Empire Excellence

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Chester and Mary Broman, Linda Rice and Manny Franco earned top honors from the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. for stellar 2019 seasons. Check out our profiles of each divisional champion.

Breeders: Chester and Mary Broman

News reports keep mentioning the downsizing of Chester and Mary Broman’s Thoroughbred operation, but there’s clearly a ways to go. The Bromans, who are indeed selling some horses while decreasing their breeding program, won their fourth consecutive New York Breeder of the Year crown thanks to success in the Empire State and beyond.

Bromans-breds won 81 races in 2019 and earned $3,775,911 from 426 starts. Second place went to McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, with 63 wins and purse earnings of $1,880,837. That’s a gap of nearly $2 million, which means the Bromans ruled the top of the state-bred standings by breeding three champions.

Champion older dirt male Mr. Buff, who also races for the couple, led the way with $455,750 and is a great example of the Broman way. Mr. Buff’s sire Friend Or Foe and grandsire Friends Lake raced for the Bromans and trainer John Kimmel.

Mr. Buff’s dam Speightful Affair was purchased for $80,000 as a broodmare prospect. Older dirt female and female sprinter champion Pauseforthecause’s dam Spriteley was also purchased by the Bromans (for $850,000) and she’s produced five winners from as many foals to race.

Newly Minted, bred by the Bromans but raced by Beach Haven Thoroughbreds after selling as a 2-year-old, won the 3-year-old filly crown with five wins and $419,613.

In addition to those three, the Bromans bred New York-bred finalists Out Of Orbit, Rush On By and Captain Bombastic.

The 2019 success forced a look back at two decades of success in the industry for the Bromans, who own Chestertown Farm in Warren County. Early this year, Mr. Buff became the third millionaire to race for the couple – joining Breeders’ Cup Winner Bar Of Gold and Grade 2 winner Highway Star. Other stars over the years include Grade 1 winners Artemis Agrotera and the aforementioned Friends Lake. – Joe Clancy

Download the 2019 NYTB Awards Dinner program


Trainer: Linda Rice

Trainer Linda Rice checked all the boxes in 2019:

  • Leading trainer (by earnings) in all New York-bred races – $4,234,018.
  • Leading trainer (wins) at the Aqueduct winter meeting – 45.
  • Graded stakes winner – Nicodemus.
  • New York-bred stakes winners – Newly Minted, Holiday Disguise, Blindwillie McTell, Bavaro, Startwithsilver.

You get the picture.

Rice continued a run that has made her a model of consistency and earned a seventh New York-bred trainer title.

“She’s a very good trainer . . . she does a tremendous job,” said Jose Lezcano, Rice’s go-to jockey, after bringing home her 2,000th win in the Rego Stakes at Aqueduct Jan. 12 of this year. “She has won several meets on the toughest circuit.”

Rice’s leading lady in 2019 was Newly Minted, a New York-bred who won 5 of 8 starts, including three state-bred stakes, and earned $419,613. Her workhorse was American Power, with four wins and four seconds in 14 starts. Rice had 11 stakes wins in 84 starts, including eight New York-bred stakes.

In New York-bred races, Rice had 363 starts with 76 wins, 66 seconds and 52 thirds, a 53 percent in-the-money rate. She ranked third in wins and number of starts.

Rice won 145 races in 660 starts overall in 2019 – the sixth time she has won at least 100 races – with $7,258,064 in earnings, her best year ever.

Rice previously was named champion New York-bred trainer in 2009, 2010, 2013-15 and 2017. The Aqueduct training title was her sixth overall, coming almost 10 years after she became the only woman to win the title at Saratoga Race Course. – Paul Halloran

Download the 2019 NYTB Awards Dinner program


Jockey: Manny Franco

Manny Franco rode 13 New York-bred finalists in 2019. There was a win aboard A Freud Of Mama at Belmont in September, a couple of on-the-board notches, including a second in the Grade 3 Matron, with Time Limit and a nose defeat on Dream Bigger. There was a 10 3/4-length romp on Kathryn The Wise in the La Verdad. An open stakes on Pauseforthecause. Three wins, including the Hudson, on Build To Suit. A perfect 1-for-1 aboard My Boy Tate. Two wins aboard Tribecca. A stakes win on Honor Up.

Those horses, those results, help you become New York-bred jockey of the year. But a jockey needs a big horse, a clincher, one to slam the door shut and buoy his season.

Yeah, Tiz the Law.

When Junior Alvarado opted for favorite Green Light Go in the Champagne Stakes, Franco stepped in for the Grade 1 at Belmont Park Oct. 5. Tiz the Law bobbled slightly at the start, Franco eased him back from the outside, sliding into fifth before the son of Constitution jumped on the bridle, needing the 25-year-old Puerto Rico native to tap the brakes. But, that’s all he did, just tap. Well, maybe, tap, tap, but it was subtle. The broad bay colt agreed, listened, simmered. Still fifth and between horses in the middle of the turn, Franco still sat, before easing him outside faltering pacesetters and skipped clear. A pump, a look, a wave, turn down the whip and a pat at the wire.

Worth a cool $275,000, that one sealed it. Tiz the Law led the way for Franco, notching a Grade 1 for the horse and contributing to a $6,346,925 haul for Franco to lead all jockeys. Franco captured his first title, ousting Irad Ortiz Jr. from a three-year reign as the state’s most accomplished jockey. You actually have to go back to 2002 when a jockey not named Ortiz won the title. And that was retired Hall of Famer Ramon Dominguez.

Winner of 221 races and $16 million in 2019, Franco has gradually climbed the ladder in the high-stakes, high-caliber New York jockey colony. This could be the first of many. – Sean Clancy

Download the 2019 NYTB Awards Dinner program

NYTB published the winners on the organization’s website (https://www.nytbreeders.org/) and social media channels on the original date of the event. At the same time, NYTB launched a microsite at nytbawards.com to host a video presentation produced by PM Advertising featuring the top performances of all nominees and showcasing the winners.