Solid group with local flavor set for Coalition Stakes

by | Aug 25, 2017 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing

Never Gone South

Never Gone South was all by himself at the wire in the 2016 Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

by Frank Vespe

Vorticity hasn’t done much wrong in his career.

The four-year-old Distorted Humor colt won the Marylander Stakes as a two-year-old and placed in a pair of Grade 3 events as a sophomore. He’s finished in the money in nine of 10 starts and earned more than $260,000.

But he’s never run at Timonium.

The Cal Lynch trainee will try to add the Big T to his resume Saturday, as the morning line favorite in the featured $75,000 Coalition Stakes, which includes up to an additional $35,000 in bonus money for horses bred or sired in Maryland and for Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales grads.

Last out, Vorticity was no match for the Grade 1-placed Divining Rod but easily bested the rest of the field in finishing second in the seven-furlong Polynesian Stakes at Laurel Park. Though he’s never raced at Timonium, he has the kind of tactical speed that often is successful there and owns wins at six and seven furlongs, suggesting he might appreciate the Coalition’s two-turn, 6 1/2 furlong distance.

Vorticity is one of five stakes winners in the field. All nine entrants are based in the mid-Atlantic region, and six were bred in Maryland.

“The purse money is going to stay here and go to a deserving owner and trainer in the mid-Atlantic,” said Bill Reightler, Race Meet Coordinator and board member of the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society. Reightler and others pushed for higher purses and the creation of the Coalition, the first stakes race at Timonium since 2008.

The horse here who most recently joined the stakes-winner club is Struth (7-2). The five-year-old Maryland-bred Curlin gelding earned the first stakes score of his career July 15, when he powered to a length-and-a-half win in Delaware Park’s Hockessin Stakes. Last out he was defeated as the favorite in the Senator Robert Byrd Memorial Stakes at Mountaineer.

The Kieron Magee trainee’s lone stakes win came with Edwin Gonzalez in the irons. That was his first time aboard Struth, and he’ll be back aboard Saturday.

One of the more intriguing entrants in the Coalition is Greatbullsoffire (6-1). When last seen, the sophomore Bullsbay colt was displaying signs he might become something special. He won four times as a two-year-old, three in stakes company, and completed his campaign with a six-length score in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity against a field that included stakes horses Bonus Points and O Dionysus.

But Greatbullsoffire hasn’t raced since. He’d been pointed at last weekend’s Star de Naskra Stakes at Laurel Park, but that race didn’t fill.

“It took a lot longer to get him back than we anticipated but that’s the way it goes sometimes. He’s doing good right now,” trainer Hamilton Smith said in a release July 27.

Smith added, “The boys at the barn are excited about him and waiting for him to run. I hope he does everybody justice when he comes back because I know they’re excited about it. He should run well.”


  1. Formal Summation (20-1) — Wayne Potts trainee was third in the Kelly Kip Stakes at AQU three back, will need a big one here
  2. Vorticity (5-2) — Angel Cruz gets a leg up from Cal Lynch on a runner who won the ’15 Marylander, was second to the excellent Divining Rod last out
  3. Rockinn on Bye (8-1) — Stephen Casey trainee is hard to endorse in the top spot (just six wins from 46 starts) but knows how to hit the board and ran third behind Vorticity last out; only runner here with a win over the strip
  4. Never Gone South (9-2) — The other Cal Lynch runner has in-and-out form that’s a little puzzling but on best can have a say here; jockey JD Acosta tied for most wins at the Big T last year
  5. Struth (7-2) — Kieron Magee reunites winning horse-jockey combo from the Hockessin July 15
  6. Unbridled Lion (15-1) — Makes second start off layoff after racing rugged field on a surface, turf, that’s not his best; one of two in here for trainer Ham Smith
  7. Blu Moon Ace (6-1) — First off the claim for trainer Kevin Patterson, winning at a preposterous 52 percent clip this season; CT rider Gerald Almodovar is up
  8. Final Prospect (15-1) — First start in seven months for a Gary Capuano trainee whose lone try over the strip — his debut race — was a 23-length defeat
  9. Greatbullsoffire (6-1) — Ham Smith’s second runner in here was ultra-impressive as a two-year-old, makes sophomore bow here with go-to pilot Toledo