Music Amore plays winning tune in Searching Stakes

Prior to today, trainer Gerald Brooks hadn’t saddled a horse at Laurel Park since July 31, 2020. 

He picked the right one to end the drought.

Under a hustling ride from apprentice Jeiron Barbosa, the Brooks-trained Music Amore went to the front early and fended off a long challenge from Lady Puchi to win Saturday’s $100,000 Searching Stakes for three-year-old fillies. The Searching, originally scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf, was run at one mile on the main track.

Muy happy,” Barbosa pronounced himself afterwards. “It’s my first stakes win.”

First, but likely first of many to come. Barbosa, a five-pound apprentice, is the third-leading rider at the current Laurel meet by wins with 18 and sixth in purse earnings. He has another 17 wins at Parx, 70 total wins on the season, and has opened plenty of eyes since arriving at Laurel in late March.

Brooks claimed Music Amore, a daughter of Mshawish, for $20,000 for himself, Carl Hess, and Ronald Clark three starts back. Last time out, in her second start for the new connections, Music Amore had dusted an allowance field on the synthetic at Presque Isle.

“She was doing fantastic,” Brooks said. “Last race she ran was an awfully big race, and she come out of the race perfect.”

Perfect, but Brooks, who previously had stalls at Laurel, originally did not plan on shipping down for the Searching.

“I nominated her to a race at Mountaineer,” he said. “And then I said, ‘Let’s try to get some stalls in Maryland.’ I said, ‘Give me stalls, and I’ll come down here and I’ll run a couple of horses in stakes.’ And that’s what we did.”

When the Searching came off the turf, it didn’t seem to favor Music Amore. She’d broken her maiden on turf and run good races on the synthetic, but her lone prior dirt try, in her career unveiling, was poor. She had finished sixth of seven in a maiden race at Gulfstream with a Beyer Speed Figure of 10.

Now, though, it appears she’s a dirt horse, too. The main track was kind to inside speed all day, and Barbosa astutely put his mount on the lead and, breaking from the innermost post, on the fence.

Music Amore was actually a head behind Queen Macha after an opening quarter-mile in 23.78 seconds, and she led that rival by a length after a half-mile in 47.42. Queen Macha tired rounding the turn, but virtually as soon as Music Amore disposed of her, Lady Purchi moved to the attack.

Lady Puchi was within a half-length as the field turned for home, six furlongs gone in 1:12.66, and those two continued to battle until Music Amore turned her back within the final furlong. Pharoah’s Song, who made a menacing move rounding the turn before tiring, finished third, more than nine lengths behind the runner-up and almost a dozen behind Music Amore. 

Running time for the one-turn mile on a fast main track was 1:38.88. 

Music Amore paid $18.40 to win, and the exacta with 6-5 favorite Lady Puchi returned $32.20 for a one-dollar wager.

The victory gave Music Amore four wins in 11 career outings – four in six this year – and pushed her career bankroll to $119,575.

And made Brooks one happy trainer. He said he has 11 stalls at Laurel currently and plans to consolidate his approximately 30-horse operation here once Presque Isle closes.

“It’s good to be back home,” he said. “My brother Phil works here, and it’s good to be home with everybody. Hopefully we stay here for a while.”

Music Amore
Music Amore won the Searching Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue.