Pass the Champagne headlines Barbara Fritchie S.

Graded-stakes placed shippers Pass the Champagne and Union Lake will meet Fille d’Esprit and Swayin to and Fro, multiple stakes winners over their home track, in a competitive edition of the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) Saturday, Feb. 18 at Laurel Park.

The 69th running of the Barbara Fritchie for fillies and mares 4 and older and the 48th renewal of the $250,000 General George (G3) for 4-year-olds and up, both sprinting seven furlongs, co-headline a Winter Carnival program featuring six stakes worth $900,000 in purses.

Post time for the first of 10 races is 12:25 p.m.

R.A. Hill Stable, Black Type Thoroughbreds, Rock Ridge Racing, BlackRidge Stables and James Brown’s Pass the Champagne is a 5-year-old Flatter mare making just her seventh career start after lengthy pauses due to minor setbacks the past two years.

“These racehorses force you to be patient. When they ask you to be patient and you’re not, you end up going the wrong way. This filly asked us to be patient, so we were, and we’re hoping it pays off,” trainer George Weaver said. “If you don’t have the talent, everything else is a moot point. The talent she has. Now it’s up to getting lucky enough for her to let her show it in the afternoon against some good fillies.”

Pass the Champagne was purchased privately following her January 2021 debut at Gulfstream Park and graduated the following month in the first start for her new connections. From there they stepped her up to the Ashland (G1), where she was beaten a head by subsequent two-time champion Malathaat.

Pass the Champagne
Pass the Champagne has earned both of her wins at Gulfstream Park. Photo by Lauren King.

After finishing off the board in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Pass the Champagne went to the sidelines and returned with a 2 ¾-length optional claiming allowance victory last February at Gulfstream. She went unraced again until Jan. 14, when she was second by a head in the 1 1/16-mile Wayward Lass at Tampa Bay Downs.

“It just seemed like an appropriate race to get her back on track,” Weaver said. “We’ve kind of been of the mind that she’s a better one-turn filly and that was a two-turn race. We’re looking forward to getting back to a one-turn race. Seven-eighths or a flat mile, one-turn situation is probably best for her.”

Jockey Angel Cruz gets the riding assignment on Pass the Champagne from Post 3 in a field of eight.

“She ran well at Tampa. She ran a good number and performed well. Considering the long layoff, it was big effort,” Weaver said. “The Barbara Fritchie is a graded-stake and there’s some nice fillies in there so we’re not coming in there thinking we own the place or anything, but our filly is talented. She’s always trained like she’s a good filly, so now’s the chance to show it.”