O Dionysus Pulls Away in $75,000 Miracle Wood

O Dionysus Pulls Away in $75,000 Miracle Wood

China Grove Upsets Crabcakes in $75,000 Wide Country

LAUREL, MD – Marathon Farms, Inc.’s O Dionysus rolled to the lead on the far outside approaching the stretch and steadily separated from his rivals down the lane to a convincing three-length victory in the $75,000 Miracle Wood Saturday at Laurel Park.

The 22nd running of the Miracle Wood for 3-year-olds at one mile and the $75,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs were among six stakes worth $850,000 in purses on the 10-race Winter Carnival program.

Highlighting Saturday’s card were the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2) for older females and $250,000 General George (G3) for older sprinters. They were joined by the $75,000 John B. Campbell for older horses going 1 1/8 miles and the $75,000 Maryland Racing Media for older females at about 1 1/16 miles.

Favored at 4-5 in a field of eight, O Dionysus ($3.80) completed the distance in 1:37.06 over a fast main track. Everybodyluvsrudy closed late to be second over 25-1 long shot No More Talk in third. They were followed under the line by High Roller, Poseidon’s Prize, Butch Walker, Indominus Rex and Eastern Bay.

O Dionysus, winner of the Christopher Elser Memorial in November at Parx, was given an ideal trip by regular rider Jevian Toledo after having to endure traffic when fourth in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity Dec. 10 and second by a half-length in his most recent start, the seven-furlong Frank Whiteley Jr. Jan. 21 in his sophomore debut.

“I was real happy. Toledo did a really good job,” winning trainer Gary Capuano said. “He was settled nice. He did get a little rank down the backstretch but he looked like he had enough horse and he got a good trip. He didn’t get in trouble today and it worked out good. It was a nice race.”

Poseidon’s Prize, at 45-1, was eager for the lead and held it through a slow opening quarter-mile in 25.25 seconds before picking it up with a half in 49.30. High Roller, who upset O Dionysus in the Whiteley, stalked the pace three wide with No More Talk and Eastern Bay in behind.

O Dionysus rated nicely in the clear off a tight pack as they raced down the backstretch, effortlessly cruising up to the lead around the far turn. He took command at the head of the stretch after going six furlongs in 1:13.68 and gained ground with every stride, running seven furlongs in 1:24.97.

“This is a pretty good horse. I just tried to relax him and he relaxed pretty good today,” Toledo said. “I took him to the outside to stay out of trouble like he had last time. Turning for home I knew I had a lot of horse and when I asked him he responded like he always does, and he did the job.”

Capuano said the $100,000 Private Terms at about 1 1/16 miles March 18 at Laurel is a likely landing spot for O Dionysus’ next start, with the $125,000 Federico Tesio April 22 – a ‘Win and You’re In’ event for the Preakness Stakes (G1) – as a long-range goal.

“We’re still looking for a two-turn race. The next race will be two turns and if everything goes well he’ll be back for that,” he said. “He doesn’t miss a trick so we’ll keep going. The goal is the Tesio. From there we’ll see how good he is and where he takes us.”

China Grove Upsets Crabcakes in $75,000 Wide Country

Katherine Ball’s China Grove made her sophomore debut a winning one, surging past previously undefeated favorite Crabcakes nearing the eighth pole to earn her first career stakes victory in the $75,000 Wide Country.

Ridden by Kendrick Carmouche for trainer Ben Colebrook, China Grove ($10) ran seven furlongs in 1:23.86 over a fast main track. Crabcakes, the 6-5 top choice whose three previous wins included a victory in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Dec. 10 at Laurel, was second by 1 ¼ lengths over pacesetting Forever Liesl.

Winless in eight starts since capturing her unveiling last April at Keeneland, China Grove broke from her rail post and saved ground inside through an opening quarter-mile in 23.16 seconds and a half in 46.73 established by Forever Liesl. Crabcakes broke a step slow and rushed up to a challenging spot in third before splitting horses around the far turn under regular rider Angel Rodriguez.

Carmouche swung China Grove out wide and followed the move by Crabcakes to mid-stretch until edging clear to win by 1 ¼ lengths. The Wide Country was the seventh try against stakes company for China Grove, who ran second in the Astoria and Rags to Riches last year but hadn’t run since finishing sixth in the Golden Rod (G2) Nov. 26.

“I had a perfect trip. I just wanted [Crabcakes] to maintain his position by getting out of there and getting in front of me where I could follow him and have a target,” Carmouche said. “That was the only horse I considered the last quarter of a mile who could run with me. I knew my filly had run against better horses. My horse proved to be the best horse today.”

Lucky in Malibu, Kathleen Elizabeth, So Fancy, Follow the Petals and Squan’s Kingdom completed the order of finish.