Stakes winner Home Run Maker set for Dave’s Friend

by | Dec 24, 2019 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing

Home Run Maker ran past Sheikh of Sheikhs late to win the 2019 Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel Park. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

Jeff Drown’s Home Run Maker, unraced since early June, can end his 4-year-old season the way he started it – with a stakes victory – when he makes his return in Saturday’s $100,000 Dave’s Friend.

Home Run Maker put together a three-race win streak, all at six furlongs and all at Laurel, beginning with an open allowance win last October. He capped his sophomore season with a similar three-quarter-length triumph in an optional claiming allowance before opening 2019 winning the Fire Plug Stakes by a half-length.

Stepped up to the General George (G3), where he ran sixth, Home Run Maker was fifth in a pair of stakes starts, the latter in the June 1 Chocolate Town Sprint at Penn National, before being sent to South Carolina for a freshening.

“We just gave him a little break over the summer. We thought that he put some races together [where] he tried every time and you could just tell he was a little knocked out,” trainer Jeremiah Englehart said. “So, we gave him a little break down at Web Carroll’s training center and brought him back and he’s been doing great since we brought him back.”

Home Run Maker shows a half-dozen works since mid-November at Belmont Park, including a half-mile in 47.41 seconds from the gate Dec. 15 – second-fastest of 53 horses – and a maintenance move in 51.95 Dec. 21. Home Run Maker, who owns three wins and a third from six lifetime tries at Laurel, will break from Post 7 of eight under Jorge Vargas Jr. at topweight of 122 pounds.

“We always thought that he’s a horse that has a chance to be a real nice sprinter,” Englehart said. “Whether or not he makes it to the graded stakes someday, I don’t know, but there’s plenty of races out there for him that he’ll be very competitive in.

“He’s run well over the track and the distance suits him well, so it’s a good spot for him to come back,” he added. “Right now, he seems like all systems go. I can’t wait to get him back over there.”

Matthew Schera’s Isotherm, a two-time graded-stakes winner on turf, cuts back to a sprint for just the third time in his 28th career start and first since running third in the San Simeon (G3) on turf in April 2018 for previous trainer Phil D’Amato. Now stabled with James ‘Chuck’ Lawrence at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., the 6-year-old finished fifth in a pair of 1 1/16-mile stakes since moving east, the Autumn (G2) over Woodbine’s all-weather surface and the Swatara Stakes Nov. 27 at Penn National last out.

“The one time he sprinted out in California, he made a nice closing move,” Lawrence said. “I talked it over with Matt and we want to try it.”

Rockingham Ranch’s Threefiveindia is another horse that recently changed hands, claimed for $40,000 out of third-place finish at Los Alamitos Sept. 19 by trainer Peter Miller. The 6-year-old gelding has won both his starts since then in optional claiming allowance company, going seven-furlongs Nov. 1 at Santa Anita and by 3 ½ lengths in front-running fashion Nov. 14 at Del Mar at the Dave’s Friend distance.

Over his career, Threefiveindia has raced in eight graded-stakes and placed three times, twice in 2016 and most recently in the 2017 Fall Highweight (G3) at Aqueduct. Trevor McCarthy has the call from Post 5 at 120 pounds.

“We claimed him a couple starts back and he’s run well for us [both] times, so we’re hoping that he transfers that form to Laurel,” Miller said. “He’s a very nice, old, classy horse and he’s definitely gotten back into his old form.”

Multiple stakes-winning sprinter Clubman, 2018 Danzig Stakes winner Smooth B, Arch Cat, Fiber and Emily and Won and Done round out the field.

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