Eastern Bay scores in Pimlico feature
Jay Libertini had a hug and a kiss for Eastern Bay when the eight-year-old E Dubai gelding returned to the winner’s circle Saturday at Pimlico. Make that a well-deserved hug and kiss.
Eastern Bay, the co-longest shot in a six-horse field, bided his time in last but never far back under apprentice jockey Will Humphrey before tipping out wide and surging to a 2 ¼-length victory in the day’s featured third-level allowance.
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“We love all our horses,” Libertini, the assistant to trainer Norman Cash who also grooms Eastern Bay, said of his display of affection. “If you ever see the boss [Cash], he’s hugging and kissing on them like he’s going to get married, and that’s an M.O. of mine, too. 2018, I win the Travers with Catholic Boy, and I kissed him on national TV.”
It was Eastern Bay’s second start in the Cash barn after the trainer-owner grabbed him for $35,000 two races back. The win was his 15th from 45 career starts, and he’s earned $638,838.
A stakes winner, Eastern Bay achieved his lone graded stakes placing in the 2020 Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, contested that year at Pimlico, when he was second, beaten a nose by Laki.
“The boss looks for back class in horses,” Libertini explained of the decision to drop $35,000 on an eight-year-old. “That’s how he operates. We don’t have very many two-year-olds. His main business is claiming; he’s really sharp about that.”
Cash claimed Eastern Bay April 3, and in his first start in the barn, the old-timer ran fourth at the same level as today. Since, he had breezed just once, May 13.
“We trained him real light,” Libertini said. “He’s an older horse, got [some physical issues], so we don’t train him too hard. We breezed him the week before the Preakness – he breezed really good in hand with William [Humphrey] up. And we didn’t do much, just jogged him in between.”
Running time for the six furlongs on a fast main track was 1:10.98. Karan’s Notion, with Eastern Bay the co-longest shot on the board, finished second, a head in front of post time favorite He’s in Charge. Rounding out the field were $600,000 earner Battle Station, the improving Going to the Lead, and graded stakes winner Still Having Fun.
Eastern Bay paid $21.00 to win and topped an exacta that returned $69.10 on a one-dollar wager.
Humphrey, a seven-pound apprentice originally from England, registered his first win at the Pimlico meet and fifth since coming to the U.S.
“He’s a good young rider,” Libertini said of Humphrey. “He’ll listen to what we tell him, and he tries every time and he’s versatile, dirt and turf. So I think he’s going to be a good rider here in Maryland.”