YESTERDAY’S NEWS: ROCKET-FUELED TURF COURSE
Laurel Park is the first track in the region to have opened its turf course — and it appears that track management has put rocket fuel in with the fertilizer.
The course is producing unbelievably fast times race after race.
Yesterday’s card at Laurel included two sprints on the lawn and three turf routes. In the first turf sprint, Put Back the Halo led the field of $7,500 claimers through a snappy opening quarter in 21 4/5 seconds and a half in 44 2/5. But he couldn’t hold off the late runners, and it was King Leatherbury’s hard-hitting old timer, 10-year-old Classic Wildcat, who closed nicely to win by a length in 1:01.77.
But that solid performance was nothing compared to the second of the two divisions of the race, which came as race ten on the card. In that event, Kieron Magee trainee Billy the Bull dueled through insanely fast splits of 21.36 seconds for the opening quarter and 43.49 seconds for the half-mile before he drew away — “threw the knockout punch,” as the chart styled it — to win by three lengths. Running time for the 5 1/2 furlongs was 1:01.32.
For comparison purposes, the Laurel Park 5 1/2 furlong turf record is 1:00.53, set by stakes winner Night Officer back in 2012.
One race prior to Billy the Bull’s tour de force, Burndines impressed going a grassy route of ground. The four-year-old Scat Daddy gelding, trained by Tony Dutrow, cleared early and led throughout before just hanging on by a half-length in the $42,000 one-mile, entry allowance test. Running time for the distance was 1:33.73, including a final quarter of 22.91 seconds.
The Laurel one-mile turf record — set five days before Night Officer’s 5 1/2 furlong record — belongs to Saint Pierre: 1:33.30.
- Bobcat and Blu Moon Ace both won at first asking, and both look like talented runners. Yesterday they hooked up in a spirited duel at Laurel Park with the former prevailing by a half-length. Bobcat, trained by Dale Capuano, set the pace while in the two-path, dogged all the way by Blu Moon Ace and rider Trevor McCarthy. Blu Moon Ace, trained by Larry Murray, made a bold bid in the lane, putting a head in front leaving the furlong grounds, but Bobcat fought back to earn the decision. It was one of five wins on the day for jockey Alex Cintron.
- Gee, you think someone knew something about Colonel Sharp? The three-year-old Colonel John gelding was bet down from a morning line of 4-1 to a staggering 1-5 at post time in a maiden special weight test at Penn National, and the Todd Beattie trainee lived up to that billing. After bumping leaving the gate, Colonel Sharp and rider William Otero went quickly to the lead and widened at every call: from one length after a quarter to six after a half to 13 on the wire. Running time for six furlongs was a solid 1:10.93.
- Lake Ponchatrain scored the upset in last night’s feature at Charles Town, an allowance/optional claiming event. The Oklahoma-bred (!) trained by owner John McKee pressed the pace of Waterside Dream before taking over nearing the quarter-pole and drew off to a 6 3/4 length victory in 1:18.59 for 6 1/2 furlongs. She paid $19.20 as the fourth choice. The four-year-old Afleet Express filly has now won four of 11 career starts and earned $81,950. Favored Line of Best Fit was never involved and finished last of five.
LOOKING AHEAD: TODAY’S RACING
Top Midlantic-breds in action
- Pennsylvania-bred Page McKenney, ranked first in the latest Top Midlantic-bred Poll among older horses, is the 6-1 fourth choice in the $1.25 million, Grade 2 Charles Town Classic Saturday. Regular rider Horacio Karamanos will ride for trainer Mary Eppler.
- Maryland-bred Sonny Inspired, ranked third on the same poll, is 20-1 in the Charles Town Classic. Jevian Toledo has the mount for trainer Phil Schoenthal.
- Finest City, the Pennsylvania-bred ranked fifth in the same poll, is the 9-2 fourth choice in the Grade 2 Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course. Kent Desormeaux will ride for trainer Ian Kruljac.
Midlantic-breds in graded stakes
- Pennsylvania-bred Sea Shadow finished seventh in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes Friday at Keeneland. The stakes-winning Ben Colebrook trainee had Javier Castellano in the irons.
- The Grade 2 Charles Town Classic features three horses bred in the region: Page McKenney (PA), Sonny Inspired (MD), and local favorite Charitable Annuity (WV), who’s 20-1 on the morning line. Antonio Lopez will ride for trainer James Casey.
Stakes in the region
- A contentious group will tangle in the Henry S. Clark Stakes at Laurel Park Saturday. For an in-depth look, click here.
- Charles Town Races has the region’s biggest card this weekend. Key races include:
- The Grade 2 Charles Town Classic with $1.25 million on the line;
- The $150,000 Sugar Maple, which Flattering Bea will look to become the first horse to win twice;
- The $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial, which trainer Tom Amoss will look to annex for the fourth straight year; and
- A pair of “Win and You’re In” races for the fall’s West Virginia Breeders Classics.