Ben’s Cat, Rose Brier top Laurel Saturday stakes
by Frank Vespe
A pair of graded stakes winners, multi-millionaire Ben’s Cat and hard-hitting middle-distance star Rose Brier, headline Saturday’s day of six restricted stakes at Laurel Park.
Four of the six — the Edward P. Evans (race 3), Nellie Mae Cox (race 5), White Oak Farm (race 8), and M. Tyson Gilpin (race 9) — are restricted to Virginia-bred/Virginia-sired runners. The other two, the Jameela (race 6) and Mister Diz (race 10), are for horses bred or sired in Maryland. All six are scheduled for the turf.
Ben’s Cat is certainly the most accomplished runner in the six-furlong Mister Diz, though his recent form certainly leaves him vulnerable here. The 11-year-old Parker’s Storm Cat gelding, bred, owned, and trained by King Leatherbury, has won 32 times in his remarkable career, amassing over $2.6 million in career earnings. But he enters this event with a seven-race losing streak, the longest of his career, and last out finished eighth, though beaten less than four lengths, in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint over Preakness weekend at Pimlico.
Ben’s Cat has won the Mister Diz six times in his career. Last year, bidding for a seventh straight win in the event, he finished third at 7-10 odds. With regular pilot Trevor McCarthy injured, local stalwart Horacio Karamanos has the mount Saturday.
The Mister Diz is the final stake on the card.
In the day’s first stake, the one-mile Edward P. Evans, graded winner Rose Brier figures to get most of the wagering attention as he seeks to defend his Evans title. Rose Brier, a son of Mizzen Mast trained by Jane Cibelli, has gone undefeated in four Virginia-bred/sired stakes over the last three seasons and has won four of five starts over the Laurel Park lawn. Last out he was third in the Grade 3 Red Bank. Edgar Prado has the mount.
Familiar names are the order of the day in the day’s other events.
In the one-mile Nellie Mae Cox, for fillies and mares, the top pair from last year’s running — Queen Caroline and Secret or not — square off. They’re joined by the improving Armoire and veteran Complete St., who was fifth in this race a year ago but later in the season ran second in both the Brookmeade, also for Virginia-breds, and the Maryland Million Ladies.
The Jameela, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, brings back the top pair from last year. Kathy De Masi trainee Everything Lovely was second in this race last year but kicked off this season with a win in the $100,000 The Very One Stakes at Pimlico. She’ll have to contend with last year’s winner, Lovable Lady, who won two other stakes during the year, and Maryland Million Ladies winner Devilish Love.
And in the White Oak Farm Stakes, a 5 1/2 furlong event, 10-year-old Two Notch Road makes his first start since last September for trainer Glenn Thompson. He ran second or third in three other races last year, including the Grade 3 Turf Monster and the Punch Line Stakes. He’ll have to overcome last year’s show horse in this race, Available. A son of Bop trained by Suzanne Dempsey, Available ran third in last year’s White Oak Farm at 50-1 odds and later ran second in the Punch Line. But he owns just two wins from 40 career starts. Another runner of interest in this event is Lime House Louie, who won last year’s Jamestown, for two-year-olds; the Flint Stites trainee will be looking to move forward off an eighth-place finish to open the season against allowance foes.
Post time for the first of the day’s 11 races is 1:10.