Monthly Archives: September 2020

Tales From The Crib: Virginia-Certified Ny Traffic To Compete in Kentucky Derby

The following was written by Kellie Reilly of Brisnet and appeared at

Fans can wager the “Run for the Roses” at any Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Richmond, New Kent, Vinton and Hampton, at any VA-Horseplay OTB in Henrico (Breaker’s Sports Grille), Chesapeake (Buckets Bar & Grill) and Collinsville (The Windmill OTB Sports Grill), and online via,, and

There are two Virginia tie-ins to the Derby field this year. NY Traffic is Virginia-Certified and spent his six month residency at Spencer Young’s Sunny Dell Farm in Barboursville. The Cross Traffic colt has $565,470 in earnings from runner-up finishes in the Haskell, Matt Winn Stakes and Louisiana Derby. Ny Traffic also took third in the Risen Star Stakes earlier this year. Attachment Rate is a Virginia-bred and is fresh off a runner-up finish in the Ellis Park Derby, The Dale Romans trainee was bred by Mr. & Mrs. Oliver Iselin III. In 2020, the Hard Spun colt has earned $142,925 in purse monies. 

Ny Traffic is one of those improbable success stories that fuel hopes and dreams in racing – a colt who’s risen from humble beginnings to become a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender. The “other” New York-bred in Derby 146, Ny Traffic might not have the flair of favorite Tiz the Law, but the battle-hardened gray enters on the upswing.

His existence is at least partly the result of a couple of blessings in disguise, including setbacks that forced the retirements of both his dam and granddam. He’s the first foal produced by Mamie Reilly (pictured with a newborn Ny Traffic below), and Mamie Reilly was herself the first foal from French Song.

French Song was a daughter of 1999 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) hero Silic and Chilean classic queen Quilma, later a multiple graded stakes winner in the United States. Quilma was effective on both turf and dirt, especially at Churchill Downs, where she set a course record on the grass and captured the Louisville Breeders’ Cup (G2) on the main track.

While French Song couldn’t perform up to the level of her parents, she was a hard-knocking type in the claiming ranks in New York. As a newly turned 5-year-old in January 2010, she was claimed for $20,000 by trainer Bruce Brown and Epona Racing Stable.

Epona was the nom de course of Brian Culnan’s racing partnership. The name is a nod to his Irish ancestry since Epona is the Celtic goddess associated with horses.

French Song was fifth in her first start for her new connections, but went on to win back-to-back starter allowances at Aqueduct. Just when French Song was looking like a good investment, she sustained an injury.

“The perils of horse racing,” said Culnan, an Albany, New York, attorney who became a fan of the sport from childhood, through his father and grandfather.

A similar scenario unfolded with Mamie Reilly, French Song’s daughter by Graeme Hall. She was entered in yearling sales at Fasig-Tipton, but withdrawn with a throat issue.Named in honor of one of the fight songs of Culnan’s Holy Cross alma mater, Mamie Reilly was showing promise in her early training.

“She was a pretty talented filly,” Culnan recalled, but she kept coming up with things that delayed her career debut – “a little bit of this and a little bit of that.”

When Mamie Reilly was finally set to premiere at Saratoga in 2015, her connections were hopeful of a good showing. Then came one of the Spa’s sudden storms, a downpour that delayed post time, and Mamie Reilly was a non-threatening eighth.

“Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” Culnan said.

Mamie Reilly made good in her next try at Belmont Park. Despite a troubled start, she rallied from last to prevail by three-quarters of a length.  Unfortunately, that was also the end of her brief racing career, for Mamie Reilly subsequently picked up an injury.

Culnan’s partners weren’t as interested in her as a broodmare, so he kept her himself.Mamie Reilly started her new life by visiting Cross Traffic, the 2013 Whitney Invitational H. (G1) winner, and the resulting foal was born April 29, 2017, at Gallagher’s Stud near Ghent, New York. He was dark at first, but turned out to be gray like his sire and grandsire, Unbridled’s Song.

“Very nice baby,” was how Mallory Mort, the manager of Gallagher’s, sized up the newborn.

By the time the colt was about six weeks old, Mort’s notation was “attractive, good leg, good size, correct for age.

