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Amsterdam Latest Locale for Laurel Winner Wondrwherecraigis
Joined in Saratoga by Prioress (G2)-Bound Stablemate Hello Beautiful
Sprained Ankle Sidelines Jockey McCarthy from Weekend Mounts
Line Dancing Edges Stablemate to Capture Juvenile Maiden Race
LAUREL, MD – Based with trainer Brittany Russell at Laurel Park, where he launched his career with back-to-back wins over the winter and spring, Wondrwherecraigis will take the next step in his progression when he makes his graded-stakes debut Saturday.
Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ Wondrwherecraigis drew Post 5 in a field of six and is listed at 10-1 on the morning line for the $150,000 Amsterdam (G2), a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds at Saratoga.
Wondrwherecraigis, a gelding by three-time Grade 2-winning sprinter Munnings, has not raced since finishing second by a head to Liam’s Pride in the six-furlong Gold Fever July 10 at Belmont Park before being disqualified to third for bumping with Long Weekend. Both Liam’s Pride (15-1) and Long Weekend (9-5) also return in the Amsterdam.
“We figured if he didn’t run any good that day we would have definitely taken a step back. I think he kind of proved that he deserved a shot, so let’s see what he can do,” Russell said. “It would be incredible [to win], really. But, we’re just trying to stay humble and hopefully he goes up there and puts on a good show. As long as he runs well, I think everybody will be pleased.”
Unraced at 2, Wondrwherecraigis debuted with a 2 ½-length maiden special weight triumph going six furlongs March 13 at Laurel, two days before live racing was paused in Maryland for 2 ½ months amid the coronavirus pandemic, returning May 30. A week later, Wondrwherecraigis rallied from a slow start to beat older horses in an open 5 ½-furlong allowance June 6.
“He’s always done everything right. He just took a little time to come around,” Russell said. “He’s a big, heavy horse and we just had to be a bit patient with him and bring him along in the morning. He always worked like he wanted to be a good horse, so let’s see if he can step up and be good enough to be a graded-stakes horse.”
Russell’s husband, jockey Sheldon Russell, had been aboard for each of Wondrwherecraigis’ first three starts. Russell is working his way back from a broken wrist suffered July 16 at Delaware Park, and will be replaced by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano for the Amsterdam.
“Sheldon actually got on a horse for me this morning, so that was really exciting,” Russell said. “He’s just going to slowly get back into it. He’s going to do a little [physical therapy] and hopefully in a week or two we’re going to see how the progress is.”
Also in the Amsterdam is Sonata Stable’s Premier Star, part of trainer Mike Trombetta’s Laurel Park string. A winner of his first two starts, including a Dec. 8, 2019 debut triumph over Caracaro, Premier Star is coming off a front-running 3 ½-length optional claiming score going six furlongs at Laurel Aug. 6.
Though the Russells stayed behind in Maryland, Wondrwherecraigis was accompanied to Saratoga by Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stable and Magic City Stables’ multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old filly Hello Beautiful, who is being pointed to the six-furlong Prioress (G2) Sept. 5.
Brittany Russell said the connections opted to pass on Friday’s Charles Town Oaks (G2) in favor of the Prioress. The trainer earned her first career victory at Saratoga Aug. 6 with King’s Honor.
“I didn’t want to see her go down to Charles Town and if something silly happened leaving the gate down there you can’t really recover on the bullring,” she said. “We kind of weighed our options in that sense and the Prioress at three-quarters up there just kind of hoping that it works out for us.”
In her most recent effort, Hello Beautiful got wiped out at the gate in the Audubon Oaks Aug. 9 at Ellis Park, then rushed up inside horses down the backstretch before fading to last behind Mundaye Call’s track-record performance. Hello Beautiful returned to the work tab with a half-mile move in 48.20 seconds Aug. 22 at Laurel, and will have one more breeze before the Prioress.
“She came out of the Ellis race well,” Russell said. “We’re not trying to get cute. She’s up there, we’re going to work her over the track once and if that goes well, we’re going to take them on next weekend.”
