Shimmering Aspen, Noteworthy Peach look to regain winning ways
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Shimmering Aspen will make her eighth start of the year Saturday at Laurel Park. Noteworthy Peach is scheduled to make his first. Both will be looking to rediscover their winning ways.
Hillwood Stable’s multiple stakes winner Shimmering Aspen, cutting back to six furlongs after being beaten as the favorite in her most recent start, tops a trio of 3-year-old fillies that will take on older horses in the $100,000 Willa On the Move.
Trained by Rodney Jenkins, Shimmering Aspen already owns three wins over her elders this year with first- and second-level allowance scores in the spring and the seven-furlong Twixt Stakes Aug. 12, all at Laurel, where she is 5-for-9 lifetime. Her last try at six furlongs came in her maiden triumph last October, a 5 ½-length romp in gate-to-wire fashion.
Ms Locust Point and Fear No Evil are the other sophomore fillies entered. Ms Locust Point won the seven-furlong Gin Talking Stakes last Dec. 31 for trainer John Servis and returned from a nine-month layoff to take a second-level optional claiming allowance Nov. 11 at Parx.
Hickory Plains’ Fear No Evil has won two of her last three starts, a maiden triumph over Laurel’s world-class turf course Aug. 11 and an off-the grass entry-level allowance Nov. 8 at Aqueduct. In her only other try at Laurel, the daughter of Line of David was third behind Crabcakes and Lucky in Malibu in the 2016 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship.
“She likes Laurel and she’s run well there in the past,” New York-based trainer Tom Albertrani said. “We finally figured out what her best distance is right now going short. We tried to stretch her out and it didn’t work out. I think in her last couple of races she’s starting to come around to showing her best. Physically looking at her she just looks stronger now that she did probably six months ago and maybe that’s all part of it. She’s just putting everything together right now.”
Another New York shipper, Newman Racing homebred Absatootly, is unbeaten in three career tries at Laurel, her most recent victory coming in the six-furlong Primonetta Stakes April 22. The Charlie Baker trainee has raced exclusively in stakes company since then, coming off a half-length win in the 6 ½-furlong Iroquois Oct. 21 at Aqueduct.
Shine Again Stakes winner Line of Best Fit, third to champion Songbird in the Delaware Handicap (G1), is making her first start since being moved to trainer Claudio Gonzalez, who also entered My Magician, winner of the one-mile Geisha Stakes Nov. 11. Ivy Bell, Lake Ponchatrain and She’s Hot Wired complete the field.
Non Stop Stable’s Noteworthy Peach is entered to make his first start in 13 months in the $75,000 Howard Bender. The Read the Footnotes gelding was second in the Federico Tesio, Maryland’s hometown prep for the Preakness Stakes (G1), and won the Jennings Handicap as a 3-year-old in 2015, winning one of six starts at 4 and exiting the 2016 Richard Small Stakes with an injury.
Overall Noteworthy Peach owns five wins and nine top three finishes from 15 starts with more than $209,000 in purse earnings. All five of his wins have come from 12 tries at Laurel, with two seconds and a third. He drew Post 1 in a field of 12 at 118 pounds, three fewer than topweight Winplaceorshowono.
“He’s had a year off and he’s ready to go. He didn’t draw a good post for me and sprinting’s not exactly his cup of tea but he can do it,” trainer Gary Capuano said. “He hasn’t run in a year and it’s a good prep race for the [Dec. 30] Jennings if things work out good. He got hurt last year and we just turned him out and took our time getting him back. We’re hoping he comes back like he was. So far he’s been good and stayed good and sound for us.”
Capuano also entered two other horses off short rest in the Bender – 4-year-old Quality Road gelding Showalter, a gutsy nose winner of a second-level optional claimer Dec. 1, just his sixth career start; and Final Prospect, second by a neck in a third-level optional claimer Monday at Laurel. The multiple stakes-placed Jump Start gelding was second in last year’s Bender.
“We’ll evaluate the rest of the week and if everybody looks good they’ll all go,” Capuano said. “[Showalter] seems to only get a couple races a year before he has to have time off. He’s had some foot issues over the years and that’s just the way it is. Winter time hasn’t been the best time for him but he’s got a ton of talent. He’s a real nice horse, it’s just a matter of keeping him healthy when you can. That’s the key. The timing’s not ideal but sometimes you’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot.
“I thought [Final Prospect] ran two huge races back-to-back. We’ll see how it goes. He’s ready to go,” he added. “He ran good in the race last year. We’ve been kind of stretching him out and trying to figure out the best route to go with him. He’s run some big races and picks up a bunch of checks, he just doesn’t win that often, or often enough.”
Dr. Michael Harrison’s homebred Talk Show Man, a multiple stakes winner going long on turf, is entered in his first dirt race since running eighth in the 1 1/8-mile Richard Small in 2015. Most recently, the Hamilton Smith-trained 7-year-old Great Notion gelding was third by a head in the one-mile Maryland Million Turf. His last sprint came on grass, running a closing third by a neck six-furlong Mister Diz June 24.
“This is kind of off the wall there for us. He’s a route of ground horse and I really don’t have anywhere else to run him,” Smith said. “Being against Maryland-breds we thought it would be a chance to get a race under him. It’s not his distance or anything of that nature. Hopefully we can use it as a prep and if he can pick up some pieces in there that’d be a plus. He’s ready to run. He ran in the [Mister Diz] and was flying at the end and just got beat. Who knows, things may work out.”
Rounding out the field are stakes winners It’s the Journey, Sonny Inspired, Struth and Winplaceorshowono; multiple graded-stakes place Rockinn On Bye; Grandiflora, Jrock and Lewisfield.