Grateful Bred won the eighth race at Laurel Park on Saturday. Photo Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.

LAUREL, MD – Gordon C Keys’ Maryland homebred Grateful Bred, reluctant to first load in the starting gate, took an early lead and put his rivals away for good at the head of the stretch in a stylish front-running maiden special weight triumph Saturday at Laurel Park.

            The 3 ½-length victory by 4-year-old Grateful Bred ($43.20) marked the first win at a recognized flat track for trainer Madison Meyers. According to Equibase statistics, Meyers had two previous career victories – a 2016 amateur event at Great Meadow in Virginia and a hurdle race last fall in Aiken, S.C.

            “It’s great. We’ve worked hard with this horse, so it feels really good,” Meyers said. “If we can work on the antics a little bit, I think we’ve got a pretty nice horse.”

            It was the second maiden special weight win in as many days over Laurel’s world-class turf course for leading Maryland stallion Great Notion, who was represented by Kendama’s victory Friday for trainer Arnaud Delacour.

            Grateful Bred, making his second career start after rallying to be fourth in a similar turf sprint last October at Laurel, initially balked when approaching the gate and had to be loaded without seven-pound apprentice Charlie Marquez.

            Once the doors opened Grateful Bred broke a bit slowly but was intent on the lead and quickly took command, setting fractions of 22.03 and 45.01 seconds. Grafeful Bred turned for home with a commanding six-length lead and sailed to the wire in 1:02.76 for 5 ½ furlongs over the firm All Along layout.

            First Law closed to be second by a neck over Josef is Real. It was another half-length back to Our Destiny in fourth.

            “The pre-race antics are a little bit worrying at times, and I was hoping for a few more weeks to kind of work with him, but this race came up and he really was telling us that he was ready to run,” Meyers said. “So, we decided just to go for it and it paid off.”

            Grateful Bred had three timed works since late May for his seasonal debut, two this month, the most recent a three-furlong move in 38 seconds at the Middletown Training Center in Delaware. He was only beaten 4 ½ lengths in his debut despite a poor break under Laurel’s current summer meet-leading jockey Sheldon Russell.

            “When he ran here the first time last fall, he was great and went right in [the gate],” Meyers said. “I don’t know if he broke so hard that he stumbled or what he did, but he stumbled and Sheldon did a great job just to steady him and he ended up getting up for fourth. We were really impressed with his turn of foot and everything.”

            Howling Pigeons Farm’s first-time starter First Law is a gelded 3-year-old son of Constitution, the leading second-crop sire of 2020 whose current star is Florida Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tiz the Law.

            Seventh as the narrow 5-2 favorite in his turf debut was The Cairo Kid, trained and co-owned by Annette Eubanks. The 4-year-old gelding, unraced at 2 and 3, is a son of Cairo Prince, the No. 1-ranked third-crop sire by stakes winners and graded-stakes winners including recent Ohio Derby (G3) upset victor Dean Martini.