LAUREL: RUSSO, VARGAS TEAM UP FOR TWO CLM’G CROWN PREVIEW WINS
Trainer Frank Russo and jockey Jorge Vargas Jr. combined to win two of the five Claiming Crown Preview races held Sunday at Laurel Park, while jockey Mychel Sanchez also had two preview wins.
The five preview race winners earned an automatic berth to the 23rd Claiming Crown, to be held Saturday, Dec. 4 at Gulfstream Park. This will be the 10th consecutive year Gulfstream will play host to the event. All preview winners will receive $2,500 toward shipping costs.
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Russo and Vargas won the first two preview races on the program.
Morning Moon Farm’s Aequor, an 11-1 shot trained by Russo and ridden by Vargas, drove past the 1-9 favorite Sevier inside the final 20 years to win the six furlong Claiming Crown Express preview for 3-year-olds and up, covering six furlongs in 1:10.11. Less than 30 minutes later in the Claiming Crown Canterbury preview for 3-year-olds and up, Vargas rode the Russo-trained Belgrano to victory over a firm 5 ½ furlong turf course in 1:01.98 after drawing away from the 4-5 favorite Noble Commander down the stretch.
Sanchez also won consecutive preview races and had three wins on the afternoon.
He won the Distaff Dash preview aboard Team Valor International LLC’s Beantown Baby, covering a 5 ½ furlong turf course in 1:01.96 for trainer Arnaud Delacour. He came right back to score a length victory aboard the Guadalupe Preciado-trained Lookin At Roses in the in the Rapid Transit preview, covering seven furlongs in 1:23.58.
The final Claiming Crown preview race, the Emerald preview, went to Mandate, who covered 1 1/16 mile course in 1:40.97 while winning by 3 ¼ lengths under jockey Andrew Wolfsont for trainer Robert Johnston.
Nominations for the Claiming Crown are due November 8.