Shimmering Aspen, Crabcakes face off in Laurel allowance
Shimmering Aspen took the 2017 Alma North Stakes. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
The first four-day race week of Laurel Park’s summer meet opens with a bang as multiple stakes-winning fillies Shimmering Aspen and Crabcakes are set to face each other in their seasonal debuts Thursday, July 26.
Racing will continue on a Thursday through Sunday schedule through the end of the 40-day summer meet Sunday, Aug. 19. Following the Timonium meet at the Maryland State Fairgrounds Aug. 24 – Sept. 3, Laurel’s calendar year-ending fall meet opens Friday, Sept. 7.
Hillwood Stable’s Shimmering Aspen and Morgan Ford Farm’s Crabcakes will each be coming off lengthy layoffs for Thursday’s eighth race, a $50,000 third-level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and older at six furlongs on the main track. They will break side-by-side from Post 3 and 4, respectively, in the six-horse field.
Shimmering Aspen, trained by Rodney Jenkins, has not raced since finishing third as the favorite in the seven-furlong Safely Kept Stakes Nov. 11 at Laurel. Overall she went four-for-seven in 2017 including wins in the Alma North and Twixt Stakes in succession over the summer.
“She’s doing really well. She’s been off a while. She had a little ailment when she first came back in, but she’s doing good. She’s sound and she’s working well. If she’s fit enough, I don’t know,” Jenkins said. “We’ve got to get to running her if we’re going to run any this summer, so I figured it was a perfect place to start her. Of course, it came up pretty tough.”
Jenkins gave the seven-furlong Twixt, to be run Saturday, July 28 at Laurel, some consideration but opted instead for the Thursday allowance. Pending her effort, the $75,000 Maryland Distaff Stakes going 6 ½ furlongs Aug. 25 at Timonium could be a possibility for the 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly.
“I nominated for the [Twixt] but it’s seven-eighths of a mile. After she gets this one in she’ll be ready for the seven-eighths,” Jenkins said. “I’ve got to get her a race. She’s pretty strong and I know she’s going to put out so I don’t want to knock her out.
“She’s a nice filly. She’s getting back to herself. I think she looks great,” he added. “It’ll be fun to see her run again.”
Bernie Houghton-trained Crabcakes finished second to Shimmering Aspen in the Alma North, then reeled off three consecutive wins at Laurel including the Miss Disco and Maryland Million Distaff – the latter over older horses – before capping her sophomore season finishing third in the Mahoning Valley Distaff Nov. 20.
Crabcakes, bred by Houghton’s aunt and late former owner Binnie Houghton of Buckingham Farm, also won the Maryland Juvenile Futurity in 2016 and has a record of 5-2-0 from seven lifetime tries at Laurel. Shimmering Aspen, meanwhile, is 5-0-2 from seven Laurel starts.
“She’s doing good. I think she’s ready. She might need this first race. I wanted to find an easy race for her [but] t’s not that easy because Rodney’s horse in in there,” Houghton said. “She had just a small, minor injury and we had to give her a little time off and missed a spring campaign, but hopefully she’s back. She’ll run in this race and then hopefully a stake and we’ll get her ready for the Maryland Million again. That’s the plan.”
Victor Carrasco replaces injured regular rider Steve ‘Cowboy’ Hamilton aboard Shimmering Aspen. Forest Boyce, aboard the last five starts, gets a return call on Crabcakes.
“She’s pretty much the same filly but she’s bigger and stronger this time. I think she’s doing real good,” Houghton said. “It’s a pretty salty race. There’s some tough horses in there. Hopefully she’s ready. Rodney’s horse has beat me before, and I’m sure he’s got his ready. We’ll see how it goes.”
Also entered are Hailey’s Flip, winner of the 2017 Tax Free Shopping Distaff Stakes at Delaware Park one race after finishing second to Crabcakes in the Miss Disco; multiple stakes-placed Moon Virginia, trained by Hamilton Smith, who won four races on Sunday’s card at Laurel; Quick Release and Rowd E Allie.