D C Dancer (5-2) — Mike Trombetta trainee is working on an 11-race losing streak since taking the 2014 Maryland Million Sprint, though he has finished second or third in four of his last five, the lone exception being the one-mile Jennings Stakes, which may have been too far for a horse who’s never won beyond six furlongs. Not for Love gelding looked like a winner last out when cruising past talented but star-crossed Mean Season at the head of the lane, but that rival fought back to earn the decision; notably, of six to run back from that race, none has finished better than fourth since. Dancer’s been away since January 9, but he’d been busy beforehand, and he’s run well off similar layoffs before, plus work tab indicates he’s ready. Julian Pimentel will ride.
Jack’s in the Deck (10-1) — Robin Graham trainee sprung the upset when outbobbing race namesake Ben’s Cat to take the Maryland Million Sprint last October, but follow-up tries in the Fabulous Strike and Dave’s Friend weren’t much to cheer about. He should find this more modest group of state-breds more to his liking than the rugged company he’s faced in those last two races. He’s been firing morning bullets working towards his first start since late December, and he’s had some success running fresh previously. Forest Boyce retains the mount.
Final Prospect (9-2) — Lightly raced Gary Capuano trainee has been steadily heading in the right direction and still has some upside. Last out fourth in the Fire Plug was better than it looks; Final Prospect broke a touch slow, was floated out entering the lane, forced to angle back in off the heels of a rival, and stuck with it to the wire, beaten just three lengths for all the money. The January 16 Fire Plug was his fourth start in 43 days, so the subsequent freshening was probably in order, and the work tab suggests he’s ready to be back. Bug boy Lane Luzzi retains the mount (though no apprentice allowance in stakes).
Sonny Inspired (9-5) — Gee, you think trainer Phil Schoenthal wanted this race to go? He’s entered three in here, and certainly one, maybe both, of the others are to make sure there’s a race for this guy, the favorite. Re-addition of blinkers has done the trick, as he’s run back-to-back strong races, winning the Fire Plug (at 12-1) before running third in the G3 General George. The Fire Plug win was his first in stakes company. If there’s a concern about this Artie Schiller gelding, it’s that he’s something of a closer in a race without much apparent speed. Jevian Toledo, who’s ridden him in his last two, remains aboard here.
Arrogant Officer (20-1) — Horse #2 in the Schoenthal triumvirate was a $12,500 claim back in July, and on March 8, in his first start since the claim, ran fourth in a $12,500 claiming race. He won a first-level allowance back in 2013 but never has been able to win a second allowance, and it’d certainly be a surprise to see him get the money here. He does own three wins at the distance, and his very best Beyer numbers (including a 98) would put him in the mix, but those were achieved more than two years ago. Trevor McCarthy is named to ride, but it wouldn’t be a huge shock if this runner were to scratch.
Gursky (6-1) — Horse #3 in Schoenthal’s arsenal was an astute $25,000 claim back in November. Since then, all he’s done is win three times and run second in two others, and he’s finished first or second in all three of his six-furlong races while logging the three highest Beyer figs of his career. Versatile sort has run good races closing and pressing the pace. That’s the good news. The bad: he finished second in his two tries against first allowance foes, and the company here is quite a bit more rugged than that. Still, he’s continuing to improve and has a shot to make a bit of noise here. Horacio Karamanos retains the mount.
Any Court Inastorm(6-1) — This Jason Egan trainee found the going a little rough in the General George but otherwise has been a solid, consistent sort. Three of his four wins have come at this six furlong distance — he has a six furlong record of 4-3-0-1 — and he’s been out of the money just twice in 12 career starts. He beat a solid group two back that included stakes winner Noteworthy Peach and hard-hitting Classic Giacnroll. Odd fact: he’s been favored three times in his career and won all three. Note that Forest Boyce, who rode him in his last two, picks Jack’s in the Deck here; on the other hand, Victor Carrasco’s not a bad option either.
Race 8, 4:40 p.m. EDT
3yo and up, Maryland-breds
6 furlongs, $75,000 purse
First running of a race named in honor of Ben’s Cat, the great Maryland-bred son of Parker’s Storm Cat bred, owned, and trained by King Leatherbury. Ben’s Cat has won 30 of 53 career starts and earned just shy of $2.5 million.
Ben’s Cat is expected to race again this year, making this an unusual race named for a horse still in training. In 2010, officials had renamed the Lady’s Secret Stakes, run at Santa Anita, the Zenyatta Stakes, but when the Mosses decided to keep Zenyatta in training that year, they requested the race name be changed back to the Lady’s Secret.
Sonny Inspired (9-5) — Hate to pick the chalk, but this guy’s in good form now and should appreciate the class relief here; trainer looks to be moving heaven and earth to make the race go.
Final Prospect (9-2) –Sneaky good fourth last out for this improving sort, and another step forward puts him right there.
Any Court Inastorm (6-1) — Loves the distance and figures to get the trip he wants from the outside; this is a better horse than the Beyers indicate.
Jack’s in the Deck (10-1) — Career-best fig came off similar break a year ago.
Frank Vespe, the founder and publisher of The Racing Biz, has owned, bought, sold, claimed, written, and talked about horses, in varying combinations, for a decade. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @TheRacingBiz.