Jim Bond got off to a very good start at Saratoga on Friday with Giacosa winning an allowance for his first win of the year and then Rinaldi winning his first graded stakes, the Forbidden Apple (G3).
Could he be in for another super-hot Saratoga season? His record at the Spa last year was 40: 12-8-5. That is a win rate of 30 percent and an in-the-money rate of 63 percent.
For the year overall, Bond's record is 84: 11-13-8, with winnings of $617,605. He is roughly on pace to match his 2020 record of 150: 23-25-11, with winnings of $1,212,974.
Bond, whose two wins so far this meet came in four starts, spoke with Horse Racing Nation for a Barn Tour this week about these recent winners and other activity in his New York operation.
The win by Rinaldi, a 5-year-old gelding, "was fantastic," Bond said. "It's a wonderful way to start the meet."
Bond said he had planned to start Rinaldi in a New York-bred stakes at Belmont at the end of May. "That got rained off, so I decided to just regroup and send him to my Saratoga division. He likes it up there, and he did really well. And (Luis) Saez as usual had a great ride on him."
For his next start, Bond said he is considering the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) or a New York-bred stakes in late August.
"I was just happy that we got to run on the turf, needless to say, and we'll keep our fingers crossed that he comes back and fires another good one."
The win for Giacosa, a 4-year-old Tizway filly, came at 1 1/16 miles on the Saratoga turf. It was her second win in three starts this year, with a second-place finish in her previous start at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf at Belmont.
"I think she's a better two-turn horse than she is a one-turn," Bond said. "Not so sure if she's a mile or a mile-and-a-sixteenth. Tizways seem to be better milers than mile-and-a-sixteenth horses that I've had in the past. She was getting close, and two turns made the difference at Saratoga."
Her likely next stop is the Yaddo Handicap for New York-breds Aug. 27.
Bond also trains a 6-year-old horse named Argonne "that I really like." He made his 2021 debut at Pimlico in June, finishing fourth in the Prince George's County Stakes.
"I couldn't find a race that I really liked. I was trying to duck Chad and a few of his bears with him coming off the bench. She'd been off since last August," Bond said. "He ran a sneaky good fourth, but he blew a shoe leaving the gate. He was just being a little, which is not typical of him. He was just being a little antsy in the gate, and he pulled a shoe off leaving the gate. The turf was a little bit soft, I'm going to say to yielding at Pimlico, and the jock when he got off said he was doing great, but when he got into turns he kept losing his footing a little. So now we know why."
Argonne was nominated for the Bowling Green (G2) on July 31, although Bond might opt for an allowance race instead. "I'd rather go there and then maybe think about Kentucky Downs or something like that."
In describing his other runners, Bond said, "We've just got some nice, hard-knocking, 3-year-old New York-breds. We have more of those than anything. Nothing outstanding yet, but I've got some 2-year-olds that are really doing well. I've got my fingers crossed. I don't really want to name them, because when I do, they'll pop shins tomorrow or pop an ankle or something crazy will happen. But we've got some 2-year-olds that are a lot of homebreds, a few that we bought at the sales last year that are really just in the right direction that I'm just giddy over. We'll see if I'm right in the next month or two if they keep progressing."
Making the most of a difficult situation
Bond and his wife, Tina Marie Bond – who were expecting their first grandchild in the next day or so – also own Song Hill Thoroughbreds, a farm near Saratoga where they foal about 35-40 mares a year.
Last year the pandemic presented them with a problem, and they came up with a creative – and surprisingly successful – solution.
"My wife and I, when COVID hit, we had 11 yearlings to sell," Bond said. "And unfortunately, the (New York) sales were all canceled, and we kind of said, 'What are we going to do?' We kind of squashed it over, and we figured if we sold them last year in Kentucky – New York-breds – we'd probably get 50-60 cents on the dollar we invested. And they may not come back to New York to be raced, so you wouldn't get your breeders' award. So it was kind of an all negative, but we had bills to pay.
"So we kind of came up with this idea of keeping 50 percent and selling 10 percent shares," Bond said. "And it was just amazing what has happened. Since July 1 of last year 'til July 1 this year, we've picked up well over 75 new owners. It's just fun."
Those new owners bought 10 percent shares in 24 or 25 of his horses, he said.
"What was nice was, it got their feet wet," Bond said. "They actually liked being small because – and not saying anything bad about any partnership – but some of them are so big that they get lost when the winner's circle comes or when the paddock comes. They are one of 50 or one of 80 or one of whatever, right? And they liked being kind of one of six or seven with their wives and their friends. When they come to the barn we can give them a little bit more attention. It's hard to entertain 80 people.
"And they're a partner with a trainer and his wife. ... We live there and die with it every day."