”Culnan named the youngster Linden Lane, an extension of the Holy Cross theme. The reference to the iconic campus entrance is especially fitting for a son of Cross Traffic.

Linden Lane spent time in Virginia as a yearling before venturing to Lynwood Stable in Florida for his early training. That’s the same Recio family prep school where Derby rival King Guillermo learned the ropes. “Really laid back, very immature type of horse,” Gene Recio said of Linden Lane. “He was very sound, an easy keeper” who never had any kind of problem through the whole process.But his physical immaturity was viewed as a negative when Linden Lane was presented at Fasig-Tipon Midlantic’s 2-year-olds in training sale. Consigned by Top Line Sales, as agent, the gray worked a furlong at the under tack show in :10 4/5.

Linden Lane didn’t attract much bidding, and he was led out unsold for $27,000. John Fanelli then stepped in to buy him privately, upon advice from trainer Harold Wyner that the colt would strengthen in time.

Renamed Ny Traffic, he won one of four starts as a juvenile for Parx-based Wyner. Fanelli wanted to give him an opportunity at Gulfstream Park over the winter, and accordingly transferred him to Saffie Joseph. New co-owners signed on around the same time – Cash Is King (of Afleet Alex fame) and LC Racing, who are also partners in 2020 Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender Project Whiskey. After Ny Traffic romped in his Florida debut, he added another partner in Paul Braverman.

Ny Traffic has continued to improve throughout the Derby trail. In his latest in the July 18 Haskell (G1), he was gaining fast on favored Authentic, and came up a nose shy.

Recio was thrilled that his former pupil showed such fight. Ny Traffic looked beaten at the top of the Monmouth stretch but knuckled down determinedly and almost sprang the upset.“He’s an overachiever. I’m very, very proud of him,” Recio said.

“He had to show what’s inside of him. He ran a half-mile, with ears pinned back. Never quit. Lot of heart.

“He really laid it down, and you can’t teach that.”For Culnan, “with a broodmare band of two,” it was incredible just to have bred a Haskell runner, competing against horses bred by the likes of Peter Blum (Authentic), Alexander-Groves, and Calumet Farm.

“It was like that game of Sesame Street – ‘which one doesn’t belong,’” Culnan self-effacingly quipped.The only bittersweet element to Ny Traffic’s emergence is that Mamie Reilly is no longer here to receive the accolades. She had colic about a week after producing her second foal in the spring of 2018. Initially recovering, Mamie Reilly unfortunately had another bout of colic, and she could not be saved.

“She had talent but was fragile, so we hoped she’d pass on her talent without her fragility,” Culnan said.

Mamie Reilly fulfilled that hope in Ny Traffic, who has thrived with his racing. Added distance, and the extra time with the Derby’s postponement to September, have also been key.

“Everybody thought that he’d be better when he stretched out,” Culnan said, and the same view applies to Mamie Reilly’s other foal.

Culnan kept that last colt, now a 2-year-old on the Belmont worktab for trainer Chris Englehart. Called Purple Hearted, he sports just the right name that combines sire Normandy Invasion and the Holy Cross color. Ny Traffic is a tough act for Purple Hearted to follow.

As he heads to the Derby with 110 points, fifth on the leaderboard behind fellow New Yorker Tiz the Law, he gives their home state an additional chance.“Up here in the Empire State, they’re rooting for a New York-bred exacta,” Culnan said. “Everybody wants me to run second!”

Kentucky Derby Favorite Tiz the Law Draws Post 17

Son of Constitution made 3-5 morning-line favorite in 18-horse Kentucky Derby (G1).

  • The following piece appeared at September 1 and was written by Evan Hammonds.

