Among Four Stakes Worth $500,000 on De Francis (G3) Program
LAUREL, MD – Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stables and Magic City Stables’ Maryland-bred Hello Beautiful, unraced six earning her sixth career stakes victory to close July, is set to return as the horse to beat in Saturday’s $100,000 Weather Vane at Laurel Park.
The second running of the Weather Vane for fillies and mares 3 and older is the first of four stakes worth $500,000 in purses on an 11-race program headlined by the $200,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) for 3-year-olds and up. Both races are contested at six furlongs.
Also on the card are the $100,000 Polynesian for 3-year-olds and up featuring the comeback of Grade 1 winner Roadster and return to Laurel of Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, and the $100,000 Twixt for fillies and mares 3 and older, each going one mile.
First race post time is 12:40 p.m.
Hello Beautiful is the 2-5 program favorite over four rivals in the Weather Vane, not unlike her most recent effort in the July 31 Alma North at historic Pimlico Race Course where she was sent off at 1-9 odds in a field of five and cruised by 3 ¾ lengths in front-running fashion to give jockey Sheldon Russell his 1,500th career victory.
Russell has been aboard for all but two of Hello Beautiful’s 16 career races, including each of her stakes wins, but is out indefinitely with a foot injury suffered on opening day of Laurel’s calendar year-ending fall meet, Sept. 9. His wife, trainer Brittany Russell, has named Jevian Toledo to ride.
“That’s probably the biggest disappointment with Sheldon being injured, honestly,” she said, “because he just knows her so well and she runs for him. It’s no fault of hers. She’s training great. This has been the spot and this is what we’ve trained her up to, so we’ll go on.”
Hello Beautiful has had three half-mile breezes for her return, one at Pimlico and the latest two at Laurel, where she has a record of 7-1, the lone loss coming in the Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) Feb. 20. In two starts since then, she led all the way before getting caught at the wire by then-undefeated Chub Wagon in the June 13 Shine Again at Pimlico prior to her victory in the Alma North.
“She’s great. She’s ready to go,” Russell said. “With this filly, I’ve always just kept it simple and I don’t try to overthink things. When I start trying to do things differently, that’s when you get in trouble. Every time she’s won a stake I try and just take her into it the same way – keep her happy and she tells us. She’s touting herself. She’s proud of herself in the mornings right now, so that’s a good sign.”
Trainer Mike Trombetta entered the pair of multiple stakes winner Never Enough Time and stablemate Fifteen Royals. Country Life Farm’s Fifteen Royals has earned all three of her career wins at Laurel, the most recent coming last October in an off-the-turf allowance sprint, and she has run fourth in each of her last four starts. She was also entered Friday in an optional claiming allowance going 5 ½ furlongs on the grass.
R. Larry Johnson’s 5-year-old Maryland homebred Never Enough Time was beaten a neck last out in the seven-furlong Seeking the Pearl Aug. 23 at Colonial Downs. Fourth in the Shine Again, she won the Alma North and six-furlong Skipat in succession last fall and is 4-for-9 at the distance also having run second in the 2020 Primonetta.
Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ Praise and Honor began her career on the West Coast winning four of seven starts for trainer Jonathan Wong. Now trained by Todd Beattie, she has raced twice this year over the all-weather surface at Presque Isle Downs, most recently running third by 1 ½ lengths in the six-furlong Satin and Lace Aug. 30.
NRS Stable, James Chambers and Avalon Farm’s Coconut Cake is entered to make her first start since finishing seventh in the March 13 Conniver at Laurel. The 4-year-old daughter of Grade 3 winner Bandbox won four of six races at 3 before opening 2021 running third in the one-mile Geisha Jan. 16.
The Weather Vane is named for the Maryland-bred champion older filly of 1998 that won 17 of 36 career starts and 14 stakes including the 1997 Safely Kept (G3).
Notes: Wendy Komlo’s Maryland homebred Whatchasaid, a 3-year-old Mosler gelding making his second lifetime start, gave trainer Javier Barajas his first career winner with just his second starter in Race 3. Winning time in the six-furlong waiver maiden claimer was 1:11.86 over a fast main track. Whatchasaid ($11.80) was fourth Aug. 21 at Pimlico in Barajas’ training debut … Whatchasaid was one of two winners Friday for jockey Jorge Ruiz, along with Walk Away Joe ($14.20) in Race 7 … Also doubling Friday were jockeys Jevian Toledo with Salamina ($13) in Race 4 and Slippin Jimmy ($4) in Race 8, and Angel Cruz, on Unrequited Love ($4.60) in Race 5 and Abuelo Paps ($14.20) in Race 9 … Trainer Sarah Nagle sent out a pair of winners in Dreamin of Seville ($5.60) in Race 2 and Slippin Jimmy.