G1 Winner Glorious Empire Targeting G3 BWI Turf Cup for Comeback Race

G1 Winner Glorious Empire Targeting G3 BWI Turf Cup for Comeback Race

Pricey Juvenile Jeopardy James Heads Delacour Maiden Trio Sunday
Stakes Winner Introduced Returns to Turf for Sunday Feature

LAUREL, MD – Matt Schera’s multiple graded-stakes winner Glorious Empire continues to train forwardly for his return to racing, which trainer James ‘Chuck’ Lawrence II said Saturday may come in the $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3) Sept. 21 at Laurel Park.

Contested at one mile over Laurel’s world-class turf course, the BWI Turf Cup is among eight stakes worth $1.3 million in purses on Part I of a September to Remember Stakes Festival that also includes the $250,000 Xpressbet Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) and $150,000 Bald Eagle Derby.

“It’s on the radar,” Lawrence said. “That’s what we’re looking at right now.”

Grade 1 winner Glorious Empire has not raced since his victory in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) last Dec. 15 at Gulfstream Park, besting a field that featured 13 graded-stakes winners, five of them Grade 1. The performance capped a 2018 season where he finished second in voting for the Eclipse Award as champion male turf horse.

The now 8-year-old Glorious Empire won four of six starts and $767,830 in purses last year, his other stakes wins coming in the Sword Dancer (G1) and Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga. He is 10-for-25 with a $966,227 lifetime bankroll, including nine starts in Europe and Hong Kong to open his career.

“At this point, I’m very pleased,” Lawrence said. “About three weeks ago he came up with a little virus. He had a temperature of 103 and luckily it was just one morning, but we missed a week with him. But, he got right back on track and had a beautiful breeze last week and an even better breeze two days ago.”

Glorious Empire shows five works since mid-July over the all-weather surface at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., where Lawrence is based. He went five furlongs in 1:01.60 Aug. 29 and seven furlongs in 1:27.60 Sept. 5.

“The work the other day was better than expected and he galloped out really strong. We’re very pleased. He’ll have one more big work and then he’ll have an easy one before the race, hopefully,” Lawrence said. “You always question yourself whether you have them ready or not, but he’s telling us he’s getting there. We’ll have to put him in the entries here pretty soon.”

The Irish-bred Glorious Empire came out of the Fort Lauderdale with a tear in his right front suspensory ligament. He underwent an innovative procedure that included minor surgery Jan. 5 and a stem cell infusion to promote healing.

Though more comfortable going longer – two of his 2018 wins came at 1 1/8 miles, the others at 1 3/8 and 1 ½ miles – Lawrence feels the BWI Turf Cup’s mile distance is a good starting point.

“I’m looking to get him back to the races and use it as a building block to the next race,” he said. “We’d certainly like to win, but the biggest thing is getting him back and having him run well.”

Pricey Juvenile Jeopardy James Heads Delacour Maiden Trio Sunday

Lael Stables’ Jeopardy James, purchased for $585,000 as a 2-year-old in training in April, is the 5-2 program favorite to graduate in his second career start in Sunday’s third race at Laurel Park.

The six-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds attracted a field of 11 as one of three $40,000 maiden special weight events on the 10-race card. First race post time is 1:10 p.m.

Jeopardy James is named for James Holzhauer, the 34-year-old professional sports gambler who won 32 consecutive games and more than $2.4 million on the popular quiz show from April to June. Lael’s Roy and Gretchen Jackson are avid fans of the show.

A bay son of champion sprinter Speightstown out of the Seeking the Gold mare Pay Lady, Jeopardy James fetched $135,000 as a yearling before bringing the eighth-largest price of OBS’ four-day spring sale.

“Those pricey 2-year-olds, you always hope that they’re going to be something special,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said. “He might need a little bit of time to develop. The Speightstowns, a lot of them improve with age so I think that he will be better later on. He’s definitely shown he’s got enough class and ability so I’m pretty excited to run him tomorrow.”

Jeopardy James was bet down to 1-9 favoritism in his debut July 25 at Delaware Park, where he brushed the starting gate and was forced into a pressing position from his rail post, ultimately tiring and hanging on for second by a nose, beaten 2 ¼ lengths. He shows four sharp works over the all-weather surface at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. for his return, where he also drew the No. 1 post and will be ridden by Trevor McCarthy.

“He got off slow the first time and then kind of rushed up there and came up empty at the end. I think the circumstances didn’t help him,” Delacour said. “I think he’ll run much better this time, not that he ran a bad race but he’ll know a little bit more what it’s all about this time. Unfortunately, we break from the one-hole again, but I’ve got good hope that he learned a lot from the first race and he should overcome that.

“Especially when you’re on the inside, it doesn’t give you much choice. If you don’t break good then they have a little bit more to overcome,” he added. “But I’ve been happy with him, he’s training well, and I hope for a good performance.”

Delacour also has contenders in each of Sunday’s two other maiden special weight races. Watters Edge homebred Caira, a 3-year-old daughter of multiple Grade 2 winner Cairo Prince, is the 9-5 program favorite in Race 2 for fillies and mares 3 and up going one mile on the Bowl Game turf course. It will be her third straight try against older horses, having come up a neck short in a one-mile maiden event Aug. 8 at Colonial Downs.

“Caira ran well the last time and, in my opinion, probably should have won the race. She got stopped a few times,” Delacour said. “It was an inside trip at Colonial Downs, but once she went through she came with a big run and galloped out very strongly. I think she’ll run well.”

WinStar Farm and China Horse Club’s Empty Tomb is listed at 5-1 on the morning line for Race 10, for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track. Another son of Speightstown, the 3-year-old was beaten 6 ¼ lengths when third in his debut at six furlongs on the same Colonial Downs program as Caira.

“Empty Tomb was a little bit of a baby when he first ran He broke OK, was a little [far back] and probably needs more ground,” Delacour said. “I’d be more comfortable going two turns than a one-turn mile, but we didn’t have a two-turn race. We’re adding blinkers and hopefully he’ll be a little more in the race than he was the last time.”

Daniel Centeno rides Caira from Post 6 of eight, while Jorge Vargas Jr. has the call on WinStar-bred Empty Tomb, a $190,000 yearling purchase in September 2017, from Post 2 of six.

Along with Empty Tomb, Sunday’s 10th race at Laurel also includes the debut of Twin Creeks Racing Stable LLC’s Communicator, a $300,000 yearling trained by Jonathan Thomas, and Muchado, who comes out of a fifth-place finish against maiden special weight company at Saratoga.

Stakes Winner Introduced Returns to Turf for Sunday Feature

Colts Neck Stables’ Introduced, who became a stakes winner in her most recent start over Laurel Park’s main track, finds herself back on the grass for her return in Sunday’s Race 6 feature, a $42,000 entry-level optional claiming allowance for females 3 and up going 5 ½ furlongs on the Exceller turf course.

Introduced, trained by Jorge Duarte Jr., was a half-length winner of the six-furlong Miss Disco Aug. 17 at Laurel against fellow Maryland-bred sophomore fillies. She has only made two of eight career starts on dirt, the other coming in an off-the-turf maiden claimer last fall at Laurel, where she won by three lengths.

Purchased for $310,000 as a 2-year-old in training last March, Introduced owns three wins, three seconds and a third and two turf stakes placings, having finished third in the 5 ½-furlong Stormy Blues July 14 at Laurel and second by a nose in the six-furlong Stewart Manor last November at Aqueduct in her juvenile finale.

Favored at 9-5 in the program, Introduced will break from Post 4 in a field of 10 under Julian Pimentel, aboard in the Miss Disco for the last of three consecutive stakes wins that day.