Among Field of 10 Entered for Seven-Furlong Sprint Saturday
LAUREL, MD – SAB Stable Inc.’s Everett’s Song, a lightly raced son of Liam’s Map that became a stakes winner in his most recent start, will get the chance to continue his progression and earn a fourth straight victory in Saturday’s $100,000 City of Laurel at Laurel Park.
The seven-furlong City of Laurel for 3-year-olds is one of three $100,000 stakes on a nine-race program, along with the Safely Kept for 3-year-old fillies sprinting seven furlongs and Richard W. Small for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles.
Saturday will be the 11th running of the City of Laurel, which returns to the stakes calendar following a one-year absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. First race post time is 12:25 p.m.
Based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. after spending the summer at Delaware Park, Everett’s Song sprung a 12-1 upset in the seven-furlong Harrods Creek Sept. 25 at Churchill Downs in just his fourth career start. Sitting off a hot early pace, he came running late and drew clear to a 2 ¾-length triumph over He’smyhoneybadger with Ram third.
Everett’s Song returned to the work tab in late October and has since posted four consecutive bullet moves over Fair Hill’s main track for his return.
“He’s doing fantastic. He couldn’t be doing any better. Obviously, he ran a big race at Churchill and we gave him plenty of time off of that race. He lost a little bit of weight. The trip took quite a bit out of him. It was maybe a little too far for him to travel, but we waited a month before we worked him back again,” trainer Dale Bennett said. “Everything’s good. He’s put all his weight back on and he looks fantastic. He’s obviously been training really, really well.”
He’smyhoneybadger returned to win the seven-furlong Perryville by a head over Ram Oct. 23 at Keeneland, a race Bennett opted to skip. He also chose to bypass the six-furlong Steel Valley Sprint Nov. 22 at Mahoning Valley in order to stay close to home.
“We considered the Steel Valley but the shipping was a little bit of a concern and we really want to kind of keep stretching out. We didn’t really want to turn him back any shorter than seven-eighths,” Bennett said. “I think he really, really wants more distance; we just haven’t quite found the right opportunity. But, next year I think we’ll probably start routing him a little bit.
“We immediately considered the Perryville after the Churchill race but it was way too soon given the fact that he shipped and lost the weight. The Perryville came back in three and a half weeks, so it was too close to try and ship him back. It’s 11 hours from Fair Hill by van to Kentucky,” he added. “He’s doing really good now and I think the seven furlongs is good. We’ll see what happens.”
Everett’s Song originally sold for $67,000 as a yearling in 2019, but Bennett paid $20,000 at OBS’ 2-year-old in training sale last spring on behalf of owner Diane Olson. He went unraced as a juvenile before running second in his debut June 2 at Delaware, beaten a half-length.
“He was a handful as a baby before we gelded him. From what I understand when I bought him at the sale, that’s kind of why they let him go so cheap,” Bennett said. “He was just a high-strung horse. He’s still a high-energy kind of horse, but from every workout he’s just worked fast and galloped out extremely strong. When they start working their first five-eighths and they go in 59, we knew.
“You never really know until they run in a race because a lot of horses, sometimes they can work fast in the morning and then you put them around 10 other horses and they don’t carry that ability over to the afternoon,” he added. “He clearly does and that’s the great thing about him. He just runs through the dirt and nothing seems to really bother him.”
Everett’s Song began his win streak with back-to-back victories at historic Pimlico Race Course, romping by 5 ¼ lengths in a July 23 maiden special weight before a three-length triumph over multiple stakes winner Kenny Had a Notion in an entry-level optional claiming allowance Aug. 15.
The connections thought highly enough of Everett’s Song to contemplate running in the 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx but opted for the race in Kentucky on the same day.
“He’s extremely lightly raced and that was my concern going into the race at Churchill, the lack of experience. We had considered the Pennsylvania Derby, but I just thought that the jump from six furlongs to a mile and an eighth and going against those kinds of horses with that much experience was too tall of an order for him,” Bennett said. “He just has such a fast finish. He closes so well, so that’s why we assume he wants more distance.”