Sprained Ankle Sidelines McCarthy from Weekend Mounts
Maryland’s four-time champion jockey Trevor McCarthy is taking off his weekend mounts with a sprained ankle, having avoided serious injury after being involved in a spill during Thursday’s third race at Laurel Park.
The 26-year-old McCarthy was named in all nine races Friday and eight of nine races Saturday at Laurel, where he returned to ride for the first time Thursday since testing positive for coronavirus Aug. 5. He was leading the Colonial Downs jockey standings at the time of his diagnosis.
“He’s got a sprained ankle so he’s going to be out. We’re shooting to be back for next weekend, but it’s all going to depend on how he’s feeling the next few days,” agent Scott Silver said. “He’s doctoring himself up right now. Other than his ankle, he’s feeling pretty good.”
McCarthy was shaken up after being unseated when his mount, War Lance, clipped heels and stumbled midway on the far turn of the 1 1/16-mile turf claiming event. War Lance, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Marco Salazar, was uninjured while McCarthy was taken for X-rays, which proved negative.
Silver said they are hopeful McCarthy will be able to ride by next Friday, ahead of Laurel’s Preakness Prep Weekend of nine stakes worth $900,000 in purses Sept. 5 and 7, where the jockey had several mounts lined up.
“He got lucky, for sure. We’re definitely off today and tomorrow. We’re going to try and shoot for Friday,” Silver said. “We don’t take entries until Tuesday, so hopefully by Tuesday he’s feeling better. We’ve got a busy weekend with the stakes.”
For the year, McCarthy has 92 wins and more than $3 million in purse earnings. He finished as the leading rider during Laurel’s truncated winter meet that began Jan. 1 and ended when live racing was put on pause for 2 ½ months following the March 15 program amid the coronavirus pandemic, returning May 30.
Line Dancing Edges Stablemate to Capture Juvenile Maiden Race
Bass Stables’ Line Dancing, a homebred daughter of champion sprinter Speightstown, reeled in Momentita inside the sixteenth pole and edged past her Michael Matz-trained stablemate to win Friday’s maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies by three-quarters of a length at Laurel Park.
The one-mile event over a firm All Along turf course was the career debut for both fillies. Line Dancing ($12.80) completed the distance in 1:37.45 to give jockey Forest Boyce her first win since returning to Maryland after riding at Colonial Downs, which canceled its meet Aug. 14.
Boyce settled Line Dancing in third along the rail as 24-1 long shot Lookin Back broke running and went in 23.49 seconds for a quarter-mile and 48.35 for the half, pressed to her outside by Momentita in the clear. Boyce tipped Line Dancing three wide off the turn as Momentita took the lead once straightened for home, then powered down the center of the stretch to catch the front-runner and surge past.
Out of the Dynaformer mare Choreograph, Line Dancing had been training steadily at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. for her unveiling. Momentita, by More Than Ready, was three lengths ahead of My Girl Blue in third. Superhelpful, the 8-5 favorite, finished seventh.
In Friday’s other maiden special weight event, Victor Carrasco guided Glen Hill Farm’s 3-year-old Hurricane Party to a front-running 3 ½-length victory in Race 3, the son of Medaglia d’Oro’s second career start and first as a gelding. The winning time for 1 1/16 miles over a firm Dahlia turf course was 1:42.80.
It was the first win for Carrasco since coming back from injuring his elbow in a starting gate mishap July 16 at Monmouth Park. Carrasco, a perennial leading rider in Maryland, moved his tack to Monmouth for the start of its meet in July. He returned to ride Aug. 21 at Laurel, and Friday’s win came in his 10th mount back.
Notes: Jockey Jevian Toledo won Friday aboard Algodonal ($11.20) in Race 1 and Annika Gold ($5.20) in Race 4 to take a brief lead in the rider standings over Horacio Karamanos, 33-32, until Karamanos took Race 9 with R V Treasure ($9.40). Teenage apprentice Charlie Marquez also doubled with Phantom Ro ($5.40) in Race 2 and Cannon’s Roar ($7) in Race 8 … Saturday’s nine-race program begins at 12:40 p.m. and includes a carryover of $3,994.20 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9). Tickets with five of six winners Friday each returned $96.24.