2yo stakes winners clash in James F. Lewis III Stakes
Scrap Copper was up to win the 2018 James F. Lewis, III Stakes. Photo by Maryland Jockey Club.
Marie Trombetta’s Newstome and Pappas Horse Racing Corp. and Charles Bartlett’s Raging Whiskey will bring their stakes-winning form to Maryland for the first time in Saturday’s $100,000 James F. Lewis III Stakes at Laurel Park.
The eighth running of the Lewis for 2-year-olds and 23rd renewal of the $100,000 Warrior’s Reward Smart Halo for 2-year-old fillies, both at six furlongs, share top billing on a nine-race Military Family Appreciation Day program.
Military Family Appreciation Day will feature domestic beer and hot dogs for $2, imported beer and hamburgers for $3, special jump team and mounted national anthem presentations and a T-shirt giveaway with program purchase, while supplies last.
Gates will open at 11 a.m. with a first-race post time of 12:25 p.m. Admission is free.
Laurel will be the fourth track in as many starts for Newstome, based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. A son of multi-millionaire Goldencents, whose three Grade 1 wins include back-to-back triumphs in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (2013-14), Newstome debuted with a front-running maiden special weight victory on dirt Aug. 3 at Parx.
Newstome tried the turf at Colonial Downs in the Aug. 31 Rosie’s Stakes, getting bumped at the start and setting the pace for a half-mile before tiring to seventh behind undefeated Four Wheel Drive, who went on to back-to-back graded-stakes wins capped by the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1).
Given six weeks between starts, Newstome returned with an off-the-pace victory in the six-furlong Mark McDermott Stakes over Presque Isle Downs’ synthetic surface, shaking clear late to win by three lengths.
“He had always trained OK on the synthetic but I wasn’t sure how he would really react to running on it, but he ran well and it was a nice one to get done,” trainer Mike Trombetta said. “He showed a little bit of a dynamic there, which was nice. He’s not one of those horses that has to be on the front. He rated kindly and he sat and came running.”
Purchased for $30,000 out of Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Newstome has impressed Trombetta with his versatility in a short time. Trevor McCarthy has the call for the first time from Post 1.
“He’s run well on the dirt and on the synthetic, and if you look at his turf race that was just a really difficult task,” Trombetta said. “The winner of that race won the Breeders’ Cup.”
Bred in Maryland by Finn’s Nickel LLC and Anchor & Hope Farm, Raging Whiskey is the most experienced Lewis runner with seven starts, all but one coming in California for previous trainer Doug O’Neill. A debut winner in June at Santa Anita, the Bourbon Courage colt came east for the six-furlong Sanford (G3) in July at Saratoga, where he ran third despite a troubled trip.
Off the board in the Best Pal (G2) and Juvenile Turf at Del Mar this summer, Raging Whiskey rebounded with a front-running eight-length romp in the 6 ½-furlong Capote Stakes Sept. 21 at Los Alamitos. He was back on grass for his last start, the five-furlong Speakeasy Stakes, finishing seventh.
“Doug and his team do a great job of picking out nice horses. It didn’t matter that he was Maryland-bred necessarily, it just mattered that he was a nice-looking individual and he really is,” trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer said. “We’re just glad to have him here. They’ve thought highly of him and it’s worked out so far. They’re looking for the opportunities back here in the Mid-Atlantic, which suit him.”
Raging Whiskey has breezed twice since joining O’Dwyer at Laurel, going five furlongs in 1:02.60 Nov. 2 and a half-mile in 47.80 Nov. 9, the latter ranking second of 42 horses. Sheldon Russell, who leads the fall meet standings with 26 wins, will ride from Post 4.
“He’s impressive physically. He’s a classy looking horse,” O’Dwyer said. “I breezed him twice over the Laurel surface and he’s such a neat horse and does exactly what you ask him to do. He gallops around every morning like an old pro. He’s not aggressive, he just does what you want and then when you ask him to breeze he turns it on.
“He’s just such a neat horse,” he added. “He acts like a real professional. He settled in here straight away. There was nothing we had to complicate him with in switching him over from the West Coast to the East Coast. He settled right in and he’s never missed a beat, like a lot of nice horses do.”
Also graded-stakes placed is August Dawn Farm’s Tuggle, who weakened to third after racing on or near the lead of the 6 ½-furlong Saratoga Special (G2) Aug. 10. A front-running debut winner in the slop June 21 at Belmont Park, the Point of Entry colt has made his past two starts on grass, finishing off the board in the With Anticipation (G3) and Pilgrim (G3), the latter Sept. 28.
Jorge Vargas Jr. rides Tuggle from Post 5.
Completing the field are Bernie’s On Fire and Sir Back in Black, waiver maiden claiming winners at Laurel in their lone starts; recent Charles Town allowance winner Reform School; Ain’t Wasting Time and maiden Informative.
The James F. Lewis III is named for the late longtime horseman who served as first president of Maryland Million Ltd. and past president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. A breeder, owner and trainer, Lewis’ top horses included 1974 Test (G2) winner Maybellene, 1974 Flirtation (G3) winner Heartful and multiple stakes winner Swift Attraction. His daughter, Lisa Lewis, has been training since the early 1990s.
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