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Rose Brier Puts Streak to Test in $75,000 Henry S. Clark
Seeking Treasure Aims for Repeat Victory in $75,000 Dahlia
Saturday Program Includes Five Stakes Worth $475,000 in Purses
LAUREL, MD – As competitive as he’s been throughout his career, nowhere has Rose Brier been better than in Maryland. The 8-year-old gelding goes after his fifth win in as many tries at Laurel Park when he returns to defend his title in Saturday’s $75,000 Henry S. Clark.
The 17th running of the Clark for 3-year-olds and up and the 15th running of the $75,000 Dahlia for fillies and mares 3 and older, both at one mile over the Dahlia Turf Course layout, are two of five stakes worth $475,000 in purses on the 11-race program.
Highlighting Saturday’s card are the $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds and $125,000 Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies, ‘Win and You’re In’ races for the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) May 20 and $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 19, respectively, at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Also on the program is the $75,000 Primonetta for fillies and mares going six furlongs on the main track.
Panic Stable’s Rose Brier has been worse than third only seven times in 37 lifetime starts, 14 of them wins, including four stakes at Laurel. He has captured the Bert Allen for Virginia-breds from 2014-16 and cruised to a front-running 1 ¼-length triumph in last year’s Clark in a Kelso Turf Course record time of 1:33.11.
In his only start of 2017, Rose Brier pressed the pace before tiring late and finishing fifth, beaten just 1 ¼ lengths, in the 1 1/16-mile Fort Lauderdale (G2) Jan. 17 at Gulfstream Park. It came six weeks after he finished first but was placed second for interference in the Tropical Turf Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park West. It would have been the first graded victory for the five-time stakes winner.
“He came out of the last race fine, no problems at all. We just gave him a little bit of time off. Age is definitely not on his side anymore,” trainer Jane Cibelli said. “It’s so tough at Gulfstream and this horse goes out there and runs against some of the best horses in the country and never really gets beaten that badly by them, but he does get beaten. It just breaks your heart when they go out there and give 110 percent and then come home fifth or fourth or something.
“We decided to give him the winter off again for no other reason than they’re not machines, you know?” she added. “He’s had a little bit of time off and he’s back for this and he hasn’t missed a beat going into this race at all. Every work, he always wants to do more. He’d go out and breeze in 59 [seconds] every time he went out there.”
Stay Close in 2007 and 2008 is the only back-to-back winner of the Henry S. Clark, named for the Hall of Fame conditioner known as the ‘Dean of Maryland Trainers’ who remained active on the backstretch until his death at age 95 in 1999.
Rose Brier had a bullet five furlong work April 11 over the turf at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility, before shipping to Laurel with Primonetta contender Bodacious Babe over the weekend.
“Having the turf to breeze on is a huge asset,” Cibelli said. “You look at his form and you can’t fault it. When he does get beat he never gets beat badly. He’s very, very consistent. I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t continue, he’s certainly training the same. But they do fall off sometimes as they get older, especially after some time off, these geldings don’t always come back the same. If that happens to this guy, it happens. We won’t be dropping him down to the claiming ranks or anything like that. When his day is done, his day’s done.”
Winter-spring meet leader Trevor McCarthy, aboard for last year’s win, returns to ride from Post 7 in a field of 13. All horses will carry 118 pounds.
Hillwood Stable’s Top of Mind will be making his 5-year-old debut in the Clark for trainer Rodney Jenkins. The gelded son of Curlin owns three wins from four tries since being moved to the turf last summer, also coming with a huge late run to finish second by a half-length in the Commonwealth Turf Cup (G2) Sept. 24 at Laurel at odds of 29-1.
Top of Mind had two wins, two seconds and a third, and was sixth in the Federico Tesio last spring, from eight dirt starts prior to the surface switch. His two most recent wins, both at Laurel, came by a nose and a neck, respectively.
“It took me long enough,” Jenkins said. “He’s by Curlin and he was doing good enough on the dirt. He’d won a couple and he finished second a couple of times and third in good races. I just put him on the turf that day and dropped him down to $35,000 non-winners of three, and that day he ran brilliant. The next time I run him back long on the turf and he won.
