Schoenthal brings twofer to Fire Plug Stakes
Sonny Inspired won the Ben’s Cat Stakes in March. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
He had already planned to run defending champion Sonny Inspired in Saturday’s $75,000 Fire Plug at Laurel Park when trainer Phil Schoenthal landed himself another major contender in the six-furlong sprint for older horses.
Grade 3 winner Trouble Kid will make his first start for Schoenthal in the 22nd running of the Fire Plug, which shares top billing on the nine-race card with the $75,000 What a Summer for fillies and mares 4 and older, also at six furlongs. The two sprints are the first of 22 stakes worth $2.2 million during Laurel’s 56-day winter meet that opened Jan. 1.
Previously based at Parx with trainer Ramon Preciado, 5-year-old Harlan’s Holiday gelding Trouble Kid was moved to Schoenthal by owner Barbara Hopkins shortly before the New Year. He was second in a seven-furlong allowance Dec. 20 Parx allowance in his most recent start.
Trouble Kid, whose multiple stakes wins include the 2015 Gallant Bob (G3), breezed once at Laurel for Schoenthal, going three furlongs in 38.40 seconds Jan. 7. He has raced once previously over the main track, finishing first but disqualified to second for interference in the 2015 De Francis Memorial Dash.
“He’s a nice horse. I’ve enjoyed having him around so far. He’s got a great personality. He breezed last week and breezed pretty well I thought,” Schoenthal said. “Obviously I don’t know the horse as well as Sonny Inspired but if you look at his form he’s got tremendous back class and tremendous speed. It’s just a matter of seeing if he’s going to run that way for me, I guess.
“He won the De Francis last year and got disqualified so clearly he can handle the racetrack, I’m hoping. He looks like a graded stakes horse. He’s a pretty nice horse. He’ll probably be one of the horses to beat,” he added. “Jevian Toledo, who’s the regular rider of Sonny, breezed them both last week and elected to ride Trouble Kid instead. I think Trouble Kid is probably the horse to beat, at least out of my barn.”
Sonny Inspired had lost seven straight races, four of them in stakes, when he kicked off 2016 in the Fire Plug. Unhurried early, he made a four-wide bid in upper stretch and pulled clear to a 1 ¾-length upset at odds of 12-1.
Following the Fire Plug, the 6-year-old Artie Schiller gelding went on to run third in the General George (G3) and win the Ben’s Cat before finishing off the board in his last five starts, all in stakes, three of them graded. He came off a summer vacation to run fifth in the De Francis (G3) Nov. 19 and the Howard Bender Memorial Dec. 10 last time out.
“He’s just kind of a hard-knocking horse that shows up every time and gives you what he has and he’s been a fun horse to have,” Schoenthal said. “The Fire Plug last year and the Fire Plug this year are kind of the same scenario for us. Last year we weren’t sure if he was good enough and weren’t sure if he was on the decline, we weren’t sure if he was really a stakes horse or not, and then he responded with a great race and won.
“This year we’re kind of in the same boat where he’s had two kind of disappointing races that weren’t what we were hoping for, and the Fire Plug comes up again,” he added. “I think the horse is training well and going forward.”
Chief Lion, second as the favorite after setting the pace in the Dave’s Friend Dec. 31 at Laurel, is entered to come back in two weeks by owner-trainer David Jacobson and drew the top weight assignment of 124 pounds. Also in on the quick turnaround is multiple stakes winner Chublicious, fourth in the Dave’s Friend.
Rounding out the field are 2016 Salvator Mile (G3) winner Res Judicata; multiple stakes winner Never Gone South; stakes winner Imperial Hint; stakes-placed Big Guy Ian and Measured; and Blue Moon Ace, Gin Makes Ya Sin.
[su_box title=”FIRE PLUG STAKES ENTRIES” style=”glass”]
- Never Gone South (15-1) — Trevor McCarthy/Cal Lynch
- Big Guy Ian (8-1) — Alex Cintron/Michael Dilger
- Trouble Kid (6-1) — Jevian Toledo/Phil Schoenthal
- Res Judicata (12-1) — no rider named/John Servis
- Sonny Inspired (15-1) — Feargal Lynch/Phil Schoenthal
- Gin Makes Ya Sin (20-1) — Julian Pimentel/Scott Lake
- Measured (10-1) — Andrew Wolfsont/Michael Salvaggio
- Chief Lion (3-1) — no rider named/David Jacobson
- Blu Moon Ace (8-1) — Horacio Karamanos/Robbie Bailes
- Chublicious (9-2) — Victor Carrasco/Claudio Gonzalez
- Imperial Hint (6-1) — Jose Flores/Luis Carvajal