Saturday’s victory in the $100,000 Say Florida Sandy for Our Last Buck at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y., rewarded the patience of trainer Michelle Nevin and owner J and N Stables, who saw the gelded son of Courageous Cat make his first stakes appearance in his 18th career start.
For besting a five-horse field of New York-breds 4-years-old and up by 3 3/4 lengths in his 7-year-old bow, Our Last Buck earned a personal-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure. The rallying score saw Aqueduct meet-leading rider Kendrick Carmouche pick off three rivals with a strong outside move when straightened for home in the seven-furlong sprint, outkicking 4-5 favorite and runner-up Funny Guy.
“I was very fortunate and excited and I’d just like to thank Michelle and Kendrick,” said owner Thomas Newkirk, who heads the Saratoga Springs-based J and N Stables. “Kendrick gave him a neat ride. It looked like at the head of the stretch that he could go inside or outside, and he chose correctly.”
The effort marked the first stakes victory for the ownership group, which started racing in 2012 and entered Saturday with a 9-8-10 record in 65 career starts. J and N Stables still owns a stake in Our Last Buck’s dam Buck Mountain.
“We still own an interest in Buck Mountain, so we might have some more offspring coming and we’re excited about that possibility,” Newkirk said.
Bred in the Empire State by Gerardus S. Jameson, Our Last Buck broke his maiden at second asking in November 2018 at the Big A under previous trainer George Weaver. After being transferred to Nevin’s care in 2019, he enjoyed a career resurgence, winning five of his six career races since his 6-year-old campaign last year.
Our Last Buck, who won back-to-back races starting at Aqueduct on March 15 and then over Big Sandy during Belmont Park’s spring/summer meet, is now on his second career winning streak, with his stakes effort following a 1 ½-length victory against allowance company on December 12 at the Big A.
“It takes a little bit of patience,” Newkirk said. “He had a couple of operations before and we gave him some time to heal. It’s great now to see a 7-year-old do this. He’s probably in the best shape of his life right now.”
Newkirk praised NYRA’s New York-bred program for providing opportunities for the late-blooming Our Last Buck to reach his potential.
“It’s a credit to NYRA that they have a 4-year-old up and classification for those older horses,” Newkirk said. “The New York-bred program is just awesome and I think it’s the right thing to do for the owners and breeders in the state. Not everyone can go down to Florida, and I think the Aqueduct cards make it a great place to be.”
Newkirk said he’s also excited for the impending 3-year-old debut of homebred Dancing Buck, who broke his maiden at second asking on New Year’s Eve at the Big A. The War Dancer colt, who ran second in his debut on November 29 at the same track, could make his next start later in the winter meet.
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