Belmont Park Notes: Toner targets G2 Bowling Green with Hunter O’Riley

ELMONT, N.Y. – Following a triumph in the Grade 1 United Nations on Saturday at Monmouth Park, veteran trainer Jimmy Toner said Hunter O’Riley could target the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green on July 27 at Saratoga Race Course next.
Owned by Sean Shay and Michael Ryan, the 6-year-old bay gelded son of Tiz Wonderful notched his first victory since the 2017 Bowling Green, coming from off the pace under jockey Paco Lopez and making a closing move to win by a neck in notching his first Grade 1 score.
“We’ll point for the Bowling Green,” Toner said. “The timing is right and we won it two years ago with him. He trained really well and he’s kind of a victim of his own problems. Paco gave him a great ride yesterday. I told him to keep him involved and he responded very well. He was training better than ever.”
In winning the United Nations, Hunter O’Riley broke a streak of six off-the-board efforts against graded stakes company. Prior to the United Nations, Hunter O’Riley was seventh in the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland behind Bigger Picture, who was fourth in the United Nations.
Bred in Kentucky by Mike Rutherford, Hunter O’Riley is out of the unraced Bernardini broodmare Oblige and was purchased by Shay for $50,000 from the Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in May 2015.
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Contessa considering options for Runaway Lute; Theitalianamerican possible for G3 Sanford

Harold Lerner and Nehoc Stables’ Runaway Lute, who captured the restricted Hudson in October at Belmont for conditioner Gary Contessa, is training well into his next start, which could come in either an allowance sprint or the $100,000 Saginaw, a 1 1/16-mile test slated for June 30 at Belmont.
The 5-year-old son of Midnight Lute, bred in New York by Windylea Farm, boasts a record of 4-3-2 from 17 career starts. Last out, he finished second in a 6 1/2-furlong optional-claiming event on April 18 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The speedy dark bay required some time off following that effort with an ankle issue, but has breezed five times at Belmont since, including a four-furlong breeze in 47.82 seconds on Saturday morning.
Contessa said Runaway Lute is ready for a return to action.
“He likes this track and I’d like to get a start into him here before we get up to Saratoga,” said Contessa. “There is an allowance race for him here and if that goes, we’ll go there. If not, we might stretch him out in the Saginaw. He likes cruising on the lead and he acts like he’ll run all day, although we’ve never really done it. That’s my second choice.”
Monty Foss and John Moirano’s Theitalianamerican, a bay son of Girolamo bred in New York by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds and Spruce Lance Farm, has rallied to complete the exacta in both of his career starts. Last out, he earned a 57 Beyer Speed Figure when closing from last of seven in the 5 1/2-furlong Tremont, won by Fore Left.
“John Moirano named him – he’s an Italian American and Girolamo has roots in Italian history,” said Contessa, who purchased the ridgling for $30,000 at the March OBS. “I bought him at the 2-year-old sale and I normally don’t like to buy huge horses, but this is a huge horse. He’s 17 hands. He’s a very talented athlete and I bought him rather inexpensively. He worked a quarter-mile in 21 flat at the sale. From day one, he’s acted and trained like a good horse. He’s a New York-bred and certainly exceeded my expectations.”
Theitalianamerican is still eligible for a straight maiden race, including the recently-launched Maiden Allowance Auction Series, which are restricted to horses that went through the ring for $45,000 or less at their most recent auction, and will be offered in the first condition book of the Saratoga meet for purses of $75,000. The Maiden Allowance Auction Series also includes up to $13,500 in New York Breeding Fund open company owners awards for New York-breds finishing first-through-third.
But Contessa and the connections are considering both the $100,000 Rick Violette, a six-furlong sprint on July 17 restricted to New York-breds, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford, a six-furlong sprint set for July 13.

Theitalianamerican breezed four furlongs in 48.87 on the Saratoga dirt training track on June 19.

