From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Trainer Rodney Jenkins is eager for the summer racing season to get started Friday afternoon at Laurel Park. Not only is Jenkins looking forward to not shipping, but he will saddle his 3-year-old colt Top of Mind in Friday’s seventh race if the 1 1/16 mile event comes off the turf.
Top of Mind, a Kentucky-bred son of Curlin owned by Hillwood Stable LLC, won his debut in February at Laurel. After finishing second in an optional claimer in March, Top of Mind finished sixth in the April 18 Tesio after a rough trip.
“We had the worst trip a horse could have in that race,” Jenkins said. “I was upset at how he ran that day but when I went back and watched the replay he was blocked the entire way, even though it was a five-horse field. He never got out, he never really progressed, and then he got bumped again really hard at the head of the lane. (Jockey) Victor (Carrasco) kind of just gave up after that, which he did the right thing.”
Jenkins said Top of Mind has trained well since the Tesio and that he wanted to “bring him back [at Laurel] where he likes the track, and just start over.”
Jenkins is scheduled to saddle two horses in Friday’s eighth and final race, a maiden special weight event scheduled over 5 ½ furlongs. Joseph, a son of Lion Hearted, finished ninth in his racing debut at six furlongs over the main track at Pimlico while Mr. Benz, another Hillwood runner, will be making his second start since a third-place finish across a five furlong turf course at Pimlico.
“I didn’t like him before I ran him,” said Jenkins of Mr. Benz. “I trained him for a year and he never worked faster than :51 for the half. But when he ran in his last race, the lights came on and he’s been doing fabulous.”
When asked about racing in July at Laurel, Jenkins said; “It’s amazing what has happened the last year in Maryland. I just couldn’t believe we were going to have turf racing here in the summer. It’s great to not have to ship three, four hours all the time. I won’t ship anywhere since we have summer racing. The Maryland purses in comparison to New York are very, very good. The track is good, the turf course is good. Plenty of excuses to stay home.”
Someone else who’ll take advantage of the excuses to stay home is Top of Mind’s Tesio rider, Victor Carrasco.
Carrasco, the leading rider at the Preakness Meet at Pimlico which concluded June 6, has been keeping busy the past three weeks.
“I’ve been riding all over the place,” Carrasco said. “Penn National, Parx, Delaware, Belmont, Charles Town. Driving is not easy. I do it, but it’s not easy riding day and night, day and night. You drive two hours to ride, get home late, wake up early and go out in the mornings to keep your business alive. I love it but sometimes it’s not easy. That’s why summer racing at Laurel is so nice.”
Carrasco said he’ll change his schedule beginning this weekend, riding at Laurel during the weekends and Delaware Monday through Wednesday. Carrasco is likely to once again be one of the top riders at Laurel. He’s named in all eight races on Friday’s twilight race card.
“”I really like being here,” he said. “Laurel Park is like home to me. All the trainers help me out with good horses. They always support me. We have many good riders over here, but I think it’s going to be a good meet. It feels good to look at the entries and ride every single race with live horses on opening day.
“My goal is to get to 150 wins by the end of the year. Hopefully with the summer meet here we can be competitive, win some races and get closer to that goal.”