Stakes winner Scrap Copper will make season debut Thursday
Scrap Copper. Photo by Maryland Jockey Club.
His connections are hoping their patience pays off for Kathleen Willier’s stakes-winning juvenile Scrap Copper, entered to make his eagerly awaited 3-year-old debut in Thursday’s eighth race at Laurel Park.
The bay Maryland-bred son of Great Notion drew outside Post 8 in the $45,000 second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for 6 ½ furlongs on the main track that was brought back after the July 20 program was cancelled due to extreme heat.
First race post time is 1:10 p.m.
Trevor McCarthy is named to ride Scrap Copper at co-low weight of 117 pounds. Eight of the nine horses from Saturday’s race return, including 2018 Challedon Stakes winner Old Time Revival, second in last year’s Gotham (G3); Parade of Nations, an eight-time winner at Laurel Park; Mr. Brix, winner of the Caixa Eletronica Stakes in March at Aqueduct; and multiple stakes-placed Tybalt, the other 3-year-old in the field.
“We’ve got to get him started somewhere,” trainer Hamilton Smith said. “He’s doing fine. His works have been good and everything. Knock on wood, hopefully everything will turn out all right. He’s training well.”
Scrap Copper’s return is scheduled nearly a year to the day after his debut victory in the slop at Laurel over a pair of next-out winners. He got beat a nose in his subsequent start, the Laurel Futurity on grass, then lost all chance after stumbling badly out of the gate and finishing seventh as the favorite in the Maryland Million Nursery.
Smith wheeled Scrap Copper back in three weeks for the James F. Lewis III Stakes, where he rebounded to beat Nursery winner Follow the Dog by three-quarters of a length. Favored again in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity Dec. 8, he was third after a troubled trip behind stakes winners Alwaysmining and Our Braintrust.
“He had a great year. He lost the grass race by a whisker and he fell to his nose in the Maryland Million race and I think he would have been right there in that one had he not done that,” Smith said. “The only one he had no excuse in was the last one when he finished third, but he ran up against some good horses and that’s the race he came out of with the injury, so he might have had an excuse after all. With a little bit of luck, he might have been undefeated as a 2-year-old.”
Scrap Copper emerged from the Futurity with a fracture that required surgery and a patient recovery. He didn’t have a timed work until mid-June and since then shows five breezes at Laurel, three of them bullets, the most recent a five-furlong move in 1:00.60 July 20.
“When you work him and you put him on the fence, he really wants to rock and roll with it. So far, we’ve got no complaints and no problems,” Smith said. “It looks like he came off his injury and everything that he had last year in pretty good shape.”
Smith, 74, is closing in on a career milestone, sitting 25 wins away from his 2,000th. Scrap Copper’s performance Thursday will give his connections an idea of how to proceed for the second half of the year.
“We’ll see how he does and how he comes out of this one and then look ahead after that. We’ve got all the Maryland-bred stuff coming up in the fall. If everything holds together and he comes back like he was last year, we should be in good shape,” Smith said. “We’re glad to have him back, I can tell you that.”