GRAHAM MOTION HAS TWO FOR SELIMA
Two years after using the race as a bridge to the Breeders’ Cup, trainer Graham Motion will send out maiden winner Sparkle Blue and maiden Luna Antonia for their first stakes engagements in Saturday’s $150,000 Selima at Laurel Park.
The 91st running of the Selima for 2-year-old fillies, and 94th renewal of the Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds, both at 1 1/16 miles, co-headline a 10-race Fall Festival of Racing program featuring five stakes worth $600,000 in purses over Laurel’s turf course.
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Sharing was a second-time maiden winner when she became a popular 2 ½-length winner of the Selima in 2019. The victory helped get her into the field for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita, where she upset favored Daahyeh by 1 ¼ lengths at nearly 14-1 odds. Sharing would go on to win two more stakes including the 2020 Edgewood (G3) and place in a pair of Grade 1 races before 2020’s Maryland-bred Horse of the Year was retired in January.
“It’s great timing for this race. I don’t know who’s coming from out of town but Laurel is our local track so we like to run there,” Motion said. “It just kind of fits in the schedule for these guys and it’s a great opportunity.”
Bred by Catherine Parke and co-owned by Parke and Augustin Stable, Sparkle Blue is a daughter of Hard Spun out of the Smart Strike mare Silk n’ Sapphire. Both her sire and grandsire are Grade 1 winners, and Hard Spun was second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and third in the Preakness (G1) in 2007.
“She’s well-connected,” Motion said. “I feel at this time of year you have to take a shot.”
Sparkle Blue has made one start, a one-mile maiden special weight Aug. 17 at Colonial Downs that was rained off the turf. She did not mind the surface switch, rolling to a 3 ¾-length victory.
“Like her mom she won on the dirt, which was a complete surprise to me,” Motion said. [She was] another one that we took down to Colonial that came off the grass that day. I kind of felt obliged to run her, but she won nicely and I think she’s improved, actually, and done well since.”
Sparkle Blue has breezed four times at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. since her win, the last three being five-furlong moves over its all-weather surface. Motion feels the move to turf will only serve to further improve her recent form.
“I can’t believe that’s not what she wants to do,” he said. “I had no intentions of running her on the dirt, and no one was more surprised than me, probably, when she won that day.”
Feargal Lynch is named to ride from Post 1 in a field of nine. Sparkle Blue is 6-1 on the morning line.
Herringswell Racing Club’s Luna Antonia ran third, beaten 2 ½ lengths, following a rail trip in her Sept. 9 unveiling at Laurel sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the grass. The Malibu Moon filly, purchased for $90,000 as a 2-year-old in training in March, returned to the work tab with a five-furlong move over Fair Hill’s all-weather surface Monday.
“I think she’s done well,” Motion said. “I thought she ran quite respectably the first time and I like the idea of stretching her out. I’ve always thought quite a lot of her, so I just felt like rolling the dice in the stake.”
Charlie Marquez gets the riding assignment from Post 4. Luna Antonia is lined at 12-1.
The Chad Brown-trained Consumer Spending, a second-out winner on the turf at Saratoga, is the even-money favorite and will have Victor Carrasco in the irons.