Laurel: Upsets the order of the day in stakes action
In addition to Late Night Pow Wow’s victory in the Twixt Stakes to kick off the stakes action, Laurel Park hosted four other stakes on its July 14 card.
Those included the Jameela, Ben’s Cat, Concern, and Stormy Blues Stake, with the first two both restricted to Maryland-bred or -sired runners. Here’s what happened, and a photo gallery below:
GHOUL’S NIGHT OUT REGISTERS 19-1 UPSET IN JAMEELA
Mens Grille Racing’s Ghoul’s Night Out, a 19-1 longshot trained by Hamilton Smith and ridden by Jorge Vargas Jr., drove past A Great Time in deep stretch to win the $75,000 Jameela by a neck.
Ghoul’s Night Out, a 5-year-old mare by Ghostzapper, returned $40 after covering the 5 ½ furlong course in 1:02.65. It was her first victory on the turf in three attempts.
“She ran twice on the grass and handled herself pretty well both times,” Smith said. “It was a tough race, no doubt, but she came into the race real good and I expected her to run good. I didn’t think she’d win it, but I thought she’d run well.”
While Magician’squestion and Elevated Vision posted fractions of :22.16 and :45.27, Vargas rated Ghoul’s Night Out in fourth directly behind A Great Time, who drove past the pacesetters down the stretch to take the lead under jockey Trevor McCarthy. Despite a game effort by A Great Time, Ghoul’s Night Out managed to get up in the final yards for the victory.
“This filly always try for me,” Vargas said. “Today was a little bit of a step up because we had some fillies running in open stakes. But she was traveling so good. When I ducked her out she just went for it.”
Fear No Evil, the 1-2 favorite and facing Maryland-breds for the first time since last May after racing in six consecutive open stakes, rallied to finish third.
OLDIES BUT GOODIES TAKES ‘EM ALL THE WAY IN BEN’S CAT
Some 30 minutes after watching his A Great Time get beat by Ghoul’s Night Out in the Jameela, breeder and owner R. Larry Johnson found his way to winner’s circle when another homebred Oldies But Goodies won the $75,000 Ben’s Cat by 1 ½ lengths over favored Dirty. Love You Much checked in third.
Oldies But Goodies, a 4-year-old gelded son of MacLean’s Music, covered the 5 ½ furlong course in 1:01.84.
Trained by Mike Trombetta and ridden by Alex Cintron, Oldies But Goodies went to the front and set fractions of :22.76 and :45.02 before holding Dirty off the final sixteenth of a mile.
A winner of five of 14 starts, Oldies But Goodies entered the Ben’s Cat off a fifth-place finish in the Karl Boyes Memorial at Presque Isle after finishing second in an allowance optional claimer in June. The gelding also placed fourth in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint.
“I got a really soft pace in the beginning and it gave me a lot of confidence with him because the last couple races he was pretty hard-paced,” Cintron said. “Today…he finished up really good.”
“He ran super,” Johnson said. “Mike did a good job. Alex rode him beautifully, slowed it down a bit. It takes a little of the sting of just getting beat in the previous race. That second wire has gotten me so many times. At the sixteenth pole I’m thinking, ‘Where the hell is the wire?’ But Alex had horse.”
Ben’s Cat is named after Maryland’s four-time Horse of the Year trained by Hall of Fame conditioner King Leatherbury.
LONGSHOTS RULE IN CONCERN
Largely ignored by bettors despite a powerful score in the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes on Preakness Day at Pimlico, Calumet Farm homebred Lexitonian returned to the Free State and struck again, riding the rail to an upset victory in the $75,000 Concern Stakes on Sunday at Laurel Park.
Trained by Jack Sisterson at Keeneland and ridden by local jockey Sheldon Russell, the son of Speightstown shot right to the front from the No. 6 Post when the gate opened, conceded the lead to Compound It and then moved to the front in tandem with Captain Von Trapp.
After gaining the lead at the eighth pole, Lexitonian had to hold off a relentless rally by 54-1 long shot Royal Urn to win by a neck. The winner covered the seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds in 1:22.21.
Let go at odds of 19-1, Lexitonian paid $39.20 to win. The $2 exacta with Royal Urn, trained by Michelle Nihei at Monmouth, came back $1,020.40. Mind Control, the 3-5 favorite, found himself behind a wall of horses in deep stretch and finished third in the field of seven.
Sisterson, a former assistant to Doug O’Neill who was hired last year by Calumet to train privately, had run five horses at Arlington Park on Saturday. He watched Lexitonian, a homebred son of Speightstown out of the Tap mare Riviera Romper, win the Concern while waiting for a flight back to Kentucky at Midway Airport.
“He ran such a good race at Pimlico, and we sort of liked the [Mid-Atlantic] region,” Sisterson said. “He shipped well at Pimlico, and Pimlico is close [to Laurel] and the timing worked out perfectly.”
Lexitonian tried Grade 1 company in the Woody Stephens on June 8 at Belmont Park and never got involved, finished 10th in a field of 11. Sisterson said he couldn’t find anything wrong after the race, so “we penciled [the Concern] in if he came well out of the last race, and his last work was good at Keeneland.”
Sisterson put Lexitonian in the care of Laurel-based trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer for the week leading up to the race and said he sent him up “full of confidence.”
The victory was the third in seven career starts for Lexitonian. Sisterson originally planned for Russell to take Lexitonian off the pace, but when two horses scratched, he decided to change tactics and stay closer to the pace.
“I said to Sheldon’s agent we were going to take back because I thought there would be a lot of speed, but I said, ‘You know, what about putting him on the lead?’ He will fight to the wire. I think credit to Sheldon Russell. That’s what good jockey’s do.”
Russell said, “On Preakness Day, he showed he wanted every inch of six furlongs, so I knew the extra furlong could only help him.”
KARAMA EASILY WEATHERS STORMY BLUES
Three-year-old Karama had given up leads late in two recent two-turn stakes on the grass. So trainer Michael Pino shortened the daughter of Kitten’s Joy up to 5 1/2 furlongs in the $100,000 Stormy Blues Stakes, put Mychel Sanchez in the irons, and watched her zip to a 1 3/4-length score in 1:02.59 over firm ground.
It was the first stakes win for Karama, who now has two wins and two runner-up efforts from five career tries, to go along with $117,300 in earnings for owner Shadwell Stable, who also bred her.
With Sanchez in the irons, Karama, despite shortening from two turns to one, was able to grab the early lead and to extend it to four lengths after just three-eighths of a mile. From there, it was all over but the shouting; Change of Control, the morning line favorite who went off as second choice in the field of 11, rallied into second, and favored Introduced was third.
Karama returned $11.60 to win and topped a dollar exacta worth $23.80.