Unable to defend his title in the Maryland Million Sprint last weekend, Big Bertha Stable and Stormy Stable’s Taco Supream lands instead in a stakes-quality allowance that highlights Friday’s nine-race program at Laurel Park.

First race post time is 12:25 p.m.

Taco Supream drew outside Post 8 in Race 6, a $47,000 third-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs on the main track with a scheduled post time of 2:56 p.m. He is one of two in the field from trainer Damon Dilodovico, along with Vince Campanella’s Fortunate Friends.

Stable rider Horacio Karamanos will be aboard Taco Supream, unraced since finishing sixth in the six-furlong Polynesian Stakes Sept. 5 at Laurel and listed as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line. He was the fourth of five Maryland-bred also-eligibles and did not draw into the Oct. 24 Maryland Million Sprint, won in a 16-1 upset by Karan’s Notion. Maryland Million races only open up to state-breds when there are fewer than eight Maryland-sired horses entered; the Sprint had a full field of 10.

Among the other horses excluded from the Sprint were Polynesian winner and subsequent Frank J. De Francis Stakes (G3) runner-up Eastern Bay, and 2019 Star de Naskra winner Whereshetoldmetogo, also second in that year’s Gallant Bob (G3).

Friday’s race may turn out to be a more challenging spot for Taco Supream, having to not only face his stablemate but also fellow stakes winners Oldies But Goodies and Francatelli and stakes-placed Absentee and Hold Me Black, the latter racing second time off the claim for meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez. Stakes winner Wendell Fong, two-for-three lifetime at Laurel, was also entered but ran Thursday at Belmont Park.

“It’s a tough, tough race, much tougher in my opinion than what the Maryland Million race ended up being without all the others getting in,” Dilodovico said. “He’ll definitely have his work cut out for him. My other horse in there has been training very forward, and he’s tough.

“[Francatelli] won a turf stake but his dirt races have been very solid. I wasn’t expecting to have to deal with that horse, or Claudio, one start off the claim,” he added. “It’s a tough race. Our horses, they have to do some work tomorrow, that’s for sure.”

Taco Supream, a gelded 5-year-old son of El Padrino, has been a model of consistency throughout his career with 18 top-three finishes from 25 starts including seven wins and nearly $340,000 in purse earnings, making his Polynesian effort a mystery to Dilodovico. Taco Supream emerged from the race with a bullet with a bullet half-mile work in 46.60 seconds Oct. 10, fastest of 74 horses.

“I was just expecting more of a kick from him that day. He ran a good race, but I was just expecting a bit more from him,” Dilodovico said. “But he gave me an awesome breeze, maybe a little bit too quick, a couple weeks ago so I’m racing off of that. I didn’t set him back down again, but it seems like he’s holding his fitness well and we’ll give him a shot.”

Taco Supream had four wins and three seconds from seven races last year but is winless in five tries in 2020. He did finish first as the favorite in six-furlong starter optional claimer Feb. 17 at Laurel but was disqualified to fourth for interference. Fortunate Friends has a record of 6-3-6 from 23 starts, going three-for-seven since joining Dilodovico this year.

“Taco’s been a hard-luck horse this year, for sure, but he always runs. His numbers are always very consistent. Definitely he’ll be tough,” Dilodovico said. “Fortunate Friends, is training well. He’s a funny horse to ride so I’m very excited to have Trevor [McCarthy] back on him second time. He’s not your average horse. He gave us a big effort two starts back and he looked a little bouncy last time so I’m excited. Maybe Trevor having a second mount on him will be more in tune with him.”

The narrow 7-2 program favorite is Maribeth Sanford and Lynch Racing’s Francatelli, fifth in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint Oct. 3 on the Preakness Stakes (G1) undercard at Pimlico Race Course. The 3-year-old City Zip gelding won the five-furlong King Corrie Stakes Sept. 12  at Woodbine off a 9 ½-length front-running off-the-turf optional claiming allowance romp going 5 ½ furlongs Aug. 15 at Laurel.