Hybrid Eclipse Attempting Title Defense in Thirty Eight Go Go
Promising 2YO Filly Binnie, Full to Crabcakes, Stays in Family
Jockey Jevian Toledo Registers Friday Hat Trick
LAUREL, MD – DARRS Inc.’s Cap Classique, undefeated through two starts, will stay sprinting in an attempt to keep her perfect record intact in Saturday’s $100,000 Smart Halo at Laurel Park.
The six-furlong Smart Halo for 2-year-old fillies is the first of three $100,000 stakes on a nine-race program, followed by the James F. Lewis III, also at six furlongs, for 2-year-olds and 1 1/16-mile Thirty Eight Go Go for fillies and mares 3 and older.
Cap Classique, by multimillionaire and 2019 champion older male Vino Rosso, was purchased for $145,000 as a 2-year-old in training at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium in May. She launched her career on the turf at Colonial Downs, coming from off the pace to win a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight by 1 ¼ lengths Aug. 17.
Maryland’s leading trainer, Brittany Russell, moved Cap Classique to the dirt for her next start, an entry-level optional claiming allowance Oct. 7 at Laurel, also sprinting 5 ½ furlongs. Once again the chestnut filly rated off the lead before taking a clear advantage at the top of the stretch and going on to win by seven lengths.
“We really like this filly. She’s done really well,” Russell said. “Obviously, she’s done everything right. I think she’s going to want to go a little bit further. You’d think she will in time, but this race is sitting here looking at us. She’s won sprinting, and I think she’s going to be really good here.”
Russell has been impressed with the maturity that Cap Classique has shown, both in the mornings and in her races, particularly her first time facing winners last out.
“That’s how she is in the morning. She’s really classy, she’s really smart about what she has to do,” she said. “I think the way she ran last time, it was professional and she was much the best of that field. It’s time to step up and kind of test her.”
Jevian Toledo, who bagged three wins Friday at Laurel, will ride Cap Classique, 3-1 second choice in a field of 10, from the rail.
The Smart Halo is carded as Race 6, which will have a carryover of $3,437.73 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five.
Russell also sends out The Elkstone Group’s multiple stakes winner Hybrid Eclipse to defend her title in the Thirty Eight Go Go. The 5-year-old mare was an easy three-length winner last year after lunging at the start and she has won two of six subsequent starts, both in Laurel stakes – the Feb. 18 Nellie Morse and July 15 Caesar’s Wish.
Hybrid Eclipse has raced once since the Caesar’s Wish, finishing fourth behind multiple graded-stakes winner Interstatedaydream in the Sept. 30 Twixt. Interstatedaydream, trained by Russell’s former mentor, Brad Cox, was sold to Mike Repole this week for $1.4 million at Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock sale.
“Hybrid’s doing good. She’s honest. She’s training right along like she always does,” Russell said. “Brad’s filly came in last time, it was a tough race and maybe she ran a little bit flat. She came back in good shape and she’s trained forwardly. This is no easy spot, either, to be fair. She’s going to have to run her race or better but she’s doing great. She’s been good to us and we’re hoping that we can keep on winning good races with her. When her time’s up, that’s fine, but I think she still has some good running left in her.”
Russell has high hopes for Morgans Ford Farm’s 2-year-old homebred filly Binnie, a full-sister to Crabcakes named for late horsewoman Elizabeth ‘Binnie’ Houghton, who bred and raced the multiple stakes winner. Scratched from a planned Oct. 13 debut after acting up in the starting gate, the Great Notion daughter swept past foes on the far outside to win a 5 ½-furlong waiver maiden claimer Nov. 2 by two lengths.
“We know there’s a lot of racehorse in there. We know she can run,” Russell said. “Really the quirky thing that happened that day, she was never a problem in the morning. She aced every test we asked her to do. She’s acted like a racehorse from the beginning, never did anything wrong so that was a fluky thing but now it’s always going to be in the back of our minds. I think we learned a lot about her. We’ll kind of target an allowance race and just try to keep her moving in the right direction.”
When Binnie Houghton passed away in 2017, she left all her horses, including Crabcakes, to Wayne and Susie Chatfield-Taylor of Morgans Ford Farm. Houghton’s nephew, Bernie, trained Crabcakes and helped give Russell her introduction to racing working as a teenager at their family farm in her native Pennsylvania.
“It’s awesome, it really is. I’m delighted for Wayne and Susie. They’ve kind of supported me all along, and I was really excited when they sent her to me. I hope she can go on and do a lot of good,” she said. “I worked for the Houghtons. I worked for Wendy, so Binnie would have been her aunt. That’s where I got my start. I can’t say that I knew Binnie, but I was close with the family. It’s pretty neat.”
Notes: Jockey Jevian Toledo had a hat trick Friday, finishing first with Bay Street ($3.40) in Race 2, Up Against It ($5.20) in Race 3 and Miss Georgie ($4.80) in Race 5 … Live Oak Plantation’s Florida homebred Victory Badge ($6.80), making her fifth start, completed 1 1/8 miles over a firm Dahlia turf course in 1:52.51 to win Race 4, a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies … Michael Scheffres’ multiple stakes winner Factor It In ($4.60), making his second start since mid-April, reeled in Johnyz From Albany inside the eighth pole and went on to win featured Race 7, an optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up sprinting 5 ½ furlongs. The winning time was 1:05.33 over fast main track.