Bald Eagle Derby snippets

Saturday’s $100,000 Bald Eagle Derby at Laurel Park, previously run at 1 1/2 miles, has been shortened to the 1 3/16 miles distance on the turf. It’ll be run to the second wire — the first time most anyone can remember a turf route to the second wire.

The Bald Eagle Derby is one of two stakes on the card and is carded as the ninth of 10 races. It has drawn a field of seven three-year-olds.

Hopeful: Timo (10-1) has made only a single start to date, finishing fifth in a Saratoga allowance for trainer Jonathan Thomas going 11 furlongs. Second start today and a cutback in distance may aid the cause.

  • No turf, thanks: Three of these will try the turf for the first time. Majestic Frontier (12-1) is a stakes-placed son of Keen Ice who may like the added ground, but the turf is a more uncertain thing. Cloud Play (12-1), claimed for $25,000 two back, is stakes-placed on the synthetic. And Vance Scholars (15-1) will make his first start of the year in this spot; half-brother Reflector was a stakes winner sprinting on the turf.
  • My old Kent home: Two of these ran in the Grade 3 Kent last out at Delaware Park, Tommy Bee (7-5) finishing third and Speaking Scout (8-5) up for fourth.
  • RIght at home: Trainer Brad Cox rarely sends horses to Laurel Park – just seven starts in the last five years. But three of those have won, and in stakes company, his horses have three wins and second from five local outings. He’s the trainer of Tommy Bee.
    • “This horse has improved each month with training,” said John Panagot, racing manager for Tommy Bee’s owner Robert LaPenta. “He ran for $50,000 in his second start, but that kind of woke him up a bit. His form shows he has improved, too.”
  • Troubled: Speaking Scout had a pretty disastrous trip in the Kent, almost continuously in trouble with no place to run until the top runners were long gone. He’s drawn better in mid-flight here.
    • “He had a really tough trip, just nothing worked out for him,” trainer Graham Motion said. “He kind of got stuck in behind a wall of horses and Feargal [Lynch] didn’t get to let him loose until the last sixteenth of a mile or so, at which point it was just too late. It was very frustrating.”
  • Supposed to be a turf horse: Undercover Kitty (6-1) is supposed to be a turf horse; he’s by top turf sire Kitten’s Joy out of the British-bred mare Judy In Disguise, a stakes winner on the lawn. But this guy is 0-for-2 on the lawn and a stakes winner on the main track. He enters with two straight wins.
  • Bald Eagle: Bald Eagle was the champion older horse of 1960, the year he recorded the second of his two victories in the Washington, DC International at Laurel.