Johnyz From Albany, Post Time meet in Md. Juvenile

Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Championship at Laurel Park looks – on paper at least – to be a showdown between Maryland Million Nursery winner Johnyz From Albany and the undefeated Post Time.

The 41st running of the Maryland Juvenile co-headlines a nine-race program with the 36th edition of the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Fillies, both for Maryland-bred/sired horses sprinting seven furlongs. First race post time is 12:05 p.m. 

Charles “Chip” Reed’s homebred gelding Johnyz From Albany will make his fifth start Saturday, having graduated at first asking in a five-furlong maiden special weight Aug. 21 at Laurel. He then  ran third and second in successive optional claiming allowance attempts behind next-out stakes winners Super Chow and Recruiter, the latter of which remains undefeated.

Johnyz From Albany posted a mild upset in his most recent start, a front-running five-length triumph in the six-furlong Maryland Million Nursery Oct. 22 at Laurel under first-time rider Jorge Ruiz, who gets the return call from Post 4.

“He ran really well. He’s going to need to do that again in this race,” trainer Dale Capuano said. “[Post Time] is pretty tough, so he won’t be able to fool around. He’ll have to run like he did last time. We’ll see.”

Johnyz From Albany was sent from his rail post in the Nursery and quickly established command through solid fractions of 22.75 and 46.37 seconds, taking a 4 ½-length lead into the stretch and crossing the wire in 1:11.35. Of his 10 rivals that day only William Earl Atkins’ Tiz No Clown, who ran fifth before finishing sixth behind Recruiter in the Nov. 12 James F. Lewis III, returns.

“He broke well and he ran every step of the way last time. That time was pretty good for that day, as well,” Capuano said. “It looks like he’s just getting better. He’s had a few more races than some of the others, so that’s an edge. We’ll see if he can step it up and stretch out an extra eighth.”

Johnyz From Albany
Johnyz From Albany won the Maryland Million Nursery. Photo by Allison Janezic.

The Juvenile will be the first time beyond six furlongs for Johnyz From Albany, a gray or roan son of second-year sire Blofeld, whose two Grade 2 victories came at one mile. His dam, Monster Sleeping, won three stakes for Capuano including the 1 1/8-mile Maryland Million Ladies in 2013 and 2015.

“He seems to be more of a sprinter to me at this stage of his career, so we’ll see if he can get the seven-eighths. His mother, we won with her from 5 ½ [furlongs] to a mile and an eighth, so he should have it in his blood a little bit. But she stretched out when she got older, not when she was young,” Capuano said. “Hopefully eventually he’ll get stretched out. We’ll try seven-eighths and see how it goes.”

Hillwood Stable’s Post Time looks to be his stiffest competition and will step up into stakes company for the first time after winning his first two starts by 8 ¾ combined lengths for Laurel’s fall meet-leading trainer Brittany Russell. He overcame some pre-race antics and an erratic stretch run to rally in debut Oct. 7, an off-the-turf maiden special weight going five furlongs.

Post Time outran his greenness again for a 6 ¾-length optional claiming allowance romp Oct. 27 at the Juvenile distance. He was ridden in both races by Eric Camacho, a former and perhaps future jockey who now gallops for Russell and has developed a kinship with the son of Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Frosted. His win aboard Post Time October 7 was his first in six years.

“We always knew that he had a lot of ability,” Russell said of Post Time. “He always worked good, he was always forward. It was always a matter of letting his brain put things together. He’s way better now already. He just likes his job and, hopefully. we continue to see a more mature horse as he keeps moving forward.

[Johnyz From Albany a multi-state “family affair”]

“It’s there,” she added. “He has to be able to handle a lot of other things like the post parade and all that stuff. He was much better from the first to second start and hopefully he’s even better this time.”

Post Time has worked three times since his last race including a half-mile breeze in 48.20 seconds Nov. 26 at Laurel, third-fastest of 53 horses. Camacho rides back from the rail.

“He’s great. He hasn’t missed a beat. He’s been rocking right along,” Russell said. “I’m excited to run him. We’ll see what we have, because there’s going to be some nice horses in that race, but it seems like the next logical step in his progression.”

Coffeewithchris, fourth after setting the pace in the James Lewis, and maidens California Ghost, Feeling Woozy and Tidewater are also entered. Feeling Woozy is trained by Hamilton Smith, who won the Juvenile previously with Greatbullsoffire (2016) and Red Star Rose (1998).

The first Maryland Juvenile Championship, in 1982, was likely the greatest Maryland-bred race ever run. It brought together Deputed Testamony and Caveat, who the following spring would win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, respectively, and was won by Dixieland Band, who later became a multiple graded stakes winner and an important sire.