Saez Guides Rotknee, Giacosa To Stakes Wins On Big Apple Showcase Day at Belmont by NYRA Press Office|05.30.202205.30.2022|6:58pm8:44pm Rotknee and Luis Saez win the Mike Lee at Belmont Jockey Luis Saez won 2-of-5 stakes on a special 10-race all state-bred card, celebrating the best of New York racing for the annual Big Apple Showcase Day on Monday at Belmont Park. Saez won three races on the card to bring his career win total to 2,998 as he chases a significant milestone, capturing the $125,000 Mike Lee with Rotknee and the $125,000 Mount Vernon with Giacosa for owner, trainer and co-breeder H. James Bond. He closed out the day's action by guiding Silken Dollar to a maiden score in the finale. “It's always a blessing for me to be a part of his team,” said Saez of his success with Bond. “He's a wonderful guy and always gave me the opportunity and keeps giving me them. I'm so grateful to ride for him and win this stake for him. It's big for me.” Giacosa Wins Mount Vernon By A Nose Bond Racing Stable's Giacosa kicked off the stakes action in Race 2, reeling in the pacesetting Classic Lady in the final jumps to notch a nose score in the Mount Vernon at one-mile on the Widener turf for older fillies and mares. Giacosa tracked in fourth position as the Joel Rosario-piloted Classic Lady marked off splits of 23.14 seconds and 47.14 over the firm going. Giacosa rallied outside of She's the One midway through the turn and needed the length of the stretch to notch the narrow score in a final time of 1:34.05. Classic Lady completed the exacta by 1 1/2-lengths over She's the One. Silky Blue, Runaway Rumour and Pop the Bubbly rounded out the order of finish. By Tizway and out of the Smart Strike mare Smart Engagement, Giacosa captured the Yaddo Handicap in August at Saratoga Race Course to secure her first career stakes win. She entered from a narrow neck defeat to Flower Point in the open-company Forever Together in November at Aqueduct Racetrack. Saez said he was hopeful Giacosa would be ready to give her best effort off the bench. “The only worry was the time she was off, but we just broke and took a little hold to be patient,” Saez said. “When we came to the top of the stretch, she just gave me that little move. We just kept battling and she got there. That was an exciting race.” Bred by Song Hill Thoroughbreds and Roderick Towle, the 5-year-old dark bay mare banked $68,750 in victory while improving her record to 14-5-3-1. She returned $14. Grade 1-Placed Make Mischief Takes Critical Eye Gary Barber's multiple graded-stakes placed Make Mischief surged to a four-length score in the featured $200,000 Critical Eye Handicap, a one-turn mile for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up in Race 6. Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse and piloted by Dylan Davis, the 4-year-old Into Mischief bay tracked the speed of Mashnee Girl from second position through splits of :23.26 and :46.40 over the fast main track. Bank Sting, the 3-2 mutuel favorite under Rosario, rated in fifth position as Mashnee Girl took the field into the turn. Make Mischief inched closer late in the turn to take command as Bank Sting angled wide to launch her bid from six lengths off the pace. Make Mischief stayed on strong to the wire, stopping the clock in 1:35.71. Bank Sting settled for second, five lengths in front of Mashnee Girl. Secret Love, Maiden Beauty, Love and Love and Laobanonaprayer rounded out the order of finish. Make Mischief picked up Grade 1-placed status in June with a third-place finish in the Acorn at Belmont. She launched her current campaign with an impressive open-lengths score in an open optional-claimer in April at Aqueduct Racetrack ahead of a distant fifth last out in the Grade 2 Ruffian over a muddy and sealed main track on May 8 at Belmont. Davis said a return to a fast track benefitted Make Mischief, crediting Casse and his New York-based assistant Shane Tripp for having the filly ready. “Today, she broke well. I loved the post position and even the dry track helped her. Last time, she had that sealed track and had all that dirt in her face. She was never comfortable,” Davis said. “Today, she was in a great spot. She was really keen for me down the backstretch, just trying to settle her down. She responded nicely for me, continued to gallop out and she was having fun