YESTERDAY’S NEWS: HUG A TREE TAKES LAUREL FEATURE
Flying Pheasant Farm LLC’s Hug a Tree caught front-running favorite Summer Frock in mid-stretch and went on to a half-length victory in Saturday’s featured eighth race at Laurel Park.
Ridden by apprentice Kali Francois for trainer Joe Delozier III, Hug a Tree ($15.20) ran 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.81 over a firm Dahlia Turf Course for her second straight victory and third this year.
Breaking from the inside post in a field of 10, Hug a Tree tracked in third as Cowgirl Creed and Summer Frock dueled through an opening quarter-mile of 21.89 seconds and a half in 44.84. Summer Frock took command turning for home but was unable to hold off the late charge from Hug a Tree down the center of the course.
Hug a Tree had run well in claiming and starter allowance company in prior 2016 starts, but her lone allowance try had resulted in a 12th place finish at Pimlico over Preakness weekend.
“It worked out perfectly for her because she’s a filly that loves to get nice and tucked in there. She thrives off of just sitting behind and really targeting a horse,” said Francois, aboard for all three 2016 wins. “As soon as she broke I had to catch her in my hands a little bit. Once she had that contact in her mouth, that’s her go signal and that’s when she really started to get going.”
Summer Frock and Xavier Perez were second, followed by Southern Peach, Town Tart, Cowgirl Creed, Smart N Smokin, So Royal, Aye d’Eclaire, Liatris and Ms Eileen.
A 5-year-old daughter of Forestry out of the Dehere mare Cuddle Her, Hug a Tree was the most experienced horse in the field making her 41st career start and eighth this year without a published timed workout.
“She’s just fantastic and she’s one that doesn’t train off of breezes. She trains off of races. It’s a tiny thing but it’s worked out great. Joe is a fantastic horseman and he’s got a great team and a great crew,” Francois said. “I saw Xavier on my inside and I was surprised how well my filly kept going. I’m very pleased with how she went.”
LOOK AHEAD: TODAY’S RACING
- Tracks in action today: Monmouth Park, Parx Racing, and Laurel Park.
- Check out our full-card handicapping of Laurel Park in The GQ Approach. The GQ Approach delivered a flat-bet profit last week, as well as three doubles worth a combined total of over $620.
- With Monmouth Park off the turf today, its featured $60,000 Wolf Hill Stakes has scratched down to just five runners for the 5 1/2 furlong test. The likely winner figures to come from one of three horses: New Jersey-bred Rainbow Heir (4-1), who’s earned nearly $400,000 on the main track and is making his season debut; Saratoga Dreamer (4-1), who’s won both of his main track tries, including a score in Aqueduct’s Rego Park Stakes for New York-breds; and Joe Franklin (8-1), who owns three main track victories.
- Parx Racing kicks off its day with a pair of 1 1/2 mile turf races (the first and third) with an unusual condition: they are restricted to four year olds and up which have finished first, second, or third in a sanctioned hurdle race. In the first, Demonstrative (5-2), a multiple Grade 1 winner over jumps, is favored. In the third, Bob Le Beau (2-1), also a multiple G1 jumps winner, gets the nod. Both runners won these events a year ago.