New York Thunder Takes Perfect Record To GI Jerkens

New York Thunder | Sarah Andrew


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Unbeaten and hardly challenged so far through four starts, New York Thunder (Nyquist) will not be an unknown Saturday in his second visit this summer to Saratoga Race Course.

New York Thunder made a grand entry on the big stage at the Spa on July 28 with a resounding victory in the GII Amsterdam S. Sent off at 11-2 in his first race on dirt, he rolled to a 7 1/2-length score under jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Though he was eased up in the stretch when the outcome was no longer in doubt, New York Thunder completed the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.65. His six-furlong split of 1:07.77 was faster than the 1:07.92 track record set in 2019 by Imperial Hint (Imperialism) in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. He got a Beyer Speed Figure of 110.

In the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial, New York Thunder will step into Grade I competition for the first time. He drew Post 5 in the field of six and will be flanked by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's runners, Fort Bragg (Tapit) and Arabian Lion (Justify). Both of the Baffert horses are coming off wins at Belmont Park. Arabian Lion prevailed in GI Woody Stephens S. on June 10 Belmont Stakes program. Fort Bragg stumbled at the start of the GIII Dwyer on July 1, recovered and won by a nose over Saudi Crown (Always Dreaming).

If trainer Jorge Delgado had his way, New York Thunder would be a low-profile outsider in the Jerkens. He understands that it is not a likely scenario with a horse that has won his races by a combined 23 1/4 lengths and is now proven on dirt.

“Hopefully, we can stay under the radar and let the horse do the talking for me,” Delgado said. “I would not like too many expectations and just approach the race like we did last time. We didn't have any pressure from the outside.”

“When we were approaching the Amsterdam, no one was actually paying attention to him. When I was in the walking ring, I saw that they were interviewing a couple of other trainers on camera with other horses. With the way he won, I know he's going to be in the spotlight. People are going to be watching him and a couple of other horses. I'm sure people are going to be looking forward to see what he can do.”

Delgado, 33, is the nephew of trainer Gustavo Delgado, whose GI Kentucky Derby winning colt, Mage (Good Magic), will run in the GI Travers S. three races after the Jerkens. Jorge Delgado worked for his uncle in Venezuela and the U.S. before opening his own stable in 2017.

For Jorge Delgado, New York Thunder has been an exciting adventure. Though the colt with a dirt pedigree was bred in Kentucky and was purchased for $130,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Sale, he was prepared for the races in Europe. New York Thunder arrived in Delgado's care last year from the training center with a reputation of being very fast.

“In the very beginning with him we really didn't know what direction to go as far as the surface,” Delgado said, “since he was training in (Europe) and they don't have a main track there to train on. They have grass, and run on synthetic and grass.”

New York Thunder connections | Sarah Andrew

Brazilian-born former jockey Robson Aquiar, was on the team that selected New York Thunder at Keeneland for Kai Joorabchian's AMO Racing USA and did the pre-training.

“Robson told me that he was excellent on both but he liked the synthetic more,” Delgado said. “That was the reason, since I was in Gulfstream in the winter, it makes sense to put him on the Tapeta.”

Delgado was right. New York Thunder debuted on Nov. 27 and scored in a five-furlong race by 6 1/2 lengths.

“He was like 70 to 80% ready for racing and when he wins the way he did it, you think he's a Tapeta horse or a grass horse,” Delgado said. “That's the first thought that comes to your mind.”

One month later, New York Thunder picked up his first level-allowance victory, taking a five furlong turf race by 1 3/4 lengths.

“He won but he wasn't as excellent like he was on the other surface,” Delgado said. “So I spoke to the owner and said, 'let's keep going the Tapeta direction.'”

Joorabchian, 52, is an Iranian-born entrepreneur, who has a long involvement in soccer in Europe and South America. He has been a horse owner in Europe for two decades and has had a North American AMO division since 2021. AMO's first U.S. graded stakes winner was Affirmative Lady (Arrogate), who earned that victory for trainer Graham Motion in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks on April 1. She finished 11th in the GI Kentucky Oaks. Affirmative Lady and New York Thunder came to AMO out of the 2021 Keeneland sale, as did King of Steel (Wootton Bassett {GB}), who has emerged as a top 3-year-old in England with a narrow second in the GI Epsom Derby and a win in the GII King Edward II S. at Royal Ascot.

New York Thunder scratched out of the $250,000 Animal Kingdom S. on March 25 at Turfway Park and made his stakes debut on April 30 at Woodbine in the six-furlong Woodstock. He romped by 7 1/2 lengths.

“We won the race at Woodbine and right away, we were targeting a race on dirt,” Delgado said. “The owner was insisting he wants to run back in a graded stakes race.”

Jorge Delgado | Sarah Andrew

Drawing the rail in the Woody Stephens, he was scratched with a foot bruise before Delgado shipped him up from his summertime base at Monmouth Park for the Amsterdam.

“That for some people didn't make any sense,” Delgado said. “To switch the horse's surface in a graded stakes race is not like the best idea always. But it turned out to be something really good. Now the horse has a name. Most people in the country know him. We have received a few offers for the horse and the owner is actually not a big seller, but at least we were sitting in that spot.”

Speedy Ryvit (Competitive Edge) stumbled leaving the gate and New York Thunder was alone on the lead. He ran the first quarter mile in :21.48 seconds and followed that with a 22.08 to reach the half-mile in 43.46. Even-money favorite Drew's Gold (Violence) moved up alongside on the turn, but New York Thunder and jockey Tyler Gaffalione responded quickly to the threat and were gone.

Delgado said that since the Amsterdam and the Jerkens are only 29 days apart, he has been very careful with New York Thunder in the interim. The two breezes have been slow by the colt's standards: four furlongs in :52. Delgado said New York Thunder is showing him that he is ready for another big outing.

“This horse hasn't said no once,” Delgado said. “He hasn't said, 'I'm not eating' or 'I'm not feeling well,' or 'I don't have energy.' He hasn't given any of those signals. He hasn't communicated any of that.

“Actually, he's been the opposite. Since the day he came back, the day after the Amsterdam, he was proud, he was moving around in his stall, he was looking around.

I know it's very tough to repeat the same performance, to repeat the same number, but he's really going to need that and more to win the race. But I believe in the horse, I believe in his heart and I believe in what we do.”


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