Two-Year-Old Fillies Take Center Stage In Smart Halo Stakes

Two-Year-Old Fillies Take Center Stage In Smart Halo Stakes

LAUREL, MD. 11-18-11---Nine 2-year-old fillies are expected to face the starter in Saturday’s $75,000 Smart Halo Stakes, the headline race Saturday at Laurel Park.

Doe, who has a pair of runner-up finishes in added money races against the boys during her freshman campaign, has been tabbed the 5-2 morning line favorite. The daughter of Forestry has seven in the money finishes from 10 starts. Travis Dunkelberger has the mount on the Dane Kobiskie trainee.

“I like the six-furlong distance for her,” said Kobiskie, who rode 289 winners as a jockey from June 2005 to February 2008. “She is an honest filly and this will be her last start of the year. She deserves time off after a solid season.”

Kobiskie is Maryland’s top conditioner this year with 49 wins at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course. The barn is 20-for-59 during the current fall meeting. Kobiskie has already captured a pair of other 2-year-old stakes races earlier in the stand, the Laurel Futurity and Selima Stakes.  

In Friday’s finale, Kobiskie won with 10-year-old Hands On, a recent claim to the barn. The son of Friendly Lover spent the first 40 races of his career in the Rodney Jenkins barn (July 2003 to November 2007), running 30 times at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course. During that period, he ran in 11 stakes races, finishing in the money seven times. Kobiskie was aboard seven of the races. Since then has been claimed 10 times and won races at eight different racetracks in five states.

“It has been a bang-up year,” added Kobiskie, who has 244 victories as a conditioner. “The 2-year-olds have been awesome and the claiming game has been great. My goal is to showcase that I can be a well-rounded trainer and this year has been a step in the right direction.”

Defy Gravity (3-1) was an allowance winner here in late September after finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Matron at Belmont Park. Lori Testerman conditions the daughter of Bandini, who will be ridden by Sheldon Russell.

Bluegrass Atatude (9-2) is the only stakes winner in the field. The Two Punch offspring won the Maryland Million Lassie here on October 1, but failed to fire on the turf in her next start. Harry Vega rides for trainer John Salzman, Jr.

Salzman’s younger brother, Tim, will saddle Sensible Lady (20-1), who has a pair of wire-to-wire scores at Charles Town on her resume. Dale Whittaker has the riding assignment on the daughter of Street Sense.

Prateada (6-1) won in her debut at Keeneland on October 23 for trainer Graham Motion. The daughter of Badge of Silver will be ridden by Freddie Lenclud.

Dance to Bristol (5-1), Terralba (10-1), Dangerous Vixen (10-1) and Island Memories (30-1) also come into the race of victories.


Call Of A Lion won for the sixth time in as many starts this year with a driving score in Friday’s 4th race, a $17,000 starter allowance. Two starts ago she was victorious in the Maryland Million Distaff Starter Handicap at Laurel Park.

The daughter of Lion Hearted was winning for the fifth time since re-entering the barn of Charles “Snake” Frock, who had claimed the 5-year-old mare for $5,000 on January 17. After raising Call of a Lion, Frock had lost her via the claim for $32,000 to owner Robert Cole and trainer Scott Lake in August 2010 at Monmouth Park. 

“We gave her six months off after the claim and she is sharper than she’s ever been,” said Frock, who co-owns Call of a Lion with his wife, Barbara. “We are tickled pink that she is back home.”

This afternoon, jockey J.D. Acosta tracked the speed then took control at the top of the stretch, beating six rivals. Call of a Lion, who covered the one-mile distance in 1:39.21, paid $5.60 as the second betting choice. The winning margin was 1-3/4 lengths over 4-5 favorite Kawiye, who had won four straight coming into the race.

Frock indicated Call of a Lion would stay in starter allowance company. That same tactic has been used by Cole with Rapid Redux, who has tied a North American record by winning 19 consecutive races, the majority in starter allowance tests.

“I saw Robert Cole in the racing office before the race and told him we are going after his record,” joked Frock.

Call of a Lion, who has won eight of her last nine, improves her record to 14 victories in 33 career starts with earnings of $247,475.


Abel Castellano rode three winners on Friday afternoon to improve his winning percentage during the Laurel Park fall meeting to 27%. The 28-year-old visited the winners’ circle with Houston Bull ($4-first), Captivating Girl ($4.20-third) and Yes He Did ($5.40-sixth).

Castellano, a regular in the mid-Atlantic since 2003, is 29-for-108 during the meet, trailing only Julian Pimentel (39 wins), Horacio Karamanos (36) and Sheldon Russell (33) in the rider standings.