Mid-Atlantic Three Stars: April 13
Claudio Gonzalez (left), shown here in 2019, had a big opening weekend. Photo: Jim McCue/MJC
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: CLAUDIO GONZALEZ. Laurel’s perennial leading trainer started off the spring meet on a strong note. He won seven races over the meet’s first four days, including a 3-for-3 day on Thursday. He won two races with Angel Cruz in the saddle, scoring with Marden in race 5 and Queen of Tomorrow in the eighth race. In addition, he won with Cause to Dream, ridden by J.D. Acosta, in race 7. He went 2-for-2 on Friday, but saw his streak to begin the season snapped in the first race on Saturday, when Start the Parade finished fifth. Nonetheless, Gonzalez currently has a three-win lead over Jamie Ness after the first week.
- SECOND STAR: SHELDON RUSSELL. Fresh off a runner-up finish in the jockey standings at the winter meet, Russell won six races opening week to lead all riders. His biggest day came on Friday, when he won three races. He teamed up with his wife, Brittany, on two of his winners. They took race 3 with impressive maiden winner Memphis Mafia, then won the seventh race with another maiden, Ratify. Sheldon completed the hat trick in race 8, when he rode Jamie Ness trainee Shane’s Jewel to a win.
- THIRD STAR: DIXIE DRAWL. This gelding won his second race of the year on Sunday, taking a n/w3x allowance optional claiming race by 3/4 of a length. Jorge Ruiz rated the gelding off early leader Arthur’s Hope. That one opened up a long lead around the turn, but entering the long stretch of the one-turn mile, he began to wilt. Dixie Drawl closed in on him, and he got up for the win, stopping the clock in 1:35.89. The winner is owned by Mopo Racing and trained by Dale Capuano.
CHARLES TOWN RACES
- FIRST STAR: BE BE BOP. On Thursday night, this West Virginia-bred gelding improved to a perfect 4-for-4 mark on the year with a win in an open n/w1x allowance race. He rated on the inside, and was so full of run on the far turn that he inadvertently ran up on his rival’s heels on the turn. Once he regained momentum, a hole opened up in the stretch, and he wore down pace-setting Impetuous late for a half-length win, covering 4 1/2 furlongs in 52.35 seconds. He’s owned by James Wolf, trained by Anthony Farrior, and was ridden by Arnaldo Bocachica.
- SECOND STAR: LADY VALENTINA. Friday night’s feature was a n/w1x open allowance race for fillies and mares. Lady Valentina, the slight favorite at 2/1, got the job done, taking them gate-to-wire in the seven-furlong contest. She received pressure in the early stages from Complete Surprise, then moved away from that rival nearing the half-mile point and won by 3 3/4 lengths. That was her first win of the year from three starts. Christian Hiraldo had the winning mount, for owner Robert Cole and trainer Irving Velez.
- THIRD STAR: RONNEY BROWN. Brown had the most wins among trainers this week, with four victories. He had a training double on Wednesday, taking race 4 with Azzura, ridden by Luis Batista, and the eighth race with Fredy Peltroche-ridden Lucky Penguin. Brown is now tied for second in the trainer standings, with 31 wins.
- FIRST STAR: JAMIE NESS. Parx’s leading trainer had a remarkable afternoon last Monday, winning five races on the card. Four of them were with horses ridden by Ruben Silvera. They teamed up to win race 1 with Salsa’s Return, race 3 with Presto Change O, the sixth race with U S Constitution, and race 10 on Zitman. Ness also won race 9 with Factor This In, ridden by Jamie Rodriguez. Ness has a commanding lead in the trainer standings, with 42 wins as of publication.
- SECOND STAR: RUBEN SILVERA. Silvera had the best week among all riders. He teamed up to win with Ness four times on Monday, then won three more races on Tuesday. He took race 1 on General, trained by Scott Lake, race 5 on Kathleen Demasi trainee Kind Humor, and race 11 on Won Dozen Banks, for trainer Michael Catalano. Silvera’s 51 winners are best among Parx jockeys so far this meet.
- THIRD STAR: IRISH CORK. He made it two wins in a row in Tuesday’s feature, taking a Pennsylvania-bred n/w2x allowance race by 2 3/4 lengths. He made a three-wide bid for the lead on the final turn, and took control in the stretch, drawing off under urging in the last eighth. Mychel Sanchez was in the saddle, for owner Irish Three Racing LLC and trainer John Servis. The final time in the one mile and seventy yard race was 1:42.09.
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