Local Motive
Local Motive won the James F. Lewis, III Stakes at Laurel Park. Photo Maryland Jockey Club.

“I’m just enjoying this moment,” Bird Mobberley said moments after Local Motive had scored in the $100,000 James F. Lewis, III Stakes Saturday at Laurel Park. “Whatever happens tomorrow happens tomorrow.”

It’s an attitude befitting a woman who’s spent her life around the game — her late parents were horsemen — and knows how ephemeral the good times can be.

“It’s very nice,” Mobberley said. “Very, very nice.”

Indeed, it’s doubly so. Mobberley has a pair of two-year-old stakes winners now in Maryland Million Lassie winner Buff My Boots, who ran fifth in today’s $100,000 Smart Halo for fillies — “They went so fast [early],” Mobberley said of the Smart Halo. “That hit her right between the eyes” — and Local Motive.

Local Motive, a gelding by Divining Rod, has packed a career’s worth of adventure into just six races. A winner at first asking in July at Pimlico, Local Motive also won his second start, in the restricted, $100,000 Hickory Tree Stakes at Colonial Downs.

Sent off the 4-5 favorite in the August 29 Timonium Juvenile Stakes, Local Motive broke slowly, dropped farther back, and then was pulled up by jockey J. D. Acosta before being vanned off.

Fortunately, the injury turned out to be much ado about not very much at all.

“He had never had dirt in his face,” Mobberley said. “He just panicked when the dirt started coming back at him.”

Local Motive was back on the work tab in a week, ran fifth in the Smoke Glacken Stakes at Monmouth Park Sept. 26, and then finished third in the Maryland Million Nursery.

Today under J. D. Acosta, Local Motive broke alertly but was content to cede the early advantage to the duo of Amidships and Tops the Chart, who were one-two after an opening quarter in a brisk 21.98 seconds. Local Motive, meanwhile, was three wide and — importantly — in the clear.

Local Motive bid up to virtually even terms rounding the turn, put a head in front, and then had to withstand a strong bid from the Penny Pearce-trained Beast or Famine. Local Motive won by a head over that rival, with No Sabe Nada three lengths farther back in third. Running time for six furlongs on a good main track was 1:10.16.

Local Motive paid $8.20 to win as the third choice in the field of eight. The exacta returned $36.70 for one dollar.

Local Motive was bred in Maryland by Wasabi Ventures Stables LLC and Greenspring Mares LLC, which makes him eligible for the Dec. 4 Maryland Juvenile Championship, if Mobberley and trainer John Salzman, Jr. opt in that direction.

But Mobberley was more interested in enjoying the moment, and looking back, than in imagining the future.

“My parents [Jack and Gretchen Mobberley] were horsemen here in Maryland, and I worked for them for a lot of years,” Mobberley said. “To win an open stake, I know they’re looking down, and they’re happy for me. And they’re smoking cigarettes and drinking martinis.”

One race prior, Buy the Best rated in mid-pack before romping home three lengths clear in a fast 1:09.99 in the six-furlong, $100,000 Smart Halo for two-year-old fillies.

Buy the Best, trained by Cal Lynch and ridden by Jaime Rodriguez, now has won three straight for owner Hope Jones. Jones, who lives in Florida, is a daughter of the late Amory Haskell, who spearheaded the creation of Monmouth Park. Back in 2016 and 2017, Irish War Cry, owned by Hope Jones’s sister Isabelle de Tomaso, parlayed a Maryland stakes win eventually into a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

While Hope Jones didn’t make it to Laurel Park Saturday — she lives in Florida — her nieces Isobel Ellis and Ellie Glaccum did, the former driving up from Washington, DC, the latter down from Pennsylvania.

“They own horses together and separately,” Ellis said of the two sisters. “But they’re together watching this race, cheering each other on. They sit and watch every race together.”

Sometimes, of course, that leads to friendly competition. In Buy the Best’s prior start, she’d finished first, while Isabelle de Tomaso’s Maestria was second and then disqualified from second to third.

No such problem today. Buy the Best, a daughter of Tapture, cruised home for her third win from five starts, pushing her earnings to $117,480. And while Ellis and Glaccum were enjoying the moment, they’re also aware, they said, of how special these moments are.

“In hindsight, now we know how hard it really is [to reach the top races],” Glaccum said. “These races mean a lot more.”