Brittany Russell has pair for Beyond the Wire

Trainer Brittany Russell will send out a pair in Saturday’s one-mile, $100,000 Beyond the Wire Stakes for three-year-old fillies. The race is the next local step on a path that can lead to a spot in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes over Preakness weekend.

G S S Tbred’s Pharoahs Baby Gyal, a daughter of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah exiting a mid-January romp over winners, is set to make her stakes debut for Russell and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.

Pharoahs Baby Gyal – nicknamed ‘AP’ by her team – has been given plenty of time to bounce back from a front-running 10 ½-length optional claiming allowance triumph Jan. 13 at Laurel, also going one mile. She has breezed four times including back-to-back half-mile bullets last month.

“She ran huge last time. We were excited. I kind of felt like she would have a breakthrough race when we finally would run her long,” Russell said. “She’s just a really high-energy, good-training filly. We tried to back off of her after the last one. That was sort of by design. This was the race were targeting the whole time. She’s done everything we’ve asked. Knock on wood she has a good week because she hasn’t had a bad day since her win.”

Pharoahs Baby Gyal was purchased for $42,000 as a 2-year-old in training last June in Ocala and ran second in debut, a five-furlong off-the-turf maiden special weight in September at Pimlico Race Course. She graduated next out sprinting 5 ½ furlongs, then stretched out to three-quarters and ran fifth in her first try against winners in mid-November.

“We’ve always liked her,” Russell said. “When she came from the sale we always thought that she was going to need a little more time to develop, but every time I did something with her she stepped forward. She’s just a racehorse.

“I think going long she’ll be speed. I think she’s going to be the catch-me-if-you-can type,” she added. “She just has that natural wind on her. You can see when she breaks running, she just cruises. She has that high cruising speed.”

Pharoahs Baby Gyal
Pharoahs Baby Gyal won an allowance at Laurel Park January 13. Photo by Jim McCue.

Russell also entered Haymarket Farm homebred Cats Inthe Timber, a daughter of Honor Code that has followed a similar path as her stablemate. Second in debut last September, she rallied to win by a neck as the favorite in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Halloween weekend.

Third to Pharoahs Baby Gyal in mid-January, beaten a head for second, Cats Inthe Timber was a determined neck winner of a one-mile optional claiming allowance Jan. 28 at Laurel, forging a short lead at the top of the stretch and dueling through the lane on the inside.

“She’s doing well, and she ran a big race when she ran last in the allowance,” Russell said. “She’s not a real big filly. You might look at her and think a route might not be what she wants, but it’s just her style. For a small filly she covers a lot of ground. She is gutsy. She’s not big but there’s a lot inside, and you saw that in that last run. That’s all you can ask for in a racehorse, really. I think she learned a lot when she ran third to [Pharoah’s Baby Gal] and she got a lot out of that race. I think she can run well, too.”

Jevian Toledo will ride Pharoahs Baby Gyal from the rail while Jeremy Rose gets the call on Cats Inthe Timber from Post 2 in a field of seven.

The favorite, making her third career start, is Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable’s Lady Lowery. Lined at 2-1, she will try dirt for the first time after two races on the all-weather surface at Turfway Park, the most recent a 2 ¾-length maiden special weight score Feb. 15. Jack Gilligan is named.