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 (Grade 1) at Santa Anita.

Instead, the stakes-winning son of Pleasant Acres Stallions’ Bucchero has been entered to make his dirt debut in Saturday’s $200,000 Affirmed, the seven-furlong second leg of the 2023 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Florida Sire Stakes series for eligible 2-year-olds by accredited Florida stallions, at Gulfstream Park.

Gulfstream-based Mattingly has run once on turf—a second-place finish to No Nay Mets (Ire) in the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile at five furlongs in his career debut at Gulfstream on May 13—and three times on synthetic—a  stakes victory last time out in the $90,000 Hollywood Beach on Sept. 30 at Gulfstream, a runner-up finish to Pipit in the CA$126,500 Victoria going five-and-a-half furlongs at Woodbine on July 16, as well as a maiden score on June 24 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?

“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.”

Mattingly breezed a half-mile in :50.78 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 okay 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.”

“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 [trainer] Derek Ryan has in New Jersey, Book’em Danno – who has never been on Tapeta or turf and he’s undefeated,” Orseno said.

Book’em Danno is coming off an eight-and-a-half-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 five-and-a-half 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 was bred by Lance Colwell and was purchased by Ironhorse Racing Stable for $70,000 out of the Two Oaks Equine consignment in March at Ocala Breeders’ Sales. He has earned $147,028 in her four starts.

Orseno will give the leg up on Mattingly to jockey Samy Camacho and they have post 10. Mattingly is rated at 6-1 on the morning line.

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 record seven-and-a-half-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 Bridlewood Farm stallion Valiant Minister is rated as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 12.

Florida-bred Bentornato – Lauren King Photo

Bentornato won his first start against special weight maiden by a neck going five furlongs in the slop at Gulfstream on July 1 before winning the $90,000 Proud Man by four-and-a-quarter lengths after six furlongs at Gulfstream on Aug. 12.

Owned by Leon King Stable Corp., Bentornato twice passed through the auction ring at OBS, first as a yearling in the 2022 October Sale where Pro Racing took him for $45,000 out of the Stuart Morris consignment. Golden Rock Thoroughbreds then consigned him to the OBS March Sale where Champion Equine purchased him for $170,000.

Out of Her Special Way, by Put It Back, Bentornato was bred in Florida by Tanma Corp. and has racked up $158,830 in his three starts.

Emisael Jaramillo will be aboard the dark bay or brown colt when he departs post seven.

Christophe Clement-trained Hurricane Nelson, a son of Journeyman Stud’s Khozan, has finished second in two career starts against special weight maidens in New York, is rated second at 5-2.

Most recently, Hurricane Nelson finished a length-and-a-quarter behind Private Desire as the even money favorite going six-and-a-half furlongs on Sept. 16 during the Belmont at Big A meet.

Hurricane Nelson will race in the colors of Dean and Patti Reeves’ Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and has earned $39,000 in his two races. Out of French Politics, by Political Force, the bay colt was bred in Florida by GDS Racing Stables.

Hurricane Nelson has drawn post nine and Edgard Zayas will ride.

Completing the field for the Affirmed is Roar Ready with jockey Leonel Reyes, Edgar Perez has the call on Esperon, Rye’s My Guy with Miguel Vasquez aboard, Echo Lane will be ridden by Silvestre Gonzalez, Lasso has Hector Diaz Jr. named to rode, Squints and jockey Marco Meneses, Seminole Chief will tote Sonny Leon, Secret Love has Jesus Rios taking the call and Sound of the Beast will be ridden by Edwin Gonzalez.

Return to Oct. 19 issue of Wire to Wire