MID-ATLANTIC THREE STARS: June 20

Plenty of racing action took place throughout the Mid-Atlantic this past week.

Here’s a look at the “three stars” of each track:

Laurel Park

Mind Control
Mind Control narrowly defeated Hot Rod Charlie in the Salvator Mile. Photo by Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO.

FIRST STAR: WHY NOT TONIGHT. The All Brandy Stakes was one of three stakes races at Laurel Park on Sunday. Why Not Tonight got the job done in the 1 1/16-mile grass contest, She stalked the early pace, which was set by The Very One Stakes winner Can the Queen in an attempt to stretch her speed around two turns. In the stretch, Can the Queen maintained the lead, and for a while it looked like she was going to pull it off. However, under persistent driving from Angel Cruz, Why Not Tonight got up in the last few strides and won by a half-length, going the distance in 1:41.38. This marked the first stakes wins for owners Wasabi Ventures Stables LLC and trainer Jesus Cruz.

SECOND STAR: NICK PAPAGIORGIO. Earlier in the day, Maryland-bred grass males squared off in the Find Stakes. Nick Papagiorgio, making his second start of the year, got up to win in a 13.60-1 upset. He moved five-wide in the stretch after sitting in mid-pack early on, and burst through between horses for a half-length win. He ran 1 1/6 miles in 1:41.33, just a few ticks faster than Why Not Tonight. He finished second in this race last year, and got his revenge this year for owner Louis Bisso Jr, trainer Michael LeCesse, and jockey Horacio Karamanos.

THIRD STAR: POPPY FLOWER. The lone non-Maryland bred stakes of the day on Sunday was the Stormy Blues Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass. Bill Mott send Poppy Flower down from New York for this race, and it proved to be a winning move as she scored by 1 1/4 lengths. With a perfectly-timed move from Victor Carrasco, she chased down the leaders in the stretch and drew off in the end for her first stakes win, and second career win in eight starts. Arnmore Thoroughbreds LLC are the winning owners.

Delaware Park

FIRST STAR: GOODLUCKCHUCK. This VIrginia-bred gelding made it three wins in a row on Wednesday, taking a starter optional claiming race by 4 1/4 lengths. He was one of the biggest longshots in the field, going off at 2.70-1 in the evenly matched four-horse field. He pressed early leader Visual Artist on the outside, then battled with My Man Pots N Pans on the final turn. Ultimately, Goodluckchuck pulled clear late and won easily. He’s owned by Michael Overfell, trained by Robert Bailes, and ridden by Denis Araujo.

SECOND STAR: PINK SHOELACES. The Saturday feature was a second-level allowance optional claiming race for fillies and mares going 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt. Pink Shoelaces, in her first start of the Delaware Park season, took the field gate-to-wire, cruising to win by 5 1/4 lengths in 1:04.83. That’s her first win of the year from three starts, and her third win her last five races overall. She’s owned by Happy Tenth Stable, trained by Tony Wilson, and ridden by Daniel Centeno.

THIRD STAR: TWITTY CITY. On Thursday, this gelding won his fourth consecutive race at Delaware. He took a starter allowance race by a half-length as the 2.20-1 second choice. He chased the pace off the rail and opened up a clear lead in the stretch, but had to hold off the oncoming surge of Grit’n’grind to secure the win. He’s now won his first two starts of this year’s Delaware season, after winning his last two appearances at last year’s meet. Raul Mena had the winning mount for owner Francisco Ramirez and trainer Jose Ramirez.

Charles Town Races

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FIRST STAR: NO CHANGE. This West Virginia-bred star has been on a tear lately. He entered a West Virginia-bred allowance race on Thursday having won four times on the year, including a victory in the Confucius Say Stakes two races back. He avenged a last-out defeat with a 4 3/4-length victory in this spot, drawing off late after a brief challenge on the pace. He’s owned and trained by John McKee and was ridden by Marshall Mendez.

