RUGGED FIELD TO CONTEST SHINE AGAIN
Chub Wagon hasn’t tasted defeat yet in six starts. But the Hey Chub filly will need to have her running shoes on if she is to run her undefeated streak to seven in Sunday’s $100,000 Shine Again Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
The 13th running of the six-furlong Shine Again for fillies and mares 3 and up is one of five stakes worth $450,000 in purses on a 10-race program, and is part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series of 24 races that runs through late December.
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The Shine Again returns to the Maryland stakes calendar after being a casualty of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Daydreamin Gracie won the last time it was contested at Pimlico in 2013, with each of the last four runnings at Laurel Park.
Chub Wagon has posted two works since winning the Skipat on the Preakness Stakes undercard, ripping off a four-furlong move in 44 3/5 seconds at her Parx Racing base May 28 and most recently cruising a half in 48 1/5 June 8.
But this is no easy spot. Five of her seven rivals have won at least one stake, and four of those have won two.
Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stables and Magic City Stables’ Hello Beautiful had a three-stakes win streak snapped when fifth in the Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) Feb. 20 at Laurel. She was given some down time at the Fair Hill Training Center before rejoining trainer Brittany Russell’s string at Pimlico, where she has been working steadily since early May.
Prior to the seven-furlong Fritchie, Hello Beautiful ran her career stakes tally to five with consecutive wins in the Maryland Million Distaff and Safely Kept to end 2020 and six-furlong What a Summer to open 2021, all with Russell’s husband, jockey Sheldon Russell, aboard.
“She’s great. She’s been very straightforward, but she’s always been that way,” she said. “Sheldon’s been working her and we just keep it simple with her. She sort of trains herself and tells us when she’s ready. She’s worked good. You always kind of hope that you have them as ready as you can and they’re not going to need one. She seems like the kind that, she just runs. Better off just kind of getting her going now rather than keep working her. That’s the plan.”
Making her 15th career start, 4-year-old Hello Beautiful’s only previous race at Pimlico came in her May 10, 2019 unveiling when she finished third after breaking slowly. She won the Maryland Million Lassie and Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, both at Laurel, to cap her rookie season.
“To be fair, when something goes wrong in the afternoon, whatever the reason – like last year when we shipped her around a bit and just didn’t have any luck, or the Fritchie – it’s almost like it makes her come back with a vengeance. It makes her mad,” Russell said. “She doesn’t like getting beat. I hope that’s the case this go-around.”
Hello Beautiful, by Golden Lad, has never been far from the lead in any of her seven career wins, and has gone off as the favorite in 10 of her last 12 races. Sheldon Russell rides back from Post 2.
“We love this filly and she always gives us what she’s got and if she doesn’t, she has a reason on the days that she hasn’t,” Brittany Russell said. “You hate making excuses for horses but she always seems to have a pretty legit excuse when she doesn’t show up. If she gets outrun, she gets outrun. It happens sometimes.”
Five Hellions Farm’s Dontletsweetfoolya aims to get back on the winning track after finishing fourth in the Skipat, her first race since running seventh after dueling with Hello Beautiful in the Fritchie. Prior to that, the 4-year-old daughter of Stay Thirsty strung together five consecutive wins in front-running fashion by 28 ¾ combined lengths.
In the midst of the streak, Dontletsweetfoolya won an optional claiming allowance in her Pimlico debut. She wrapped up 2020 with wins in the Primonetta and Willa On the Move, both six furlongs at Laurel.
“She had a great work [Tuesday] morning. She’s doing really well. It’s going to be a tough race,” trainer Lacey Gaudet said. “She’s in a better position than she was. We knew going into the last race that she was a work short … and that’s how she ran.
“I think if our filly is 100 percent primed last time, she’s second to Chub Wagon. I think if we could do that going into this race, I’d be confident saying I think we’d be happy being second to Chub Wagon. Hello Beautiful puts a different spin on it because she’s going to be tough,” she added. “Chub Wagon is very impressive and she’s working impressive again. Hello Beautiful is going to be back. There’s definitely some tough horses.”
Jevian Toledo rides from Post 5.
No Guts No Glory Farm’s Anna’s Bandit, an 11-time stakes winner bred, owned and trained by Jerry Robb, is entered to make her 7-year-old debut. The Great Notion mare owns 17 career wins and $782,655 in purse earnings, has not raced since finishing third to 2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) runner-up Chalon in the Dashing Beauty last July 11 at Delaware Park – a span of 338 days.
“I was looking for an easier spot but I’ve been waiting for six weeks now. I’m not expecting her to win it, but she needs to get a race under her,” Robb said. “She’s been doing good, but she’s such a big, heavy horse that I don’t expect to ever get her fit just with breezes. We’ve got to start sooner or later. I wanted to run her in some easy spots, but I’m sure I’m going to end up in the toughest one there can be.”
Regular rider Xavier Perez, who picked up his 1,000th career victory Monday at Delaware Park on Robb-trained In the Loop, will be aboard from outside Post 8.
Completing the field are 2020 Skipat and Alma North winner Never Enough Time; Peter Miller-trained Unique Factor, a four-time winner of more than $200,000 most recently sixth behind champion Gamine in the Derby City Distaff (G1) May 1, seeking her first stakes win; Lucre and Paisley Singing.