Post Time pointed to G2 Carter

Trainer Brittany Russell expects to saddle a pair of Grade 3-winners on Wood Memorial day with Post Time in the Grade 2, $300,000 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets for older horses and Apple Picker in the Grade 3, $175,000 Distaff for older fillies and mares, both seven-furlong sprints, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Hillwood Stable’s Post Time made the grade last out with an off-the-pace rally in the seven-furlong, Grade 3 General George on February 17 at Laurel Park.

The 4-year-old Maryland-bred Frosted gray earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure in the effort at the Carter’s distance, nearly matching the 104 he garnered in the restricted one-mile Jennings at the same site on January 28.

“The Carter looks like a nice stepping stone off of the General George. We wanted to give him some time off after that because we ran him back a little quick off the Maryland-bred race,” said Russell. “He’s been good at seven furlongs, he can probably go further, but this makes sense.”

Post Time has breezed back twice over the Fair Hill dirt, most recently covering a half-mile in 50 seconds flat on March 22.

“The plan is to give him a pretty good work here this weekend, to make sure we’re all set,” Russell said.

Bred by Dr. & Mrs. Thomas Bowman, Dr. Brooke Bowman & Milton P. Higgins III, Post Time is out of the graded-stakes placed Fairbanks mare Vielsalm. He boasts a near-perfect 8-7-0-1 record with $417,910 in earnings with his only miss a third in Keeneland’s Perryville on October 21.

Michael Dubb’s Apple Picker will look to repeat Grade 3 success versus older fillies and mares after coming from 8 1/4-lengths back in last-of-7 to capture the seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie on February 17 at Laurel. The score improved upon two consecutive closing seconds in Laurel sprints in the Willa On the Move and Safely Kept.

“That’s her style. I thought she would like seven-eighths and to be honest with you, she was really touting herself going into that last race,” said Russell. “I was confident, it was just one of those weird things where I felt she was going to run a big race, and she did.”

The 4-year-old Connect filly’s grade-making performance earned a career-best 80 Beyer, exceeding the 79 from her last win in the Weather Vane in September at Pimlico Race Course.

Out of the Yes It’s True mare Silent Fright, Apple Picker is 12-4-2-0 with $330,783 in earnings. She broke her maiden on debut for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, before off-the-board efforts in graded stakes at Saratoga prior to the switch to Russell.

Sheldon Russell will retain the mounts on both Apple Picker and Post Time.

Russell said Mission Beach is under consideration for the Listed $150,000 Bay Shore, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores.

He was a disappointing seventh last out in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Withers over muddy and sealed footing on February 3 here for owners SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Dianne Bashor, Robert E. Masterson, Waves Edge Capital LLC, Catherine Donovan, and Tom Ryan.

“I’d like to shorten up. The Withers – you just kind of have to draw a line through it,” Russell said. “He’s just in a tough spot to be as a 3-year-old. You win your allowance and are kind of in no-man’s-land. I definitely think he’s a closing sprinter type, so we need to make a decision pretty quick.”

The 4-year-old Curlin bay, a $400,000 purchase at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, began his career with Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, breaking his maiden on debut in August at Del Mar.

Mission Beach’s subsequent outings were off-the-board finishes in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga Race Course and Grade 3 Bob Hope back at Del Mar, before moving to Russell’s care and winning a six-furlong optional claimer on December 22 at Laurel.