Stakes winner Ionic and multiple graded-stakes placed Theodora B., both coming off extended layoffs, are entered to make their season debuts in a third-level optional claiming allowance that highlights the 10-race program Friday, June 26 at Laurel Park.
First race post time is 12:40 p.m.
Bred and owned by Dr. Catherine Wills, Ionic drew Post 2 in a field of eight fillies and mares for the 1 1/16-mile contest, scheduled to be run over the Kelso layout on Laurel’s world-class turf course. It will be the first race in nearly eight months for the 4-year-old City Zip filly since capturing the Cellars Shiraz Nov. 2 at Gulfstream Park West.
“She’s doing well. She had a little bit of time off after her race at Gulfstream Park West. We just wanted to give her a little bit of time. She’s ready to run now so the timing is kind of right. I’m happy with how she’s been doing,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said. “It’s a good place to get her started.”
Friday will be just the seventh career start for Ionic, who was second by a nose in a one-mile optional claimer last April in her only previous try at Laurel. She is 2-0 at 1 1/16 miles with maiden and allowance triumphs last spring and summer, and she has proven adaptable with each of her first six races coming at different tracks.
“She’s run well at Laurel, so that gives me a good feeling about that. She’s probably better on firm turf than on soft. I think the weather forecast is pretty nice, so hopefully she’ll have a firm turf on Friday,” Delacour said. “She’s probably more of a miler than a mile and a sixteenth or more, but she has won at that distance before so I’m happy to come back at a mile and a sixteenth and see how it goes.”
Trevor McCarthy has the riding assignment on Ionic, who was considered for Saturday’s Nassau (G2) at Woodbine. She became a stakes winner for the first time in South Florida after finishing fifth in the Virginia Oaks and fourth in the Parx Fall Oaks last year.
“We had to ship very far to get it, but it worked out great. Obviously, with those fillies when you can get some black type it’s always a good deal. Hopefully she can get a little more and maybe graded black type at some stage. We’ll see if she improves,” Delacour said.
“There’s a lot less overnight stakes than there used to be, so I’m going to have to take it one race at a time and see. I wouldn’t be opposed to go to Woodbine,” he added. “They’ve got the Nassau this weekend, but that’s probably a little tough to bring a filly like her back in. I’ll be looking at any kind of graded-stakes and see if we can find one.”
Augustin Stable’s Theodora B. is the richest horse in the field with $234,157 in purse earnings. She has yet to win a stakes race but has placed six times, including second in the 1 3/8-mile Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3) and third in the 1 ¼-mile Maple Leaf (G3) last year.
From the barn of trainer Michael Dickinson, the 5-year-old daughter of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper was second behind Delacour-trained I’m So Fancy in the 1 1/16-mile Big Dreyfus last June at Laurel in her stakes debut. A Group 3 stakes winner in her native Ireland, I’m So Fancy went on to win the Matchmaker (G3).
In her most recent race, Theodora B. was beaten a neck when second in Forever Together Nov. 29 at Aqueduct, also at Friday’s distance. The 7-5 program favorite drew Post 5 under jockey Daniel Centeno.
Theodora B. has raced exclusively in stakes company since the Big Dreyfus, a span of eight starts. She also finished second in the 1 1/16-mile Violet at Monmouth Park and third in the one-mile, 70-yard HBPA Stakes at Parx last fall. She owns one win, one second and one third in three previous tries at Laurel.
“Theodora B. is doing quite well. She’s been ready to race for two or three weeks; we were just waiting for a race. She’s had a lot of work, she’s fairly fit and she’s in good form, and she looks very well, too,” Dickinson said. “She’s run well at Laurel, so we’re hopeful. She’s been great.”
Also among the entrants is 2018 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Summering, who won her season debut April 3 at Tampa Bay Downs and was fifth in an optional claiming allowance May 22 at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old Glen Hill Farm homebred was off the board in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to end 2018 as well as her only two starts of 2019, both last summer at Laurel, before getting the rest of the year off.
Estilo Femenino, second as the favorite in the 2018 Safely Kept at Laurel for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, and Wicked Awesome are entered for main track only.