Ready to Purrform
Ready to Purrform won the Laurel Futurity. Photo Jim McCue.

Laurel Park’s October 2 card featured a pair of historic events for two-year-olds that once were among the more prestigious races age-group races in the country.

In the first of the five stakes offered on Saturday, a field of nine two-year-olds went postward in the latest edition of the $150,000 Laurel Futurity at 1 1/16 miles on the lawn. Although its most accomplished winner on the grass, Barbaro, would later win the Kentucky Derby, the most memorable editions of the Laurel Futurity had been contested on the main track.

Among the main track winners of the Futurity in its heyday: Riva Ridge, Secretariat, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, and recent Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame inductee Devil’s Bag.

Much of the attention for the Laurel Futurity on Saturday afternoon centered around a pair of Kentucky invaders, City At Night and Ready to Purrform. City At Night, a freshman son of Temple City trained by Michael Maker, had finished second in his career debut in a one-mile maiden special weight event at Kentucky Downs, but would go postward as the 7-5 favorite, while Ready to Purrform, a narrow debut winner at Ellis Park for trainer Brad Cox, was the 3.40-1 second choice.

Kitten’s Joy Stakes winner Epic Luck set rapid early fractions then was collared by long shot Determined Kingdom on the far turn. That’s where Ready to Purrform launched his bid. Jockey Jevian Toledo angled Ready to Purrform wide to circle the turn and came widest of all for the stretch drive. With daylight in front of him, the juvenile son of Kitten’s Joy drew clear in the lane to a 3 1/4-length score in 1:43.03 for the distance on firm turf and punched his ticket to a bigger event.

Now a winner of both of his lifetime starts for Cox and Donegal Racing, a partnership of roughly 40 members headed by Jerry Crawford, Ready to Purrform has earned $120,600 and now will be headed west to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar next month. Crawford noted that his group has already purchased 80 tickets for the Breeders Cup and now expects that number to eclipse 100 before the championship weekend begins November 5.

“We basically had to finish first or second in here before we decided to go to the Breeders Cup,” Crawford said. “We always knew he had plenty of talent, but we wanted to see how he would do in a stakes here before we went to the Breeders Cup. But the way he ran today showed me that he deserves a chance to go out there.”

“They told me before the race to just him settle and get comfortable,” jockey Jevian Toledo said. “He broke sharp, and then I just let him relax early because I knew they were going pretty quick up front. When I asked him to run at the three-eighths, he really started to pick up those other horses. When we turned for home, I knew I still had a lot of horse under me at the top of the lane. He was pulling away at the end.”

Though Ready to Purrform is Kentucky-bred and Kentucky-based, Crawford said he was feeling the tug of Maryland connections with the win in the Laurel Futurity, referencing late longtime local horseman, and onetime co-owner of the Maryland Jockey Club, Bob Manfuso and Manfuso’s partner Katy Voss.

“I really want to dedicate this win to Bob Manfuso,” Crawford said. “He was one of my best friends, and this win was for him. And I hope Katy was watching today and rooting him home.”

Ready to Purrform paid $8.80 to win and topped an exacta, with 5-1 Stride in second, that returned $26.10 for a one-dollar wager. City At Night, the favorite, did not fire and finished sixth.

Three races later, Consumer Spending (Victor Carrasco) easily lived up to her billing as the 2-5 favorite in the $150,000 Selima Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the grass when she rallied from well off the pace to draw clear in the lane to a 2 1/2-length score while stopping the timer in 1:43.21.

A juvenile daughter of More Than Ready trained by Chad Brown for owner Klaravich Stables Inc., Consumer Spending notched her second straight score after running second on debut and pushed her lifetime earnings to $165,000.

Consumer Spending won the Selima S.
Consumer Spending won the Selima. Photo Jerry Dzierwinski.

“They really didn’t give me a lot of instructions,” Carrasco said. “They just told me to let her settle, then ride her like she’s the best. I was able to save ground down the backside and on the far turn, then when I asked her to run, she really responded. I knew I had plenty of racing room turning for home, and when she got clear she really kicked in. I think she’s got bigger and better things in her future.”

Consumer Spending had been second to stablemate McKulick when both were part of a 4-5 favored entry in a maiden special weight at Saratoga on August 8. On September 6 Consumer Spending and stablemate Hedy Lamarr finished one-two in a subsequent maiden special weight event at Saratoga.

Both Consumer Spending and Hedy Lamarr posted for the Selima. But while Consumer Spending prevailed as the odds-on choice, Hedy Lamarr was reluctant to load and faded to fifth after pressing the early tempo.

Consumer Spending returned just $2.80 to win. But longshots filled out the exacta and trifecta, with 81-1 She’s Like Thunder finishing second and 87-1 Evangeline Allons, who led most of the way, holding third. The exacta paid $43.60 for a one-dollar wager, and the triple returned $186.10 for 50 cents.

“She’s a really nice filly,” Brown’s assistant trainer Luis Cabrera said of Consumer Spending. “We wanted to give her a race to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup, for the big races. We know she’s got a lot of class. When he asked her to go, she responded. She’s a very talented filly.”

LAUREL PARK NOTES Graham Motion trainees ran one-two in the $100,000 All Along Stakes for fillies and mares. Tuned got the money easily over stablemate Oyster Box, getting the nine furlongs in 1:49.43 with Feargal Lynch up… Xy Speed, an 8-1 shot, prevailed by a neck in the $100,000 Laurel Dash with Jorge Ruiz in the irons for Gerald Bennett. The top seven finishers were all within two lengths at the wire… Tide of the Sea won the 12-furlong Japan Turf Cup by nearly two lengths in 2:28.19 for the trip. The track record of 2:23.80 was set by all-timer Kelso in the 1964 DC International. Horacio Karamanos was aboard Tide of the Sea for trainer Mike Maker…