Undercover Kitty Seeks Third Straight Win in $100,000 Bald Eagle Derby

Improving Gastown Babe Targeting $100,000 Searching for Stakes Debut
Laurel Returns with Live Nine-Race Program Friday, Rainbow 6 Carryover

LAUREL, MD – Runnymede Racing’s homebred gelding Undercover Kitty goes after his third straight win, second in a stakes and first on the turf when he faces six rivals in Saturday’s $100,000 Bald Eagle Derby for 3-year-olds at Laurel Park.

It will be just the third time on the grass for the son of champion turf sire Kitten’s Joy, the first two also in Maryland. He was third in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight last October at Laurel in his career debut, and fourth in a 1 1/16-mile allowance May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Undercover Kitty is out of the Elusive City mare Judy In Disguise, who Runnymede’s Greg and Caroline Bentley purchased for $50,000 out of Keeneland’s January 2018 horses of all ages sale to join their broodmare band. Bred in England, Judy In Disguise was a stakes winner that placed in 11 of 17 lifetime starts including two graded-stakes.

“We just love her. She had such a great career and she was such a tryer, and that’s what we think he inherited,” Caroline Bentley said. “She was always going to give it a go, so he just comes out and does his best. He’s not a very complicated horse in that way. He seems to enjoy what he’s doing and it seems to come pretty easy to him.”

Undercover Kitty won the 1 1/16-mile Crowd Pleaser against fellow Pennsylvania-bred sophomores June 27 at Parx, a race originally carded for the grass, and followed up with a three-length optional claiming allowance score over his elders on Delaware Park’s main track July 23. He drew the far outside post in a field of seven and is the 122-pound topweight for the 1 3/16-mile Bald Eagle Derby.

“He’s one of our homebreds and we’ve been so happy with the success we’ve had with him. You never know who’s going to do what, so we’re really pleased with him and everything that he’s done so far,” Bentley said.

“It would be amazing [to win]. He’ll do his best. He’ll try. I think he’s a really interesting, versatile horse,” she added. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best from him yet. I think he’s still developing. You don’t want to set the bar too high, but he’s one that’s going to continue to surprise us, I’d say.”

The Bentleys are best known for campaigning such horses as Alwaysmining, a multiple stakes-winning Maryland-bred of more than $610,000 in purse earnings that ran in the 2019 Preakness (G1); 2014 Arlington Million (G1) winner Hardest Core, who raced in the name of their son, Andrew; and 2017 American St. Leger (G3) winner Postulation. Undercover Kitty has a record of 3-1-1 from eight starts and earnings of $128,910 making him, according to Equibase statistics, their richest homebred to date.

Breeding since 2017, the Bentleys’ farm is in Pennsylvania and their horses are based with Cal Lynch at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.

“It’s been so exciting to do this, to breed at home. It is a lot of work, and you take your chances, but everybody here is so proud of them,” Bentley said. “Our whole staff works so hard and everybody here pitches in with the horses and everybody here has a relationship with them so it means a lot to the whole farm when a horse wins. It really vindicates all the work we put into them every day. It’s really been very rewarding. We’re lucky, we’re very lucky.”

Improving Gastown Babe Targeting $100,000 Searching for Stakes Debut

Looking for a spot to keep his late-developing filly against her own age group in a race going long on the grass, Gastown Babe’s owner, trainer and co-breeder Justin Nixon appears to have found it in Saturday’s $100,000 Searching at Laurel Park.

Gastown Babe drew Post 6 the 1 1/16-mile Searching, which drew a field of 11 3-year-old fillies including stakes winners Ocean Safari, Sparkle Blue and Vergara and stakes-placed Tasweya.

“It’s straight 3-year-old fillies and there’s not many of those races on the grass that she would get an opportunity to do, and it’s right here in our backyard so we don’t have to ship,” Laurel-based Nixon said. “We want to support Maryland racing. We’ll see how it shapes up but there’s a good possibility that she’ll run.”

