Six Stakes, Four Sprints, Worth $550,000 in Purses on Nine-Race Card
Eclipse Award Finalist Barbosa Rides 200th Career Winner Friday
LAUREL, MD – Laurel Park will play host to Maryland’s first stakes of the 2023 racing season Saturday during a nine-race Winter Sprintfest program featuring six stakes worth $550,000 in purses.
Four of the six stakes come at sprint distances, topped by the $100,000 Spectacular Bid for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs and $100,000 Xtra Heat for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.
First race post time is 12:25 p.m.
Kicking off the stakes action in Race 3 is the Xtra Heat, where Morris Kernan Jr. and trainer Jamie Ness’ Jagger, Inc.’s Maryland Million Lassie winner Chickieness is the narrow 8-5 program favorite in a field of six over L Street Lady (9-5), last out winner of her dirt debut Dec. 4 at Laurel.
Ness’ other Maryland Million winner from last fall, Classic hero Ournationonparade, returns to restricted company for the first time since that triumph in Race 4, the $75,000 Jennings for Maryland -bred/sired 4-year-olds and up going one mile. The competition includes stakes winners Monday Morning Qb, Galerio and Exculpatory.
Race 5 is the $75,000 Geisha for Maryland-bred fillies and mares 4 and up, also at one mile, led by Gary Capuano-trained stablemates Malibu Beauty, a multiple stakes winner coming off a front-running 7 ¾-length score in the Dec. 30 Carousel, and Intrepid Dream, a winner of four of five lifetime starts including three in a row making her stakes debut.
Stakes winners Alwaysinahurry, Karan’s Notion, Factor It In, Beren and Air Token are among a wide-open field of 10 entered in Race 6, the $100,000 Fire Plug for 4-year-olds and up sprinting 6 ½ furlongs. The filly counterpart, the $100,000 What a Summer (Race 7) features multiple stakes winners Dontletsweetfoolya, Fille d’Esprit and Swayin to and Fro, the latter seeking her third straight win.
The stakes wrap up in Race 8 with the Spectacular Bid. Coffeewithchris and Prince of Jericho, respectively 1-2 in the Dec. 30 Heft at Laurel, will hook up again in a group of eight that includes Prince of Jericho’s former Brittany Russell-trained stablemate Heldish.
Named for the four-time champion and 1982 Hall of Famer whose victories included the 1979 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1), the Spectacular Bid is the first in Maryland’s series of stakes for 3-year-olds leading up to the 148th Preakness May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Following the Spectacular Bid are the $100,000 Miracle Wood going one mile Feb. 18, part of a Winter Carnival program featuring the Barbara Fritchie (G3) and General George (G3), $100,000 Private Terms at about 1 1/16 miles March 18 and $125,000 Federico Tesio April 15. For the eighth straight year, the 1 1/8-mile Tesio will serve as a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness.
Notes: Jeiron Barbosa, the 19-year-old finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion apprentice rider of 2022, earned his 200th career victory Friday aboard Jackie Savoye-owned and trained Bourbon on the Bay ($9.60) in Race 5. Barbosa added a second winner with Semper Fi ($) in Race 7 … There will be a carryover of $720.44 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 for Saturday’s card. The sequence begins in Race 4 and includes the $75,000 Jennings, $75,000 Geisha, $100,000 Fire Plug, $100,000 What a Summer and $100,00 Spectacular Bid … Tickets with four of six winners in Friday’s Rainbow 6 each returned $18.58.