December 29, 2023
King Kumbalay enters from a determined score in the nine-furlong Richard W. Small on November 25 at Laurel Park where he was blocked by a trio of foes into the final turn and valiantly forged through a small opening at the top of the lane, drawing clear under Abner Adorno to cross the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front of returning rival Forewarned. The effort garnered a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He got really blocked off at the head of the lane and kind of pushed his way through and finished with really good energy,” said Reid, Jr. “I think the further the better for this guy.”
The 5-year-old son of Shanghai Bobby made his first three starts this year for trainers Ignacio Correas and David Duggan before making his first outing for Reid, Jr. in June with an off-the-board finish when sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs. He has flourished since being stretched out to one mile and beyond in his last five starts, hitting the board in each of them and notching his first stakes score in September against fellow Pennsylvania-breds in the off-the-turf 1 1/16-mile Alphabet Soup where he posted a 6 1/2-length romp.
Two starts back, he finished a pace-pressing second in the one-mile M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile at Parx Racing when straying from his usual rallying tactics.
“He’s better a little bit further back,” said Reid, Jr. “We’re learning about him as we go and he’s kind of a one-run horse. We gave him a sprint race in his first start back to see where we stand with him even though we knew his real forte is going long. We got him in a couple good groups against P.A.-breds and he got his confidence back. Abner knows him really well now and if he can settle a little bit off of them, he makes that big run. He waited until almost the quarter pole at Laurel, and it really worked well for him.”
King Kumbalay had his first work since the Richard Small with a half-mile breeze in 47.86 seconds on Sunday at Parx, a move Reid, Jr. said he was pleased with.
“He’s a pleasure to be around and he’s trained brilliantly. He had a beautiful breeze the other day,” said Reid, Jr. “He’s coming up in good shape and he’s a good, confident horse right now – a confident horse can be dangerous.”
A $35,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, King Kumbalay is a half-brother to the graded stakes-winning Blame mare Daisy, who produced multiple stakes-winner Botanical.
Adorno retains the mount from post 7.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher sends out two stakes-winning contenders in St. Elias Stables and Repole Stable’s Crupi [post 4, Kendrick Carmouche] and Harrell Ventures' Lost Ark [post 3, Trevor McCarthy].
Crupi, a 3-year-old son of Curlin, was last seen capturing the local nine-furlong Discovery on November 3 with a stalking trip under returning rider Kendrick Carmouche. The chestnut colt stalked 1 1/2 lengths off the pace through the first half-mile before inching closer and taking command at the top of the stretch. He drew clear down the lane to complete the course in 1:51.60 and was awarded an 88 Beyer for the effort.
Crupi hit the board in his first five outings at the maiden special weight level ahead of a pair of off-the-board finishes in Grade 2s in the Remsen and Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino. He graduated in July at Monmouth Park traveling 1 1/16 miles and scored against winners in his next start when annexing a nine-furlong allowance over muddy and sealed going in August at Saratoga Race Course.
A $275,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Crupi is a half-brother to the graded stakes-placed Into Mischief colt Royal Spirit.
Lost Ark, a 3-year-old son of Violence, will look to rebound from a distant off-the-board finish in the 1 3/8-mile Grade 2 Red Smith on November 11 when racing over firm turf. The bay colt notched his second career stakes victory two starts back when pouncing from just off the pace in an off-the-turf running of the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Derby Invitational in October here.
A half-brother to 2022 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Nest, Lost Ark won the one-mile Sapling by 5 1/2 lengths last August at Monmouth Park. He returned as a sophomore to defeat elders in a 1 1/16-mile allowance by four lengths in June at Monmouth two starts before garnering graded black type when third in the Grade 3 Saranac over good Spa turf.
West Paces Racing, Brown Road Racing, Adelphi Racing Club, Shelly Hume and Russell Hume’s Constitutionlawyer [post 1, Dylan Davis] enters off back-to-back optional claiming conquests for trainer Ray Handal, most recently posting a gutsy three-quarter-length score in a one-mile tilt on November 26 here.
The 4-year-old Constitution gelding cut back significantly from a 10-furlong victory in October and answered the challenge with gusto, showing his usual stalk-and-pounce tactics to overtake Daydreaming Boy in the final strides and garner a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure.
Handal said he was thrilled to see Constitutionlawyer grind out the victory.
“He’s doing great and he came out of his last race in real good order with a lot of energy,” said Handal. “We were concerned with the cutback for sure, so for him to pass the test and win like he did gives us a lot of confidence. I think he’s even as efficient going ten furlongs as nine, but nine will be fine.”
Constitutionlawyer has put together a productive campaign this year, posting a 6-3-1-0 record that includes another win in May in an off-the-turf allowance traveling 1 1/16 miles. He is in search of his first stakes score as he makes his fourth attempt.
“I think he’s continuing to improve and hopefully he gives us a big race on Sunday,” said Handal. “We bought him as a yearling and he’s come along physically and mentally to put it all together. To see it all come full circle and show us that talent from the mornings in the afternoon, it’s very rewarding. All systems look a go right now.”
West Point Thoroughbreds, Woodford Racing, Gainseway Stable, Phipps Stable, Ken Langone, Edward J. Hudson, Jr. and Lane’s End Racing’s Signator [post 5, Javier Castellano] also enters off two consecutive allowance-level scores for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
The sophomore Tapit grey earned his first victory against winners two starts back in October with a narrow win in a local one-mile allowance over sloppy and sealed footing. He successfully stretched back out to nine furlongs in his latest outing with a 2 1/2-length victory from off the pace in a second-level optional claimer on November 12 here that garnered a 94 Beyer.
Out of the winning Seeking the Gold mare Pension, Signator was a $1.7 million purchase at the 2022 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training and is a full-brother to graded stakes-winner Thoughtfully, as well as a half-brother to graded stakes-winner Annual Report and multiple stakes-winner Giant Payday.
Signator is cross-entered in Saturday's Grade 3 Harlan's Holiday at Gulfstream Park, but will contest the Queens County.
Completing the field are graded stakes-placed Forewarned [post 2, Dexter Haddock], winner of this event in 2021 for trainer/owner Uriah St. Lewis; Lawrence Roman’s three-time winner Quality Chic [post 8, Manny Franco] for trainer David Jacobson; and Sanford Goldfarb, Alan Kahn, David Tanzman and Steven Speranza’s Kinetic Sky [post 6, Jose Lezcano], who wheels back on three days’ rest after taking a Thursday optional claiming event here for trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr.
The Queens County is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race program. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
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