There are no stakes races on the Laurel Park summer meet calendar, another victim, in a slightly roundabout way, of the coronavirus pandemic. But Friday’s eighth race sure looks like a stake.
The 10-horse field includes two graded stakes winners, and five of the 10 have earned at least $400,000 in their careers. The group of older runners will be going a one-turn mile for a $55,000 purse in the open allowance contest.
Alwaysmining has been tabbed by linemaker Keith Feustle as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite, with Cordmaker (7-2) the second choice. Both are Maryland-breds.
Four-year-old Alwaysmining has won seven stakes – all of them at Laurel – in his 21-race career. The son of Stay Thirsty won a pair of local stakes in the winter before running third in the Harrison Johnson, one day prior to Laurel’s shutdown because of the pandemic. He had a bad start and then was never much involved last time out, in late May, in the Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Julian Pimentel will ride for trainer Kelly Rubley.
Cordmaker is slated to make his first start since winning the restricted Governor’s Day at Delaware Park last September. It was his fifth win of the season and second in stakes company, though his best effort may have come when he was a near-miss third in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special in May.
With trainer Rodney Jenkins’ go-to pilot, Victor Carrasco, having decamped to Monmouth Park, Alex Cintron gets the call.
Those two may be the chalk, but they’ll have to contend with a pair of graded stakes winners.
Name Changer (9-2, part of entry) won the 2018 Grade 3 Monmouth Cup but has made just two starts since the beginning of 2019, finishing third in the Swatara Stakes at Penn National and then second in the Harrison Johnson here. He’s been training forwardly for conditioner Jorge Duarte, Jr., who overcame Covid-19 earlier this year.
Jevian Toledo is named on both Name Changer and the other half of the entry, Compound It, which suggests one of the two will scratch.
No Dozing (10-1) won the Grade 3 Bold Ruler by a pole in late 2018, but 2019 was not as kind to the Arnaud Delacour trainee. He went winless on the season, failing as the favorite six times. Daniel Centeno will ride.
The other half-million earner is the veteran John Jones (6-1). The eight-year-old Smarty Jones gelding has a recent race under his belt, having raced up close to the pace and briefly led before tiring to third in a local allowance race June 6. A 12-time winner, he’s posted nearly $600,000. Johan Rosado will ride for Lacey Gaudet.
Of the remainder of the runners, perhaps the most intriguing is the four-year-old gelding Harpers First Ride (9-2). The Claudio Gonzalez trainee has won five of his nine career starts and was a dominant winner last time out in a third-level allowance here. Among his beaten rivals that day are two – John Jones and Tybalt – that he will face in this contest. Angel Cruz will ride.
Post time for the eighth is 4:21 p.m., and for the card as a whole it’s 12:40.