Mid-Atlantic Three Stars: December 15
Fire’s Finale won the Pennsylvania Nursery at Parx last Monday. Photo: Nikki Sherman/EQUI-PHOTO
Plenty of racing action took place throughout the Mid-Atlantic this past week.
Here’s a look at the “three stars” of each track:
- FIRST STAR: JONATHAN JOYCE. After a six-year absence from the saddle, Joyce returned to riding at Laurel in late October. On Saturday, he got his first win of his comeback, guiding Grace Isabella to victory in the third race, for trainer Robin Graham. Joyce began his career in 2004, and rode in Maryland regularly until 2014. In his career, Joyce has accumulated 565 wins, with earnings of more than $11.7 million.
- SECOND STARS: FORTUNATE FRIENDS. A Laurel Park mainstay this year, this Damon Dilodovico-trained gelding picked up his fourth win at Laurel this year on Friday afternoon. Sent off as the 4/5 favorite in a n/w2x allowance optional claiming race, he dueled with Abiding Star early on, then brushed off that rival and turned for home with a clear lead. Both The Cairo Kid and Nomo Ron gave him a challenge down the stretch, but Fortunate Friends brushed them aside and held on to win by a neck. He covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.40, for owner Vince Campanella and jockey Horacio Karamanos.
- THIRD STAR: DIXIE DRAWL. The Thursday feature, a n/w2x allowance optional claiming race going long, saw an upset. Dixie Drawl, the biggest price in the field at 10/1, came from off the pace to win by two lengths. He rated off Beyond the Victory, who set the pace early on in the 1 1/8 mile contest. Turning for home, Beyond the Victory began to fade, and Dixie Drawl got first crack. Although favored Plot the Dots rallied well in the stretch, Dixie Drawl held him off for the surprise victory. The winner is owned by Mopo Racing, trained by Dale Capuano, and ridden by Jorge Ruiz.
CHARLES TOWN RACES
- FIRST STAR: STAR OF NIGHT. This filly continued her dominant run this year on Saturday night, winning a thrilling renewal of the My Sister Pearl Stakes. She sat off early leader, and second choice, Bridging the Gap most of the way, then made her move at the three-quarters point. Turning for home, the two engaged in their own private battle, well clear of the others. In the end, Star of Night prevailed by half a length. She’s now won four races in a row, with her last three wins coming in stakes races. Arnaldo Bocachica was aboard the winner, for Huntertown Farms and Jeff Runco.
- SECOND STAR: V.I.P. TICKET. On Friday night, a field of West Virginia-bred males squared off in the rescheduled A Huevo Stakes. Although most of the field was locally-based, it was an out-of-town horse who prevailed, as V.I.P. Ticket won going away. He rated in mid-pack early on in the 1 1/16 mile race, off a hotly contested pace. When he leaders began to melt down, V.I.P. Ticket made a big move to the front. He outkicked the others and pulled clear to win by four lengths. He’s owned by A.R.D. Racing Stable, trained by Jerry O’Dwyer, and ridden by Gerald Almodovar.
- THIRD STAR: DIONYSUS’ CHALICE. One race prior to the A Huevo, West Virginia-bred sprinting star Dionysus’ Chalice won his fourth race in a row. Shipping across the state from Mountaineer, he broke on top in the 4 1/2 furlong contest, then zoomed clear and won by 1 1/4 lengths. He’s been quickly climbing the class ladder during his winning streak, and has never been headed in his last four races. Robert Cole is the winning owner, Kevin Patterson is the winning trainer, and Gerald Almodovar is the winning rider.
- FIRST STAR: FIRE’S FINALE. With a dramatic rally from behind, Fire’s Finale surged to win the Pennsylvania Nursery last Monday. He was twelfth, seven lengths back, at the opening quarter. In the stretch, he moved four-wide, and began to gobble up ground. He got up in the last few yards to win by a length, stopping the clock in 1:25.34. Kenwood Racing is the winning breeder and co-owner, owning in association with Degaetano and Pastore Inc. Kelly Breen is the winning trainer, Mychel Sanchez the winning jockey.
- SECOND STAR: ROCK ON LUKE. Sanchez also won Tuesday’s feature race, guiding Rock on Luke to a gate-to-wire win in a n/w2x allowance optional claiming race. He encountered pace pressure from Confessor in the early stages of the one mile and seventy yard contest. As they rounded the far turn, Rock on Luke began to pull clear, and opened up four lengths as they moved past the eighth pole. Although Bird King closed ground, the wire came in time for Rock on Luke, who finished 3/4 of a length ahead. The winner is owned by Jennifer Truehart and trained by Regina Brennan.
- THIRD STAR: RUBEN SILVERA. Silvera won four races on the Monday card. He teamed up with Jamie Ness twice, winning race 1 on Love in Her Eyes, and race 7 on Beautiful Grace. In addition, he took the sixth race on Strong Breeze, for trainer Ronald Abrams, and completed the grand slam in race 10 with Angel Raphael, for trainer Mario Dominguez. Silvera remains in second place in the jockey standings, trailing Mychel Sanchez.
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