Several local runners among Barbara Fritchie noms

Several Laurel Park-based runners are among the nominees to the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie Stakes Feb. 18 at Laurel Park. Among them is last year’s Fritchie show horse, Fille d’Esprit.

The 21 nominations are headed by that of Yuugiri, a graded stakes winner of more than $600,000 in just seven lifetime starts. It’s the 71st running of the Fritchie, a seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares that has long headed the mid-winter racing scene locally.

Tsunebumi and Sekie Yoshihara’s Yuugiri, winner of the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy (G3) last spring at Oaklawn Park, finished 13th in last year’s Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in her follow-up start but then was off until late December. Trained by Rodolphe Brisset, the 4-year-old daughter of 2011 Preakness winner Shackelford returned from nearly eight months between starts with a front-running allowance victory Dec. 30 at Oaklawn sprinting six furlongs.

Jerry Robb-trained stablemates Fille d’Esprit and Street Lute, owners of 14 combined stakes wins, are also nominated. Fille d’Esprit, third in last year’s Fritchie, opened her 7-year-old season Jan. 21 with a 5 ¼-length score in the six-furlong What a Summer at Laurel, while Street Lute returned from a seven-month layoff to be fifth in a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance Feb. 4.

Cloud Nine Stable’s Betsy Blue, based in New York with trainer Linda Rice, was third in the one-mile Go For Wand (G3) Dec. 3 and won the 6 ½-furlong Garland of Roses Dec. 10 and seven-furlong Interborough Jan. 21 at Aqueduct in her last three starts. Also nominated from New York is Steven Schoenfeld’s Union Lake, a last out winner sprinting 6 ½ furlongs at Aqueduct that ran third in the 2022 Prioress (G2).

R.A. Hill Stable, Black Type Thoroughbreds, Rock Ridge Racing, BlackRidge Stables and James Brown’s Pass the Champagne is a 5-year-old mare with two wins and three seconds from six career starts that was second by a head to two-time Eclipse champion Malathaat in the 2021 Ashland (G1). Also trained by Weaver, she returned from nearly a year away to run second in the 1 1/16-mile Wayward Lass Jan. 14 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Multiple stakes winners Buy the Best, Disco Ebo, Hybrid Eclipse, Malibu Beauty, Swayin to and Fro and stakes winner Prodigy Doll are among other notable Fritchie nominees.