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Maryland Million Classic Winners Meet In Jennings Handicap
LAUREL, MD. 12-01-11---Eighttofasttocatch and Regal Solo, the last two Maryland Million Classic winners, headline a group of six runners in Saturday’s $75,000 Jennings Handicap at Laurel Park. The 70th running of the one-mile test has been won by millionaire Little Bold John and Grade 1 winners Taking Risks and Include.
Eighttofasttocatch (7-5) has three stakes victories at Laurel this year for trainer Tim Keefe during his 5-year-old season. The son of Not For Love also took the Harrison Johnson Memorial Stakes (March 26) and Japan Racing Association Stakes (September 10). In his last start he was a solid fourth in the G2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland on October 29. Sheldon Russell has the mount.
“It has been a terrific year. He has stayed sound, his attitude is great and has been a lot of fun to train,” Keefe said. “We have worked hard to get him to rate but it doesn’t look like there is a lot of speed in the race so we might end up in front but we’ll deal with it. He likes it here at Laurel.”
Regal Solo (5-2), who won the 2009 Jennings, has only started twice this year, with a second in the Maryland Million Sprint off a year layoff and a rallying fourth place finish in the $150,000 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash on October 22.
The De Francis Dash has turned into a key race with two runners who finished behind Regal Solo, Sunrise Smarty and Ravalo, have come back to win the G3 Fall Highweight and $200,000 Six Bits Handicap respectively.
“I hope the Dash turns into a key race. He certainly gave us a big effort that day,” said trainer Damon Dilodovico. “This is a tough race. I don’t think this is his best distance but he is sharp. For him to give us three top performances in a row might be asking too much but he is doing well.”
Travis Dunkelberger takes the reins aboard the son of Louis Quatorze.
Concealed Identity (3-1) blossomed on the turf in his last two outings, winning both including the Find Handicap for trainer Eddie Gaudet. The son of Smarty Jones has two stakes victories on the dirt and competed in the G1 Preakness Stakes and G1 Haskell Invitational earlier in his 3-year-old campaign. With regular rider Russell riding Eighttofasttocatch, Abel Castellano picks up the riding assignment.
“The Gaudets have been good to me, letting me ride Concealed Identity in the Preakness but Catcher (Eighttofasttocatch) is the first really nice horse I got to ride and I have been aboard as he has progressed,” said Russell, who has ridden all three top contenders. “Regal Solo was my first Maryland Million Classic winner. I never got a chance to ride him back but he is a tough customer.”
Larry Murray will saddle the entry of Indian Dance and London Lane (6-1) for owner Sondra Bender. The former has won four of six starts at Laurel, his best effort a victory in the Harrison Johnson Memorial last year. He hasn’t won since. The latter finished third in the 2010 Tesio Stakes, his only stakes attempt. Julian Pimentel rides Indian Dance. Forrest Boyce is named to London Lane.
Shordawatyadrink (20-1) has three wins at the distance, including a score in the Maryland Million Starter Handicap in October. Following that victory, the son of Mojave Moon was third when Rapid Redux tied Zenyatta and Peppers Pride for most consecutive victories. Xavier Perez rides for owner-trainer Horace Parker.
AQUITANIA IMPRESSIVE IN THURSDAY ALLOWANCE SCORE
Aquitania ($5.80) beat multiple stakes winners Red's Round Table and Aspenglow in Thursday’s second race, a $41,000 allowance test for fillies and mares at 5 ½ furlongs.
The Hamilton Smith trainee, who has won four straight races, overtook front-running Red’s Round Table at the three-sixteenths pole and cruised to a 3-1/2 length victory with jockey Erick Rodriguez in 1:03.27.
Red’s Round Table, making her first start since cracking an ankle (left front) after winning the Wide Country Stakes here in early March, was second. Aspenglow finished another 3-1/2 lengths back.
“That was a powerful race against a salty bunch,” Smith said. “She was a lot closer than I expected but Erick told me she was dragging him down the backside. She has turned into a nice sprinter. She can run on both surfaces but she’s a little better on the dirt.”
Smith ranks third in the trainer standings at the current fall meet with 22 trips to the winners’ circle.
“We have had a big meet,” added Smith. “It seems all the horses are running well and I hate to see it end.”