Making news over the weekend in the sports world were the U.S. women’s national soccer team, which won the World Cup, and Justin Haley, who triumphed in the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Also enjoying success were two 3-year-old thoroughbreds trained in Aiken.
Competing at Belmont Park in New York on Saturday, Henley’s Joy captured the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes, and Concrete Rose scored in the $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes.
Both races were grade I events, and both were contested on grass.
In addition, another horse trained in Aiken, 5-year-old Killybegs Captain, finished third in the $300,000 John A. Nerud Stakes on Saturday.
That race, a grade II event on dirt, also was run at Belmont Park.
“It could have been a really phenomenal day, but as it was, it was still pretty phenomenal. I’m very happy,” said Cary Frommer, who is the immediate past president of the Aiken Training Track and continues to serve on the facility’s board of directors.
“I don’t know when the last time was when Aiken had two grade I winners in one day,” added Frommer, who watched all of the action on television.
Henley’s Joy, Concrete Rose and Killybegs Captain are graduates of Frommer’s training program for young horses.
One of Frommer’s clients, Wendy Hendriks, purchased Henley’s Joy for $20,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall yearling sale in Maryland.
Last year, Frommer sold Henley’s Joy on behalf of Hendriks for $50,000 to Bloom Racing Stable at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. spring sale of 2-year-olds in training in Florida.
The 3-year-old colt was a 20-1 longshot in the Belmont Derby.
Ridden by Jose Lezcano and trained by Mike Maker, Henley’s Joy defeated Social Paranoia by three-quarters of a length while completing 1¼ miles in 1:58.29.
After stalking the pace early, Henley’s Joy rallied on the outside to take command with a sixteenth of a mile remaining.
“Henley’s Joy wants to try and gives it everything he’s got,” Frommer said. “But he’s had some tremendously bad luck in the past and has been trapped on the rail and stopped. This time, he got a trouble-free run and showed what he could do.”
Henley’s Joy has a career record of four wins in 11 races and has earned $953,160.
Last year, he captured the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes and the Pulpit Stakes.
Justin Wojczynski was working for Frommer as an assistant trainer when he bought Concrete Rose for $20,000 for himself and some partners at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale in Kentucky.
The filly then joined the group of horses under Frommer’s supervision in Aiken.
The following year, in the name of White Pine Thoroughbreds, Wojczynski consigned Concrete Rose to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training in Maryland. Bloodstock agent David Ingordo purchased her for $61,000.
Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing currently own Concrete Rose. Her trainer is Rusty Arnold.
In the Belmont Oaks, Concrete Rose was the second betting choice behind the 8-5 favorite Newspaperofrecord.
Jodie, a 41-1 longshot, quickly grabbed the lead after breaking from the starting gate, and Concrete Rose settled in behind her and relaxed.
Then Concrete Rose rallied late and passed Jodie. The latter faded and wound up fourth.
Newspaperofrecord, who was ranked early, finished last in the field of nine fillies.
Concrete Rose’s margin of victory was 2¾ lengths, and she covered 1¼ miles in 1:59.97 while being ridden by Julien Leparoux.
“She was a nice, smooth mover when she was in Aiken, and she has gotten better as she’s matured,” said Frommer of Concrete Rose. “I saw her in Florida earlier this year, and she’s a bigger, much more imposing horse than she used to be.”
Concrete Rose has a career record of five wins in six races. She has earned $818,650.
In addition, to the Belmont Derby, Concrete Rose has won the grade II JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes and the grade III Edgewood Stakes, presented by Forcht Bank, and Florida Oaks.
“When you talk to people about Aiken, they always say, ‘Aiken had some really good horses back in the day, but what have you done lately?’” Frommer said. “It’s really important that the word gets out about Henley’s Joy and Concrete Rose. It was a big day of racing in New York, and they put on a big show.”
Killybegs Captain’s third-place finish in the John A. Nerud came after he stumbled badly leaving the starting gate and bumped into Bon Raison right afterward.
Ridden by Eric Cancel, Killybegs Captain is owned by Curragh Stables and trained by John P. Terranova II.
The horse has won five of his 21 career races, including the Pelican Stakes, and is an earner of $305,453.
Legacy Bloodstock purchased Killybegs Captain for $20,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Frommer then sold him to Curragh Racing for $75,000 at the 2016 Ocala Breeders Sales Company spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.