Bonus Points, Las Setas take Laurel undercard stakes
Three Diamonds Farm’s Bonus Points (photo above by Dottie Miller), trailing all but one horse after a half-mile, swept to the lead on the far outside and outfought favored Monongahela through the stretch to win Saturday’s $100,000 John B. Campbell presented by Fidelity First at Laurel Park.
The 65th running of the Campbell for 4-year-olds and up was the third of five stakes worth $800,000 in purses on a 10-race Winter Carnival program anchored by the $250,000 General George (G3) for 4-year-olds and up and the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) for fillies and mares 4 and older, both at seven furlongs.
Reunited with jockey Feargal Lynch, Bonus Points ($25.40) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.93 over a fast main track to improve his Laurel record to four wins and three seconds in eight career tries. It was the 5-year-old’s first stakes victory since the 2017 Maryland Million Classic.
“I was pleased when I saw the quarter and half-mile time, I felt like that would help him,” winning trainer Todd Pletcher said by phone from Gulfstream Park. “Feargal gave him a smart ride and seems to have a good rapport with the horse. It was a good stretch battle and he just kept finding a little more.
“It looked like it was going to be close that last sixteenth and it was one those things where who’s going to want it more at the end,” he added. “He kept finding more. It was fun to watch, and I’m proud of him for getting it done.”
Sent off at 11-1 despite his gaudy local record, Bonus Points settled in eighth as Pennsylvania shipper Johnny Jump Up sprinted to the lead and posted fractions of 23.51 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.65 for the half, chased by Chilean Group 1-winning longshot Leitone and Grasshoppin, who broke from the far outside post.
Johnny Jump Up was still in front after going six furlongs in 1:10.74, but was passed to his inside by stakes winner Unbridled Juan who had been saving ground on the rail in fourth. Lynch, meanwhile, had begun to launch his bid on the outside and straightened for home alongside Monongahela and jockey Trevor McCarthy.
The two horses appeared to brush a few times as they made their way down the lane with Unbridled Juan holding determinedly on the inside, but Lynch was able to get Bonus Points to the wire a neck ahead of Monongahela, with Unbridled Juan another neck back in third. It was three lengths to General Downs and jockey Julian Pimentel in fourth. Marengo Road, Leitone, Grasshoppin and Johnny Jump Up completed the order of finish.
Lynch, who has been riding at Tampa Bay Downs this winter, now owns three wins and a second in four times aboard Bonus Points at Laurel. The lone loss came by a nose in a third-level optional claimer going one mile last September.
“We took back early and I was following Trevor the whole way. It looked messy on the inside and Julian Pimentel was traveling so smooth, so I latched on to him and [Bonus Points] took to business at the end,” Lynch said. “The time I got beat on him, I think I just got there a little bit soon so I asked the boss if I could take him out of the race a bit early and make that one run with him, and I think that’s been the secret to him.”
John B. Campbell was the renowned handicapper and racing secretary at New York tracks from 1935 until his death in 1954, also holding the same position at Bowie Race Track in 1952 and 1953. He is probably best remembered for the triple dead heat for win he weighted in the 1944 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.
LAS SETAS ROMPS IN WIDE COUNTRY
Making her stakes debut and first start since breaking her maiden, Las Setas (9-1), 3-year-old Maryland-bred daughter of Seville, led throughout to win Saturday’s Wide Country Stakes by 5 ½ lengths over Our Super Freak. Crafty’s Dream finished third.
Bred by Robert Manfuso and trainer Katharine Voss and owned by Manfuso, Voss and Wayne Harrison, Las Setas covered seven furlongs in 1:22.99 under jockey Jevian Toledo in her first trip over a fast track.
While Two Dozen Roses broke on top leaving the gate, Las Setas took the lead leaving the chute and galloped past fractions of :23.20, :46.15 and 1:10.49 before cruising home.
“This filly has shown an awful lot of ability,” Voss said. “The race, the timing and the distance were perfect for her. When I saw the 23 and 1 I thought it was good.”