The Steve Asmussen-trained Bankit finally gained the winning reward his 2020 efforts have merited when he took out the Alex M. Robb on Saturday.
Bankit was finally snapping a 13-race winless sequence as he got the best of multiple stakes-winner and two-time Alex M. Robb scorer Mr. Buff to snare the $100,000 Aqueduct contest, his first win in 17 months.
The four-year-old son of Central Banker hit the front from Mr. Buff on the home turn and never looked like being overhauled as he had the best part of five-lengths to spare at the winning line.
Bankit also matched his career-best 98 Beyer speed figure in his Aqueduct win.
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing, Bankit had run 11 times in 2020 without getting his head in front.
He was remarkably consistent during that sequence, placing six times, including narrow seconds in the Fifth Season and Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
“He’s been running in some pretty tough company from time to time and always seems to show up and bring home a check,” said David Fiske, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ racing and bloodstock manager.
“He’s a durable, consistent horse. He always seems to show up no matter who you run him against.”
The win was his first since the 2019 New York Derby at Finger Lakes. Jockey Jose Lezcano executed a perfect ride, as connections had correctly identified the pace was likely to be a warm one.
“He had a nice pace set up, and Jose put him in a good spot. He got good position and ran a good race,” said Toby Sheets, assistant to Asmussen.
Mr. Buff was reappearing only a week after running fifth in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) and held on comfortably for second spot, despite seeing his bid for three successive wins in the Alex M. Robb dashed. Two competitive races in a week may have been his undoing.
“My horse broke bad because the horse inside (City Man) acted up a little and broke through the gate,” said Mr. Buff’s jockey, Kendrick Carmouche.
“He got a little fussy in there and broke a step slow, but I got him to where I wanted to have him in the race. He ran hard. He tried his best. I think if he hadn’t ran seven days ago, it would be a different outcome, but congratulations to the winner.”
Bankit meanwhile could be headed for Asmussen’s winter division at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, though connections are yet to make that call.
“We haven’t really talked about it much. We were all just excited about him winning and the way he won. He looked great against that bunch,” Fiske said.
“He seems to like Aqueduct pretty well. Whether he’ll go back down to Oaklawn or not, I don’t know. Some of that may depend on weather. Sometimes, you get long stretches where you can’t train and stay in a regular rhythm in works.”