Plan B brings Smokin’ Jay to Laurel Dash

While it’s likely to be a compact, seven-horse field, Saturday’s $100,000 Laurel Dash has attracted some pretty accomplished runners. The six-furlong grass contest is scheduled for the eighth on a 10-race card with a first post of 12:25 p.m.

Trainer David Jacobson will saddle 9-5 morning line favorite Mid Day Image. The seven-year-old will seek his first stakes win.

A horse who already owns a stakes win, on the other hand, is Smokin’ Jay, the second choice at 5-2.

Scratched from the 5 ½-furlong Mighty Beau June 18 at Ellis Park when the race was taken off the grass, Crown’s Way Racing and NBS Racing Stable’s stakes winner Smokin’ Jay was supplemented into the Laurel Dash by trainer Kelsey Danner.

“He’s doing well. I thought he would run last weekend at Ellis and then it came off the grass. I kind of expected him to run well there,” Danner said. “There were basically two spots for him, one at Indiana and one at Laurel. Indiana is five-eighths and Laurel is three-quarters. He’d probably prefer 5 ½, but I thought the race at Laurel fit him better.”

A 5-year-old son of Cairo Prince, Smokin’ Jay has run third or better in 10 of 20 career starts with five wins, including the six-furlong Allied Forces in 2021 over the Belmont turf beating, among others, Grade 3 winner Jaxon Traveler. He has placed in four other stakes and run up against the likes of multiple stakes winners Mandaloun, Chasing Artie, Casa Creed, Arzak and Pink Lloyd.


Most recently Smokin’ Jay ran second by 1 ¼ lengths to Bad Beat Brian in a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance sprint on the turf at Churchill Downs. He began the year with a come-from-behind one-length triumph going five furlongs on the Gulfstream grass March 4, his first start in seven months.

“He’s run in some good races and been up against some nice company. The allowance race at Churchill was basically like a stakes race. He’s just a solid horse,” Danner said. “He runs his race every time. He’s a super nice horse to be around, easy and laid back. Crown’s Way bought him as a 2-year-old. They knew him since he was a baby because my other client [Dr. Dede McGehee] bred him. Then my other ownership group bought into him last year, NBS. He’s been part of the family for a while.”

Smokin' Jay
Smokin’ Jay before the 2022 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico. Photo by Allison Janezic.

Jevian Toledo has the call from Post 5 on Smokin’ Jay, who has raced on dirt, turf and synthetic at 11 different racetracks including historic Pimlico Race Course where he ran second, beaten 1 ½ lengths by Carotari, in the 2022 Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

“He ran at Pimlico, so he’s been to Maryland, anyway,” Danner said. “If he had a passport, it would have a lot of stamps on it. It doesn’t matter to him. He’s real level-headed.”

Also entered in the Laurel Dash:

  • Witty (6-1), a multiple stakes winner on the dirt who is a half to multiple Grade 1-winning turf sprinter Caravel;
  • 2021 Maryland Million Turf Sprint winner Grateful Bred (9-2); and
  • Fore Harp (5-1), a speedster breaking from the outside.

The Dash is the second of three stakes at Laurel on Saturday. The stakes action commences in the sixth with the Jameela, a six-furlong turf event for Maryland-bred or -sired fillies and mares. A pair of these stand out in three-time stakes winner Can the Queen (9-5) for owner-trainer Joanne Shankle and two-time stakes winner Spun Glass (5-2) for trainer Mike Trombetta and owner Larry Johnson. Spun Glass is the defending champ in this event.

The final stake of the afternoon is the seven-furlong Concern for three-year-olds. That race amounts to a reunion of frequent foes Prince of Jericho (6-5) for trainer Brittany Russell and Coffeewithchris (5-2) for John Salzman, Jr. The pair met four times over the winter, with Coffeewithchris winning twice and Prince of Jericho winning once. Hoping to spoil the reunion will be Recruiter (7-5), who is five-for-seven in his career.