Matt King Coal survives duel, objection to win Johnson Memorial

by | Mar 19, 2017 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing

Matt King Coal

Matt King Coal (inside) held off Afleet Willy to win the Harrison Johnson Memorial Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.

From a Maryland Jockey Club release

Lady Shelia Stable’s Matt King Coal survived a stretch duel with Afleet Willy and an inquiry and objection to win Saturday’s $75,000 Harrison Johnson at Laurel Park.

The 32nd running of the Harrison Johnson for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles and the $75,000 Not For Love and $75,000 Conniver for Maryland-bred/sired sprinters 4 and older were among five stakes worth $425,000 in purses on an 11-race Maryland Jockey Club Celebration Day program.

Also run were the $100,000 Private Terms for 3-year-olds and the $100,000 Caesar’s Wish for 3-year-old fillies, both at about 1 1/16 miles, along with Laurel’s inaugural Fantasy Owners Day designed as an introduction to prospective Thoroughbred owners.

Matt King Coal, a son of Cool Coal Man and the 4-5 favorite, was making his second start of the year. He won his 4-year-old debut at Laurel Feb. 18 for trainer Linda Rice.

Breaking from the No. 9 post in the Harrison Johnson, Matt King Coal left running and was taken to the front by Karamanos and set fractions of :25.01, :50.27 and 1:14.58 while Afleet Willy and jockey Victor Carrasco sat behind the leader.

“He shot out of the gate,” Karamanos said of Matt King Coal.

Entering the stretch Afleet Willy drew alongside Matt King Coal and the race was on. The two raced gamely side-by-side, with some contact down the stretch, before Matt King Coal got the win by a nose while covering the distance in 1:51.07.

“I didn’t bother him,” Karamanos of Afleet Willy. “I think Victor’s horse was laying on me. He’s touching my horse behind. My horse never bothered him. Good finish. We finished strong to the wire. My horse has a lot of talent. Nice finish.”