Quick Success

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You couldn’t blame John Sakkos and his Beach Haven Thoroughbreds partners for wondering what’s so hard about this horse racing game. Beach Haven, a syndicate formed in 2017, has raced three horses who have combined for nine wins, six seconds and a third in 21 starts. That’s a 43-percent win and 76-percent on-the-board rate.

“I have friends who kid me that for a guy new to this game, I’m getting pretty lucky,” said Sakkos, who joined longtime friend Ara Aprahamian in starting Beach Haven. Aprahamian has owned horses for almost 20 years, but this is Sakkos’ first dip into the ownership pool.

So far, so good. Very good.

“It’s been a nice way to break into the racing business,” Sakkos said. “We’ve been very fortunate.”

Playing a leading role in the Beach Haven success story is New York-bred 3-year-old filly champion Newly Minted, a daughter of Central Banker trainer Linda Rice picked out for them and bought for $110,000 at the 2018 Ocala Breeders Sales’ April 2-year-olds in training sale. Newly Minted, out of the Bernardini mare Newbie, was bred by New York’s 2019 champion breeders Chester and Mary Broman.

While she did not make her debut until April 13 of her 3-year-old year, Newly Minted hit the ground running and put together a superlative campaign with five wins, a second and a third in eight starts. Newly Minted banked $419,613, making her the highest-earning progeny of Central Banker in 2019.

“She’s definitely a star,” Sakkos said. “Hopefully, she can keep it up.”

After the convincing maiden score, Newly Minted went straight to stakes company.

Rice, who also bought Sassy Agnes (7-3-2-0, $198,782) for Beach Haven, aimed for the Park Avenue Division of the New York Stallion Stakes series at Aqueduct in April and the filly didn’t disappoint – winning by 7 1/2 lengths. Five weeks later, she added the Bouwerie against New York-breds by 2 1/2. Rice tried the bay filly on turf next, and she finished third as the odds-on favorite in the Cupecoy’s Joy Division of the New York Stallion Stakes.

“I hate talking about that,” Rice said after her charge had bounced back with a dominating 9-length win in the Fleet Indian Stakes on Saratoga Showcase Day last summer. The return to dirt and the 9-furlong distance hit her right between the eyes.

“Turf was the best opportunity in front of us at the time, she had breezed well and the Central Bankers were running well on the turf,” Rice said of the grass try. “She clearly did not like it. She trained so well and she has good conformation, so I was pretty confident she would get the (1 1/8-mile) distance.”

Back downstate at Belmont Park, Newly Minted lost for the first time on dirt when she finished fourth in the Empire Distaff Handicap and collapsed shortly after the finish.

“Talk about your heart dropping to the floor,” said Sakkos, who was there with his wife and some friends.

Fortunately, it was a simple case of exhaustion, perhaps exacerbated by a slow break from the rail which forced Newly Minted to chase a fast pace (:22.79, :45.71) to get back into contention, moving into second with a quarter-mile to go in the mile race.

After a seven-week freshening, Newly Minted came back to run second in an open allowance race before capping her campaign with a romp in a similar race in late December. Still rolling, Newly Minted opened 2020 with two stakes placings at Aqueduct.

“We’re New York guys, but when we started this, it wasn’t necessarily to focus on New York-breds,” said Sakkos. “Linda steered us in that direction.”

It’s been like a sun-splashed day at the beach for the partnership – named for a Jersey Shore town where Sakkos and Aprahamian vacation with their families – which has reaped the benefits of the New York-bred stakes program.

“If you’re going to play this game in New York, they really make it worth your while,” said Sakkos, who is happy he accepted Aprahamian’s offer to start the partnership, which campaigned Uncle Benny for the last four starts of his career (Aprahamian was the sole owner for his first two races), including a runner-up finish in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

“I’m new to the game. Ara has been doing this a long time and he helped me get into the business. He told me to be ready for the ups and downs.”

They seem to have the “ups” down pat.

Newly Minted
B. f. 2016, Central Banker–Newbie, Bernardini.
Breeder: Chester and Mary Broman.
Owner: Beach Haven Thoroughbreds.
Trainer: Linda Rice.
2019 record: 8-5-1-1. $419,613. 2019 stakes: New York Stallion Series, Bouwerie, Fleet Indian.

 

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. 

 

Other 3-year-old filly finalists

Espresso Shot
B.f. 2016, Mission Impazible–Glory Gold, Medaglia d’Oro.
Breeder: Twin Creeks Farm.
Owner: NY Final Furlong Racing Stable, Maspeth Stable, Parkland Thoroughbreds.
Trainer: Jorge Abreu.
2019 record: 6-1-1-0. $193,125. Won the open-company Busher Stakes to start season and was second in New York Oaks at Finger Lakes. Granddam Gayla was bred by famed Virginia owner/breeder Ned Evans, and produced Texas-bred star Mocha Express.

Kid Is Frosty
Ch.f. 2016, Frost Giant–Murmure, Lemon Drop Kid.
Breeder/Owner: Bad Boy Racing.
Trainer: Brad Cox. 
2019 record: 10-3-4-1. $327,570. Started 2019 as a maiden and finished as dual stakes winner (in the New York Stallion Series) on turf with $337,684 in lifetime earnings. Also placed in stakes and won maiden race on dirt.

Miss Lily B
Ch.f. 2016, Yes It’s True-Magnificent Mia, Jump Start.
Breeder/Owner: Ronald Brown.
Trainer: Chris Englehart.
2019 record: 5-4-0-0. $66,105. Won four in a row at Finger Lakes, including Niagara Stakes, to start season. Dam won seven races.

Pat’s No Fool
Gr.f. 2016, Cross Traffic-Dream Affair, Touch Gold.
Breeder: Banahan Farm and Saratoga Glen Farm.
Owner: Rose Petal Stable.
Trainer: Gary Capuano.
2019 record: 6-2-1-2. $111,170. Maryland-based filly started year with maiden win at Laurel, and added Maddie May Stakes at Aqueduct in May. Placed in Weber City Miss at Laurel and Christiana at Delaware. Half-sister to New York-bred champion and $691,000 earner Flipcup.

Stonesintheroad
Ch.f. 2016, Bustin Stones-Dixie Talent, Dixie Union.
Breeder/Owner: Team Penney Racing.
Trainer: Jeremiah Englehart.
2019 record: 8-2-1-1. $126,500. Won back-to-back starts to open campaign including Franklin Square Stakes at Aqueduct. New York-bred half-brother (by Read The Footnotes) is Japanese stakes winner A Shin Ranger.

Wait A Minute
B.f. 2016, Discreetly Mine-Essa Brilha, Roi Normand.
Breeder: Gary and Stacy Machiz.
Owner: Richie Rich Racing Stable and Jackie Stauffer.
Trainer: Jackie Stauffer. 
2019 record: 8-4-0-0. $99,900. Won allowance race by 23 ¼ lengths in July, and made that stand up with New York Oaks win in next start. Fourth in Fleet Indian at Saratoga in August, and rebounded to win twice more at Finger Lakes.