Down the stretch they come in the John B. Campbell  Hanidcap. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

Down the stretch they come in the John B. Campbell Hanidcap. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

It was a busy weekend in Maryland, if less so elsewhere in the mid-Atlantic.  Here’s the weekend in our RaceBrief:

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  • It sure was a productive weekend for Gary Quill in his GQ Approach.  His Monday handicapping guide was something of a tour de force, as six of his top selections won, including both his longshot play of the day (Peppermint Prince in the fourth) and best bet of the day (Savvy Street in the Miracle Wood Stakes).  Well done!
  • For Saturday’s Fritchie Day card, our In Focus handicappers’ consensus was on the money in two of three stakes.  We liked Page McKenney to take the John B. Campbell and Lady Sabelia to win the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie.  We were not so prescient in the Maryland Racing Media Stakes, in which we did not select Lunar Surge.
  • For Monday’s General George Day card, our In Focus live longshots were Spotted Heart (fourth in the Wide Country), Measured (fifth in the Miracle Wood), and Cutty Shark — second just a neck at 24-1 odds in the Grade 3 General George.
  • Monday was a day when Laurel’s main track was deep and slow — and horses needed to be at peak fitness.  In the seven-furlong Wide Country, the three horses coming out of mile-plus races (Gypsy Judy, Hot City Girl, and Diannestillworks) ran one-two-three.  In the one-mile Miracle Wood, the three horses with a lifetime win at a mile or beyond — Savvy Street, Combat Diver, and Bodhisattva — ran one-two-four.  And in the General George, winner Misconnect’s last five starts had all come at a mile or beyond.  In all, six of 10 winners had made their last start 17 or fewer days previously, and five were turning back in distance.  By contrast, of the eight beaten favorites, only two were turning back in distance, and only two had started within the last 17 days.  Six, in fact, had been away at least 30 days.
  • How slow was the track on Saturday?  Misconnect’s narrow win in the General George, completed in 1:24.67, was the slowest General George since the race settled at its current seven-furlong distance in 1990.  No Advantage (2011) and Bustin Stones (2008) both completed the race about a fifth of a second faster.
  • Jockey Sheldon Russell won twice on Monday to creep closer to 1,000 career wins.  He now has 997.
  • According to the Equibase charts, Laurel handled just shy of $2.6 million on Monday.  That, the track said, was $1 million more than last year’s Presidents’ Day program.
  • Of our horses we were watching this weekend, El Oh El saw his four-race win streak snapped when third in allowance company at Parx Racing.  Surprisingly sent off as the favorite, he was sixth early before rallying late into third without being a threat to the winner, Dukati.  One More Time — the other we were keeping an eye on — did not get to run after Saturday’s Charles Town card was canceled.
  • Charles Town and Penn National both canceled their Saturday cards, while Laurel and Parx both canceled Sunday.