Run Curtis Run lives up to moniker in gate-to-wire Rick Violette victory

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Michael Dubb and Michael Caruso’s Run Curtis Run edged the competition by a neck in his debut win earlier this month at Belmont Park. Stepping up to stakes company for his second start, the Summer Front colt had an easier go of it, breaking sharp from the inside post and leading gate-to-wire in a 3 3/4-length score in Wednesday’s $100,000 Rick Violette for New York-bred 2-year-olds sprinting six furlongs on the Saratoga Race Course main track.

After defeating Rick Violette contender Surprise Boss in a five-furlong off-the-turf contest over a sloppy and sealed Belmont track on July 2, Run Curtis Run paced the four-horse field under jockey Jose Ortiz, leading Ready A.P. through an opening quarter-mile in 22.77 seconds and the half in 46.12 on a track labeled fast.

Ready A.P., a Christophe Clement-trained filly competing against males, challenged Run Curtis Run from the outside out of the turn, but Ortiz kept the pacesetter to task and opened up the lead when straightened for home, powering to the wire ahead of Ready A.P. in a final time of 1:12.48 to improve to 2-for-2.

Trained by Mike Maker and bred by Larry Goichman, Run Curtis Run, off at 3-1, paid $8 on a $2 win wager.

“He has some natural speed and with him drawing the inside post, it wasn’t that hard to figure out in a small field,” said Maker, who said Run Curtis Run will likely target the $200,000 Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital on August 27.

Ortiz, who was riding Run Curtis Run for the first time, said he was pleased with the trip.

“I broke quite well and he was fast out of there, so I didn’t have to ask him for a lot,” Ortiz said. “He put me on the lead and I was very happy with that. I had the rail and I wanted the lead.

“He was going nice and relaxed in the first part of the race and when I asked him to go, he was there for me,” he added. “All credit goes to Mike, who had him ready and the guys at the barn.”

Ready A.P., owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and Jimmy Kahig, was also a first-out winner, posting an 8 1/4-length victory on July 1 at Belmont. Making her stakes bow, the More Than Ready filly bested Coinage by a neck for second. Surprise Boss ran fourth and Barese scratched.

“My filly was pretty tired in the end,” said Ready A.P. jockey Luis Saez. “The horse on the lead was pretty comfortable up there. I thought we were going to get him, but when I asked, she was tired.”

The seventh edition of the Rick Violette, previously run as the Rockville Centre, was renamed for the longtime NYRA-based trainer and former president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association who passed away in October 2018. Violette served more than 25 years on the NYTHA board, including nine as president from 2008-17, and trained 2018 Grade 1 Whitney-winner and New York-bred Diversify.

“He was tough on me, but he just wanted me to get better,” Ortiz said on riding for Violette. “He wanted to ride me so he wanted to teach me the right way and how he liked it. I learned a lot of good things with him and I’m very happy to win this race. I’m sad he’s not here.

“He was cranky sometimes, but it was always about looking out for the best for his guys and I respect that,” he added. “He was a great guy. He helped me a lot and he believed in me at a very young age.”

Violette gave Ortiz his first two Kentucky Derby mounts, with Samraat [fifth in 2014] and Upstart [18th in 2015].

“I walked in today with him on my mind and I wanted to win it,” Ortiz said. “I knew I had a shot. My horse ran very good first time out. It was great for me to win the race named after him, especially with his family here. I have a lot of good memories with him. I rode my first Kentucky Derby for him with Samraat and I rode my second Kentucky Derby for him on Upstart. He gave me great opportunities at a very young age. He believed in me. He knew I was up and coming and that meant a lot to me that he believed in me at that point in my career.”

NY Final Furlong Racing

Stable zeroes in on

New York-bred fillies

Dan Zanatta and Vince Roth launched NY Final Furlong Racing Stable syndicate in early 2012 with a focus on buying, racing and breeding New York-bred fillies and mares. Nearly a decade later, their innovative thinking has paid significant dividends.

“Looking at the average price, fillies are typically less expensive, which is one reason we went that route,” Zanatta said. “Another reason is based off residual value. We’ve gone on to sell our black type winners and started our own broodmare band.”

NY Final Furlong Racing Stable [NY Final Furlong], which currently encompasses nearly 60 partners, provides a variety of offerings, including a traditional partnership for a single horse where the price includes the standard fixed expenses. Partners are billed quarterly once the horse reaches racing age; and purse winnings are distributed based off the horse’s earnings.

Claiming partnerships are assembled quickly for partners wanting immediate action. Generally, horses claimed by NY Final Furlong are ones with a pedigree suitable to make a broodmare prospect upon retirement.

While many syndications are racing-only, NY Final Furlong offers a view of the bloodstock aspect of the business, including breeding and pinhooking, which is the buying and reselling of a horse. Mares acquired in NY Final Furlong partnerships will drop their foals in New York state. While the breeding partnership is open to anyone, it is first offered to current members.

Zanatta said affordability and residual value are positive aspects for purchasing fillies at yearling sales, but doing so in a regional market such as New York makes for a higher probability of success.

“We started out buying one or two yearlings every year and now we’re buying four or five. Last year, there were a little over 600 New York-breds born and roughly 300 of them were fillies,” Zanatta said. “If we have anywhere from three-to-five fillies in every crop, then the odds of having a maiden special weight winner, an allowance or a stakes horse are better as opposed to open company. Of those 300 fillies, 200 are commercially viable, so the dynamics are pretty good.”

Zanatta said their strategic model has been successful for NY Final Furlong and its partners.

“The strategy is working,” Zanatta said. “Every year for the past three years, we’ve had a black type winning 2-year-old or a stakes winner. We’ve been able to keep that streak going. With our trainers’ feedback, we’ve been able to buy better and better 2-year-olds every year.”

By Paul Wager