Fans can wager the “Run for the Roses” at any Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Richmond, New Kent, Vinton and Hampton, at any VA-Horseplay OTB in Henrico (Breaker’s Sports Grille), Chesapeake (Buckets Bar & Grill) and Collinsville (The Windmill OTB Sports Grill), and online via,, and

There are two Virginia tie-ins to the Derby field this year. NY Traffic is Virginia-Certified and spent his six month residency at Spencer Young’s Sunny Dell Farm in Barboursville. The Cross Traffic colt has $565,470 in earnings from runner-up finishes in the Haskell, Matt Winn Stakes and Louisiana Derby. Ny Traffic also took third in the Risen Star Stakes earlier this year. Attachment Rate is a Virginia-bred and is fresh off a runner-up finish in the Ellis Park Derby, The Dale Romans trainee was bred by Mr. & Mrs. Oliver Iselin III. In 2020, the Hard Spun colt has earned $142,925 in purse monies. 

Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law, with a classic score already under his belt and winner of the Aug. 8 Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1), drew post 17 for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).

The Derby, delayed from May 2, saw 18 horses entered but because of COVID-19 will be run without fans.

Tiz the Law was made the 3-5 morning-line favorite. The last time the early choice was slated at 3-5 was 1989 with the entry of Easy Goer and Awe Inspiring.

There was a bit of drama in the post position selection held in the Aristides Room at Churchill Downs, as Tiz the Law was the last name pulled by racing secretary Ben Huffman. Other top contenders drew outside, including Authentic (8-1 on the morning line) in the outside slot. Honor A. P., winner of the June 6 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1), will be asked to start from post 16 and was pegged as the 5-1 second choice.

Regardless of whether the Run for the Roses is in May or September, there’s often even more drama surrounding the draw and the run up to the race. Last year it was favorite Omaha Beach  scratching from the Derby the day after the draw. This year’s buzz story is the absence of Bruce Lunsford’s homebred Art Collector the morning of the post position draw after the colt grabbed a quarter Aug. 31.

Tiz The Law arrives at Churchill Downs August 31. Photo by Coady Photography.

The exit of Art Collector from the field left 18 3-year-olds for the 1 1/4-mile race. Scratch time is 9 a.m. ET Sept. 4 and the race, worth $3 million, has a post time of 7:02 p.m. NBC will provide coverage from 2:30-7:30 p.m.

With a new 20-stall starting gate in place for this year’s Derby and only 18 starters, the slots one and 20 will be empty.

In the previous 145 runnings of the Derby no winner has come from post 17. However, that might become a moot point considering the new gate.

“I kind of look at it as not 17 with the new starting gate,” said Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable. “It’s probably more like 13, 14, 15 maybe. It’s a new world that we are in with the starting gate. Obviously, when you had that gap you were a lot further outside. We had horses win from (post) 20. I don’t think it matters much. I’m just a lot happier there than in the 1 or the 2.”

“I like it being on the outside,” Barclay Tagg, trainer of Tiz the Law, said of the position. “I didn’t particularly want to be out that far, but we have been. He seems to handle everything that gets thrown at him. It gives you a chance if you have any speed at all.”

As for post 17, Tagg said: “Things happen. There’s a lot of horses that didn’t win the Derby. Frankly, I’m not that worried about it.”

Virginia-bred Attachment Rate works at Churchill on August 30. Photo by Coady Photography.

New York-bred Tiz the Law was a clear winner of the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) and earlier this year landed the Curlin Florida Derby (G1). It’s the second run to the Derby for the Sackatoga team and Tagg, as they won the 2003 Run for the Roses, and the Preakness Stakes (G1) with New York-bred Funny Cide. Funny Cide broke from post 5 in his Derby.

The unlucky rail spot went to Arnaldo Monge’s and trainer Rey Hernandez’ Finnick the Fierce, a one-eyed son of Dialed In . Unplaced in the July 11 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2), he hangs his credentials on a third-place finish behind Nadal and King Guillermo in the second division of the May 2 Arkansas Derby (G1). He’s 2-1-2 in nine starts.

“Looking back, the best races that he’s been running have been from the 1 position … Especially with him going a mile and a quarter and that he comes from off the pace,” Hernandez said. “I don’t think it’s any issue with the 1.”

On Authentic at the opposite end of the starting gate co-owner Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing said: “It’s pretty apparent the horse will go to the lead. (Jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) is suited to ride a horse like this. It appears that there is other speed in here, but hopefully he’s fast enough to hold his speed for 1 1/4 miles.”

