateful,” Atras said. “To do something like that, especially in New York, is special. We’ve had multi-winner days but nothing ever like that. It’s hard to win one race in a day, so to win four, it’s a great feeling. To cap it off with a stakes win was extra special.”

Atras, who saddled his first winner in 2009, set a personal-best in 2020 when he won 43 winners, posting a 43-39-38 record with 210 starters and earnings of more than $2 million. He’s already built on that success, earning his first two career graded stakes wins in 2021 with Chateau and American Power.

“I’ve always wanted to focus on quality, not just quantity,” Atras said. “Our stable has grown quite a bit, but I think we’ve upgraded our quality, too, and that’s been one of my goals. That’s not to say I don’t like the $10,000 or $20,000 claimers, but every time I lead a horse over, I like to be a contender. That’s the focal point of the operation.”

Atras had updates on those stakes winners, as American Power, the last out-winner of the seven-furlong Grade 3 Toboggan on January 30 at the Big A, breezed four furlongs in 50.44 seconds on Sunday over the Belmont training track.

American Power, owned by Sanford and Irwin Goldfarb and the Estate of Ira Davis, could target either the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap that will be featured on the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino card on April 3. Atras also said the starter stakes on Saturday, March 27 at Aqueduct could be a possibility for a less ambitious spot.

After defeating claiming company over a sloppy track at Belmont going one mile in October, American Power registered a 3 ¼-length win in an optional claimer in December at Aqueduct to cap his 5-year-old year. Atras moved him up to graded stakes company for his 6-year-old debut, and he responded by outkicking Pete’s Play Call by a half length to win the Toboggan last out over the same one-turn distance as the Carter.

“He worked really good and his last couple of works have been pretty sharp,” Atras said. “It seems like his last few races have been better than the next. I always liked him as soon as I got him. He’s always trained well. His confidence is high and he’s breaking sharp and rating the race right away. All his races, he’s fought all-out. He’s just stepped up to the task every time.”

Chateau is another stakes-winning sprinter who found success at Aqueduct, wiring the field in a 3 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 6 that netted the 6-year-old his first triple-digit speed figure, garnering a clean 100 one start after earning a 96 for his front-running win against optional claimers on January 18 over the same track.

Overall, Chateau has won five of his seven career starts at Aqueduct, logging a 5-2-2 mark in nine career starts in Ozone Park. His last 18 starts have been at six furlongs or less, though Atras said his success at Aqueduct could tempt him to stretch him out in the Carter. It would be Chateau’s longest race since running fifth in a one-mile maiden claimer in September 2018.

“He came out of the race really good, and I was very pleased, especially after a top effort like that,” Atras said. “We’re kicking around the idea of starting in the Carter. His record is really good at Aqueduct, so he likes that track and we’re considering it, even though the distance might not be to his liking. But we’re considering it.”


Amoss sends Save for Cicada

After finding the winner’s circle in both of her lifetime starts, Save will ship to New York for her stakes debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Cicada going six furlongs for 3-year-old fillies.

Owned by breeder Mineola Farm II in partnership with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Save kicked off her career with a New Year’s Day triumph at Fair Grounds Race Course, where she tracked a close second behind the pacesetter, engaging in a stretch duel and came out a length and a half on top.

The Tom Amoss-trained filly arrives at the Cicada off a triumph against winners, also at six furlongs, where she lugged out in the last eighth of a mile but still was able to secure the victory by 1 ¼ lengths and appeared to have plenty left in reserve on the gallop out.

“She’s been there with [trainer] Bobby Ribaudo at Belmont and the plan is to run,” Amoss said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully being competitive and getting some black type. Kendrick Carmouche will ride.”

The daughter of Violence is the fifth progeny out of the Vindication mare Sustain, whose three other offspring to race were winners. Save has accumulated $63,600 in purse earnings.

Other probable starters for the Cicada include Just Read It, Leader of the Band and Exogen.

On Saturday, Joel Politi’s Littlestitious shipped to Laurel Park to win the one-mile Beyond the Wire over multiple stakes placed Fraudulent Charge and six-time stakes winner Street Lute. The daughter of Ghostzapper tracked in third, came under urging outside the quarter pole and collared Fraudulent Charge in the final furlong to win by a half-length.

The win was a second stakes triumph for Littlestitious, who won Delta Downs’ My Trusty Cat on December 1.

“She’s a multiple stakes winner now,” said Amoss. “For at least the next eight to nine days she will remain at Laurel because of the [EHV-1] quarantine in place. Once that is lifted, we’ll start talking about what her future races might be.”