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

Vance Scholars
Vance Scholars won the Bald Eagle Derby. Photo Jerry Dzierwinski.

FIRST STAR: VANCE SCHOLARS. This Maryland Million eligible gelding made his first start of the year a winning one on Saturday, when he won the Bald Eagle Derby by 2 1/2 lengths. He broke well from post five, and thanks to the heads-up ride from Jorge Ruiz, made his way to the rail and the lead. Undercover Kitty, who looked like the lone speed on paper, was rated off the peace in second, and made a bold move to the lead on the final turn. However, with the track playing towards speed horses on the rail, Vance Scholars took full advantage and repelled that rival’s challenge. He ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:58.29, for owner Steven Newby and trainer Dale Capuano. He was bred by Anchor & Hope Farm, and is by Holy Boss.

SECOND STAR: MUSIC AMORE. Two races prior, Music Amore rode the track to victory in the one-mile Searching Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Jeiron Barbosa put her on the lead from the inside post and she set fractions of 23.78 and 47.42. On the turn, favored Lady Puchi made a menacing move and looked ready to roll by. However, thanks to the favorite’s drifting, a vigorous ride from Barbosa, and the rail-favoring track, Music Amore had enough to fend her off and win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:38.88. That’s the first stakes win in Barbosa’s career, to continue a strong apprentice year. Trainer Gerald Brooks co-owns her with Carl Hess Jr. and Ronald Clark.

THIRD STAR: SWAYIN TO AND FRO. This South Carolina-bred filly improved to 5-for-5 on Saturday, with an impressive 2 1/2-length win in a second-level allowance optional claiming race. She managed to make an outside move with success, rallying in the four-path entering the stretch after drafting off the pace. In the stretch, she drew off easily from Paisley Singing, who dueled for the lead on the inside and held on for second. Swayin To and Fro ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.01, for owner Baxter Racing Stable, trainer Mario Serey Jr, and jockey Grant Whitacre.

Delaware Park

FIRST STAR: JADES GELLY. The feature race on Wednesday was a second-level allowance optional claiming race for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. Jades Gelly, who finished second in each of her prior three starts, finally broke through with a one-length win. She drafted towards the back of the pack early on, then moved four-wide and got by one of the early pace-setters, Chardonnay, to get up for the win. She’s won three times from eight starts on the year, and has not missed the board in her last five races. Jaime Rodriguez had the mount for owner JKX Racing and trainer Jaime Rodriguez.

SECOND STAR: WINDCRACKER. Saturday’s feature race was the same condition at Jades Gelly, only for the boys. Windcracker won his second consecutive race by two lengths. Odds-on choice The King Cheek set the pace and remained in front rounding the far turn, but Windcracker made a strong move from the back of the pack and opened up a clear lead in the stretch. He’s now a perfect 2-for-2 at the Delaware meet. Trainer Greg Compton co-owns him with Danny Brown and Charis Brenneman. Angel Suarez had the winning mount.

THIRD STAR: ANGEL SUAREZ. Windcracker was one of three winners for Suarez on the Saturday card. He also won race 5 on Orthodox, for trainer Kelly Rubley, and the 8th race with Car Lady, trained by Thomas Iannotti IV. Suarez had a mount in all eight races on Saturday, and finished no worse than fourth on any of them. Suarez’s 25 wins are good for third place in the rider standings.

Charles Town Races

FIRST STAR: MOONLIT SHADOW. An open West Virginia-bred allowance race served as the headliner of the Thursday program. Moonlit Shadow, the 6-5 favorite, broke on top, set the early pace, and drew off to win by 8 3/4 lengths in wet, sloppy conditions. She’s won three times this year, and has finished in the exacta in her last five starts. She’s owned by Grams Racing Stable LLC, trained by Tim Grams, and ridden by Fredy Peltroche.

SECOND STAR: COMBINATION. On Saturday, this Jeff Runco trainee won for the fourth time this year and crossed the $100,000 mark in earnings on the season. He went off as the 5-2 second choice in the feature race, a second-level allowance optional claiming race at seven furlongs. With Marshall Mendez in tow, he moved boldly to the lead around the final turn and got up in the last few strides to win by a half-length. Longtime leader River Crossroad RVF had a clear lead late but could do no better than second. The winner is owned by Feebs Racing.

THIRD STAR: COMPLETE SURPRISE. One race prior to Combination’s win on Saturday, this mare won a first-level allowance optional claiming race in gate-to-wire style. She broke on top from the inside post and never looked to be in serious danger of giving up the lead. She crossed the wire 5 3/4 lengths in front, for her third win of the year. Andre Ramgeet had the winning mount for owner/trainer Ernest Hayes.

