Guided skillfully by Carlos Marquez Jr., Buffalo Man was fifth in upper stretch but began to find his best stride nearing the sixteenth-pole. With Giant Wrecker on his inside and Icy Atlantic on his outside, Buffalo Man stormed past tiring leader John’s Pic in a furious stretch drive. Those three were noses apart in the final yards, but the 4-year-old bay colt edged in front nearing the wire to win by three parts of a length.
The final time for one mile on a ‘firm’ turf was 1:33.05.
Icy Atlantic, who won the Red Bank in course record time last year, was second by a head under Joe Bravo. Giant Wrecker and Jose Lezcano settled for third in a field of seven.
Bred in Canada by Adena Springs, Buffalo Man has had an up-and-down season for trainer Cam Gambolati. The son of El Prado began 2008 with a victory in the $125,000 Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park. He then ran poorly in three consecutive grade II races, finishing off-the-board in all of them. After a runner-up performance in the Frisk Me Now Stakes at Monmouth, Buffalo Man returned to the winner’s circle in the July 9 Inside the Beltway Stakes, a six-furlong sprint on the Belmont grass. He entered the Red Bank off a fifth-place finish in the Oceanport (gr. IIIT), where he finished behind current entrants Giant Wrecker and Hotsufanthensome.
In the Red Bank, John’s Pic broke well from the inside and went straight to the front. With Mario Madrid in the irons, he took the milers around the oval in speedy splits of :22.26, :45.15 and 1:08.82. Fagedaboudit Sal pressed for a half-mile, but it was Wheels Up At Noon who was closest to the leader after six furlongs.
At the top of the stretch John’s Pic still held a narrow advantage, but was soon joined by Wheels Up At Noon and Giant Wrecker, who was rallying four-wide. Buffalo Man and Icy Atlantic, the last two horses to enter the stretch, came with their bold moves in mid-stretch and began to pick off the leaders. Buffalo Man had just enough kick to hit the wire in front.
“The game plan was to just save as much ground as possible and wait as long as I can to ask the horse,” Marquez said. “We did just that. We sat off the early pace and waited. I knew this horse has a good turn of foot, so as soon as we saw daylight in the lane he turned it on and outkicked everyone.”
Gambolati said: “I think we learned a lot from him today. He’s been up close in his most recent and he doesn’t necessarily have to be. I think he can step up to the next level after this. The fractions he got today were perfect. Usually when they go that quick up front and you close into those fractions it looks very impressive and that’s what he did today.”
Buffalo Man paid $12, $6.80 and $4.60. The exacta (5-6) returned $61.40, with the trifecta (5-6-9) netting $252.20.
A $190,000 2-year-old purchase, Buffalo Man is now 8-3-1 from 18 lifetime starts, with earnings of $478,889. He is out of the Saratoga Six mare Perfect Six.
John’s Pic was fourth, followed by Wheels Up At Noon, Hotstufanthensome and Fagedaboudit Sal.