“In the [Turf Cup] he should have won that day but the jock lost his stick. Then he won his last start, so I don’t know what made him better except he just likes the turf,” he added. “He’s doing real well. He looks great and he’s training great. He had one of the best works of the day the other day and I think he’ll run good.”
Steve Hamilton is named to replace regular rider Victor Carrasco, currently sidelined by injury, from the rail post.
Two horses coming off lengthy gaps between starts are entered to make their return in the Clark. Talk Show Man, a 7-year-old gelding trained by Hamilton Smith for Michael J. Harrison, won the Clark in 2015 but has not raced since finishing last of eight behind Page McKenney in the Richard W. Small in November 2015 at Laurel. Three of his six career wins have come on grass, including the 2014 Maryland Million Turf.
Marengo Road, like Talk Show Man, is a multiple stakes winner on dirt and turf for trainer Mike Trombetta. The 4-year-old Quality Road ridgling won the Miracle Wood over Laurel’s main track last February and captured the James W. Murphy on the Pimlico grass on the Preakness undercard in May, but hasn’t raced since. He has been no worse than second in three lifetime tries on turf.
Completing the field are Ascend and Grade 3-placed Irish Strait, a half-brother to Triple Crown contender Irish War Cry, both trained by Graham Motion; stakes winner Ghost Hunter; Heiko, fourth by a length in the Commonwealth Turf Cup; Grade 3-placed Synchrony; stakes-placed Best Bard and Silent Waters; and Edward Graham-trained Postulation and Xmas Sky.
Seeking Treasure Aims for Repeat Victory in $75,000 Dahlia
Steven E. Frum’s Seeking Treasure, winless in 12 starts since her record-setting triumph last spring at Laurel, looks to get back on the winning track in the $75,000 Dahlia.
The 7-year-old mare, trained by Doug Matthews, made six starts during Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet during the winter without success, finishing third by a half-length in both the Claiming Crown Tiara and a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance. She also ran fourth in the Mary Todd and South Beach and sixth in the Marshua’s River (G3), at 4 ¼ lengths her worst margin of defeat.
“She ran pretty well at Gulfstream, it’s just real tough down there. She was running good races and just getting beat a couple lengths. She’s run up against some monsters. There are some good ones in here, too, but I don’t know if they’ll be as tough as they were at Gulfstream,” Matthews said. “She’s always been an filly that’s always done very, very good.”
Seeking Treasure has run three times at Laurel, finishing second twice in addition to her half-length victory in last year’s Dahlia, where she split horses late and got up to win in 1:33.99, a Bowl Game Turf Course record.
“She ran big last year. I was amazed she won. She kind of had a bad trip and was blocked about the whole way,” Matthews said. “It’s one of the reasons why we’re back. The owners have kind of been looking at it the last few months. They wanted to go back. They like being there and the main thing is that she’s always run well there.”
Seeking Treasure drew far outside post 12 under jockey Alex Cintron, up in last year’s win. All horses will carry 118 pounds.
“I wish we didn’t have the 12-hole, but there’s nothing we can do about that. She likes to come from off of it, so it doesn’t hurt you quite as bad that way,” Matthews said. “She shows up and runs her race. The thing about turf racing is it comes down to who gets the trip. At Gulfstream, she ran third and got beat a half-length but the winner came up the fence and we had to come six wide, and that was the difference between winning and being third. We’ve just got to hope for a good trip.”
All in Fun, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, returns for another try after finishing fourth by two lengths in last year’s Dahlia. She has not raced since tiring to finish last after setting the early pace in the Athenia (G3) last October at Belmont Park.
Other horses making their season debuts in the Dahlia are West Virginia Senate Presidents’ Cup winner Catcha Rising Star and Grade 3-placed Danilovna from trainer Graham Motion; Northern Smile, third in the Maryland Million Ladies; stakes-placed Pink Elephant and Queen Caroline, a two-time turf stakes winner last summer at Indiana Grand for trainer Michael Matz, who will also send out stakes-placed Tela, a 2014 maiden winner at Laurel.
Cambodia, third in a pair of Fair Grounds stakes this winter; Love Came to Town, third in the Maryland Racing Media Stakes Feb. 18 at Laurel; Singmealovesong, a winner of her last two starts; and Sky My Sky, a third-level allowance winner at Gulfstream Park March 12 to kick off her 4-year-old season, round out the field.