G1 WINNER ROADSTER DROPPING INTO POLYNESIAN
Speedway Stables’ Grade 1 winner and one-time Triple Crown contender Roadster will be making just his fifth start in the last two years and first on the East Coast as he continues his comeback in Saturday’s $100,000 Polynesian at Laurel Park.
The 17th running of the Polynesian for 3-year-olds and up and the 39th edition of the $100,000 Twixt for fillies and mares 3 and older, both at one mile, are among four stakes worth $500,000 in purses on an 11-race program headlined by the $200,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3).
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Also on the card is the $100,000 Weather Vane for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting six furlongs. All four stakes are part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series.
First race post time is 12:40 p.m. Roadster is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, with the Kent Sweezey-trained Phat Man the 9-5 favorite off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Iselin at Monmouth Park.
Roadster, bred by Stone Farm and purchased by Speedway’s Peter Fluor and K.C. Weiner for $525,000 as a yearling, won the 2019 Santa Anita Derby (G1) and has placed in four other graded-stakes during a 13-race career that began in California with trainer Bob Baffert.
Far behind first-place finisher Maximum Security following a wide trip around both turns in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Roadster rebounded to run second behind stablemate Mucho Gusto in the Affirmed (G3). He ran three more times at 3, sandwiching a fourth in the Native Diver (G3) between seconds in the Damascus and Malibu (G1).
Roadster ran twice at 4, and went unraced between a runner-up finish in the San Carlos (G2) last March and a fourth – beaten less than a length – in the New Orleans Handicap (G2) March 20 at Fair Grounds, his first start for trainer Michael Stidham. He has been off again since a fourth in the April 30 Alysheba (G2), again for Baffert, before being returned to Stidham at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.
“He had a little bit of a setback after his last race. He’s had foot issues throughout his career, and we got his feet back in good order. Right now he’s doing really well,” Stidham said. “He ran fantastic the first time for us.
“He went back out to Baffert and they brought him back to Churchill and he didn’t run well there so we stopped on him and got him straightened out,” he added. “We hope that we have him where we want him now.”
Overall Roadster has three wins and $888,500 in purse earnings from 13 career starts, running third in the 2018 Del Mar Futurity (G1) in his second career start. He has a total of five breezes since mid-August over the dirt and all-weather surfaces at Fair Hill, where Stidham said he has thrived.
“There’s synthetic and dirt [tracks] and we have turf gallops out back and everything you could ask for. That’s the beauty of it,” he said. “He is a real quality horse [with] a ton of talent, but he’s had lots of stops and starts in his career with throat surgery early on as a 3-year-old and then foot issues. Obviously you don’t want to run a horse like that unless they’re 100 percent and that’s where we think we have him now.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has the call on Roadster from Post 6 in a field of seven. According to Equibase statistics, Smith hasn’t ridden at Laurel since Feb. 17, 2007 when he won the Barbara Fritchie Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G2) on Oprah Winney.