Monmouth Park

FIRST STAR: PROVOCATEUR. Saturday’s Jersey Shore Stakes drew a wide-open field of 3-year-old sprinters. Provocateur got the trip, taking advantage of an open rail to slide through on the far turn and take command. He drew off in the stretch to win by two lengths in 1:08.81 for six furlongs. That’s the second stakes win in the career of this son of Into Mischief; he won the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park earlier this year. He’s owned by My Racehorse Stable LLC and Spendthrift Farm LLC, trained by Todd Pletcher, and was ridden by Jairo Rendon.

SECOND STAR: BAY STORM. The Sunday feature was the Incredible Revenge Stakes for fillies and mares sprinting on the grass. Much like Provocateur the prior day, Bay Storm came up the inside in the stretch and got up to win by a length. The 13-10 favorite covered 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.29, for her second career stakes win, and her first career victory outside of Belmont Park. Jaime Rodriguez had the winning ride for owner Bridlewood Farm and trainer Jonathan Thomas.

THIRD STAR: GOLDEN BELL. Monday’s feature, a second-level allowance optional claiming race at five furlongs, went to Golden Bell in a sharp gate-to-wire performance. The even-money choice broke well from the rail and was pressed early on by Empire G, but withstood the challenge and drew off to win by three lengths, running the distance on a muddy track in a strong 57.08 seconds. She’s 2-for-2 in her 2022 campaign, with both of her starts this year coming at Monmouth. She’s owned by Hat Creek Racing and Cheyenne Stable LLC, trained by Wesley Ward, and ridden by Albin Jimenez.

Parx Racing

FIRST STAR: MORNING MATCHA. 3-year-old fillies met on Tuesday in the Cathryn Sophia Prep. Morning Matcha, coming off a third-place finish in the Delaware Oaks, went off as the 1-5 favorite in the six-horse field. She made her move as they rounded the far turn and drew off to win by ten lengths, running a mile in 1:39.17. She’s a contender for the Cathryn Sophia Stakes on August 23, and a good effort there will likely earn her a spot in the Cotillion Stakes a month later. She’s owned by LC Racing, Cash is King LLC, and Gary Barber, trained by Robert Reid Jr, and ridden by Paco Lopez.

SECOND STAR: SCARAMOUCHE. On Wednesday, 3-year-old males battled in the Smarty Jones Prep, which serves as a precursor for the Smarty Jones Stakes on August 23. Once again, the heavy favorite obliged, as Scaramouche won for the fourth time this year. He pressed early leader Uncle Irish, then rolled by him and pulled away to a 5 1/2-length score. He ran a mile in 1:39.96, for owner Nicholas Cammarano Jr, trainer Guadalupe Preciado, and jockey Paco Lopez.

THIRD STAR: FLAT LUCKY. After seven winless starts to begin the year, including five third-place performances, Flat Lucky broke through on Tuesday to win the Parx Summer Starter. With a well-timed move from Frankie Pennington, he chased down Jump Shot and caught him just in time to win by a neck. He’s owned by Morris Kernan Jr, Yo Berbs, and Jagger Inc and trained by Jamie Ness.


FIRST STAR; CONAGHER. 3-year-old male sprinters assembled in New Kent, Virginia on Monday for the Housebuster Handicap. Conagher, off a runner-up performance in the Iowa Derby, was the 2-5 favorite. He encountered plenty of pace pressure while racing on the rail and drew off in the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths. He ran seven furlongs in a sharp 1:21.42. He’s being pointed for the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga on August 27. Joe Rocco had the winning mount for owners Patricia’s Hope LLC and Mark Farrar and trainer Michael Tomlinson.

SECOND STAR: DONTLETSWEETFOOLYA. This 5-year-old mare won for the first time this year on Monday, with a front-running score in a second-level allowance optional claiming race. She opened up a clear lead early on in the 5 1/2-furlong grass affair and held off the late rallies of Charlie’s Penny and Jeanie B and won by a half-length at 10-1. Jevian Toledo was in the saddle for owner Five Hellions Farm and trainer Lacey Gaudet.

THIRD STAR: COUNTY FINAL. On Tuesday, 4-year-old County Final won for the first time this year in a second-level allowance optional claiming race. He tracked Smokin’ Jay early on in a second-level allowance optional claiming race, and fought gamely in the stretch, he got up late to win by a nose, covering 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.22. He’s owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Sandbrook, and Anna Marie Shannon, trained by Steve Asmussen, and ridden by Feargal Lynch.

Region’s Best

  1. Conagher- Put himself on the map further with a big win.
  2. Provocateur
  3. Value Scholars