Angel Art makes pretty picture in debut

Trainer Mark Shuman wasn’t sure whether running Angel Art, a two-year-old Imagining filly, Saturday in a maiden special weight race at Laurel Park was a good idea.

Spoiler alert: It was.

“We could have waited and run her in one of those waiver maiden claimers,” Shuman said. “And I worry when they start dumping all the sand on the track.”

The sand, added to winterize the dirt surface, has made for a deep, slow-playing racing strip. With his barn based at Fair Hill, Shuman frets that Laurel-based horses may have an advantage during the transition period since they train over it daily.

None of it mattered to Angel Art, though. Under an astute ride from Carol Cedeno, the Maryland-bred delivered a thoroughly professional performance to wear down post time favorite Expectations Met, hold off the late run of How Sweet She Is, and win by three-quarters of a length.

The running time over a main track rated fast was 1:14.67. Angel Art, who came over in front of a tiring Expectations Met late in the race, had to survive an objection by that runner’s rider, Carlos Lopez.

On paper, the race certainly shaped up as an intriguing one. Expectations Met, a $300,000 yearling last fall, is a half-sister to a couple of graded stakes winners. How Sweet She Is is a half to $500,000 earner and multiple stakes winner Red Danger. And Creole was a $105,000 yearling.

But despite his misgivings, Shuman said he felt pretty good about his charge entering the race. She had recorded seven works since mid-September.

“She does everything right,” Shuman said. “She really does.”

Angel Art
Angel Art won at first asking at Laurel Park. Photo by Jim McCue.

Cedeno put her in the game early, and she was second, 1 ½ lengths behind and outside of leader Expectations Met, after an opening quarter-mile in 23.63 seconds. They were just heads apart and drawing away from the rest after a half in 47.56 seconds. 

They battled each other into the final furlong before Angel Art got the better of that rival. How Sweet She Is, five lengths back with an eighth to go, ran on willingly to cut into the advantage while never threatening to go by, and she earned the place. It was 1 ¼ lengths back to Expectations Met, who held the show spot.

Angel Art paid a hefty $83.20 to win and topped an exacta that returned $740.30 on a one-dollar wager. In a racing oddity, though Expectations Met went off the favorite, four horses took more money in the show pool, leading to generous show payouts in all three slots.

Angel Art, out of the Blame mare Angel Park, was co-bred by Copper Penny Stables and Anchor & Hope Farm and is owned by Copper Penny Stables. Shuman said that he had nominated Angel Art to the December 3 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship.

Four races later, in a first-level allowance for two-year-olds, the Brittany Russell-trained Prince of Jericho posted a dominant victory under Feargal Lynch.