Timonium: Coalition draws hard-knocking group
Sonny Inspired won the 2016 Ben’s Cat Stakes. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
by Frank Vespe
The eight runners slated to line up in Saturday’s $75,000 Maryland Coalition Stakes at Timonium have made a combined total of 271 career starts.
Just six of those have come at the Big T.
Such is life for a bullring track running just seven days a year. The Coalition, to be contested at about 6 1/2 furlongs, a two-turn distance at Timonium, is set to go off as race nine on the 10-race program. Post time is 5:05 EDT.
Adding perhaps a bit of spice to the stew, the only horse here to own a win over the strip is the seven-year-old veteran Rockinn On Bye (9-2). Though the Rock Hard Ten gelding doesn’t win much — just seven times in 58 career starts — he’s a check-cashing machine who’s been second or third 38 times and banked over $540,000. What’s more, his Timonium ledger is beyond reproach: 3:1-1-1. The Stephen Casey trainee, who ran third in this event last year, will have regular pilot Taylor Hole in the irons.
In Rockinn On Bye’s Timonium win — back in 2015 — the show horse, beaten just a neck, was #3 Sonny Inspired (5-1). That was Sonny Inspired’s best result from two tries at the Big T. The Phil Schoenthal-trained son of Artie Schiller has crafted a solid career — 10 wins and over $560,000 in the bank — from his versatility. He owns three wins on a fast track, three wins on a main track rated less than fast, and three wins on the turf. Like Rockinn On Bye, he’ll be looking to run on late under jockey Arnaldo Bocachica, a bullring expert based at Charles Town.
Schoenthal will also saddle #5 River Deep (10-1). The Morgans Ford Farm homebred, a Virginia-bred Arch colt, has five wins from 15 career starts and most recently was the easiest kind of winner in the state-bred Hansel Stakes at Laurel Park, a race taken off the turf. He’s a runner who’s generally shown speed going long but may be a bit outfooted in the early going here. Angel Cruz will ride.
The morning line favorite is the Hugh McMahon-trained #7 Colonel Sharp (5-2). A five-time winner from 20 starts, Colonel Sharp has posted back-to-back third-place finishes in stakes company. Last out in the Sen. Byrd Memorial at Mountaineer Park, he ran on willingly to be beaten less than two lengths for all the money; winner Heartwood returned to be sixth, but beaten less than four while earning a 97 Beyer, in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga, while runner-up Woodland Walk took an allowance at Thistledown. J. D. Acosta, tied for the meet lead with four wins to date, is up.
Even Thunder is 7-2. The Jamie Ness trainee won a pair of stakes as a juvenile and has been stakes-placed a couple of times since. The now-four-year-old ran fourth in the Carl Hanford Memorial at Delaware Park two back at 1 1/16 miles and last out was also fourth in an allowance test at Delaware Park — just a neck behind show horse Rockinn On Bye. That effort should sharpen his speed a little bit for today’s test. Jose Montano is up.
Rounding out the field are possible lone speed #6 Union Blues (5-1), a recent allowance winner for trainer Jennifer Shannon; #2 Spirit Grabber (12-1) for trainer Anthony Farrior; and #4 Waitin On One (15-1), a recent $15,000 claim for trainer Beth Worton.