Harpers First Ride
Harpers First Ride cruised in the Native Dancer Stakes. Photo by Jerry Dzierwinski.

Harpers First Ride made short work of his half-dozen rivals in the $100,000 Native Dancer Stakes Saturday at Laurel Park. That made him the only one of four members of the top 10 of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll to win on a busy Saturday.

A Maryland-bred son of Paynter, Harpers First Ride stalked the early pace of longshot Saratoga Jack before surging clear to a 3 ½-length victory under regular pilot Angel Cruz.

Trained by Claudio Gonzalez, Harpers First Ride has won seven times in 2020, with four stakes wins, among them a triumph in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special. He has earned just shy of $500,000.

Up next for the four-year-old? Perhaps fishing in deeper waters; he’s made just two starts in graded company, having also finished fifth in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup back in May.

“He proved that he won his races easy and maybe he has to take the next step and race with the big guys and see how he does,” Gonzalez said. “It all depends on how he’s doing after the race, day by day, and we’ll make a decision what we’re going to do.”

Though he’s unlikely to finish the season as the top Midlantic-bred – Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Knicks Go likely has a stranglehold on the top spot — Harpers First Ride could also move up a spot in the season-ending Top Midlantic-bred Poll, which will appear in January.

That’s because Sharing, the three-year-old Maryland-bred filly who held down the second spot in the most recent poll, could manage only a third-place finish in Grade 1 American Oaks Saturday at Santa Anita Park. Sent off as the 8-5 favorite, she stalked the moderate pace set by Duopoly but could not stay with that runner in the final quarter-mile, finishing nearly three lengths in arrears.

The Speightstown filly, trained by Graham Motion, has won twice this year, her top victory a score in the Grade 2 Edgewood in September at Churchill Downs. She also finished second in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Two other members of the top 10, both Maryland-breds, also came up short on Saturday.

Field Pass, fourth in the most recent poll, finished fourth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile at Santa Anita. The sophomore Lemon Drop Kid colt has won five times this year, three of those in Grade 3 company.

Closer to home, Laki, sixth in the most recent poll, finished fourth in the Dave’s Friend Stakes at Laurel. The Cuba gelding, off as the 9-10 favorite, lacked room inside the quarter pole but never made much impact and was beaten by four lengths by another Maryland-bred, the El Padrino gelding Whereshetoldmetogo, who’s won two consecutive stakes.

Possibly on the upswing is Street Lute. The Maryland-bred two-year-old filly narrowly won the Gin Talking Stakes Saturday at Laurel Park for her fourth stakes win of the season. The daughter of Street Magician has won five of six career starts and was among those “also receiving votes” in the most recent poll.

On the work tab:

  • Poll leader Knicks Go breezed a half-mile in 49 3/5 seconds Sunday at the Fair Grounds.
  • Two runners among those also receiving votes also worked over the weekend. Hello Beautiful went a half-mile in 49 3/5 seconds Sunday at Laurel, while Attachment Rate went five-eighths in 1:03 1/5 at Gulfstream Park that same day.


  1. Knicks Go (MD) — Four-year-old colt by Paynter-Kosmo’s Buddy, by Outflanker. Trained by Brad Cox for Korea Racing Authority. Bred in Maryland by Angie Moore. Key 2020 wins: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
  2. Sharing (MD) — Three-year-old filly by Speightstown-Shared Account, by Pleasantly Perfect. Trained by Graham Motion for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gainesway Stable. Bred in Maryland by Sagamore Farm. Key 2020 wins: Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes, Tepin Stakes
  3. Harper’s First Ride (MD) –Four-year-old gelding by Paynter-Polyester, by Tiz Wonderful. Trained by Claudio Gonzalez for MCA Racing Stable LLC. Bred in Maryland by Sagamore Farm. Key 2020 wins: Grade 3 Pimlico Special, Native Dancer Stakes, Richard Small Stakes, Deputed Testamony Stakes.
  4. Field Pass (MD) –Three-year-old colt by Lemon Drop Kid-Only Me, by Runaway Groom. Trained by Mike Maker for Three Diamonds Farm. Bred in Maryland by Mark Brown Grier. Key 2020 wins: Grade 3 Ontario Derby, Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes, Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks.
  5. Horologist (NJ) — Four-year-old filly by Gemologist-Cinderella Time, by Stephen Got Even. Trained by Bill Mott for There’s A Chance Stable, Medallion Racing, Abbondanza Racing LLC, Parkland Thoroughbreds, Paradise Farms Corp., and David Staudacher. Bred in New Jersey by Holly Crest Farm. Key 2020 wins: Grade 2 Beldame Stakes, Grade 3 Molly Pitcher Stakes.
  6. Laki (MD) — Seven-year-old gelding by Cuba-Truthful Dutch, by Swear by Dixie. Trained by Damon Dilodovico for Hillside Equestrian Meadows. Bred in Maryland by Tom Michaels and Lorna Baker. Key 2020 wins: Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, Oceanport Centennial Stakes.
  7. Monday Morning Qb (MD) — Three-year-old colt by Imagining-How My Heart Works, by Not for Love. Trained by Butch Reid for Cash Is King LLC and LC Racing LLC. Bred in Maryland by Bowman & HIggins Stable and Cary Frommer. Key 2020 wins: Maryland Million Classic.
  8. Pickin’ Time (NJ) — Two-year-old colt by Stay Thirsty-Born to Royalty, by King of Kings. Trained by Kelly Breen for John Bowers, Jr. Bred in New Jersey by John Bowers, Jr. Key 2020 wins: Grade 3 Nashua Stakes, Smoke Glacken Stakes.
  9. Fiya (MD) –Three-year-old gelding by Friesan Fire-Sista, by Two Punch. Trained by Tom Albertrani for Robert Masiello. Bred in Maryland by Ann Merryman. Key 2020 wins: Maryland Million Turf Sprint Handicap, Claiming Crown Canterbury Stakes.
  10. Madam Meena (PA) — Three-year-old filly by Include-Good Tidings, by Came Home. Trained by Jamie Ness for Michael R. Cox. Bred in Pennsylvania by Michael R. Cox. Key 2020 wins: Tax-Free Shopping Distaff Stakes.

Also receiving votes: Hello Beautiful, Street Lute, Dr. Feelgood, Project Whiskey, Attachment Rate, Wait for It, Top Line Growth, Majestic Reason, Double Crown, Star of Night, Caravel, Never Enough Time, Jakarta, After Five, Bronx Beauty, Eastern Bay, Its a Journey, Still Having Fun, Anna’s Bandit, Penguin Power, Artful Splatter