Coastal Mission Thrilling Winner of $100,000 Frank Whiteley

Ain’t Da Beer Cold Holds On in $100,000 Native Dancer
Intrepid Dream Wins Stakes Debut in $100,000 Heavenly Cause
Disco Ebo Rebounds with $100,000 Primonetta Score

LAUREL, MD – Multiple stakes winners Coastal Mission and Prince of Jericho hooked up at the top of the lane and battled the length of the Laurel Park stretch before Coastal Mission won a head bob at the wire for a thrilling nose victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Frank Y. Whiteley for 3-year-olds and up.

The seven-furlong Whiteley was the third of four $100,000 stakes on an 11-race program, preceded by the one-mile Heavenly Cause and six-furlong Primonetta for fillies and mares 3 and older and anchored by the 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer, also for horses 3 and up.

Ridden by Arnaldo Bocachica for trainer Jeff Runco, both based at Charles Town where the 5-year-old gelding had won each of his three previous stakes races, Coastal Mission ($5) covered the distance in 1:23.21 over a fast main track to earn his 12th victory from 19 starts.

It was the second win from six tries at Laurel for Coastal Mission and first since an optional claiming triumph in February 2022. Each of the Great Notion gelding’s previous two starts came in one-mile stakes at Aqueduct, where he ran fourth in the March 2 Stymie to open his 5-year-old season.

“We were looking at this race coming into April, so we gave him a couple chances in New York. The mile seemed to be just a tick long for him, so we wanted to shorten him back up to seven-eighths and this looked like the perfect spot,” Runco said. “I love him. He’s a great horse.”

Swiftsure, exiting the outermost post, was sharp at the break and quickly in front, going the opening quarter-mile in 22.92 seconds with Prince of Jericho, winner of the 2023 Spectacular Bid and Concern sprinting seven furlongs at Laurel, pressing to his outside with Twenty Four Mamba another path out in third and Coastal Mission saving ground along the rail in fourth.

Prince of Jericho stuck a head in front midway around the far turn after as the half-mile went in 45.46, when Bocachica tipped off the rail to set up his run. Coastal Mission split the tiring Swiftsure inside and Twenty Four Mamba to the outside and set his sights on Prince of Jericho for a drive to the wire. Prince of Jericho came back after being passed in deep stretch by Coastal Mission to set up the dramatic finish.

It was 4 ½ lengths back to 50-1 long shot Union Fleet in third and another three to Brilliant Ice in fourth. Dontmesawithme, Twenty Four Mamba, Swiftsure and Royal Ship, a two-time graded-stakes winner in southern California making his first start in 260 days, completed the order of finish. Brother Conway, six-for-nine lifetime at Laurel, was scratched.

In addition to returning to Laurel, where he had placed in three consecutive stakes at 2 and 3, Coastal Mission was back at a distance where he now owns seven wins from nine starts with one second and one third. He ended last year making his graded-stakes debut in the Cigar Mile (G2), finishing fifth of 12 at odds of 15-1.

“His numbers just kept getting better when he won the open stake last August on Charles Town Classic day. He got a big number out of that and I thought it was time to take him on the road and show him some real stuff outside Charles Town,” Runco said. “We wanted to try a mile with him.

“I didn’t expect the Cigar Mile to come up with a 12-horse field this year, but it did. Last year, it was like five. It’s just how it worked out,” he added. “We wanted to give him a try. He ran respectably. He got a little tired [last time]; he was off quite a while before that race. Then we wanted to shorten him up to seven-eighths. He loves that distance.”

Ain’t Da Beer Cold Holds On in $100,000 Native Dancer

Matt Spencer, Kelly Jo Cox and Bonuccelli Racing’s Ain’t Da Beer Cold, promoted winner of the Maryland Million Classic last fall, earned a second stakes victory on his own merit leading from start to finish and withstanding a furious late charge from Magic Michael in the $100,000 Native Dancer.

The win by a head completed a Saturday hat trick for jockey Jevian Toledo that included a victory aboard Intrepid Dream in the $100,000 Heavenly Cause. It was the first time Ain’t Da Beer Cold ($26.80) crossed the wire first since September 2022 at Timonium, and first win since being moved up following the disqualification of Market Maven in the Classic.

