Phlash Phelps Shortens Up for $75,000 Ben’s Cat

Phlash Phelps Shortens Up for $75,000 Ben’s Cat

Fear No Evil Back with State-Breds in $75,000 Jameela
Among Five Stakes Worth $400,000 in Purses Sunday, July 14

LAUREL, MD – Best known for his success going two turns on the turf, Hillwood Stable’s multiple stakes winner Phlash Phelps will cut back to a sprint for the first time in more than two years for Sunday’s $75,000 Ben’s Cat Stakes at Laurel Park.

The Ben’s Cat for 3-year-olds and up and $75,000 Jameela for fillies and mares 3 and older, both 5 ½-furlong grass sprints restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses, are among five stakes worth $400,000 in purses on a nine-race Summer Sunday Stakes program, presented by 14 Hands Winery.

Also on the card are the $100,000 Stormy Blues for 3-year-old fillies, one of three 5 ½-furlong sprints on Laurel’s world-class turf course, as well as the return of multiple graded-stakes winners Mind Control and Late Night Pow Wow, respectively, in the $75,000 Concern for 3-year-olds and $75,000 Twixt for females 3 and older, both at seven furlongs.

First race post time is 1:10 p.m.

Phlash Phelps, a gelded 8-year-old son of Great Notion, hasn’t sprinted since winning the six-furlong Mister Diz Stakes over Laurel’s turf course June 24, 2017. The Mister Diz was later renamed after the late Mid-Atlantic legend that won 26 stakes and more than $2.6 million in purse earnings before his passing due to complications from colic surgery in July 2017, less than two weeks after being retired at the age of 11.

Trained by Rodney Jenkins, Phlash Phelps has raced only six times since then, all at a mile or more, most recently finishing seventh behind multiple Grade 1 winner Catholic Boy in the 1 1/16-mile Dixie (G2) May 18 at Pimlico Race Course, one race prior to the Preakness Stakes (G1).

Phlash Phelps was entered but scratched from a third-level 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance that was rained off the grass to the main track July 4 at Laurel.

“I think he’ll be just fine. I’m going to run him,” Jenkins said. “He won it before. He’s used to going a distance of ground, but he’s fast enough. We’ll see. It’s a Maryland-bred race. It’s not like it’s an open race.

“He’s doing just fine, he really is,” he added. “He’s getting a little spunk back in him and he’s getting back in shape. He’s a nice-looking horse, and I think he’ll run pretty good.”

Tom O’Grady’s Dirty set a Dahlia turf course record for 5 ½ furlongs in the inaugural King T. Leatherbury Stakes – named for Ben’s Cat’s Hall of Fame breeder, owner and trainer – April 20 at Laurel, though his mark of 1:00.65 was broken by Stormy Blues-bound filly Introduced June 1 (1:00.55).

In one start following the Leatherbury, Dirty was a non-threatening sixth in the six-furlong Jaipur (G1) June 8 at Belmont Park, his graded debut. The 4-year-old Maclean’s Music colt is unbeaten at Laurel, also having won a 5 ½-furlong allowance last June by five lengths over Oldies But Goodies, who also returns in the Ben’s Cat.

D Hatman Thoroughbreds’ Sonny Inspired will be making his 60th career start in the Ben’s Cat, a race he won last year by three-quarters of a length, one of his four lifetime stakes victories. The first two came on dirt in the winter of 2016, the second a six-furlong sprint also named for Ben’s Cat.

Mopo Racing’s Eastern Bay debuted first off the claim for trainer Dale Capuano in the King Leatherbury, a troubled ninth-place finish where he trailed by as many as 17 lengths after a a half-mile to only be beaten by five on the wire. The 5-year-old gelding rebounded with a gutsy neck triumph over Oldies But Goodies in a third-level optional claiming allowance going the Ben’s Cat distance June 2 at Laurel.

“He ran really well last time,” Capuano said. “The first time I ran him, I ran him in the stake and he had a lot of trouble coming out of the gate then was checked and still closed a lot of ground. He didn’t get beat that far by a horse that set a course record. That race was a lot better than it probably looked on paper.

“He’s doing well so hopefully he’ll run as well as he did last time just without the trouble. The last time he was in a stake he didn’t a chance to show himself, so we’re hopefully he’ll run a big race again,” he added. “He has speed. He has gone to the front so he’s pretty versatile. I think he’ll pretty much do whatever you want him to do.”

Also entered are 2018 Ben’s Cat runner-up Grandiflora, Love You Much, Street Copper and Tempt Me Twice.

Fear No Evil Back with State-Breds in $75,000 Jameela

Hickory Plains’ Fear No Evil, beaten a length when fifth last time out in the Intercontinental (G3), will make her seventh consecutive stakes start and sixth overall at Laurel in the $75,000 Jameela.

Based in New York with trainer Tom Albertrani, Fear No Evil owns two wins and two thirds in her previous trips to Laurel, most recently collecting the show in the Sensible Lady Turf Dash last September, a nose and a head behind New York-bred winner Fire Key.

“She tries every race. She’s been very close and had to settle her last few races. We’re trying to get that stake win under her belt and this might be place to try her back again,” Albertrani said. “She likes Laurel and has always run well there so hopefully it turns out to be a good spot for her. She’s doing really well. She stays on top of her game. She’s honest and she always tries. We’ve just got to hopefully get that ‘W’ next to her name.”

Fear No Evil, a 5-year-old Line of David mare, has finished third or better in 17 of 26 lifetime starts but hasn’t won since taking an optional claiming allowance last June at Belmont. She has run second or third in five of seven subsequent races, placing in three stakes in New York last fall and this spring.

Sixth in her season opener, the March 9 Captiva Island Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Fear No Evil was stepped up to graded company for the seven-furlong Intercontinental June 6, where she was unable to save ground under jockey Joe Bravo and was outfinished late.

“That was a tough beat. That particular day she got kind of hung out there. I think Joe would have preferred to have her covered up a little bit longer and maybe save some ground but it kind of worked out that way. She ran a good race,” Albertrani said.

In her only other tries against Maryland-bred company, Fear No Evil won a May 2018 allowance and was third behind multiple stakes winner Crabcakes in the 2017 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship.

“I think she prefers a little further, really. I think three-quarters gives her a little more time to close in, but maybe this might be an easier spot to compensate for the half a furlong less,” Albertrani said. “She’s still going to have to deal with some nice horses in there.”

A Great Time, multiple stakes winner Anna’s Bandit, Buff’s in Love, recent allowance winners Dendrobia and Ghoul’s Night Out, and Hailey’s Flip, Magician’squestion, Monte Crista and Something Magical round out the field. Monte Crista is also entered July 13 at Delaware Park in the Just a Kiss Stakes.