Claudio 4 wins 2.5.21
Claudio Gonzalez won four. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.

Donald Samaan’s Extra Medium swept to the lead in mid-stretch and powered home a 2 ½-length winner in Laurel Park’s ninth-race finale Friday to complete a four-win afternoon for leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez.

Entering Friday’s nine-race program, Gonzalez was tied with Dale Capuano and Mike Trombetta at 10 wins apiece through the first 16 racing days of the winter meet, which began Jan. 1 and runs through March 28. Neither Capuano nor Trombetta had a winner Friday.

“What a day,” Gonzalez said. “All the horses, if you look they were 5-2, 7-2. They were all live. It’s not easy to win one race, so to win four is amazing.”

After finishing third with Michael Scheffres’ Point Driven in Race 3, Gonzalez won with Danny Chen’s Stretch the Truth ($3.40) in Race 4, Joseph Besecker’s Mineshaft Magic ($10) in Race 6 and Rising Sun Racing Stables, Inc.’s Conjecture ($8.80) in Race 7 before Extra Medium ($6) ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:18.24 in the third-level claimer for 4-year-olds and up.

A 44-year-old cancer survivor, Gonzalez has been Maryland’s leading trainer the past four years, reaching triple digits in each of the last three, even with live racing paused in the state for 2 ½ months last winter and spring amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gonzalez swept all four meets in 2020, three at Laurel and the Preakness Meet at Pimlico, and has won 11 of the last 14 dating back to Laurel’s 2017 fall stand. He owns or shares 15 titles overall.

Gonzalez said he is pointing at least three horses to stakes on the Feb. 13 Winter Sprintfest program – multiple stakes winner Lebda in the $250,000 General’s Stake (G3) for older sprinters; 2020 Anne Arundel County winner Miss Leslie in the $100,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs; and Landing Zone in the $100,000 Nellie Morse for older fillies and mares at about 1 1/16 miles.

A total of six stakes worth $900,000 in purses highlight Winter Sprintfest, including the $250,000 Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) for females 4 and up sprinting seven furlongs.