From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Promising 3-year-olds always hold a certain fascination at the start of the year and Laurel Park puts the focus on some good ones in the $100,000 Miracle Wood Stakes, one of four stakes on Saturday’s nine race program.
Stakes winners Extrasexyhippzster (5-2), Joint Custody (3-1), Jessethemarine (7-2) and Germaniac (6-1) will face runners from the Todd Pletcher, John Servis and King Leatherbury barns in the one mile test.
Joint Custody has won four races for trainer Jerry Robb after six starts including the Marylander Stakes and the Maryland Juvenile Championship. The speedy son of Outflanker bobbled at the start, then wrested command and led the rest of the way in the Juvenile Championship at odds of 3-10 under Wesley Ho, who retains the mount.
“Every time I have ridden this horse he has gotten better,” Ho said. “Last time there was a very contested pace and he handled it very well. But he is very versatile. We have been behind and made up lots of ground and we have been up-front in a very fast pace. We have already dealt with the 46 pace and a lot of the horses in here haven’t. Todd Pletcher is always tough but if our horse continues to get better as he has, he’ll be tough to beat.”
Extrasexyhippzter chased Joint Custody in the Marylander, then shipped to Aqueduct in late December and posted a convincing win in the Don Rickles Stakes. The son of Stroll performs for trainer Mike Trombetta and is ridden by Julian Pimentel.
“We think the world of him,” Trombetta said. “He just has that presence and way about him in everything he does. Things come really easy for him. It is a good group of horses in here. I don’t think it has the quality of the Holy Bull but it is on par with just about any you’ll see in a $100,000 race.”
Jessethemarine also fell victim to Joint Custody after winning the James Lewis Stakes for trainer John Rigattieri. His dance card includes three runner-up finishes in juvenile stakes. Alex Cintron, the leading rider at the current winter meeting, rides the son of With Distinction for the first time.
Germaniac became a stakes winner in his most recent outing, a front-running score in the Frank Whiteley Stakes over Jessethemarine. The Tim Tullock trainee, who is three-for-five lifetime, will carry J.D. Acosta.
“You can make a case for every runner in the race,” Tullock said. “He hasn’t run a bad race except for the Marylander Stakes (finished fifth) in the mud. He ran dynamite last time out but you have to keep it in perspective. He got a nice outside draw and was the only speed in the race. He is by Henny Hughes so I don’t know if he’ll go more than a mile but he could be a very talented 3-year old sprinter. The game has changed. Every good 3-year-old doesn’t have to stretch out. There are plenty of good 3-year-old sprints all year long.”
Mr. Rover (8-1) finished behind Germaniac and Jessethemarine in the Whiteley for Leatherbury. The son of Roman Ruler has finished in the money in seven-of-eight lifetime starts. Victor Carrasco has the riding assignment.
Pletcher (8-1) tried Master Lightning (8-1) in three graded stakes at Aqueduct last fall. A trip to Laurel and a new rider in Forest Boyce may be all that is needed to get the son of Pulpit over the hump.
Servis will ship Undertaker (10-1) down from Parx Racing. The Unbridled Song colt broke his maiden last month. Emilio Flores retains the mount.
Fleet Gold Digger (20-1) rounds out the Miracle Wood field. The Frannie Campitelli trainee has two victories and finished fifth in the Maryland Juvenile Championship. Sheldon Russell will be aboard for the third consecutive race.
“Trombetta’s horse ran lights out last time. Joint Custody and Jessethemarine have been really consistent,” added Tullock. “The advantage Pletcher and Servis have is that their horses have a lot of experience going the route of ground. Most of these horses are stretching out for the first time.”
Only one filly with possible star power is among the seven listed for the $100,000 Wide Country Stakes. The seven-furlong contest is headed by 4-5 favorite Taris, an impressive 11-3/4 length winner in her debut at Aqueduct last month. Clinton Potts rides the daughter of Flatter for trainer Todd Beattie.
Jonesin For Jerry (3-1), who won the Maryland Million Lassie in October, is the only stakes winner in the field. Abel Castellano returns from New York to ride the Robb trainee.
Older horses with an eye on President’s Day weekend stakes are named to the 1-1/16th mile, $100,000 Native Dancer and the six-furlong, $100,000 What A Summer Stakes.
Chad Brown will send Mail (8-5) from New York for the Native Dancer in hopes of his second straight stakes score. The son of Medaglia d’Oro won the Traskwood Stakes on December 27, his third win in six starts. Castellano has the call.
Javerre (6-1), second in last year’s Native Dancer and the winner of the General George Handicap (G3), will carry Stewart Elliott for trainer Cathal Lynch. The son of Outflanker, absent from August to December, prepped for this race with a second in a recent optional claimer at Parx Racing.
Other contenders include Indian Jones (7-2), Managed Account (5-1) and Bold Curlin (6-1).
Crespo and Red’s Round Table, 1-2 finishers in a recent prep, will attract interest in the What A Summer line-up.
Crespo (4-1) ships into Laurel again from New York, this time with a new trainer and a new rider, Enrique Arroyo and Julian Pimentel. Red’s Round Table (7-2), a dominating local force until missing more than a year before returning last month, looks to regroup for trainer Tim Keefe.
Maryland Jockey Club handicapper Keith Feustle made She’s Ordained the 5-2 morning line choice. The daughter of Ministers Wild Cat has won 14 of 30 starts including a winning effort in her most recent outing, the Willa On The Move Stakes. Angel Quinones keeps the mount for trainer Tim Kreiser.
Winning Image (3-1) has won seven career stakes races, including a run of four straight stakes from December 2012 to July 2013. Included in that streak was a victory in the 2012 Willa On The Move Stakes here. Tony Black picks up the mount for trainer Michael Aro.
(Featured image, of Joint Custody, by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.)