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.

“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.”

  • Eastern Bay