Mattingly Ready for Home Game in Saturday’s $200,000 Affirmed
Rising Star Slated to Make Dirt Debut in FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Joe Orseno had options for rising star Mattingly, including a trip to New York to run on turf in the Nov. 4 Atlantic Beach at Aqueduct or a cross-country flight to sunny Southern California to run in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita.
Instead, the stakes-winning son of Bucchero has been entered to make his dirt debut in Saturday’s $200,000 Affirmed, the seven-furlong second leg of the 2023 FTBOA Sire Stakes series, at Gulfstream Park.
Gulfstream-based Mattingly has run once on turf – a second-place finish in the Royal Palm Juvenile in his career debut at Gulfstream – and three times on Tapeta – a stakes victory last time out in the Hollywood Beach at Gulfstream, a runner-up finish in a Woodbine stakes, as well as a maiden score at Gulfstream.
“Over the last couple weeks in New York, I’ve had two horses aiming to try to run [on turf]. Beauty of the Sea’s race [Glen Cove] was moved to [Thursday] and Eamonn ended up running in the slop, which was ridiculous,” Orseno said. “Why ship him up to New York for a six-furlong turf race Nov. 4 that probably will not be on the turf?”
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“We talked about putting the money up and paying the $100,000 to supplement him into the Breeders’ Cup. How many chances do you get? And we think he deserved the shot,” Orseno said. “It’s still $100,000 and another $40,000 to enter and $15,000 to get him there. You’re talking about $155,000 before you even get in the entries to be 20-1, to be realistic. He wouldn’t be one of the favorites.”
Being a son of Bucchero, Mattingly is eligible for the Florida Sire Stakes series for 2-year-olds sired by accredited Florida stallions, which prompted Orseno, Ironhorse Racing Stable LLC and Harlow Stables LLC’s Mattingly to consider Saturday’s Affirmed.
Mattingly breezed a half-mile in 50.78 seconds Saturday at Gulfstream with an eye on the Affirmed.
“He worked fantastic. I know it says he worked in 50, but the fraction were 27 and then 23,” Orseno said. “I wanted 27 to make sure he was getting over it OK and I told my exercise rider, ‘If he likes it, we’re going to chirp to him at the quarter-pole and we’re going to let him run the last quarter.’ He responded real well.”
Bucchero, who stands at Pleasant Acres Farm in Morriston, FL, was a multiple stakes-winner on dirt before becoming a multiple graded-stakes winner on turf.
“We’re big advocates of Bucchero, the stallion. We think he does throw dirt horses, though he hasn’t had a lot of chances, except the one Derek Ryan has in New Jersey, Book’em Danno – who has never been on Tapeta or turf and he’s undefeated,” Orseno said.
Ryan-trained Book’em Danno, a New Jersey-bred son of Bucchero, has gone undefeated while winning three dirt races in a row, is coming off an 8 ½-length triumph in the off-the-turf Futurity at Aqueduct.
Mattingly’s dam, Battingstar, has produced a son of Yes It’s True, True Valor, who won six races on dirt during his career on the West Coast.
Mattingly, who has never raced beyond 5 ½ furlongs, will be tested by the distance as well as the dirt in the Affirmed.
“I think he’ll handle it. We’ve been saying that we think he’ll stretch out, so I think he’ll handle the distance fine,” Orseno said. “And we get to stay home.”
Mattingly has found no soft spot for his dirt debut, in which he will clash with Bentornato, who is undefeated in three starts on dirt, including a 7 ½-furlong romp in the $100,000 Dr. Fager, the six-furlong first leg of the Florida Sire Stakes series Sept. 9. The Jose D’Angelo-trained son of Valiant Minister is rated as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 12. Christophe Clement-trained Hurricane Nelson, a son of Khozan who has finished second in both of his career starts in New York, is rated second at 5-2. Mattingly is rated third at 6-1 for his dirt debut.