“Rather than the Violette, we may go to the Sanford instead. I could have the only closer in a race that’s usually full of speed. This one certainly knows how to rate,” Contessa said.
Contessa saddled the promising New York-bred Classy Sadie for a front-running score on June 20 at Belmont in an off-the-turf maiden sprint that earned a 62 Beyer Speed Figure. That figure was one better than the number received for her May 2 debut when third on the Belmont turf. The chestnut daughter of Emcee, bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds, impressed her conditioner.
“She’s a New York-bred beating open company which was nice. She’s fast, she’s well-made and she’s a nice little filly, so maybe we can knock out one of those New York-bred stakes up there,” Contessa said. “Her number in the five furlong race on the dirt was just as good as her number on the turf, so she’s ambidextrous. She can do it all.”
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Moon Colony on track for G1 Belmont Derby
John Oxley’s Moon Colony is continuing to train for the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational following a victory in the Grade 2 Penn Mile on June 1.
The Belmont Derby is the first leg of the Turf Triple, showcasing 3-year-old turf runners, with the 10-furlong contest slated for Saturday, July 6 as part of the Stars & Stripes Festival to be broadcast live nationwide on NBC.The first leg of the Turf Tiara for 3-year-old fillies will be the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, also on Stars & Stripes Day.
Trained by Mark Casse, the 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo won the Penn Mile off of a five-month layoff. His prior effort was a fifth-place finish in the Kitten’s Joy on January 5 at Gulfstream Park.
Moon Colony recorded his first work since the Penn Mile on Saturday morning and went a half-mile in 48.12 seconds over the Belmont Park main track.
“I think he’s an extremely nice horse,” Casse said. “In his race prior at Gulfstream, there was no pace and [jockey] Jose [Ortiz] came back and said he probably messed up by sitting back too far. We brought him to our training center in Ocala and gave him a break and he came back bigger, stronger and better than ever. That’s what prompted me to run him at Penn. I had a fair amount of confidence in him. I told [jockey] Julien [Leparoux] that it would be in his best interest to make the trip up to ride him.”
Moon Colony broke his maiden at third asking over the turf at Keenland last October before defeating winners at Fair Grounds two starts later. Bred in Kentucky by St. Elias Stables, he is out of the graded stakes winning Carson City broodmare Promenade Girl and was purchased for $400,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017.
Casse also spoke of recent maiden special weight winner Cucina, who graduated by a neck over the main track at Belmont Park on Friday in his second career start.
The son of Northern Afleet made his debut at Gulfstream Park in May, finishing second. Casse said turf could be his ideal surface and stated a start in the Grade 1, $250,000 Summer on September 15 at Woodbine could be in his future.
“He’s a nice little horse,” Casse said. “I said after his race at Gulfstream that I thought he was New York caliber and Mr. Dizney let me move him up. I’d like to see him on grass and I’m still thinking that might be his best surface. He would be a horse that I would consider for the Summer at Woodbine. It’s a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In race.”
A Florida homebred, Cucina is the first foal out of the Elusive Quality broodmare Il Mulino.
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Razeena could be Canada bound in next start
Chester and Mary Broman’s The Caretaker will likely target a claiming race for his next start, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Saturday at Belmont Park.
The 5-year-old son of Speightstown has given consistent efforts, notching Beyer Speed Figures of 80 or better in seven of his last nine starts, including an 83 last out in a third-place effort against optional claimers on June 7 at Belmont.
The Caretaker, who won three consecutive races with victories at Belmont and Saratoga Race Course last summer, could make a return trip to the Spa. McLaughlin said he will not run in the $100,000 Saginaw against fellow New York-breds on Sunday, June 30.

Razeena made her United States debut by running second to Safta in a maiden special weight on May 30 at Belmont. The Ontario-bred Malibu Moon filly might soon get to check another country off her list of racing locations for her next spot.

Razeena, still looking to notch her first win, made her first four career starts at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates, including a third-place finish in the Group 3 UAE Oaks on February 21.
Owned by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Razeena saw McLaughlin take over the training duties from Doug Watson before arriving in North America and earning an 81 Beyer over a sloppy Belmont track in the 1 1/16-mile route.
Her conditioner said she could return to her birthplace for her next start, though plans are not finalized.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do with her, either,” McLaughlin said. “We might go to Canada with her. She’s Canadian-bred. We could try a stakes up there, but we’ll see.”
Razeena, purchased for $185,000 at the 2018 Ocala Breeders’ Sale for 2-year-olds in training, has two second-place finishes and a third-place effort in five career starts.
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Cross Country Pick 5 with Monmouth Park handles 86K
Saturday’s Cross Country Pick 5 sequence, featuring races from Belmont Park and, Monmouth Park in Oceanside New Jersey, handled $86,477, returning $9,186.50 for the minimum 50 cent wager. 

The multi-race wager began with Xanthique winning a 1 1/16-mile starter allowance on Belmont’s inner turf in Race 7, returning $6.10 on a $2 win bet. Action then shifted to Monmouth for the next three legs, with Monongahela capturing the Grade 3, $150,000 Philip H. Iselin at 1 1/16 miles on the main track in Race 10. The Jason Servis trainee paid $10.60.

In Race 11 at Monmouth, Hunter O’Riley pulled off a longshot win in the Grade 1, $310,000 United Nations contested at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. The 6-year-old Tiz Wonderful gelding paid $30.20.
Pink Sands won the $100,000 Ladies Secret in the fourth leg with a 3 ½-length score in Race 12 at Monmouth, paying $6.40. The Pick 5 concluded at Belmont when Jack the Cat won the 10th-race finale in a six-furlong maiden claimer, paying $12.20.
The minimum bet for the multi-track, multi-race wager is 50 cents, featuring a 15 percent takeout and a mandatory payout of the entire pool. Wagering on the Cross Country Pick 5 is also available on track, on ADW platforms, and at simulcast facilities across the country.
For more information on the Cross Country Pick 5, please visit
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Deadline to nominate for Godolphin USA Awards set for July 15
Who are your unsung heroes? The Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards (TIEA) recognize and reward the outstanding talent, diligence and commitment of the farm and racing stable staff vital to the industry.
“The Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards program honors hardworking people, from racetrack and farm staff to grooms, hot walkers, administrative personnel and those who help to better the overall thoroughbred community,” said TIEA ambassador Annise Montplaisir. “I was thrilled to visit beautiful Belmont Park on Saturday to promote this amazing program. The staff of our industry should be celebrated for their hard work and dedication, because they are the foundation.”
Presented by Godolphin and supported by the Jockey Club, National HBPA, and TOBA, the awards are separated into seven distinct categories, which carry a total prize-pool of $128,000, along with specially commissioned trophies for the winners.
Categories for the awards include Leadership Award – Breeding, Leadership Award – Racing, Dedication to Breeding Award, Dedication to Racing Award, Newcomer Award, Thoroughbred Industry Community Award winner and the newly-created Administration Award.
To review the categories and nominate one of your unsung heroes, in Spanish or English, visit The deadline to nominate is July 15.
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