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Friend Or Foe Looms Large in Evan Shipman

Friend Or Foe, who returned from a six-month absence to earn a hard-fought victory in an overnight stakes last time out at Belmont Park, will make his second start of 2011 at Saratoga Race Course on Monday in the $75,000 Evan Shipman for New York-breds.

 

A Chester and Mary Broman homebred, Friend Or Foe is no stranger to Saratoga, having finished fourth in last year’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy and sixth in the Grade 1 Travers. He returned to New York-bred competition to win the Empire Classic by five lengths in stakes-record time at Belmont in October and concluded his 3-year-old season with a fifth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack in November.

 

Making his 2011 debut in the Easy Goer on June 5, Friend Or Foe stalked the pace and wore down Grade 1 winner Rail Trip to prevail by a head. He was under consideration for the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 2 before trainer John Kimmel opted to send the son of Friends Lake to the Evan Shipman instead.

 

“He put in a huge effort [in the Easy Goer], and he just started to come back to himself right around the time of the Suburban,” said Kimmel. “He’s done very well and has had couple of very good breezes. He’s ready to go. It’d have to take a poor performance for him to get beat. He’s sitting on a good race. I don’t want him to do too much so he can come back and then put in a big effort in a Grade 1 race. I think he is a pretty special horse.”

 

The Grade 1 race Kimmel has in mind is the Woodward at Saratoga on September 3. Like the Woodward, the Evan Shipman is 1 1/8 miles and is contested around two turns.

 

“We were just trying to get him an easy two-turn race,” said Kimmel. “There are a lot of major races that are two turns, but he’s never won a two-turn race. If we could accomplish that, get him comfortable, and give him two-turn experience, it’d set him up for the Woodward.”

 

Friend Or Foe, who drew post position 5, is coupled in the wagering with Ramon Hernandez-trainee and fellow Broman color-bearer Mine Over Matter, with the duo installed as the 4-5 morning line favorite. Alex Solis has the mount aboard Friend Or Foe, while Cornelio Velasquez rides Mine Over Matter from post 4.

 

Earle I. Mack’s Icabad Crane finished second in last year’s Evan Shipman, which commenced a seven-race run in which the gelded son of  Jump Start finished in the top three. Third on turf in the West Point at Saratoga in August, he finished second to Friend Or Foe in the Empire Classic in October, was second in the Tinchen’s Prince on Aqueduct’s main track in November, captured the Alex M. Robb and G’Day Mate on the Big A’s inner track in December and February, and was third in the Grade 3 William Donald Schaefer at Pimlico in May.

 

Because Icabad Crane had been such a model of consistency, trainer Graham Motion was puzzled by the 6-year-old’s sixth-place finish in his most recent start, the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 2.

 

“His last race was a head-scratcher,” said Motion. “It was the first time he hadn’t run his race at all. It was out of character. We’re just putting it behind us. He shipped to Saratoga last week and has galloped for a couple days.”

 

Rajiv Maragh will ride Icabad Crane, the 4-1 morning-line second choice, from post six.

 

Trainer Pat Kelly has two Evan Shipman entrants in Spa City Fever, who has placed in five straight New York-bred stakes, and Naughty New Yorker, a grizzled veteran who has earned nearly $1.1 million in his career.

 

Adam Madkour’s Spa City Fever, who began his career racing primarily on turf, made five starts over Aqueduct’s inner track this winter, finishing fifth in the Alex M. Robb, second in the Mr. International, and third in the G’Day Mate and Kings Point. In his two most recent starts, he was third in the Kingston on turf and second by a head in the Noble Nashua, both at Belmont.

 

“He’s very versatile. He runs where we point him,” said Kelly. “At one point we thought he was all turf. A lot of turf horses seem to like the inner track for whatever reason, so we ran him there and he seemed to like it. Other than Jimmy Hooper’s horse [Inherit the Gold] beating us [in the Mr. International and Kings Point], he had a good winter.”

 

Jorge Chavez will ride Spa City Fever, 10-1 on the morning line, from post 8.

 

Fox Ridge Farm’s Naughty New Yorker, sixth in the 2010 Evan Shipman, has won 11 stakes but seeks his first victory since February 2008. He has made one start in 2011, finishing fifth in the Noble Nashua.

 

“We tried to sell him as a stallion, but we never got him sold because there was no market for him,” said Kelly. “He always seems to do well at Saratoga with the two turns, and we know he needed that last race. He’s doing well and has been working steadily.”

 

Naughty New Yorker, 20-1 on the morning line, will leave from post 3 with Ramon Dominguez in the irons.

 

The Evan Shipman field also includes Noble Nashua third-place finisher Johannesburg Smile and last year’s Grade 3 Discovery Handicap winner Stormy’s Majesty, who both hail from the barn of Dominic Galluscio; and Saginaw, claimed last time for $25,000 out of three-quarter length victory in a June 5 optional claimer at Belmont.

 

The field for the $75,000 Evan Shipman:

Program No.

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

4

Mine Over Matter (NY)

C H Velasquez

117

R M Hernandez

4-5

1a

5

Friend Or Foe

A O Solis

117

J C Kimmel

4-5

2

1

Johannesburg Smile (NY)

J Castellano

117

D G Galluscio

8-1

3

2

Saginaw (NY)

C S Nakatani

117

D A Schettino

15-1

4

3

Naughty New Yorker (NY)

R A Dominguez

119

P J Kelly

20-1

5

6

Icabad Crane (NY)

R Maragh

123

H G Motion

4-1

6

7

Stormy's Majesty (NY)

E S Prado

123

D G Galluscio

5-1

7

8

Spa City Fever (NY)

J F Chavez

117

P J Kelly

10-1



 

 

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