Also drawing outside was Cash is King, LC Racing, John Fanelli, Paul Braverman, and Team Hanley’s Ny Traffic, a fellow New York-bred. The son of Cross Traffic  was second in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) May 23 at Churchill Downs and was second to Authentic by a nose in the Haskell Stakes (G1).

Virginia-Certified NY Traffic speft his six month residency at Spencer Young’s Sunny Dell Farm. Photo by Lauren King.

“We didn’t want to get too far inside,” said trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. after landing post 15. “Chasing the speed would be a perfect scenario. (The Haskell) was encouraging and since that race he’s been moving forwardly. So far so good.”

A late entrant was South Bend, a son of Algorithms  owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch, and Pantofel Stable. Fourth in the Travers and second in the June 27 Ohio Derby (G3), South Bend is trained by Bill Mott, conditioner of last year’s winner, Country House. South Bend was sixth behind Silver Prospector and Tiz the Law in last fall’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).


Churchill Downs, Saturday, September 05, 2020, Race 14

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/4m
  • Dirt
  • $3,000,000
  • 3 yo
  • 7:01 PM (local)
1 1Finnick the Fierce (KY) Martin Garcia 126 Rey Hernandez 50/1
2 2Max Player (KY) Ricardo Santana, Jr. 126 Steven M. Asmussen 30/1
3 3Enforceable (KY) Adam Beschizza 126 Mark E. Casse 30/1
4 4Storm the Court (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 126 Peter Eurton 50/1
5 5Major Fed (KY) James Graham 126 Gregory D. Foley 50/1
6 6King Guillermo (KY) Samy Camacho 126 Juan Carlos Avila 20/1
7 7Money Moves (KY) Javier Castellano 126 Todd A. Pletcher 30/1
8 8South Bend (KY) Tyler Gaffalione 126 William I. Mott 50/1
9 9Mr. Big News (KY) Gabriel Saez 126 W. Bret Calhoun 50/1
10 10Thousand Words (FL) Florent Geroux 126 Bob Baffert 15/1
11 11Necker Island (KY) Miguel Mena 126 Chris A. Hartman 50/1
12 12Sole Volante (KY) Luca Panici 126 Patrick L. Biancone 30/1
13 13Attachment Rate (VA) Joseph Talamo 126 Dale L. Romans 50/1
14 14Winning Impression (KY) Joseph Rocco, Jr. 126 Dallas Stewart 50/1
15 15Ny Traffic (NY) Paco Lopez 126 Saffie A. Joseph, Jr. 20/1
16 16Honor A. P. (KY) Mike E. Smith 126 John A. Shirreffs 5/1
17 17Tiz the Law (NY) Manuel Franco 126 Barclay Tagg 3/5
18 18Authentic (KY) John R. Velazquez 126 Bob Baffert 8/1

Attachment Rate – First Virginia-Bred in Years To Compete in Kentucky Derby

For the first time in eight years, a Virginia-bred is back in the Kentucky Derby. He figures to be a longshot, but his trainer, Dale Romans, is fine with that, as he has made the most of a shot before.

Attachment Rate, bred by Mr. and Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, III at Wolver Hill Farm located just north of Middleburg, Virginia, is a Hard Spun colt out of the winning Afleet Alex mare Aristra. He sold for $100,000 as a weanling at the Keeneland mixed sale in November 2017 and then for $200,000 10 months later at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

The buyer then was Dale Romans as agent; he trains the horse for Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister.

Attachment Rate gallops at Churchill Downs August 29. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

Attachment Rate finished a head better than the 12th horse in a 12-horse race in his first start a little over a year ago at Churchill Downs. He’s been getting steadily better ever since.

After a layoff that extended through the end of 2019, he returned to racing at Gulfstream Park early in 2020 and broke his maiden on February 15 on the showery slop going a mile, winning by over six lengths.

He hasn’t won since but has been stakes-placed in three of five subsequent starts, including a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct in March. Last time out, he was second by just over three lengths to Art Collector in the Ellis Park Derby. Art Collector was taken out of consideration for the Derby this morning because of a minor injury.

