Bankit Gets the Money in Sleep Hollow Stakes, Caps Huge Day for Hidden Brook

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The early speed Bankit showed in his first four races was not going to serve him well as he progressively stretched out in distance.

So, following his fourth-place finish in the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes going seven furlongs last month, Bankit's connections started training him behind horses and wanted to employ those tactics in Saturday’s $250,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes for New York-bred juveniles at Belmont Park.

Bankit showed that he was a quick study as, under Irad Ortiz Jr., Bankit rallied from ninth in a 12-horse field to win the Sleepy Hollow by 5 3/4 lengths. Bustin Hoffman rallied for second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Strive for a Cure.

The win was the second from five starts for Bankit, a son of Central Banker owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton and trained by Steve Asmussen. Bankit brought $260,000 at the OBS March sale earlier this year. He foaled and raised at Hidden Brook Farm and originally sold by Hidden Brook at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton New York Preferred Yearling auction.

Toby Sheets, Asmussen's Belmont-based assistant, told jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. in the paddock that he had been schooling Bankit behind horses in the morning.

“That gave me the confidence to take him back,” said Ortiz, who, like most handicappers looked at Bankit’s past performances and viewed him as a speed horse.

Ortiz had Bankit an up-close fifth early, but several horses passed him midway down the backside and he was ninth after about three furlongs.

Ortiz guided him to the inside, advanced gradually into contention, but was still behind horses midway around the far turn.

Bankit was following Riken, a 68-1 shot, who set sail after the pacesetting favorite Dugout approaching the top of the lane.

“When I wanted to start picking it up he was moving beautifully,” Ortiz said of Bankit. “From the three-eighths pole, I just have to find how I can tip him out because I can feel I had horse.”

Ortiz was able to tip Bankit three to four wide turning for home. Riken, under Manny Franco, had wrestled the lead from Dugout in upper stretch but Bankit took over just above the eighth pole and drew clear for the convincing victory.

Bankit covered the mile in 1:37.69 and returned $12.40 as the third choice.

“He’s been close all the time, but that’s because that’s where we put him,” Sheets said. “We trained him behind horses since the last race and it worked out. He did everything the right way, very happy with him.”

The Sleepy Hollow finished off an incredible New York Showcase Day for Hidden Brook-associated runners. Earlier on the card later Fifty Five (Raised & Sold) scored in the Ticonderoga Stakes and Offering Plan (Sold & South Grad) was much the best in the Mohawk Stakes. In the Maid of the Mist Stakes, Elegant Zip (Sold) and Kept True (Hidden Brook South Grad) finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

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