Air Recruit Impresses in $150,000 Laurel Futurity Victory

Air Recruit Impresses in $150,000 Laurel Futurity Victory

Breeders’ Cup ‘Could Be an Option’ for Winner of 2YO Turf Stakes

LAUREL, MD – Mark Grier’s Air Recruit, third behind one of the top juveniles in the country three weeks ago, put his own talent on display and has his connections considering the Breeders’ Cup with an impressive 5 ½-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Laurel Futurity at Laurel Park.

The 97th running of the Futurity for 2-year-olds anchored four stakes worth $500,000 in purses on opening weekend of Laurel’s calendar year-ending fall meet, following wins by Brocknardini in the $150,000 Selima, Yamato in the $100,000 Japan Turf Cup and multiple graded-stakes winner Interstatedaydream in the $100,000 Twixt.

Aboard for the third time in as many races for trainer Arnaud Delacour, jockey Charlie Marquez was able to get Air Recruit into a rhythm in his two-turn debut following back-to-back 5 ½-furlong turf sprints at Colonial Downs, winning his Aug. 5 unveiling before running up against multiple stakes winner No Nay Mets in the Sept 9 Rosie’s.

“He went short the first two times out and the first time he really surprised us. We sat right behind the speed and came flying and was able to win,” Marquez said. “We put him back in the stake at Colonial and he ran a huge race. The [winner is a] very nice horse. We knew that he wanted to go longer so we stretched him out today and you guys saw what he did.”

It was 2-1 favorite Tropenhagen, a debut winner Sept. 3 at Monmouth Park, that took the early initiative and went the first quarter mile in 24.04 seconds pressed by Wine Collector, exiting the With Anticipation (G3) at Saratoga. Dancing Mischief, who graduated in an off-the-turf maiden special weight Aug. 18 at Saratoga in his prior start was third, with Marquez and Air Recruit well-placed in fourth.

“I think Charlie did a great job because he was a little sharp coming from sprinting,” Delacour said. “He broke on top, but he did manage to get him to settle. He didn’t really get in a fight with him. He just did a great job to make him drop the bit and after that he just waited and came around. That’s the way I saw the race, and it was great. He should learn something from this.”

Tropenhagen continued to lead through a half-mile in 49.16 while Marquez and Air Recruit worked their way into second after six furlongs went in 1:14.43. After saving ground along the rail, Marquez tipped Air Recruit to the outside leaving the far turn and set him down for a drive that saw him open up on his rivals and win in 1:46.95 over a Dahlia turf course rated good.

“I knew [Tropenhagen] was going to be really fast out of there and I knew Air Recruit was going to have some early speed, but we broke and I was able to get him tucked in. He relaxed for me, and I was able to have a dream trip,” Marquez said. “He was going comfortably the whole way. The first five strides he was on the bit, but he was able to relax and he was playing with his ears down the backside. Once I got him outside it was game on.”

Massif edged 22-1 long shot Blue Creek by a nose for second, with Wine Collector another 1 ¼ lengths back in fourth. They were followed by Mortal Sin, Understudy Kitty, Sasse’s Class, Skellig Island, Grand Kingdom, Dancing Mischief, Tropandhagen and Elevated Game. Edgartown, Blame the Tux and main-track-only entrants Thedingoateyobaby and Bolt of Aurum were scratched.

Air Recruit is a chestnut son of European Group 1 winner Air Force Blue out of the Arch mare Werewolf. Bred in Kentucky, he fetched $105,000 as a yearling last July and is based with Delacour at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.

“He always showed a lot of speed,” Delacour said. “His first breeze from the gate he went like 47 [seconds] in hand, so we knew we had something. I didn’t know about the distance, to be honest. That was kind of an experiment, but it was the right time to do it after two races. Hopefully it doesn’t bother him.

“We’ll look at our options,” he added. “Depending on how he comes back and stuff, if we can get in the Breeders’ Cup it could be an option. He did it impressively enough that we could give him a shot – if we get in.”

Ready to Purrform won the 2021 Laurel Futurity and went on to capture the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) at Saratoga in 2022. Last year’s off-the-turf Laurel Futurity winner, Congruent, ran eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and won the John Battaglia Memorial in March at Turfway Park.

The Laurel Futurity has a rich history dating back to 1921 inaugural winner Morvich, who would go on to win the 1922 Kentucky Derby. The Futurity has also been won by Triple Crown champions Affirmed, Citation, Count Fleet and Secretariat along with such horses as Barbaro, In Reality, Honest Pleasure, Quadrangle, Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid and Tapit.