by Ted Black
Michael Trombetta could get used to the Laurel paddock.
In a span of 30 minutes on Saturday, the veteran trainer made four trips to the enclosure — two to saddle horses for stakes races and, with the winner’s circle at Laurel Park deemed unsuitable for win pictures because of the weather, two to get his picture taken.
When the dust had settled, Trombetta had taken two of the day’s four stakes, with victories in the Miracle Wood for three year-olds and the Native Dancer for older horses. The Miracle Wood victory was Trombetta’s third win in that race.
“Anytime you can win two stakes on the same day, it’s something special,” Trombetta said after the second of those wins. “It’s tough to go into a day thinking you can win two races of any kind, let alone two stakes.”
Shortly before 3 p.m. on Saturday, Trombetta gave jockey Julian Pimentel a leg up on Extrasexyhippzster and then watched the homebred son of Stroll notch his second straight stakes tally by taking the $100,000 Miracle Wood for three-year-olds by four lengths in 1:36.75 for the one-turn mile. Early pace-setter and post-time favorite Joint Custody held second over late-running Mr. Rover.
The impressive score, over an accomplished group of horses, conjured up memories of Trombetta’s first Miracle Wood winner, Sweetnorthernsaint, who won the 2006 Miracle Wood, then finished third in the Gotham before winning the Illinois Derby. He subsequently finished seventh as the 5-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby before running second in the Preakness.
But Trombetta wasn’t so quick to bite.
“Well, it’s a little early to start comparing the two,” Trombetta said. “This colt is definitely talented and he’s getting better. But he still has to improve and I want to see how well he does around two turns before I get too excited about him.”
Extrasexyhippzster is a homebred for Toni Kirwan and Edward Hipps. A Stroll colt, he’s out of the stake-winning Freud mare Extra Sexy Psychic, also bred and owned by Kirwan and Hipps and trained by Trombetta. Extra Sexy Psychic, who won seven of 15 starts and earned more than $300,000, was out of a winning Housebuster mare named She’s Pretty Too, an astute $16,000 claim by Kirwan and Epps.
The connections were all smiles despite the cold, and the mind couldn’t help but think ahead to bigger — and warmer — days ahead.
If, if, if…
“We need see him keep improving, perhaps try two turns next,” said Trombetta. “The Private Terms [at Laurel on March 8] looks like a possibility, but we might go back to New York for one of those stakes. We’ll see if he wants to go further and handle two turns.”
A horse we know can handle two turns, on the other hand, is Bold Curlin, who won the very next race, the 1 1/16 mile Native Dancer, for Trombetta.
“I thought Bold Curlin had a decent shot in here, but I was looking for a non-winners of three other than allowance,” explained Trombetta. “Those races rarely fill this time of year, so I just tried him in here to see what would happen.”
After biding his time through the early stages aboard Bold Curlin, recent Eclipse champion apprentice jockey Victor Carrasco, now a journeyman, found a small opening between foes inside the eighth pole and shoved Bold Curlin through it en route to a two-length score in 1:43.72 for the two-turn one-mile and one-sixteenth affair.
“That was a great ride by Victor,” Trombetta said. “I told him to be patient and then wait until the lane and he looked like had had plenty of horse on the far turn. He didn’t have a lot of room to maneuver, so if he doesn’t split horses at the top of the lane he doesn’t win. That was truly a gutsy, gutsy ride.”
It was the first stakes tally and the fourth triumph in 11 career outings for Bold Curlin, pushing his lifetime bankroll past $150,000 for owners Harry C. & Tom O. Meyerhoff. Bold Curlin, a gelded son of Curlin out of the Ascot Knight mare To the Brim, has now won two straight and two of four on conventional dirt. He was bred in Pennsylvania by Two Sisters’ Farm.
Favored Indian Jones rallied late to take second over Managed Account, while early pacesetter Warrioroftheroses finished fourth.
(Featured image, of Bold Curlin winning the Native Dancer, by Laurie Asseo.)