Everett’s Song will break from Post 3 in a field of 10 under Pablo Morales, aboard for the third straight race.
“He gets to stay against straight 3-year-olds, which is always good, and it’s a short ride to Laurel,” Bennett said. “He’s done the ship before, from Delaware to Pimlico, and he handles it well.”
Everett’s Song will see some familiar faces in He’smyhoneybadger and Kenny Had a Notion. Steve Landers Racing’s He’smyhoneybadger, trained by Brad Cox, owns four wins and three seconds from 10 starts and exits a thrilling Perryville where he rallied between horses to emerge from a three-way photo in front. The Daredevil colt broke slowly in the Harrods Creek and passed horses late but was unable to catch Everett’s Song.
Louis Ulman and Neil Glasser’s Kenny Had a Notion snapped a seven-race losing streak last time out, when he came with a wide run and edged Rookie Salsa by a neck in a second-level optional claiming allowance sprinting seven furlongs Nov. 11 at Laurel. The Great Notion gelding is 4-for-9 lifetime at Laurel including a win in the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid to open 2021.
Roseland Farm Stable’s Pickin’ Time won the Smoke Glacken at Monmouth Park and one-mile Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct as a 2-year-old, but his lone victory in six 2021 starts came against fellow state-breds in Monmouth’s New Jersey Breeders Handicap Aug. 29. Second to Jackie’s Warrior in the Gallant Bob (G2) at Parx, he ran fifth in the Perryville.
Also coming out of the Gallant Bob is John Fanelli, Cash is King, LC Racing, Paul Braverman and Timothy Pinch’s Awesome Gerry. Another son of Liam’s Map, the gray or roan colt has made 12 starts, nine in stakes, finishing second in the 2020 Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs and Aug. 27 Robert Hilton Memorial at Charles Town and third in Gulfstream Park’s Mucho Macho Man Jan. 2.
“He’s always run over his head, basically. He tries every single time,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “Hopefully, this race will be a little bit easier than the company he’s faced. I think seven furlongs is his better distance. Six is a little on the short side for him. Hopefully he’ll put up a good showing.”
Though based in South Florida, Joseph has kept Awesome Gerry with his New York string at Belmont Park since the Gallant Bob, where multiple Grade 1 winner Jackie’s Warrior dominated by 6 ¾ lengths.
“I was kind of shocked to see him in that race, but we were already in so we decided to roll the dice,” Joseph said. “I think he’s going to run a decent race. He always shows up, it’s just a matter of who goes in there. He’s going to run his race, whether it’s good enough we’ll see.”
J.C. Diaz Jr. is named to ride from Post 2.
Team Gaudet’s Plamen, a gelded 3-year-old son of two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin, is entered to make his first start since being claimed for $25,000 out of a Nov. 5 win at Laurel. It marked the fifth consecutive victory for Plamen, all over older horses.
“We’ve been a little light in the claim box the last six, eight months so we just kind of started looking a little bit more now that all the babies have gotten over there,” trainer Lacey Gaudet said. “He’s definitely a nice, handy little horse.
“He can run against 3-year-olds or against older in a two-other-than, which is a really tough spot. He’s gotten into the barn and we really like him. He’s training great. It’ll be a quick turnaround, but going against straight 3year-olds can be a little bit of a difference,” she added. “He hasn’t done anything wrong since he came into the barn so we’ll give him a shot. He seems to be a pretty straightforward horse.”
Johan Rosado gets the riding assignment from outside Post 10.
Completing the field are Boldish, a winner of three straight cross-entered in Saturday’s Gio Ponti on the Aqueduct turf; Depository, a last out allowance winner Oct. 16 at Laurel; Riden With Biden, second after setting the pace in the one-mile Dwyer (G3) July 5 at Belmont; and Three Two Zone, third in the six-furlong Concern July 4 at Pimlico.