Dream Maker Racing’s Yo Cuz made every pole a winning one in Saturday’s $500,000 Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series, a seven-furlong sprint for eligible New York-sired juvenile fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the Laoban bay, who entered from a debut fifth in a state-bred maiden special weight sprint on November 21 at the Big A, broke third and was hustled to the lead by returning rider Jose Ortiz from post 5 to mark the opening quarter-mile in :22.96.
Tom Gallo, managing partner of Dream Maker Racing, said he always had high hopes for Yo Cuz.
“When we first gave Bill the horse, we had this race in mind,” Gallo said. “When I mentioned it to Bill, he looked at me and laughed a little bit because he had just got her. But then she started to breeze at Saratoga and was training really well. We wanted to get one race in her before this and she ran fifth about four weeks ago. She broke bad, trailed the field but then weaved her way between horses and galloped out past the leader. When we spoke to Jose Ortiz after the race, he said that he really liked the horse. It’s nice to have continuity because he knew her.”
Gallo said Yo Cuz, purchased from Hidden Brook Farm for $125,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, made a good first impression.
“The thing that stood out for us was that she was one of the few in that sale who galloped and didn’t breeze,” Gallo said. “We like when people take time with their horses. The fact that she was a good size and came out of a good consignment [Hidden Brook] was appealing.”
Yo Cuz is not only the latest blacktype winner sold by Hidden Brook, she´s also the 8th blacktype winner in 2021 to graduate from the famed Hidden Brook Florida training center.
Yo Cuz maintained her lead down the backstretch through an easy half-mile in :47.10, a length in front of Bank On Anna with Laochi stalking another length back in third under Eric Cancel.
Morning Matcha, the 8-5 morning-line favorite piloted by Kendrick Carmouche, settled last of-11 through the opening quarter-mile but was keen to follow the rallying Shigeko through the turn as Yo Cuz attempted to kick clear of the field.
Yo Cuz opened up a four-length lead over Laochi at the stretch call as Morning Matcha overtook Shigeko and powered into contention down the center of the track. A game and determined Morning Matcha continued to find more but there was no reeling in Yo Cuz, who crossed the wire 1 3/4-lengths in front in a final time of 1:25.34.
Ortiz said Yo Cuz was much improved at second asking after experiencing trouble at the gate on debut.
“She was squeezed out of there and she was very green, too,” Ortiz said of the first-out effort. “I just sat patiently and tried to teach her some stuff. I didn’t want to rush her. She’s a big filly and she closed well last time. I was very happy with the race. I knew second time she was going to be a lot better. I expected she was going to win a maiden; I didn’t know she was going to run in here. I knew this race was going to be a little bit tougher, but she proved that she belongs.
“She was ready today. She broke well today and he [Mott] worked on what she needed – breaking better, which she did,” Ortiz added. “She broke very clean and when I went to take position and looked around me, nobody could keep up with me in the first quarter. So, when I took [the lead] I slowed it down nicely and she was very relaxed.”
Ortiz, a three-time winner on the card, continued a solid run of form after going 3-for-3 on Friday night at Remington Park Oklahoma City, Okla., winning the She’s All In with Casual, the Trapeze with Optionality, and the Springboard Mile with Make It Big.
“When you ride good horses, this is what happens. You get more chances to win races,” Ortiz said. “I appreciate all the opportunities I have been getting with big owners and big trainers supporting my career. That’s what it’s all about. You have to have the horse to win.”
Morning Matcha completed the exacta by five lengths over Laochi with Shigeko, Bank On Anna, Laoban’s Legacy, She’s a Big Deal, Alicia’s Way, Howdyoumakeurmoney, Mrs. Banks, and Half Birthday rounding out the order of finish.
Carmouche said the slow-starting Morning Matcha, who maintained a perfect in-the-money record of 7-2-3-2, will not be hustled.
“She breaks a little slow and gets herself together, but you can’t rush her,” Carmouche said. “She’s going to pick up the bit when she wants. Today, we were just second best.”
Bred in New York by Seidman Stables, Yo Cuz, out of the Tale of Ekati mare Steve’s Philly, banked $275,000 in victory while improving her record to 2-1-0-0. She paid $8.00 for a $2.00 win ticket.