Comebacking Las Setas among Laurel stakes headliners

by | Nov 29, 2019 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing

Las Setas won the Beyond the Wire Stakes ealier this year at Laurel Park with Jevian Toledo up for trainer Katy Voss at Laurel Park. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

The City of Laurel for 3-year-olds and $100,000 Imagining Safely Kept Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, both at seven furlongs, are among four stakes worth $400,000 in purses on the nine-race program. First-race post time is 12:25 p.m.

For the first time this year, winners of the City of Laurel and Safely Kept will earn automatic entry into the $300,000 Malibu (G1) and $300,000 La Brea (G1), respectively, on Wednesday, Dec. 26, opening day of Santa Anita’s winter-spring meet.

Both the Malibu and La Brea are contested at seven furlongs. If the winner of Laurel’s races make the trip to California, they will be given a $2,500 stipend toward travel costs.

Juddmonte Farm’s graded-stakes placed homebred Honest Mischief, an impressive allowance winner off the bench last out, returns to stakes company in the City of Laurel and does so as the 4-5 morning line favorite. The son of Into Mischief has been worse than third just once in five starts, all this year, with two wins.

Both Honest Mischief’s wins have come sprinting at Keeneland, an eight-length maiden special weight romp April 6 going seven furlongs, and a four-length triumph Oct. 9 in a 6 ½-furlong allowance against older horses at Keeneland. In between, he ran sixth as the favorite in the Woody Stephens (G1) and a distant third to eventual Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) runner-up Shancelot in the Amsterdam (G2).

Honest Mischief will have to contend here with Amundson (9-5), a Horacio DePaz trainee for owner Barry Schwartz.

A gelded bay son of two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin and grandson of champion Bernardini, Amundson exits a front-running 8 ¾-length romp over fellow New York-breds in a 6 ½-furlong second-level allowance Oct. 18 at Belmont Park. The effort came four weeks after a half-length score going the same distance in an entry-level spot, also at Belmont.

“He’s doing really good. He came out of the race in New York in good order,” trainer Horacio DePaz said. “Obviously it was a pretty strong effort, so we’re just trying to let him recover from that and see if he’s going to be able to peak again for us on Saturday.”

Two of the four other runners in the compact field — Hall Pass (8-1) and Hanalei’s Houdini (12-1) — come from the barn of veteran horseman Hamilton Smith, nearing 2,000 career wins.

In the Safely Kept, named for the Maryland-bred distaffer who won the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and entered the national racing Hall of Fame in 2011, the Katy Voss-trained Las Setas will make her first start since an up-the-track finish in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in May.

Owned by Wayne Harrison, Robert Manfuso and Katy Voss, bred by Manfuso and Voss in Maryland and trained by Voss, Las Setas drew Post 4 in a field of 13 for her return to Laurel, where she broke her maiden and reeled off three consecutive stakes victories over the winter and spring.

“We got lucky because those races came up good for her. This is a different story. It looks pretty tough,” Voss said. “It’s great to have her back. It’s been a little bit of a dry summer and fall. She’s on track, so we’ll go in and see what it looks like.”

Las Setas raced once at 2, finishing sixth in a six-furlong maiden special weight last New Year’s Eve. She won four straight races ranging from seven furlongs to about 1 1/16 miles to start her sophomore year, including the Wide Country, Beyond the Wire and Weber City Miss, the latter earning her an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan.

“She’s a very, very talented filly. We thought that she could win first time out, but she was just too green. She’s easily flustered and she got some dirt in her face,” Voss said. “The second time we ran her, she was just better than they were, and with two races under her belt she had everything her own way in the [first] two stakes she won.

“She gutted it out in the Weber City Miss. I thought she ran her race that day but Our Super Freak stepped up and she improved her game that day and made it a contest,” she added. “When we ran in the Black-Eyed Susan, I had counted before the race four horses that I didn’t think she could beat. It was just a totally different quality of horse. It looks like Saturday’s race will have some pretty talented fillies.”

Las Setas has posted three straight bullet five-furlong workouts at Laurel for her return, going in 1:00.40 Tuesday after times of 1:02.60 Nov. 20 and 1:01 Nov. 14.

“She’s acting really well. She’s worked good and it’s funny, the [Nov. 20] work was slower but I think that had more to do with the racetrack than with her. She’s doing great,” Voss said. “She never had any problems last spring but she came out of the Black-Eyed Susan with a couple little setbacks, not important, but that needed time. She’s doing really well now.”

Las Setas is 10-1 on the morning line in a full field of 13. The morning line favorite is the Jason Servis trainee Philanthropic (9-2), who finished second last out in Aqueduct’s Pumpkin Pie Stakes November 9.

NOTES The card also features a pair of stakes for older runners. The New Jersey-bred millionaire Sunny Ridge (5-2) — also trained by Jason Servis — is favored in the $100,000, nine-furlong Richard W. Small Stakes, while the Bernie Houghton-trained PA-bred Vault (2-1) gets the nod in the 1 1/16-mile Thirty Eight Go Go, for fillies and mares. The former race also includes another talented NJ-bred in Golden Brown, as well as hard-hitting Maryland-bred Bonus Points. The latter includes three horses trained by Houghton and three trained by Arnaud Delacour, including morning line second choice Beach Diva (7-2).

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