out there. Mark did a great job. Shane, too, handling his stable over here.” Bred in the Empire State by Avanti Stable, Make Mischief banked $110,000 in victory while improving her record to 18-6-4-3. She paid $5.40. Sterling Silver Draws Off In Bouwerie Mark T. Anderson's Sterling Silver pounced to 4 1/4-length score in Race 7 in the $125,000 Bouwerie, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies. Trained by Tom Albertrani, the Cupid grey entered from a distant fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Ashland in April at Keeneland. She made amends with a sharp performance under Trevor McCarthy. November Rein, with Rosario up, was pressured by Adversity through splits of 22.62 and 45.87 with 4-5 mutuel favorite Yo Cuz stalking from third under Jose Ortiz. Sterling Silver, settled in fourth position, rallied to the inside of the retreating Yo Cuz through the turn and angled outside the pacesetters to take command at the eighth pole, stopping the clock in 1:24.41. Captainsdaughter rallied to complete the exacta by 9 1/2-lengths over November Rein with Adversity, True Empress, Kisses for Emily and Yo Cuz rounding out the order of finish. Liberty Flame was scratched. Bred by Mallory Mort and Karen Mort, Sterling Silver, who captured the Franklin Square in January at the Big A, banked $68,750 in victory while improving her record to three wins from five starts. She returned $8.60. Rotknee Leads At Every Call To Win Mike Lee William Butler's homebred Rotknee made every pole a winning one in the $125,000 Mike Lee, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores in Race 8. Trained by Mike Maker and piloted by Saez, the Runhappy colt took charge through splits of 22.39 and 45.21 with Who Hoo Thats Me chasing in vain from 4 1/2-lengths back. Rotknee was in hand at the quarter-pole as Best Idea, under Hall of Famer John Velazquez, launched his bid from near the back of the pack. Best Idea rallied valiantly, but could not reel in Rotknee, who crossed the wire a 1 1/2-length winner in 1:23.90. Agility completed the trifecta in front of Who Hoo Thats Me, Kazmike, Tin Pan Alley and Rebel Empire. Salute to America and Hot Rod Rumble were scratched. Rotknee completed a three-race win streak in March with a 2 3/4-length score in the Damon Runyon at the Big A. He entered from an off-the-board effort in the Animal Kingdom on April 2 at Turfway Park. Out of the Speightstown mare In Spite of Mama, Rotknee banked $68,750 in victory, boosting his record to 6-4-1-0. He paid $9.60. Ocala Dream Springs Upset In Kingston Thomas Albrecht, Vincent Fusaro and James Klein's Ocala Dream provided a 17-1 upset in the $125,000 Kingston, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for older horses in Race 9 to close out the stakes action. Trained by Tom Morley and ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, the 4-year-old Effinex chestnut secured his second career stakes victory, adding to a score in last year's NYSSS Spectacular Bid in June at Belmont. He did so in style, besting a field that included a pair of millionaire multiple graded stakes winners for trainer Mike Maker in Somelikeithotbrown and Cross Border. Morley said Ocala Dream, who finished fourth last out off the layoff in an optional-claiming tilt at Aqueduct, enjoyed a perfect trip. “He was 30 pounds lighter today than he was when he was at Aqueduct. He had a really good breeze program into this race,” Morley said. “There were some very good horses in that race today, but he got a Hall of Fame ride by Javier to get the job done.” City Man marked the opening quarter mile in 23.56 but Jose Ortiz sent the 4-5 mutuel favorite Somelikeithotbrown to the front with an aggressive backstretch brush to take command through a half-mile in :47.26. Somelikeithotbrown held a precarious lead late in the turn as Ocala Dream angled off the rail and to the outside of City Man and Advanced Strategy to take command. Ocala Dream, full of run, drew away to a 2 1/4-length score in a final time of 1:39.79. Sanctuary City completed the exacta by a head over Therapist with Cross Border, Somelikeithotbrown, Advanced Strategy, City Man and Step Dancer rounding out the order of finish. Bred by Mahwhinney, Lieberman, Beglin and Coutsodontis, Ocala Dream banked $68,750 in victory while improving his record to 10-4-0-1. He paid $36.40.