Gastown Babe is a daughter of Australian Group 1 turf winner Vancouver that went unraced at 2 before making her debut in a June 18 maiden special weight sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the grass at Laurel, where she trailed by as many as 8 ½ lengths before rallying for a three-quarter-length victory in 1:03.26.

“She took her time getting to the races. She didn’t really do well at 2. She was just very immature, growthy and she didn’t handle the training very well, so she needed a little bit more time to mature,” Nixon said. “We took our time with her. She’d have some good works, some not so good works getting ready.

“Curtis Garrison at Solera Farm, he broke her for us. He always felt that she could be a better grass filly,” he added. “Her pedigree probably leans to the turf so I didn’t know what to do with her, really. Curtis said she’d probably run long.”

Nixon had intended for Gastown Babe’s unveiling to be at a route of ground, but pulled her out of a June 12 maiden claimer at Laurel originally carded for a mile on the turf when it got rained onto the main track.

“I actually entered her for [$40,000] going long and it came off the grass so I scratched, which was probably a very good thing,” Nixon said. “The next opportunity back was the 5 ½ and I wanted to get her feet wet just to see where we’re at. It’s starting to get a little bit late in the season and she’d worked enough that there really wasn’t any point working her, so I threw her in going short just hoping for a good effort. She flew home and we were obviously ecstatic, a little surprised and very happy about it.”

Nixon brought Gastown Babe back in an entry-level allowance against older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the grass July 17. She jumped out to a quick lead and held into the stretch but was unable to turn back 4-year-old Pie Killer, already a two-time winner, and finished second by a length. The Searching will be Gastown Babe’s stakes debut.

“I wanted to try her long thinking down the road, the way she closed, and she’s built like a route horse. She’s kind of a tall, long-legged lady, so I thought let’s give her a shot going long here,” Nixon said. “I wasn’t terribly surprised to see her on the front coming off the sprint, and I think she’ll learn a lot from it.

“She was a little rank early but then I thought she settled quite well down the backside. The horse that beat her was an older horse that had won multiple races, and she had to work to get by her so we were delighted with that,” he added. “We’re very happy with her, obviously.”

Laurel Returns with Live Nine-Race Program Friday, Rainbow 6 Carryover

Live action returns to Laurel Park with a nine-race program Friday featuring a stakes-quality allowance for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs on the main track and a 20-cent Rainbow 6 carryover of $21,934.13.

First race post time is 12:40 p.m.

The Rainbow 6 jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 60 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners while 40 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

Friday’s Rainbow 6 spans Races 4-9 and includes the feature in Race 8, a third-level optional claiming allowance that drew a field of eight including the Jamie Ness-trained and co-owned entry of eight-time winner Mojovation and 11-time winner Yodel E.A. Who, each in for the $55,000 tag and favored on the morning line at 2-1.

Also entered are 2020 Maryland Million Nursery winner Karan’s Notion, bred, owned and trained by Nancy Heil and seeking to top $300,000 in purse earnings; Marvalous Mike, second in back-to-back stakes to end 2021 and exiting a 7 ¾-length optional claiming romp July 7 at Penn National; Eastern Bay, winner of the Polynesian and second by a nose in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) in 2020; and 2021 Concern winner Alwaysinahurry.

Other races in the Rainbow 6 sequence include a one-mile allowance for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up in Race 4 where Dream Big Dreams, unraced since a fifth in the 2021 Maryland Million Classic, is the 2-1 program favorite; and a Race 5 allowance for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up scheduled for one mile on the All Along turf course featuring 2021 Maryland Million Turf Starter Handicap winner B Determined and Power Back, seeking a third straight win.

Saturday’s 10-race card presents the final two stakes of Laurel’s 37-day summer meet, the $100,000 Bald Eagle Derby for 3-year-olds and $100,000 Searching for 3-year-old fillies, both scheduled for the grass. The meet runs through Sunday, Aug. 21.

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