Timonium meet set for Friday kickoff

If it’s near the end of August – spoiler alert, it is – that means it’s time for racing to return to Timonium for the brief seven-day meet during the State Fair.

Mid-Atlantic racing’s Brigadoon is set for its annual appearance.

Early returns are promising. Racing secretary Georganne Hale and the racing office put together a nine-race card on Friday, and Saturday’s program will feature 10 contests, including the $75,000 Timonium Distaff Stakes.

The Distaff, which will be contested at the three-turn distance of 1 1/16 miles, has attracted a field of 10. Among those are stakes winners Malibu Beauty, Sweet Willemina, Music Amore, Battle Bling, and Hybrid Eclipse. If all of them post, it will likely be the best group of horses at Timonium in years.

The feature of Friday’s nine-race program is a $48,000 allowance/optional claimer for two-year-olds going the one-turn distance of four furlongs. Six runners are entered.

Prove Right, a maiden winner at Churchill Downs three back, is the even-money morning line favorite and certainly will be receiving plenty of class relief in this spot. In his last two starts, the Justify colt finished seventh on the turf in the Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga and eighth in the Grade 3 Sanford at that same track.

Jeiron Barbosa will ride for James Chapman.

His sternest competition figures to come from Pompous Prince (2-1). The Tim Salzman trainee broke his maiden nicely June 3 at Laurel. Last out he ran third in a $68,500 allowance at Colonial Downs. Bullring ace J. D. Acosta has the mount.

A year ago, Acosta dominated the riding scene during the Timonium meet. The veteran, a winner of more than 3,500 races in his career, won 10 times during the seven-day stand and posted more than $324,000 in purse earnings. No other rider was close to either of those numbers; Angel Cruz finished second with six wins and less than $212,000 in purse earnings.

Acosta seems intent on defending that riding title this year. He is named to ride six horses Friday, and he has mounts in eight more on Saturday.

Barbosa, the hot-riding five-pound apprentice, is another who could have a say in the riding title. He is named on eight horses Friday and six more Saturday.

Cruz, last year’s runner-up, also figures to make an impact. He is named on 14 horses the first two days of the meet, including nine on Saturday.

Claudio Gonzalez led the trainer standings last year, posting six wins from a meet-leading 24 starts while generating over $177,000 in purse earnings. He’ll send out a half-doze horses the first two days of the meet.

Keiron Magee finished among trainers last year with four wins. Magee made just five starts at the Big T in 2021, winning with four and finishing second with the other. If all of his entered runners start over the weekend at Timonium, he’ll surpass his 2021 starts on Saturday. Magee has four entered Friday and three more on Saturday.

Charlie L. Frock won the track’s point standings for smaller barns.

First post is 12:40 p.m., and Timonium will race August 26-28 and then September 2-5.