Trainer Daniel Velazquez wanted to point Brooklyn Strong to last weekend’s Grade 3 Gotham at the Big A, but after a minor illness and lack of works due to inclement weather at his Parx Racing base, the New York-bred colt is on target for the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 3 at Aqueduct.
On Saturday, Brooklyn Strong posted his third breeze since February 26, covering five-eighths in 1:01.13 on Saturday at Parx.
Velazquez was not on hand for the breeze after incurring a lacerated liver and torn bicep earlier Saturday morning in a training accident at the Bensalem, Pa., oval. The conditioner said he expects to be released from the hospital Sunday evening.
“He went by himself from the pole. Hopefully, we can hit one work a week up to the Wood,” said Velazquez of Brooklyn Strong’s breeze.
Owned by Mark Schwartz, the Wicked Strong bay is out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Riviera Chic. Bred in the Empire State by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan, Brooklyn Strong was purchased for $5,000 at the OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training.
A winner at first asking in a one-mile maiden claimer in September at Delaware Park, Brooklyn Strong made his next two starts against state-breds at Belmont finishing third in the seven-furlong Bertram F. Bongard before capturing the one-turn mile Sleepy Hollow.
Brooklyn Strong stretched out to nine-furlongs on December 5 in the Grade 2 Remsen at the Big A and bested Ten for Ten by a neck to garner 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. A good result in the Wood, which offers 100-40-20-10 qualifying points, would put Brooklyn Strong in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
“We know he can get the nine furlongs, I just want to make sure that he’s ready,” said Velazquez. “We have another three weeks before the Wood and if we can get all the works in without interruption, I know we’ll be ready.”
Velazquez said he does not have a rider lined up yet for the Wood. Joel Rosario was in the irons for the Remsen score while Jose Ortiz had the call in the Sleepy Hollow.
New York-bred sophomore filly Laobanonprayer, owned and trained by Velazquez, finished a disappointing fourth last out in the $250,000 Busher Invitational, an open one-turn mile on March 6 at the Big A.
With Big A winter meet leading rider Kendrick Carmouche up, Laobanonaprayer settled into a pocket trip in fourth but could not gain ground during the stretch run in which Search Results overtook the pacesetting Miss Brazil to earn the win.
“The race didn’t set up well for her,” said Velazquez. “It was a dead track and the pace was extremely slow in front of her. It wasn’t just that race in particular, every race was slow and the horses weren’t coming back. Kendrick said she felt good and she fired, but the pace makes the race.
“We’re going back to the drawing board with her. Maybe we’ll just keep her in the New York-bred races,” added Velazquez. “She heads back to the track tomorrow for the first time after she ran and I’ll know more after that.”
Bred in New York by Christina Deronda, the talented bay is by Laoban and out of the Raffie’s Majesty mare Raffie’s Chance. She was purchased for $15,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale.
Laobanonaprayer kicked off a memorable day for Velazquez on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park when capturing the Maid of the Mist to provide the conditioner his first career stakes win. Brooklyn Strong followed up one race later by winning the Sleepy Hollow.
The next likely open-company stakes spot on the NYRA calendar for Laobanonaprayer is the nine-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 Gazelle on April 3.
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