Double Crown Professional Debut Winner Sunday at Laurel

Double Crown Professional Debut Winner Sunday at Laurel

Sophomores Periodical, Empty Tomb Post Maiden Triumphs
Dance Or Stroll Waltzes to Upset Victory in Sunday Feature
Live Racing Returns with Nine-Race Card Friday, Sept. 13, Late Pick 5 Carryover

LAUREL, MD – Debbie Rhodes’ Double Crown looked anything like a first-time starter in his career debut, settling off the pace before coming with a steady run down the center of the track to catch longshot pacesetter Ournationonparade and graduate with a professional neck triumph Sunday at Laurel Park.

In one of three maiden special weight events on a 10-race program and the only one for 2-year-olds, Double Crown ($16.40) ran six furlongs in a sharp 1:10.18 over a fast main track with Alex Cintron aboard for trainer Lacey Gaudet.

Ournationonparade, a full brother to 11-time winner Parade of Nations, was a decisive second, seven lengths ahead of Jeopardy James. A $585,000 purchase this spring bet down to 3-5 favoritism in a field of seven, Jeopardy James raced far back early before making a belated run in his second career start.

“The horse just ran so professional. We’ve known that he’s a nice horse from the day he came to us. He’s the first horse I’ve had for Debbie and Jim Rhodes, and they absolutely put a fantastic horse in our barn,” Gaudet said. “We’ve been waiting to run this horse, so I thank them for being patient.”

Double Crown, a Maryland-bred by Grade 2-winning millionaire Bourbon Courage, breezed eight times since early July for his unveiling, where he rated in third as Ournationonparade broke running and went the opening quarter-mile in 22.40 seconds. Double Crown moved up to second after a half in 45.76 and was set down for a drive once straightened for home, gaining steadily on the outside of Ournationonparade before edging past.

“I had maybe a half-second [concern] when they outbroke him, but Alex rode him so professionally and just let him sit behind the pace,” Gaudet said. “Nothing has really ever fazed this horse, so as soon as he got that kickback it didn’t affect him. I said, ‘If he’s got a spot, he’s going to unload.’ Alex said he was really surprised that even when he did get him out how quickly he put him in front.

“[Ournationonparade] kind of got loose out there and was running a huge race,” she added. “I think this horse was maybe toying with him a little bit. He really likes the competition, so I think he’s a little bit smarter than even we give him credit for. He knew when he needed to be in front.”

Stuart Janney III’s homebred Periodical ($5.60) became a winner in her fourth career start and first in Maryland, pressing 28-1 leader Miss Loretta through fractions of 23.32 seconds, 47.66 and 1:11.95 before taking over inside the eighth pole and drawing away to a 2 ¼-length triumph in 1:35.56 on a firm Bowl Game turf course in Race 2.

Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey and ridden by Forest Boyce, Periodical was the second betting choice at 9-5 among eight fillies and mares 3 and older in Sunday’s first maiden special weight. She opened 2019 running third, also against older horses at one mile, Aug. 8 at Colonial Downs.

Periodical is a 3-year-old daughter of Data Link, also owned and bred by Janney and trained by McGaughey to four graded-stakes wins including the 2012 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) and $831,335 in purse earnings. She raced twice at 2 last fall in New York, losing in her debut to Regal Glory, a two-time graded-stakes winner this summer at Saratoga.

WinStar Farm and China Horse Club’s Empty Tomb ($13.60), racing with blinkers on for the first time in his second start, dug in again after losing the lead straightening for home and powered through the long run to the second wire to a convincing victory in Sunday’s finale, a maiden special weight for 3-year-olds and up. The winning time was 1:36.71 for one mile.

A sophomore son of champion sprinter Speighstown, Empty Tomb cost $190,000 as a yearling. Judoka was a decisive second, with Start With Yes third. Muchacho, a homebred son of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man, was fifth as the 1-2 favorite.

“They told me to keep after him because he can be a little lazy. Wearing blinkers for the first time, I thought he was going to be a little sharper, but I still used him a little bit,” winning jockey Jorge Vargas Jr. said. “He was still involved on lead. We were going a little bit fast, but I had horse under me the whole way so I wasn’t worried about it. He galloped out pretty strong, too. He’s a horse that you have to make him do things but once he gets going, he really gets going.”

Dance Or Stroll Waltzes Away with Upset Victory in Sunday Feature

Roger Simons’ Maryland-bred Dance Or Stroll forged a short lead turning for home and steadily pulled clear through the stretch to post a 24-1 upset of Sunday’s featured sixth race at Laurel Park.

It was the 11th career victory in 38 starts and first in three tries on grass for Dance Or Stroll ($50), a 4-year-old filly trained by Gerald Brooks that covered 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.32 over a firm Exceller turf course in the $42,000 entry level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up.

Merry Maid, sent off at 35-1, was sent to the lead from her rail post and held it through a brisk quarter-mile in 21.93 seconds and a half in 45.10. Jockey Jorge Ruiz settled Dance Or Stroll on the inside before tipping two wide at the top of the stretch and setting their sights on the leader, surging past with little urging in the final furlong and sprinting clear.

Merry Maid held second by a half-length over Queen of Schmooze to complete a $588.80 exacta. Glittering Judy, the even-money favorite, finished fourth. Stakes winner Introduced, the program favorite, was scratched.

“The filly is a nice filly,” Ruiz said. “She put herself in a good position and finished good. She won nice and easy.”

Bred by Barak Farm, Dance Or Stroll is a daughter of Grade 1 turf winner Stroll who finished off the board in her two previous turf races, last spring and summer at Laurel.

Notes: There will be a jackpot carryover of $3,523.58 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 and a $8,034.48 carryover in the Late Pick 5 when live racing returns with a nine-race program Friday, Sept. 13. Tickets with five of six winners Sunday each returned $592.86. First-race post time is 1:10 p.m.