MID-ATLANTIC THREE STARS: September 26

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

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

Pimlico

Taiba
Taiba won the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby. Photo by Allison Janezic.

FIRST STAR: CAROTARI. Even thought it was held at Pimlico this year, the Laurel Dash retained its name. Carotari, who won the Jim McKay Turf Sprint earlier in the year, won his second Pimlico stakes of the year by a nose. Under Kendrick Carmouche, who came down from New York for a series of stakes mounts, he broke on top and set a clear early pace. In the last sixteenth, he battled in the lane with Comedy Town, but held him off and won by a nose. He’s won six stakes races in his career while earning more than $683,000. He’s owned by William Branch and trained by Brian Lynch.

SECOND STAR: SMASH TICKET. This filly’s been impressive in all three of her starts this year, and turned in her best performance yet on Saturday. Sent off as the favorite in the six-furlong Weather Vane Stakes, she set the pace, brushed off a challenge from Elm Drive, and kicked away powerfully to win by 6 1/4 lengths. She ran six furlongs in an impressive 1:09.99 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95. Carmouche was aboard for owners Brad King, Stan Kirby, Suzanne Kirby, and Barbara Coleman and trainer Rob Atras.

THIRD STAR: BENEVENGO. Smash Ticket wasn’t the only impressive 3-year-old to win on Saturday. Benevengo, most recently fifth in the Haskell, broke well and crossed to the rail and the lead quickly. From there, he left older horses reeling and won by 7 1/2 lengths, for his first career stakes win. He’s owned by Wasabi Ventures Stables LLC, the second stakes win for the group, trained by Jesse Cruz, and ridden by Angel Cruz.

Delaware Park

FIRST STAR: JAIME RODRIGUEZ. Rodriguez continued his torrid winning streak on Thursday. He won the day’s first race with Valenzan Day, for his eighth consecutive winning mount. The streak was snapped in the next race, but Rodriguez bounced back with another win later on Thursday, four wins on Friday, and three more on Saturday. Rodriguez has a hammerlock on the riding standings, with 99 wins from 358 mounts.

SECOND STAR: KODAMA. One of Rodriguez’s wins came in Saturday’s feature race, a second-level allowance optional claiming race. Kodama went off as the 3-1 second choice in the five-furlong grass dash for fillies and mares, and drew off to win by four lengths after rating off the pace. She’s won three times this year and is a perfect 2-for-2 at Delaware. She’s owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and Cheryl Manning and trained by Arnaud Delacour.

THIRD STAR: ESCAPE FUND. Rodriguez also rode Escape Fund to her fifth win of the year and her second in a row on Friday. The 5-year-old mare went off as the 1-5 favorite in a first-level allowance race at six furlongs, and she lived up to the hype with a 2 3/4-length win in 1:10.00. She won three in a row at Laurel Park earlier in the year, and has regained her best form after a mid-season losing streak. She’s owned by Larry Metz and trained by Michael Gorham.

Charles Town Races

  • Winning Time scores in PA Nursery
    Debut winner Winning Time handled the step up to stakes company with aplomb, winning Tuesday’s $200,000 Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes at Parx.

FIRST STAR: TWO BIT KID. The feature of the Saturday Charles Town card was a second-level allowance optional claiming race at 6 1/2 furlongs. Two Bit Kid won at Charles Town in March of 2020, but was then held winless while racing at tracks all over the midwest. He recently returned to West Virginia and won his first race since that contest 2 1/2 years ago, scoring by a half-length with a late four-wide bid. He covered the distance as the 9-10 choice in 1:19.86, for owner/trainer Ben Delong and jockey Reshawn Latchman.

SECOND STAR: PRIMAL DESTINY. Starter allowances at 4 1/2 furlongs are Primal Destiny’s bread and butter. He entered one on Thursday, and took advantage to win by two lengths. He broke on top and was never seriously challenged, getting it done as the 1-10 choice for his six consecutive victory. He ran the distance in 52.27 seconds, for owner Robert Cole Jr, trainer Kevin Patterson, and jockey Carlos Lopez.

THIRD STAR: VALID REASON. This 3-year-old filly won for the fourth time in six starts on Wednesday, doing so in impressive fashion. As the 2-1 second choice in a starter optional claiming affair, she briefly dueled with favored Tiz the Reason, but dismissed that rival and drew off to a powerful six-length win. She ran 4 1/2 furlongs in an impressive 51.71 seconds for owner/trainer John McKee. Latchman once again had the mount.

Meadowlands

FIRST STAR: MERCI. After breaking his maiden on debut at Tampa Bay Downs in February, Merci went winless in his next four starts. However, he broke out of his slump with a one-length win in a first-level allowance race on Saturday. The 8-1 shot stalked the early leaders in the two-path most of the way, then moved to the front rounding the final turn. He had to battle with Airspeed Velocity for most of the stretch run, but put away that rival and moved clear late. He ran a mile in 1:37.53, for owner Todd White, trainer Jose Camejo, and jockey Jomar Torres.

SECOND STAR: FRIPPET. The Friday feature was a first-level allowance race for fillies and mares, which was won by Frippet. She got a great trip rating off early leader Ready to Film, then took advantage when that rival gave way and won by two lengths. She covered 1 1/16 miles on a good course in 1:48.69, for Augustin Stable, trainer Jonathan Thomas, and jockey Isaac Castillo.

THIRD STAR: HECTOR DIAZ JR. Diaz led the way among riders during the first week at the big M, with three winners. He won twice on Friday, taking race 2 aboard Kitten’s Collusion for trainer Graham Motion and race 3 on Luna’s Treasure, trained by Kathleen O’Connell. On Saturday, he won the 1st race on Steve Klesaris trainee Gleaming Beauty.

Parx Racing

FIRST STAR: TAIBA. The much-hyped Bob Baffert trainee rebounded from a runner-up finish in the Haskell with an impressive three-length victory in Saturday’s Pennsylvania Derby. Sent off as the 7-5 favorite, he drafted off early leader White Abarrio while racing on the rail, then made his move as they rounded the far turn. Although Zandon and Cyberknife made mild rallies in the last eighth, Taiba was never in serious danger of being caught, and he crossed the line in 1:48.67 for 1 1/8 miles. Mike Smith was aboard for Zedan Racing Stables Inc.

SECOND STAR: SOCIETY. One race prior in the Cotillion Stakes, Society took advantage of a heads-up ride to win going away. Florent Geroux aggressively sent this Steve Asmussen trainee to the lead from post nine, and established firm control of the race by the time they entered the first turn. From there, no one came close to catching her, and she won by 5 3/4 lengths. It’s her third stakes win of the year, following the Monomoy Girl Stakes and the Charles Town Oaks. She’s a homebred for Peter Blum Thoroughbreds LLC.

THIRD STAR: SCARAMOUCHE. Locally-based Scaramouche overcame the extreme outside post to win the Gallant Bob Stakes on Saturday. He drafted near the pace under Johnny Velazquez while racing several paths off the rail, and made his move after the leaders in the stretch. Late in the race, Scaramouche struck the front and held off a late charge from Of a Revolution to win by a half-length. It’s his second career stakes win, with his first coming in the Rittenhouse Square Stakes at Parx in March. He’s owned by Nicholas Cammarano Jr and trained by Guadalupe Preciado.

Region’s Best

  1. Taiba- Lived up to expectations in Pennsylvania Derby.
  2. Society
  3. Jaime Rodriguez

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