Mid-Atlantic Three Stars: July 14
Miss Marissa won the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park last Saturday. Photo: Allison Janezic.
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: GUNNISON. A solid field of older grass horses squared off in Sunday’s feature, a n/w3x allowance optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles. Both of the top two finishers, Gunnison and Hawkish, made moves from far behind and battled each other in the stretch. Gunnison, who had just missed in his last two starts, had more momentum, and won by a neck over Hawkish, who was making his first start of the year. Gunnison is owned by Hinkle Farms and KMR Racing Stable LLC, trained by Kelly Rubley, and was ridden to victory by Julian Pimentel. In his career, Gunnison has won five times from 26 starts, with earnings just over $186,000.
- SECOND STAR: JULIAN PIMENTEL. Pimentel had a big day on Sunday. He won three races on the eight-race card, including his win with Gunnison. He also won race 5 with Beacon Hill, trained by Michael Matz, and the eighth race with Jackie A, for trainer Corby Caiazzo. Those were his only mounts of the day, but he made all of them count. Pimentel’s big day almost doubled his win total at the current meet, from four to seven.
- THIRD STAR: AIR TOKEN. Off a second-place finish in the Ben’s Cat Stakes against Maryland-breds last out, Air Token went off at 8/1 in Friday’s feature, a n/w2x allowance optional claiming race sprinting on the dirt. Breaking from the inside post, J.D. Acosta rated him towards the back early on, then moved him up the inside in the stretch. With a well-timed move, Air Token surged to victory by half a length. He’s now hit the board five times from seven starts this year. The winner is owned by Corrales Racing LLC and trained by Jose Corrales.
CHARLES TOWN RACES
- FIRST STAR: ARNALDO BOCACHICA. After winning three races in a night last week, Charles Town’s leading jockey did one better on Thursday night. He went a perfect 4-for-4 with his Thursday rides. All of his wins came for different trainers. He won race 2 aboard Pearly Queen in a front-running effort, for trainer Kristy Gazzier. He then took race 4 on odds-on favorite Ski Bunny, an Anthony Farrior trainee. Race 6 saw him get a hat trick on Spunman, who won by open lengths for trainer Jeff Runco. In the finale, he got the grand slam on a horse for Phil Schoenthal, Merchant of Hope. Bocachica won a total of seven races over the racing week, extending his meet total to a whopping 130 wins.
- SECOND STAR: NICO. This 4-year-old West Virginia-bred won his second race of the year, and his fourth one lifetime, on Friday night. As the 2/5 favorite in a West Virginia-bred allowance race, he went straight to the front and cruised to victory by 1 1/2 lengths under minimal pressure. In his eight-race career, he’s never been worse than second. Antonio Lopez had the mount for O’Sullivan Farms LLC and Javier Contreras.
- THIRD STAR: NORTH ATLANTIC. Later on Friday’s card, Bocachica and Runco teamed up to win the feature with this 8-year-old West Virginian. As the slight 8/5 favorite in an open n/w1x allowance optional claiming race, North Atlantic rallied four-wide on the turn and got up late for a 3/4-length victory. That’s his 18th career win from 52 starts. His career earnings are now more than $653,000.
- FIRST STAR: CHASING ARTIE. Sunday’s feature, the My Frenchman Stakes for 3-year-old grass sprinters, went to Chasing Artie. The favored Wesley Ward trainee pressed the early leader, Momos, and moved to engage with him in the stretch run. Racing towards the inside, Chasing Artie got up late for the victory over Momos, crossing the wire a neck in front. That’s his third career win, and second stakes win. He’s owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and ridden by Albin Jimenez.
- SECOND STAR: CILLA. The filly equivalent of the My Frenchman, the Blue Sparkler Stakes, was held on Saturday, but it washed off the grass and raced on the dirt. That didn’t stop Louisiana-bred Cilla, who drew off to a 2 1/2-length after enjoying a good trip rating off the leaders. That was her second stakes win in a row, having taken the Louisiana Legends Mademoiselle Stakes at Evangeline Downs last out. She’s owned by Dale Ladner, trained by Brett Brinkman, and ridden by Roberto Alvarado Jr.
