Speed Runner Represents Pletcher in Saturday’s Private Terms

Laurel-Loving Inveigled Narrow Favorite in Wide-Open 3YO Race

LAUREL, MD – Spreading out his talented group of 3-year-olds in prep races around the country, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher lands at Laurel Park with Whisper Hill Farm’s Triple Crown-nominated homebred Speed Runner for Saturday’s $100,000 Private Terms.

The 1 1/16-mile Private Terms, carded ninth on a 10-race program that begins at 12:25 p.m., is the third of four stakes in Maryland for 3-year-olds leading up to the 149th Preakness (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, May 18 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Pletcher previously won the Private Terms in 2012 with Raconteur, just two weeks after the horse was a troubled eighth behind 2011 champion 2-year-old Hansen in his stakes debut, the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct.

Speed Runner similarly exits his first stakes attempt in Aqueduct’s Withers (G3) Feb. 3, also encountering traffic issues and finishing sixth. The Private Terms will be the first race outside of New York for the chestnut son of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner.

“He really got stopped cold on the far turn in the Withers and lost all chance of a placing. Unfortunately, he was sort of making up ground at that time and really had to check hard,” Pletcher said. “We thought this might be an opportunity for him to make a move forward. He’s training like a horse that’s improving.”

Rather than ship to Pletcher’s primary winter base of Palm Beach Downs in Delray Beach, Fla., Speed Runner has remained with Pletcher’s string at Belmont Park where he has breezed three times this month. He was also considered for the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial (G2)

Speed Runner has remained with Pletcher’s Belmont Park string rather than the trainer’s primary winter base at Palm Beach Downs in Delray Beach, Fla. He was also under consideration for the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial (G2) April 6 at Aqueduct.

“He’s been training well since the Withers,” Pletcher said. “He’s a horse that’s always finished his works up strongly and galloped out like he always wanted more distance when we ran him around two turns early on.”

Sprinting seven furlongs in his unveiling last October, Speed Runner finished third before stretching out to nine furlongs to graduate by a neck two months later. The Withers is also run at 1 1/8 miles.

“I thought that was a pretty determined effort to go from seven furlongs to a mile and an eighth in his second start. It was a good solid effort,” Pletcher said. “I think this will be a good test for him to kind of see where we are and it could set him up for some further options in Maryland, who knows.”

Sheldon Russell has the mount on Speed Runner from Post 2 in a field of nine. He is one of five Triple Crown-nominated horses, along with Copper Tax, Inveigled, Startswithadream and Circle P.

Laurel-Loving Inveigled Narrow Favorite in Wide-Open Race

Mark B. Grier’s Inveigled, an eight-length maiden special weight winner in his Laurel Park debut last fall, returns from a winter in South Florida as the 3-1 program favorite in the Private Terms.

Trained by Jane Cibelli, Inveigled graduated in gate-to-wire fashion sprinting 5 ½ furlongs in October, then stepped up to stakes company in Laurel’s seven-furlong James F. Lewis III, where he dueled with multiple stakes winner Copper Tax through the stretch before finishing second by a neck.

Since then he has raced three times at Gulfstream Park, winning an optional claiming allowance in December and running fourth in the Mucho Macho Man, both going one mile, the latter producing next-out Kitten’s Joy (G3) winner First World War. Most recently, Inveigled was fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 3 behind Hades, Domestic Product and Fierceness.

Both Hades and Fierceness, the 2-year-old male champion of 2023, are being pointed to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) March 30 at Gulfstream. Domestic Product came back to win the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) March 9.

“He’s been hooking some monsters and he’s a gelding, so he doesn’t have to prove anything. The owner just wants to win and have some fun. You chase these good horses and can wear them out chasing them,” Cibelli said. “He’s doing real good. We breezed him the other day and he came out of the work very well. He usually ships well so we’re not worried about that.”

The connections opted to skip the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth (G2) March 2 at Gulfstream and initially planned to give Inveigled more time off heading toward the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio April 20 at Laurel, a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness (G1).

“I was looking at the Federico Tesio initially and he’s doing so good, I didn’t know if I could keep him on the ground that long,” Cibelli said. “We wanted to give him a little breather after the Holy Bull … so we just backed off him a little bit so we can campaign him pretty aggressively throughout the summer. There’s a race for him in Indiana, because he’s an Indiana-bred, so we’re really kind of working around that. There’s a lot of opportunities for him. It’s exciting.”

Notes: Bridlewood Farm and Don Alberto Stable’s Carolo Rapido ($4.60), a homebred son of Hall of Famer Curlin making his third career start and first with blinkers off for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, collared pacesetter Intrepid’s Legacy in mid-stretch and pulled clear to win Race 3 Friday, a maiden special weight for 3-year-olds, in 1:47.11 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast main track. Also by Curlin and co-owned by Don Alberto and Jeff Drown, $1.75 million yearling Thielen ran last of seven in his career debut … Trainer Mike Trombetta sent out back to back winners, Call Another Play ($11.20) in Race 4 and Carvellian Quest ($5.40) in Race 5 … Call Another Play was one of two wins for jockey Jaime Rodriguez, along with Brzina ($4.80) in Race 7 … Jockey Raul Mena also doubled on Steele Money ($5.60) in Race 2 and Not Thistimerandy ($9.20) in Race 6.

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