Mid-Atlantic Three Stars: December-22
Luna Belle upset the Maryland Juvenile FIllies Championship last Saturday at Laurel Park. Photo: Jim McCue/MJC
Plenty of racing action took place throughout the Mid-Atlantic this past week.
Here’s a look at the “three stars” of each track:
- FIRST STAR: LUNA BELLE. Saturday’s co-feature, the Maryland Juvenile Fillies Championship, saw a mild upset. 9/2 third choice Luna Belle wore down the early leader, odds-on choice Jester Calls Nojoy, in the stretch and drew away to win by 2 3/4 lengths. While Jester Calls Nojoy is based in New York, Luna Belle is locally-based, owned by Deborah Greene and trainer Hammy Smith, and ridden by Denis Araujo. Luna Belle went seven furlongs in 1:25.31.
- SECOND STAR: JOE. One race later, his memorably-named Elkstone Group homebred made his stakes debut a winning one, taking the Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths. He rated towards the back of the pack early on, but rolled down the stretch and won going away, covering seven furlongs in 1:25.63. He’s now 2-for-3 lifetime, having broken his maiden at Laurel in his prior start. Mike Trombetta is the winning trainer, Victor Carrasco the winning jockey.
- THIRD STAR: JORGE RUIZ. Laurel returned from a two-week shutdown last Thursday. Jorge Ruiz more than made up for lost time, with four winners on the 9-race program. He won a pair of races for trainer Dale Capuano, winning race 1 on Zen Pi and race 8 aboard Boss Logic. In between, he took race 3 on Tenax, trained by Kenny Cox, and race 6 aboard Bourbon Wildcat, trained by Jose Magana. With only a few days left in the meet, Ruiz is in second place in the jockey standings, with 42 wins compared to Jevian Toledo’s meet-leading 48.
CHARLES TOWN RACES
- FIRST STAR: COMMAND THE CAT. This John McKee owned-and-trained West Virginia-bred gelding made it three in a row, and five on the year, when he won an allowance optional claiming race last Wednesday. He was pressured throughout the 6 1/2-furlong contest, but hung in there and won by a neck under Reshawn Latchman. The win pushed his 2021 earnings over the $100,000 mark, to $120,545.
- SECOND STAR: RIVER CROSROAD RVF. Originally notable for bolting on the turn twice at the start of his career, River Crosroad RVF has since developed into a very solid runner for trainer Jeff Runco. He won for the third time in his last four starts last Thursday, when he took an allowance race by four lengths in gate-to-wire style. He finished in the exacta seven times from nine starts this year, with earnings of more than $96,000. Rolling Stable Racing Stable LLC is the winning owner, while Arnaldo Bocachica had the mount.
- THIRD STAR: NORTHERN RIDGE. Friday night’s allowance feature went to Northern Ridge, a West Virginia-bred who defeat a field open to all comers by 4 1/4 lengths. He rated off early leader Charitable Spenny in the early stages of the 1 1/16-mile contest, then took charge at the 7/16ths point and opened up a lead he would not relinquish. He’s owned by Paul Velky Jr, trained by Jamey Johnson, and ridden by Denis Araujo.
- FIRST STAR: PEYTON ELIZABETH. One of last Monday’s feature races was a starter allowance race for fillies and mares at seven furlongs. Peyton Elizabeth crushed the field, winning by 8 3/4 lengths for her third win in her last four races. She rated off the pace, then moved to the front on the turn and made short work of the rest. She went seven furlongs in 1:24.14, for owner Troy Johnson, Charles Lo, and Jagger Inc, trainer Jamie Ness, and jockey Ruben Silvera.
- SECOND STAR: ALRASHAKA. This 2-year-old filly improved to 2-for-3 lifetime later on the Monday card with an impressive 6 1/2-length in a first-level allowance optional claiming race. This Michael Pino-trained filly broke slowly, but quickly rushed up to the lead and drew off to victory. She’s owned by Smart Angle LLP and was ridden by Silvera.
- THIRD STAR: RUBEN SILVERA. Parx’s leading jockey turned a pair of hat tricks last week. On Monday, he won with the aforementioned Peyton Elizabeth and Alrashaka, and also won race 3 with Refi, trained by Joseph Taylor. On Wednesday, he scored twice for Jamie Ness, winning race 4 with Frosted Indian and the 8th race aboard Fort Fortitude. He also won the 6th race with Secret Path, trained by Louis Linder Jr.
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