American War Hero Set to Make Sophomore Debut Friday

TC-Nominated Colt in Laurel’s Spring Meet Opening Day Feature
Federico Tesio, Weber City Miss Top Nine Stakes Worth $950,000
Friday Carryovers Include $20,865 in 20-Cent Rainbow 6

LAUREL, MD – Triple Crown-nominated American War Hero, unraced since running a troubled fourth in the Heft Stakes in late December, is entered to make his 3-year-old debut in Friday’s feature on opening day of Laurel Park’s spring meet.

Post time for the first of nine races is 12:25 p.m. The 15-day spring meet is scheduled to run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, May 5.

American War Hero is owned by Boardshorts, the nom de course of Dutch Bros. Coffee mogul Travis Boersma, who spent $625,000 for the son of two-time Grade 1-winning millionaire Constitution as a 2-year-old in training last March.

Rated as the second choice on the morning line at 3-1, American War Hero debuted with a rallying neck maiden special weight victory sprinting 5 ½ furlongs over a wet-fast track Sept. 30 at Delaware Park over Prado Road, who would come back to run second in the Maryland Million Nursery at Laurel.

The same day, American War Hero ran into another off track in Delaware’s Rocky Run and finished eighth behind multiple stakes winner and fellow Triple Crown nominee Copper Tax. After running fourth to subsequent stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Tocayo in a one-mile turf allowance Nov. 1 at Laurel, American War Hero lost all chance at the start of the seven-furlong Heft but got up to be fourth, beaten less than three lengths for second.

“He was a little unlucky last time in the stake, I thought. He stumbled quite badly coming out of the gate, which really compromised him,” trainer Graham Motion said. “I actually thought he ran well, and then he came up with a little infection that we had to treat and that’s kind of why he hasn’t run back since then.”

American War Hero drew Post 3 in a field of seven and will be ridden by Jaime Rodriguez, Maryland’s leading rider in 2023 that topped the jockey standings at Laurel’s recently concluded winter Heritage Meet.

“This time he’ll get Lasix and blinkers, so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. He’s a very kind, laid-back horse. We thought the blinkers might sharpen him up a little bit perhaps,” Motion said. “He’s been training along steadily at Fair Hill. I’ve been very happy with him.”

The 8-5 program favorite is Paul Berube, Karen Linnell and Heather Hunter’s Maryland homebred Quint’s Brew, a gelded son of Mosler trained by Mike Gorham that went unraced at 2 and graduated by three lengths in front-running fashion over a sloppy Laurel track March 2, his career debut.

Rodriguez, tops with 50 wins and $1.786 million in purse earnings at the Heritage Meet, is named in seven races Friday, four of 10 races Saturday and six of nine races Sunday over opening weekend. Four of those horses are trained by Jamie Ness, who led the Heritage Meet with 28 wins and $1.04 million in purses earned, narrowly edging out Brittany Russell, (24, $1.01 million).

There will be carryovers Friday of $20,865.83 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9) and $1,704.99 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five (Race 6) wagers from the last live program March 30, closing day of the Heritage Meet.

A total of nine stakes worth $950,000 in purses, led by the $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds and $125,000 Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies doubleheader April 20, will be offered during the spring meet.

Named for the noted Italian breeder, owner and trainer whose homebreds Nearco and Ribot dominate Thoroughbred bloodlines around the world, the 1 1/8-mile Tesio for a ninth straight year serves as a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds to the Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Preakness 149 is set for Saturday, May 18 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

The 43rd running of the Tesio headlines a program featuring five stakes worth $550,000 in purses, including the first three of the season scheduled for the turf, on the second of back-to-back Spring Stakes Spectacular Saturdays. Spring Stakes Spectacular kicks off April 13 with four $100,000 stakes.

Maryland has already run three prep races for 3-year-olds this year, with Guanare taking the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid Jan. 27, Speedyness winning the one-mile Miracle Wood Feb. 24, and Copper Tax capturing the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms March 16.

Following the six-furlong Xtra Heat, seven-furlong Wide Country and one-mile Beyond the Wire as Maryland’s 3-year-old filly prep races, the Weber City Miss provides the winner with an automatic berth to the 100th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 17. Roanan Goddess captured the Jan. 27 Xtra Heat and was third behind Miss Harriett in the Feb. 24 Wide Country. The March 16 Beyond the Wire was won by Determined Driver.

Also on the April 20 program are the $100,000 Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Dahlia for fillies and mares 3 and older, both going one mile, and the 5 ½-furlong King T. Leatherbury, also for 3-year-olds and up – the first 2024 stakes scheduled for Laurel’s world-class turf course.

Spring stakes action begins Saturday, April 13 with four $100,000 events on the main track – the seven-furlong Frank Y. Whiteley and 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer for 3-year-olds and up, and six-furlong Primonetta and one-mile Heavenly Cause for fillies and mares 3 and older.

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