SECOND STAR: SILKY SERENA. Ten of the top West Virginia-bred female sprinters met on Saturday in the Fancy Buckles Stakes at 4 1/2 furlongs. The outside draw couldn’t slow down Silky Serena, who pressed the pace from the outside and held steady in the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length. She didn’t break her maiden until March 24 of this year, but became a stakes winner in just her fifth career race. She’s owned by Cynthia McKee, trained by John McKee, and ridden by Reshawn Latchman.

THIRD STAR: MARSHALL MENDEZ. Mendez continued a solid year at Charles Town on Thursday, with three victories. In addition to his win on No Change, he won race 1 on He’s Not Curly, for trainer Michael Jones, and completed the hat trick in the 8th race aboard David Walters trainee Charlie Potatoes. Mendez has 80 wins on the meet, good for second place behind Arnaldo Bocachica’s 94. Mendez is closing in on 100 career victories, with 96 wins entering this week.

Monmouth Park

FIRST STAR: MIND CONTROL. Saturday’s Salvator Mile looked like a layup for Hot Rod Charlie. Last year’s Pennsylvania Derby winner and Belmont Stakes runner-up went off as the 1-5 favorite in a five-horse field. However, the uber-classy Mind Control had other ideas. He set the pace early on under John Velazquez, but came under pressure from Hot Rod Charlie on the final turn. It looked as if Hot Rod Charlie would roll by for an easy win. However, Mind Control refused to be denied. The two battled through the stretch in an epic duel, and hit the wire together. Mind Control ended up winning by a head, going the distance in 1:35.79. He’s now won a graded stakes race in five consecutive seasons. He’s earned more than $1.5 million lifetime, winning ten races from 26 starts. Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables LLC are the winning owners, while Todd Pletcher is the winning trainer.

SECOND STAR: SACRED LIFE. One race prior, a field of ten contested the Monmouth Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the grass. It proved yet another win in a grass stakes race for Chad Brown, as Sacred Life kicked clear in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths. After falling short in two prior stakes races with Fluffy Socks and Electability, Brown and Manny Franco finally teamed up on a winner. The winner is owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables LLC, Wonder Stables, and Michael Caruso.

THIRD STAR: HOME BREW. Earlier on the Saturday card, a field of 3-year-olds met in the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes, the local prep race for the Haskell. Home Brew, who won the Oaklawn Stakes last out, stalked the pace and powered away impressively to win by 6 1/4 lengths in 1:43.20 for 1 1/16 miles. He’s likely to resurface in next month’s Haskell. Paco Lopez had the winning mount for owners Gary and Mary West and trainer Brad Cox.

Parx Racing

FIRST STAR: HIGH OPINION. Tuesday’s co-feature, the Neshaminy MATCH Stakes, went to New York shipper High Opinion, with Flavien Prat aboard. He rated his mare off the pace, then wrestled control in the last eighth and won by three-quarters of a length. She was graded stakes-placed three times over the past twelve months, but this was her first stakes win. She’s owned by Woodford Racing LLC and Team D and trained by Tony Dutrow.

SECOND STAR: EONS. Two races later, Prat looked like a lock to sweep both stakes. In the Bensalem MATCH Stakes, had the mount on Beacon Hill, who went off as the 3-10 favorite. However, Eons, with Trevor McCarthy aboard, got the upper hand, winning by a nose with a dramatic last-to-first rally. It marked his fourth stakes win, and his first victory of any sort since late July. Mark Grier is the winning owner, Arnaud Delacour the winning trainer.

THIRD STAR: BREEZY GUST. Wednesday’s feature went to this Pennsylvania-bred gelding, who won a second-level allowance optional claiming race in a thrilling stretch duel. He battled with The Sicarii down the lane after stalking the pace, and ultimately winning a photo finish. He’s won three times on the year, with all those wins coming in Pennsylvania. Dexter Haddock was in the saddle for owner Trending Stable and jockey Josue Arce.

Region’s Best

  1. Mind Control- Won an epic stretch battle and continued to cement a legacy.
  2. High Opinion
  3. Sacred Life

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