Firsts spice up Laurel Park undercard stakes
Caribou Club and Ashley Castrenze narrowly prevailed in the Laurel Futurity. Photo by The Racing Biz.
First times were the theme of a trio of undercard stakes on Laurel Park’s six-stake Saturday.
A pair of historic juvenile races, the Laurel Futurity and the Selima Stakes, both were won by horses making their first forays into stakes company, as was the Shine Again for older distaff sorts.
In the first of those races, the $75,000 Laurel Futurity, Caribou Club, a 2-year-old maiden son of City Zip bred and owned by Glen Hill Farm, delivered jockey Ashley Castrenze to the winner’s circle for her first stakes win with a nose victory over Undulated.
Out of the multiple graded-stakes winning dam Broken Dreams, Caribou Club covered a firm 5 ½ furlong course in 1:02.59. Undulated was 1 ½ lengths in front of favored Greatbullsoffire.
“It’s my first stakes win and second ever stakes ride,” Castrenze said.
Beaten a neck under Castrenze in his debut at Laurel July 17, Caribou Club entered the Futurity off a third-place finish Aug. 11 at Saratoga under Manny Franco. When asked what she learned in her first trip aboard Caribou Club, Castrenze replied; “He was a little bit green the first time that I rode him, so I kind of had a little a little bit more hold of his head anticipating it a little more than I was the first time.”
Breaking fourth, Caribou Club was rated off a :23.01 and :45.63 pace set by Greatbullsoffire, who was chased by Undulated. Down the stretch, Undulated took the lead inside the final sixteenth pole but Caribou Club closed determinedly to get up at the wire.
“Turning for home he just exploded and went right on next to [Undulated]. I wasn’t sure if I got it galloping back. I was looking at the screen and the outrider told me to come over here [to the winner’s circle] and I was like, ‘Ok, cool.’ “
In the next race, the $75,000 Selima for two-year-old fillies, Happy Mesa, a 35-1 longshot making her second career start and first on the turf, rallied from off the pace to win by 2 ¼ lengths over Harland’s Thunder. Consulting finished third.
Owned by Jerry Romans, Charlie Spring and Zoom and Fish Stable and trained by Hamilton Smith, Happy Mesa covered the 5 ½ furlong course in 1:02.22 under jockey Sheldon Russell. In her only previous start, Happy Mesa won over the dirt by three lengths in a $40,000 maiden claimer.
“I was a little bit [surprised] with the price, but I worked her several times on the grass and she looked like a little different horse on the turf than she was on the dirt,” said Smith, who won the Selima in 2014 with Miss Bullistic. “The owner and I would both have rather had an allowance race first, but we didn’t have any coming up. We thought our chances were slim, so we just took a shot.”
Breaking seventh in the eight-horse field, Russell and Happy Mesa trailed down the backstretch while Consulting raced through an opening quarter of :21.71 and a half in :44.99. From far back, Russell moved up around the turn aboard Happy Mesa before moving six-wide at the top of the stretch before taking the lead inside the final sixteenth.
Happy Mesa returned $76.20
In the Shine Again, for older fillies and mares that had never won a stake, Fox Hill Farm’s Southern Girl, trained by Larry Jones and ridden by Trevor McCarthy, took control at the head of the stretch and drove away to win the $75,000 Shine Again, covering the seven furlong main track in 1:24.11. The 3-year-old daughter of Tapit, a $775,000 yearling purchase, paid $9. Boheme de Lavi was second and La Madrina third.