Chester and Mary Broman's multiple stakes-winning millionaire Mr. Buff will try 1¼ miles for the first time in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Suburban at Belmont.
Trained by John Kimmel, the 6-year-old New York-bred son of Friend Or Foe has posted wins from seven furlongs up to a mile an eighth in a 37-race career that boasts eight stakes wins from an overall record of 14-7-4 and purse earnings of $1,076,536.
The sizable chestnut was in a good run of form over the winter at Aqueduct with scores in the Alex M. Robb, Jazil and Haynesfield before his training was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He returned off a four-month layoff last out to finish second to Funny Guy in the one-turn mile Commentator on June 12 at Belmont.
"He was rolling until they shut things down here,” Kimmel said. “He missed a month of training.
“He walked for a month at the farm and he didn't have the bottom into him that Funny Guy did, not to mention he carried 127 pounds. I thought he was going to get swallowed up, but he actually hung in there really well."
Mr. Buff matched a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure with his 20-length score in the Haynesfield on Feb. 22 when left alone on the front end under regular pilot Junior Alvarado.
That effort came on the heels of a similarly powerful score in the open Jazil at nine furlongs. Kimmel has tried Mr. Buff in graded company twice when off-the-board in the New Orleans (G2) on a track he didn't handle and was seventh last summer in the Woodward (G1) at Saratoga.
On Saturday, the 17.2-hands tall Mr. Buff will have a significant weight break carrying just 118 pounds against a field headlined by 2019 Belmont Stakes champ Sir Winston (124 pounds) and multiple graded-stakes winner Tacitus (122).
Kimmel said the added distance may help Mr. Buff ease into his significant stride.
"I contemplated running him a little further if I had the chance and this looked like the right opportunity," Kimmel said. "A mile and a quarter will have a much more reasonable pace scenario and maybe he won't have any issued with his lead transitions like he does sometimes at a flat mile and the pace is a little faster.
"When he gets going 45 to the half and three quarters in 10 and change, sometimes he doesn't make that switch to his outside lead. But he's been pretty good at it when he goes around two turns, so we'll see how he does at one and a half turns."
Mr. Buff will exit post 4 under Alvarado in the Suburban which will close out Saturday's 11-race card.
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
|U. St. Lewis|
Friend Or Foe
Pioneerof the Nile
I. Ortiz, Jr.