Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Bankit, expertly handled by Joel Rosario, arrived in the final stride to collar defending race champ Sea Foam in Friday’s $125,000 Evan Shipman Handicap, a one-mile test out of the Wilson Chute for New York-breds 3-years-old and up, at Saratoga Race Course.
Bred in the Empire State by Hidden Brook Farm and Blue Devil Racing, Bankit was also raised and sold by Hidden Brook at the Fasig-Tipton New York Yearling sale. He banked $68,750 in victory surpassing $1.1 million for his career.
“You see a horse like Bankit that has made over a million dollars and most of it has been in New York-bred races with a few wins and several placings. It’s good for him to get in the winner’s circle, but it’s made that amount of money possible for this horse,” said trainer Steve Asmussen.
Bankit, carrying a field-high 124 pounds, saved ground in fourth position from his inside post, splitting Therisastormbrewin and Brooklyn Strong down the backstretch after the half-mile elapsed in 48.02 with Sea Foam and Market Alert battling into and through the turn.
Sea Foam put away Market Alert at the head of the lane as Rosario offered right-handed encouragement to Bankit, who responded to draw level outside the pacesetter. The two rivals battled head and head through the final sixteenth with Bankit prevailing by a nose in a final time of 1:39.24. It was a further 3 1/2-lengths back to Brooklyn Strong in third with Market Alert, Three Jokers, Tiergan and Therisastormbrewin rounding out the order of finish.
Bankit, a 6-year-old Central Banker bay, returned from a more than four-month layoff after an off-the-board effort in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on March 26 at Meydan Racecourse.
Asmussen was full of praise for the determined effort by Bankit off a layoff extended when the Commentator did not fill in May at Belmont Park.
“He gutted it out today. The race didn’t fill for him last time and he ended up having a trapped epiglottis and had that cured,” Asmussen said. “[He had] a couple breezes back and he’s all class. I can’t say how proud we are of him. Sea Foam has always run extremely well here at Saratoga and it was nice to come out on the right end of that.”
Bankit and Sea Foam are both finalists for NYTB Champion Older Dirt Male, with the winners to be announced on Friday evening. Last year, Bankit bested fellow state-breds in the Commentator at Belmont and defeated open-company in the John B. Campbell at Laurel Park.
-edited from www.nyra.com