“What a big relief. We wanted everything for this horse. He’s so special to us,” winning trainer Kenny Cox said. “To finally get his real own win in a stake for us is more icing on the cake.”

Having drawn outside each of his six rivals, Toledo hustled Ain’t Da Beer Cold to the front and opened up by 4 ½ lengths following a quarter-mile in 25.09 seconds and a half in 50.60. The lead dwindled to a length over Vance Scholars at the top of the stretch after six furlongs went in 1:39.77, the 6-year-old gelding responded to Toledo’s urging by opening up again once straightened for home.

Ain’t Da Beer Cold was determined on the front end as Grade 3 winner Magic Michael came flying on the outside but did not yield, finishing up in 1:52.70. Vance Scholars was third, three-quarters of a length back, with another two lengths to Be Better in fourth. Rounding out the field were Shaft’s Bullet, It’s Sizzling Time and Hay Chief.

“I looked at this stake and said, ‘I’ll be the lone speed in here. We have to take our shot and see if we can get it done,’” Cox said. “[Toledo] did everything. He’s an expert. I left it up to him. I said, ‘Milk it as far as you can, and whatever happens, happens.’ When [Ain’t Da Beer Cold is] at his best, he’s as game as anybody.”

Intrepid Dream Wins Stakes Debut in Heavenly Cause

Paul Fowler Jr.’s 6-year-old Maryland homebred mare Intrepid Dream stayed perfect at Laurel Park and extended her win streak to five races with a workmanlike 2 ½-length triumph in the $100,000 Heavenly Cause.

It was the second straight win on the day for jockey Jevian Toledo and first in a stakes for Intrepid Dream, an older full sister to multiple stakes winner and Maryland’s 2023 Horse of the Year Intrepid Daydream making just her seventh career start.

Intrepid Dream, a towering daughter of Jess’s Dream that weighed in at 1,357 pounds, sat off a pace of 24.21 and 47.04 seconds set by Fair Grounds shipper Sweet Shild O Mine, who was exiting a 5 ¼-length open allowance triumph March 3 for trainer Joe Sharp.

Toledo steadily closed the gap with Gary Capuano-trained Intrepid Daydream, ranging up near the lead at the top of the stretch and coming with a steady drive to pass the pacesetter inside the sixteenth pole and draw off to win in 1:39.01. Doctor Abbie edged Cats Inthe Timber for second with Sweet Shild of Mine fourth. Too Many Kisses, last out winner of Laurel’s March 16 Conniver, and Pistol Liz Ablazen were scratched.

“She ran another great race,” Capuano said. “She just kind of plodded along and grinded it out like she normally does. Everything worked out real nice.”

Intrepid Dream has been a study in perseverance for her connections, coming back from gaps of 325, 423 and, most recently, 476 days between races since launching her career in September 2020 at Delaware Park. Her last three starts have come at Laurel, all wins, including a 4 ¼-length optional claiming allowance triumph March 2.

“We’re just trying to go one step at a time with her and make sure she’s good and happy,” Capuano said. “To get by this was a big step.”

Disco Ebo Rebounds with $100,000 Primonetta Score

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Disco Ebo, exiting a fourth-place finish in the Barbara Fritchie (G3) Feb. 17 at Laurel, bounced back to earn her fourth career stakes victory with a front-running two-length score in the $100,000 Primonetta.

The 5-year-old mare broke alertly under jockey Sheldon Russell and ran a quarter-mile in 23.02 seconds and a half in 46.33 pressed to her outside by multiple stakes-placed Beneath the Stars, who ran seventh in the seven-furlong Fritchie.

Disco Ebo extended her advantage once straightened for home and was able to fend off a late challenge from the outside by Centre Court Champ, the narrow even-money favorite over Disco Ebo that came in on a two-race win streak. The winning time was 1:11.34.

Centre Court Champ was 1 ¾ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Anonymously, followed by Beneath the Stars. Photo Finish, a winner of two straight at Charles Town, and New York shippers Secret Love and Kant Hurry Love were scratched.

Bred in Pennsylvania, where she is based with trainer Robert E. ‘Butch’ Reid Jr., Disco Ebo earned her 11th victory from 22 starts and pushed her bankroll over $600,000.

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