‘Getting Closer to Where He Needs to Be’: Repo Rocks Brings Three-Race Win Streak into Stymie

Originally published on Paulickreport.com on 2/20/2023, written by Keith McCalmont/NYRA

Double B Racing Stables’ Repo Rocks brings a three-race win streak into Saturday’s $125,000 Stymie, a one-turn mile for older horses at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Repo Rocks is undefeated in three starts since joining the barn of trainer Jamie Ness, posting increasing Beyer Speed Figures for scores at Parx Racing in the Let’s Give Thanks [96] in November and Blitzen [97] on January 4 ahead of a lofty 111 when making the grade in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Toboggan on January 28.

Repo Rocks, piloted by Andrew Wolfsont throughout the streak, settled in third position in the Toboggan as Pirate Rick led Little Vic through splits of 22.86 seconds and 45.76 over the fast main track. Wolfsont angled his charge three-wide at the quarter-pole and took command at the three-sixteenths en route to a dominant 8 1/2-length score at odds of 10-1 in a final time of 1:23.42.

Andrew Wolfsont guides Repo Rocks to victory in the G3 Toboggan

“It was a great effort. Did I think he’d run that good – no,” said Ness. “But I really liked him in that race. I have a lot of good horses here and he’d been working like a horse that could run that number, and he did. He backed up his training. Yes, I was surprised at the margin of victory, but I wasn’t surprised by the win. That’s what he showed me in the morning and he’s shown no indication since that it will drop off.”

The 5-year-old Tapiture gelding enjoyed a productive 2022 campaign with a record of 11-2-2-2 that included a second in the Grade 3 Toboggan and a third in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap, both at the Big A, while in the care of trainer Juan Vazquez. He made seven starts for conditioner Gregory DiPrima from April through October before joining Ness.

Repo Rocks worked a bullet half-mile solo under Wolfsont in 47.46 on February 11 over the Parx main track in his first breeze back. He followed up this morning at Parx with a half-mile effort in 47.31.

Ness said he is hopeful that Repo Rocks can match up his career-best Beyer.

“Andrew got off him and said that’s the fastest horse he ever worked, and I said to him that a 111 Beyer is the fastest horse I’ve ever ran, so I know what you mean,” Ness said of the penultimate work. “That’s a big number and a lot of times you bounce off of that, but we gave him plenty of time and he’s doing great. I expect a similar effort on Saturday if everything goes right.”

Ness said Repo Rocks should appreciate added ground with a good result in the Stymie potentially setting up bigger races down the road.

“We pushed to seven-eighths last time and a mile this time. We’re getting closer to where he needs to be. Let’s do it once and then we’ll see if he can do it again,” Ness said.

Repo Rocks courtesy of Bloodhorse.com

Repo Rocks, assigned a field-high 124 pounds, will exit post 3 under Wolfsont, who has won with 3-of-6 stakes mounts at Aqueduct, including Sunday’s Maddie May aboard Cairo Sugar [$57.50] and the 2021 Artie Schiller with Mandate [$91.50.]

Bred in Virginia by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, III, Repo Rocks is out of the Not For Love mare Hawaiian Love. He boasts a 32-7-6-6 record and $570,871 in earnings.

Calumet Farm’s Kentucky homebred Bourbonic [post 1, Dylan Davis] will hope a pace battle develops for his trademark closing kick.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, the 5-year-old son of Bernardini rose to prominence with a last-to-first head score at odds of 72-1 in the 2021 Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino at the Big A.

He went on to finish 13th in that year’s Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, making the final start of his sophomore season with a distant seventh in the Queens County on December 19, 2021 at Aqueduct in his first start without blinkers since early in his 2-year-old campaign.

Bourbonic was off for nearly one full calendar year, returning to action on December 3 at the Big A with a closing fourth in an optional-claimer here ahead of another fourth in the Queens County – both outings with Kendrick Carmouche up.

He added blinkers for a rallying optional-claiming score under Dylan Davis in a one-mile optional-claimer on February 5 at the Big A that garnered a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure, besting an in-form Sheriff Bianco by a half-length.

Byron Hughes, Pletcher’s New York-based assistant, said Carmouche – who is out injured and slated to return on March 3 – suggested the team put blinkers back on Bourbonic.

“We thought that first race back would set him up for the stakes, but he didn’t have the blinkers on then,” Hughes said. “Kendrick thought he might benefit from putting the blinkers back on and he was right.”

Bourbonic, out of the graded-stakes winning Afleet Alex mare Dancing Afleet, breezed back a half-mile in 49.77 Friday over the Belmont dirt training track.

“He came out of it good and breezed sharp,” Hughes said. “We’re really happy with the way he’s doing right now and we’re hoping for a big performance from him.”

Pletcher shares the record for most Stymie wins [3] with fellow conditioners Bruce Levine, Gary Contessa and Gasper Moschera. Pletcher’s past Stymie winners include Manchurian [2006], Understatement [2010] and Vino Rosso [2019].

Peter Brant and Robert V. LaPenta’s multiple graded-stakes placed Miles D [post 6, Manny Franco] has made just two starts since ending his 2021 campaign with a half-length score over Speaker’s Corner in the nine-furlong Discovery that November at the Big A. Speaker’s Corner exited the Discovery to win three consecutive graded events in 2022, culminating in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.

Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, Miles D returned to action last February with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Mineshaft at Fair Grounds and resurfaced on January 28 at Gulfstream Park with a distant seventh in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper.

Named after the late influential jazz musician Miles Davis, the 5-year-old Curlin bay is out of the unraced Bernardini broodmare Sound the Trumpets. His second dam is multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire My Flag and his third dam is undefeated Hall of Famer Personal Ensign. Miles D was purchased for $470,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Manny Franco, who won this event with Turco Bravo [2016], Sunny Ridge [2017] and Mr. Buff [2021], is one win shy of the Stymie record held by Hall of Famer Jorge Velasquez.

Joseph E. Sutton’s multiple stakes-placed Far Mo Power [post 2, Dexter Haddock] crossed the wire first in the Parx Dirt Mile in September, besting multiple Grade 1-winner Mind Control by a neck only to be disqualified and placed second for interference late in the lane.

Trained by Louis Linder, Jr., the 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred son of Uncle Lino boasts a record of 12-6-3-1 and enters from an open-company allowance win on January 30 at Parx in which last year’s Grade 2 Kelso Handicap-winner, Double Crown, finished third.

Rounding out a competitive field are the multiple stakes-placed Tough Tickets [post 5, Ruben Silvera] for conditioner Harold Wyner; and five-time winner Black Belt [post 4, Eric Cancel] for trainer Peter Walder.

The Stymie is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s nine-race card, which also features the $100,000 Gander in Race 3. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.