McBurney's New Jersey Breds Just Keep on Rolling

McBurney’s New Jersey Breds Just Keep on Rolling

By Bill Finley

Two months and one day is not a long time in horse racing, but that’s all it took for trainer Pat McBurney to win four stakes races with New Jersey breds, including three in open company. It’s among the best runs any trainer has had with New Jersey breds in years.

The latest win came with Liz’s Cable Girl in the Sept. 15 $100,000 Roamin Rachel Stakes at Parx. The Colonial Farm’s bred filly put in the best performance of her career, winning by four lengths over a solid field. McBurney’s streak began when he won the Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park on July 14 with Golden Brown. Next came a win by the 2-year-old Mooji Moo Jr. in the Aug 8 Tyro, which was followed by Liz’s Cable Girl’s win in the Eleven North Handicap for Jersey breds.

They are McBurney’s only four stakes wins on the year.

“I guess I just got lucky that I have a bunch of Jersey breds that can run and they’re all peaking at the right time,” McBurney said. “Everything has been working out quite well.”  Liz’s Cable Girl looked like a future star when she began her career, winning a Nov. 28, 2016 maiden special weight race at Parx by 10 3/4 lengths. But she came right back at Aqueduct in optional claimer and was a badly beaten third at 3-5. That repeated a pattern where her form was relatively spotty until recently.

“She didn’t make her 2-year-old start until late in November and she ran a five on the Thoro-Graph sheets that day,” McBurney said. “But she never surpassed that number during her whole 3-year-old year. That was still her best number. Then in the race when she won the Jersey bred stakes (the Eleven North) she got down to a two. That was tremendous, the best number of her life.”

McBurney believes that Liz’s Cable Girl, now 4, just needed some time to grow and mature.

“It’s probably just been a natural progression,” he said. “She does look bigger and stronger. She’s been running this season but also putting on weight and muscle. She’s turned into a big, pretty girl. “

Another factor could be Jose Ferrer, who is known as one of the best gate riders in the sport. Liz’s Cable Girl is riding a three-race winning streak and showing more early speed in her races. Ferrer took over when the streak began, in an August open company allowance race at Monmouth.

“His riding style fits her,” McBurney said. “Last year, we started working to take her back. Even a length or two was all we could get her back. But now, she almost seems like she’s more relaxed than ever coming out of the gate, even though she’s been going to the front. Jose has been riding her perfect. He gets that first eighth or quarter under her belt and then uses her speed on the turn to kind of put them away.”

Now that his filly has won two stakes, McBurney would like to find a way to add a graded stakes win to her resume. He said he will take a look at the Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America on Oct. 6 at Keeneland, but worries that might be aiming a little too high.

“I’ve been looking around for a stakes race and there aren’t many sprints left for the girls,” he said. “It’s probably a reach but there is one at Keeneland. That would probably be tough but I haven’t been paying much attention to the graded sprinters and will need to take a look and see what they look like.”

Liz’s Cable Girl is owned by John Cocce, Liz Dodd, Peter Donnelly and Gerard Melley and is by Cable Boy. McBurney said Colonial added Liz’s Cable Girl into a package deal as a weanling when the owners purchased Boomerang Miss from Colonial in 2014.

McBurney has been as loyal to the Jersey-bred program as anyone and is always looking to find ones to add to his barn. Golden Brown was bought for $22,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall yearling sale.  Mooji Moo Jr. is a homebred.

“I train for some breeders and that’s where most of my Jersey breds come from,” he said. “Any time I go to Timonium I always look at the index and see if there are any Jersey breds. Usually, you don’t see many in the sales any more. But I’m always keeping an eye out for them. Between Bright View and Colonial, you can usually find some yearlings in the fall that they’re willing to sell to you.”

Since taking over for John Forbes, McBurney’s personal record for number of stakes winners in a year is four, set in 2014. With more than three months to go in 2018 and with both Liz’s Cable Girl and Golden Brown in good form, he very well could set a new career high. If so, he’ll have the New Jersey breeding program to thank.