- THIRD STAR: RITHIM BOX. This mare won Friday’s feature, a n/w2x allowance optional claiming sprint, in an 8/1 upset. She was the second-biggest longshot in the five-horse field, and rallied on the outside to get up for a 3/4-length victory. Carlos Montalvo had the winning ride for owner/trainer Katie Lisowski.
- FIRST STAR: MISS MARISSA. Saturday’s Delaware Handicap looked like a coronation for Bonny South. Coming off a second-place finish in the Ogden Phipps Stakes behind Letruska, she was the 2/5 favorite in the Delaware Handicap. However, she never fired and finished a well-beaten fifth. Miss Marissa, who won the George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico last October, pulled off the 9/2 upset in an impressive gate-to-wire performance. That was her first stakes win of the year, after back-to-back runner-up performances in listed stakes. She’s owned by Cammarota Racing LLC, trained by Jimmy Ryerson, and ridden by Daniel Centeno.
- SECOND STARS: CHUB WAGON. Earlier on the Saturday card, the Pennsylvania sprinting sensation Chub Wagon made it eight in a row with an easy win in the Dashing Beauty Stakes. After her chief rival, Hello Beautiful, was a stewards scratch, Chub Wagon had minimal competition, and was subsequently sent off as the overwhelming 1/10 favorite. She set the pace throughout and was never seriously challenged. She crossed the wire 5 1/4 lengths in front, covering six furlongs in 1:10.14. Daniel Lopez and George Chestnut are the winning owners, Guadalupe Preciado the winning trainer, and Jomar Torres the winning jockey. Although Chub Wagon has not yet competed in a graded stakes race, she’ll almost certainly be in one next out.
- THIRD STAR: DALIKA. One race later, Dalika won the Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes with a heads-up ride. Candy Flower went out to the lead from the inside, but Miguel Mena kept Dalika close, never letting the leader out of her sight while opening up a big margin on the rest. As they rounded the third and final turn, Dalika poked a head in front, with a tiring Candy Flower on her inside and a big jump on the others. Two of the favorites, Luck Money and Temple City Terror, surged at her, but Dalika had the pace advantage and held on. She’s owned by Bal Mar Equine and trained by Al Stall Jr.
- FIRST STAR: PRINCESS GRACE. This Mike Stidham-trained filly made her 2021 debut a winning one last Tuesday, taking the Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes by a neck. Joe Bravo gave her a ground-saving trip, and angled her off the rail in the stretch to take her shot at the leaders. Madita held the edge late, but Princess Grace got up in the last few jumps for the win. She’s now 4-for-5 in her career, including two graded stakes wins. Susan and John Moore are the winning owners.
- SECOND STAR: WENTZ. One race prior, Wentz won an open allowance by a head in a game effort. After rating just off Thiscatcanjump in the early stages of the seven-furlong affair, he wore him down in the stretch, holding on determinedly for a head win. It was his fourth win of the year from nine starts, all of which have come at Parx. He’s owned by Morris Kernan Jr and Jagger Inc, trained by Jamie Ness, and ridden by Ruben Silvera.
- THIRD STAR: SHANE’S JEWEL. Last Wednesday, the Jagger/Ness/Silvera team struck again, as Shane’s Jewel won his fourth race of the year. As the favorite in an off-the-grass open allowance, he set the pace and was never seriously challenged, drawing off to win by 4 1/2 lengths. His four wins this year have come at four different tracks. He previously won at Penn National, Laurel Park, and Delaware Park.
LATEST RACING NEWS
Maryland-bred Knicks Go, winner of the G1 Pegasus World Cup earlier this year, has been installed as the favorite in Saturday’s G1 Whitney at Saratoga.
Your five-minute read to catch up on all the Mid-Atlantic racing action you may have missed over the weekend…
‘From the Spa’ keeps you up to speed with all the Midlantic-breds running in Saratoga stakes this summer.
Five-year-old mare Letruska, who’s beaten the best in her division, has moved to the top of the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll.
Trainers Michelle Lovell and Sarah Nagle both won stakes Monday at Colonial Downs, and they and their horses are feeling right at home in New Kent.
Hell0 Beautiful’s facile Alma North win gave jockey Sheldon Russell his 1,500th win, netted her groom a big bonus, and led to smiles all around.