(Bankit wins the Alex M. Robb Stakes at Aqueduct / Photo by Elsa Lorieul & Courtesy of NYRA)
From the NYRA Media Team:
Bankit posted a slew of close efforts in the 17 months since his previous win. But Saturday, the 4-year-old son of Central Banker left no doubt, overtaking Mr. Buff at the top of the stretch and cruising to a 4 3/4-length victory in the $100,000 Alex M. Robb for New York-bred 3-year-olds and up at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing, Bankit registered his first win in 14 starts – in a span that encompassed five runner-up finishes – outkicking two-time defending Alex M. Robb winner Mr. Buff for his first score since the New York Derby in July 2019 at Finger Lakes.
Bankit, a last-out third-place finishes in the NYSSS Thunder Rumble on November 22 at the Big A, tracked in fourth position as Sea Foam led the six-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 24.16 seconds and the half in 48.47 on the fast main track amid foggy conditions.
Jockey Jose Lezcano tipped Bankit out approaching the far turn, moving up to third. When straightened for home, Bankit found an extra gear from the outside, easily overtaking Sea Foam before running eye-to-eye and then passing 6-5 favorite Mr. Buff, completing the 1 1/8-mile course in a final time of 1:51.59.
“I watched a couple replays and it looked like sometimes he hangs a little bit,” Lezcano said. “Today, he broke well and I had him behind the two horses I thought we had to beat. When I asked him, he gave me everything he got.”
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Bankit turned the tables on Mr. Buff, reversing the order of the 1-2 finish in the Empire Classic on October 24 at Belmont going the same distance.
Off at 5-2, Bankit, bred by Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing, returned $7.70 on a $2 win bet. He improved his career bankroll to $816,675.
“He had a nice pace set up and Jose [Lezcano] put him in a good spot. He got good position and ran a good race,” said Toby Sheets, assistant to Asmussen.
Chester and Mary Broman’s Mr. Buff, wheeled back exactly one week after running fifth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, came up short in his bid for three straight Alex M. Robb victories for trainer John Kimmel but ran three lengths clear of Yankee Division for second.
Sea Foam, Danny California and City Man, who broke through the gate before being reloaded, completed the order of finish.
“My horse broke bad because the horse inside [City Man] acted up a little and broke through the gate,” said jockey Kendrick Carmouche, aboard Mr. Buff. “He got a little fussy in there and broke a step slow, but I got him to where I wanted to have him in the race. He ran hard. He tried his best. I think if he hadn’t ran seven days ago, it would be a different outcome, but congratulations to the winner.”
Live racing will resume on Sunday at Aqueduct with a nine-race card featuring the $100,000 Bay Ridge, a nine-furlong test for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. First-race post time is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.