Firenze Fire
Whereshetoldmetogo tried to chomp Firenze Fire in the 2018 G3 Gallant Bob. Photo By Taylor Ejdys/EQUI-PHOTO

 Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and Black Cloud Racing Stable’s Whereshetoldmetogo returns to Maryland in Saturday’s $100,000 Polynesian at Laurel Park for the first time since winning back-to-back stakes two summers ago.

The 16th running of the Polynesian for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs on the main track goes off as Race 8 (3:40 p.m.) as the last of four $100,000 stakes on an 11-race program as part of Laurel’s Preakness Prep Weekend that continues with five $100,000 stakes Monday, Sept. 7 led by the Federico Tesio, a ‘Win and In’ race for Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds to the 145th Preakness (G1) Oct. 3, and the Weber City Miss, a ‘Win and In’ event for the 96th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on the Preakness undercard.

Joining the Polynesian on Saturday’s card are a pair of stakes for fillies and mares 3 and up, the Twixt at about 1 1/16 miles (Race 2, 12:40 p.m.) and Alma North at six furlongs (Race 4, 1:40 p.m.), and the Deputed Testamony for 3-year-olds and up at about 1 1/16 miles (Race 6, 2:40 p.m.). First race post time is 12:10 p.m.

Whereshetoldmetogo captured the seven-furlong Concern and six-furlong Star de Naskra, the latter against fellow Maryland-breds, 42 days apart in July and August of 2018 at Laurel for trainer Anthony Pecoraro. The 5-year-old El Padrino gelding capped his sophomore season running second by a neck to Grade 1 winner Firenze Fire in the six-furlong Gallant Bob (G3) at Parx, making headlines for attempting to bite the winner approaching the wire.

Mark Esposito of Black Cloud took on partners prior to the 2019 campaign and Whereshetoldmetogo was moved to the barn of Midwest-based Brad Cox, winning once in five starts, an optional claiming sprint last November at Churchill Downs. In his lone outing this year, Whereshetoldmetogo was third, beaten seven lengths, in the six-furlong Iowa Sprint July 5 at Palm Meadows.

“He’s doing really good. I haven’t had him terribly long and he had a very short break after Brad had him in Iowa but they never truly stopped on him, so he didn’t really lose much,” Laurel-based trainer Brittany Russell said. Russell previously worked for Cox before going out on her own in 2018.

“I worked him twice and the last work on Sunday was the work that made me think we’d go in this race and take a look at it. He worked good and he came out of it bouncing,” she added. “He’s also the type of horse that when he’s doing good you have to take a shot. He’s had some minor issues ail him all along. If he could just run well and get a piece of it and give us something to move forward off of, I think that’s kind of the key with him. He might need a run, yes, but at least walk him over when he’s doing well.”

Whereshetoldmetogo went a half-mile over Laurel’s main track in 48 seconds Aug. 30, third-fastest of 36 horses. He will be ridden by four-time Maryland champion jockey Trevor McCarthy from outside Post 8 and is listed as third choice on the morning line at 9-2 behind fellow multiple stakes winner Laki (5-2) and Eastern Bay (7-2).

“He obviously likes the Mid-Atlantic and he’s won races over this racetrack. The way he worked over it the other day, it’s clear he still has a liking for the surface,” Russell said. “I’m not going to say he’s 100 percent tight to walk over there on Saturday, but he’s healthy and he’s happy and that’s the key thing with a horse like this.

“I think they just wanted to get him back out here,” she added. “He had been running at Churchill and Keeneland and that kind of thing and I think they were thinking, ‘Let’s get him back to the Mid-Atlantic where he’s won stakes before.'”

Russell will also be keeping an eye on Saratoga, where just over an hour after the Polynesian runs, multiple stakes winner Hello Beautiful will take on eight rivals in the six-furlong Prioress (G2), the 3-year-old filly’s first start since being wiped out at the starting gate and finishing last behind Mundaye Call’s track-record performance in the Aug. 8 Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park.

Listed at 10-1 in the program, Hello Beautiful will be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche from Post 6.

“I’m OK with where she is. She’s not inside, so at least she doesn’t have to sit there too long,” Russell said. “If she jumps out of there and has a clean trip and she can’t get the job done, that’s OK, but we don’t want to walk away scratching our heads again. Just give her a good trip so we know what we have moving forward.”