A winner of consecutive graded stakes, Yummy With Butter will try to successfully stretch out to 1 1/8 miles when he leads a field of nine turf horses in the $100,000 Knickerbocker Stakes (gr. IIIT) Oct. 15 at Belmont Park.
The Knickerbocker shares the Saturday spotlight with its sister race, the $100,000 Athenia (gr. IIIT), which drew eight fillies and mares that will travel 1 1/16 miles.
Owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Yvon Belsoeur, 7-year-old Yummy With Butter scored his first two graded wins in his last two starts—the July 31 Oceanport and Sept. 4 Cliff Hanger, both grade III events on the Monmouth Park turf. The gelded son of Silvador, who is based at Monmouth and will try nine furlongs for the first time, will make his eighth start of the year and his first at Belmont.
Alan Garcia will ride for the first time. Yummy With Butter will carry top weight of 124 pounds. He was bred in Canada by Richard Lister and is out of the Kris S. mare Sophisticatedbagel.
Seeking his first graded stakes win is Phipps Stable’s Boisterous, who enters out of consecutive grade I races. The 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor was third to Cape Blanco in the July 9 Man o’ War (gr. IT) at Belmont and fifth in the Aug. 13 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) at Saratoga last out.
Trained by Shug McGaughey, Boisterous won an allowance race at Keeneland in April and the Three Coins Up Stakes on Belmont’s yielding turf course in May for his two victories this season. John Velazquez will be back aboard the Kentucky homebred.
Another top contender is Brushwood Stable’s Mr. Ryder, a winner of three straight races including the Sussex Stakes July 1 at Delaware Park in his last start. This will be the graded stakes debut for the 4-year-old Giant's Causeway colt, who is trained by Christophe Clement. Joe Bravo will be in the irons.
Also in the mix is Agnes Peace’s Boots Ahead, a winner in two of his last three starts including an overnight stakes at Belmont Sept. 23.
In the Athenia, Denomination and Unbridled Humor will both carry top weight of 123 pounds while seeking their second straight graded win.
Mrs. Alex Head’s Denomination came from off the pace to get up by a nose in the May 30 Violet Stakes (gr. IIIT) in her last start. The 5-year-old Smart Strike mare also won the Hillsborough (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs back in March for Christophe Clement. Though she hasn’t raced in more than four months, Denomination has been on a steady work pattern with Clement at Belmont. Bravo will ride.
The favorite will likely be Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Unbridled Humor. The front-running daughter of Distorted Humor wired the field in the Sept. 18 Noble Damsel (gr. IIIT) going a mile at Belmont. She has won five of six career starts with her lone setback coming in the July 30 Diana (gr. IT) at Saratoga when tiring to finish fifth after setting the pace.
Trainer Graham Motion has assigned John Velazquez to ride Unbridled Humor.
Also in contention is Richard Santulli’s Stormy Dixie, who has won two straight turf races at Monmouth including the overnight Politely Stakes Sept. 18 when setting the 1 1/16-mile course record in 1:39.74.
$100,000 Knickerbocker Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:45 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Mr. Ryder (KY), J Bravo, 121, C Clement
2. Yummy With Butter (ON), A Garcia, 124, Y Belsoeur
3. Boisterous (KY), J R Velazquez, 121, C R McGaughey III
4. Boots Ahead (KY), E Castro, 121, G Weaver
5. Jimmy Simms (KY), D Cohen, 119, A W Dutrow
6. Center Divider (KY), J Lezcano, 117, C C Brown
7. Mata Keranjang (KY), R Curatolo, 117, K P McLaughlin
8. Followmyfootsteps (KY), A O Solis, 121, T H Voss
9. Sleepless Knight (KY), J Rose, 117, K J Breen
$100,000 Athenia Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:15 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Countess Lemonade (KY), J L Espinoza, 116, T A Pletcher
2. Aquitaine (KY), A O Solis, 116, M R Matz
3. Nefertiti (KY), R Curatolo, 116, L Delacour
4. Thai Haku (IRE), J Lezcano, 116, C C Brown
5. Stormy Dixie (FL), D Cohen, 120, A E Goldberg
6. Denomination (KY), J Bravo, 123, C Clement
7. Unbridled Humor (FL), J R Velazquez, 123, H G Motion
8. Thundering Emilia (KY), E Castro, 116, M R Matz Main Track Only C C's Pal (FL), 120, No rider, R E Dutrow Jr.