“He’s always been knocking on the door,” explained Romans on Off to the Races Radio August 29. “Here’s what happens sometimes with these horses. You get into a spot with them where they get hurt, too. He got a little injury and we put him on the shelf and gave him plenty of time to get better and then you’re playing catch-up. With the Derby being in September this year, I think the extra time did him some good, so he’s caught up with everybody in this crop, and I think he’s going to run well.”

Attachment Rate gathered enough points by finishing third in the Gotham (10 pts) at Aqueduct in March, fourth in the Matt Winn (5 pts) back at Churchill Downs in May and second in the Ellis Park Derby (20 pts) in early August. In July, Attachment Rate ran fifth in the 13-horse field of the Grade 2 Toyota Bluegrass stakes at Keeneland won by a familiar foe, Art Collector.

With the extended season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the rescheduled Derby allowed the Romans colt to churn up to 11th in the point standings. Jockey Joe Talamo will get the assignment for owners Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister.

Attachment Rate at a Churchill Downs workout on August 30. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

“I think his last race at Ellis Park was his best race. It’s the race I’ve been looking for out of him to know we could go forward,” observed Romans. “The horse that beat him (Art Collector, again) [would have been] third choice, probably second choice. It is good to have a chance. As everyone knows, there is nothing wrong to have a Virginia-bred in the Kentucky Derby. It’s been done before.”

Reigh Count, Secretariat, Pleasant Colony and Sea Hero are Virginia-breds that have won the Kentucky Derby. The last Virginia-bred to start in the Kentucky Derby was Bodemeister, who finished second in 2012 to I’ll Have Another.

The steady, staying-around race history of Attachment Rate reminds you of another Kentucky Derby-winning longshot, Country House, who finished 17th in the point standing last year. Country House was declared the Kentucky Derby winner after Maximum Security, who crossed the line first, was disqualified and placed behind Long Range Toddy, one of several horses he impeded turning for home in the Run for the Roses. The owner of Country House, Jerry Shields, passed away over the winter prior to his homebred winning last year’s Kentucky Derby.

A similar situation surrounds the Iselins. C. Oliver Iselin, III who passed away in 2017, was a Harvard rowing team captain and All-American who served in CIA posts in the north and west of Africa in the 1950s and 1960s.

He learned to play polo in Morocco in the 1950s and continued to play the sport upon his return. His second wife, the former Mary Sprague (Swannie) Cunningham, passed in 2019 having never seeing Attachment Rate race.

The Iselins bred horses over multiple decades, but they never produced a Triple Crown starter. They bred American Dubai, whose 2016 Triple Crown aspirations were dashed by a pair of 13th-place finishes in prep races.

Attachment Rate gets a bath after galloping on August 29. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

Now, at last, an Iselin-bred horse shows up in the Kentucky Derby with a trainer that frequently has starters that run over their odds. Is this a tough game or what?

Romans won the Preakness with Shackleford (12-1) and finished second three times, with Everfast (29-1), Cherry Wine (17-1) and First Dude (23-1), not exactly cash magnets at the window. Dullahan in 2012 and Paddy O’Prado ran third in the Kentucky Derby, both at 12-1.

In the 2015 Travers Stakes at Saratoga, it was Romans who trained Keen Ice, who, at 16-1, handed American Pharoah the only setback during his eight-race Triple Crown year.

Romans suggests stamina might be one advantage possessed by Attachment Rate.

“I’d like to see him in a good stalking position, even if he has to be a little wide, in the clear. If he could sit four or five lengths off the lead, and hopefully there’s some pressure up front and they’re kind of backing up, he’ll start rolling. He has the stamina,” Romans explained. “I’m kind of hoping that the favorite (Tiz the Law) is getting a little tired. He’s run some monster races, and I don’t know how many he can put together in a row. A couple of horses may not want to go a mile-and-a-quarter; I know we will.”

Attachment Rate will break from the 13-hole in the Kentucky Derby, which has attracted an 18-horse field. He’s 50-1 on the morning line, while favored Tiz the Law, 3-5 on the morning line, breaks from stall number 17.

Attachment worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 at Churchill Downs Sunday morning with exercise rider Faustino Herrarte aboard. That was his last work before the Run for the Roses. Now he lies in waiting.