YESTERDAY’S NEWS: SPLIT MAIDENS
Both Charles Town and Penn National hosted (sort of) split maiden special weight events last night, providing handicappers useful comparative data.
At Charles Town, the third and fifth races of the evening were West Virginia-bred maiden specials zipping 4 1/2 furlongs, the former for straight three-year-olds and the latter for three and up.
In the first, the amusingly named Fit but Fat took command late and rolled home to win by over four lengths in 53.19 seconds under Grant Whitacre. The Donald Barber trainee — whom he also owns — is a Peak Dancer colt and was making his career debut, one of seven in the race doing so. The Javier Contreras duo of Twenty Onen One and Sugar Fire, favored at 7-10, ran second and third, respectively.
In the fifth, Gold Sovereign and Antonio Lopez took the lead past the five-sixteenths and held off the cavalry to win by nearly two lengths in 53.11. It was the second career start for the four-year-old Stephen Got Even gelding, owned and trained by Lewis Craig, Jr., after a second-place finish on debut.
Meanwhile, at Penn National, the first and fourth races were maiden specials for three-year-old Pennsylvania-bred fillies, and there was a clear quality difference here in races contested over a sloppy track.
Ransom Past Due, the even-money favorite in the fourth, stalked the pace of Her Divineness, took over late, and was ridden out to the end, finishing six furlongs in a solid 1:12.61. It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Her Divineness in second, and another six-plus to Piano Keys in third. Ransom Past Due was ridden by Julio Hernandez and is trained by Brandon Kulp for Tom McClay. Ransom Past Due now has a first and a third in two tries.
That race compared very favorably to the other PA-bred maiden event, which was won by debut runner Sweet Maggie Mae in 1:13.45 — .84 seconds slower. Ridden by Felix Pinero, Sweet Maggie Mae grabbed the early lead, fell behind Voice of the East, and then ran past that one to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Voice of the East was second, 1 1/4 lengths clear of R U Happy Now in third. Sweet Maggie Mae is a daughter of Wild and Wicked trained by Kathleen Parker for Kurt Jaenicke.
LOOKING AHEAD: TODAY’S RACING
- Shippers look to have the upper hand in Laurel Park’s first race of the week, a $40,000 maiden special weight test going a mile on the main track. Linda Rice trainee Tizsomethingroyal, a $420,000 auction purchase, is the 2-1 morning line favorite after running second against Aqueduct maidens. Kiaran McLaughlin sends out Wembley (5-2), a daughter of Bernardini who’s winless in five tries, and Tony Dutrow’s Quatrefoil (7-2) ships north after debuting at Oaklawn Park.
- Linda Rice also has a pair of logical runners in the eighth at Laurel, a $42,000, one mile allowance test for three-year-olds. Tipit (3-1) enters off a maiden score at Parx Racing after a pair of placings at Aqueduct, and Tiz Long Gone (7-2) won at first asking at the Big A but then was thrashed by allowance rivals. The favorite, however, is Larry Murray trainee Pizmo Time (5-2) who won at first asking and then ran second to our Big Move of the Week horse, Easy River.
- A nice group is set to gather in Penn National’s feature, an allowance/optional claiming event for older runners going six furlongs. Tim Kreiser trainee Stitcher (3-1) is the tepid morning line favorite after beating similar two back. But so did Thinking of Girls (6-1), and runners like M J’s Warrior (6-1), Caladbolg (5-1), and Fara’s Kid (4-1) all have the look of improving runners working through their allowance conditions.
- Charles Town’s third race is a maiden special weight event in which trainer Joan Reynolds figures to have something to say about the outcome. She’ll send out Williamsburg (8-5), the morning line favorite who was second at Penn National two back but was thrashed by Big Move of the Week horse Bobcat last out. She’ll also saddle the aptly named Two for the Money (9-5), a Circular Quay gelding who has been second in both of his career starts, beaten by less than a length each time.