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Bern Identity Earns $100k Bonus in Sanford

With a determined run through the stretch, favored Bern Identity wore down front-running Handsome Jack and went on to a lucrative 1 ¼-length victory in Sunday’s 98th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Sanford at Saratoga Race Course.

Along with his $120,000 share of the purse, the Bernstein colt became the first horse to win the new $100,000 juvenile bonus from The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA). The  bonus, instituted this year, is awarded to any 2-year-old maiden winner at Aqueduct Racetrack or Belmont Park who goes on to win a graded stakes at a NYRA track.

“The extra $100,000 bonus makes it all sweeter. So, thanks, NYRA!” said winning trainer Kelly Breen, who had saddled Bern Identity to a 13 ¾-length win at Belmont Park on June 1. “Even for his first start, without the bonus, I don’t know if I would have run him in New York to begin with. Maybe with the big money here, we’ll have to think about bringing some more horses here.”

Although he broke his maiden in front-running fashion, Bern Identity and jockey Rosie Napravnik found themselves in fourth when the gates opened, several lengths behind Handsome Jack and Brave Dave, who duked it out through an opening quarter-mile in 21.60 seconds and a half in 44.70. Moving up within striking distance of the leaders on the turn, Bern Identity took aim on Handsome Jack after Brave Dave went extremely wide, gaining the lead inside the eighth pole and prevailing in 1:11.13 for the six furlongs.

“He ran great. He’s really got a lot of grit,” said Napravnik, who with the win earned her first graded stakes at Saratoga. “We weren’t quite as forwardly placed as I thought we might be, but the pace was extremely fast. He just hung in there down on the rail and finished strongest coming for home. He’s extremely talented and, on top of that, he’s got a lot of heart.”

Owned by George and Lori Hall, whose 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice returns to the races at the Spa on Wednesday, Bern Identity returned $5.60 for a $2 win bet as the 9-5 favorite over seven other 2-year-olds. His payday lifted his earnings to $276,000 with two wins and a second from three starts.

The Sanford was leg 5 of Sunday’s Pick 6, which had a two-day carryover of $280,309.44. With more than $1 million bet into the pool, there were 31 winning tickets, including six on track, that returned $28,666. 

With the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint a possible year-end objective, Breen and George Hall said they were not sure whether Bern Identity would return for the final 2-year-old stakes at the meet, the seven-furlong Grade 2 Three Chimneys Hopeful on closing day, Monday, September 3.

“We’ll see how he comes out of the race and see what’s between here and the Breeders’ Cup; obviously, that’s where we’d like to get,” said Hall.

Runner-up Handsome Jack was three-quarters of a length clear of late-running Onetwentyeight, who in turn was followed by Brave Dave, John Gordon, Special Jo, Hightail, and Rose Junction. Good Tickled was scratched.

 

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