Eastern Bay Wins First Off the Claim in Laurel Friday Feature

Eastern Bay Wins First Off the Claim in Laurel Friday Feature

Tutti Benvenuti Sharp Debut Winner, Lasting Union Breaks Maiden
Rainbow 6, Late Pick 5 Carryovers for Saturday’s Nine-Race Program

LAUREL, MD – Robert D. Bone’s Eastern Bay, racing first time off the claim for summer meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez, rewarded his new connections with a front-running half-length score in Friday’s featured eighth race at Laurel Park.

Sent off the narrow 3-1 favorite over fourth-place finisher Premier Star at 3-1, Eastern Bay ($8.20) ran six furlongs in 1:10 over a fast main track under Victor Carrasco to hold off late-running 20-1 long shot Absentee in the second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up.

It was the eighth career victory and snapped a six-race losing streak dating back to last summer for 6-year-old Eastern Bay, taken for $35,000 out of a runner-up finish in a similar spot Feb. 21 at Laurel.

Carrasco hustled Maryland-bred Eastern Bay to the front from Post 9 and held the lead through splits of 22.32 and 45.28 seconds for a half-mile. Once straightened for home, Eastern Bay separated from the pack and had plenty left to turn back an onrushing Absentee, making his first start in seven months. Fortunate Friends got up for third.

“He broke really sharp and Victor had to rush him a little to get position and then he just kept going,” Gonzalez said.

A winner both on turf and wet main tracks, Eastern Bay picked up his first victory in 15 tries over a fast dirt surface. Six of his wins have come at Laurel.

“He ran big today,” Gonzalez said. “It was a really tough race. I had confidence in him because all the time he tries, and he’s doing really good. It was the first time he ran for me, but he’s a really classy horse and you can tell when he’s running he’s a happy horse.”

In Friday’s co-featured Race 7, Philmor Racing Stable’s Bustoff ($9.60) dueled up front with Ruby Bleu for a half-mile, opened up daylight on his rivals in the stretch and outlasted late-running 12-time winner Bobby G for a nose victory in the second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up. The 5-year-old gelding ran one mile in 1:36.27 for his eighth career win.

Friday also featured a pair of maiden special weights for fillies and mares 3 and up. Colts Neck Stables’ Tutti Benvenuti, a homebred daughter of 2013 champion 3-year-old male Will Take Charge making her career debut, launched a three-wide bid on the turn and took the lead in mid-stretch before edging clear in Race 3 to win by a half-length in a sharp 1:10.32 for six furlongs.

Race 6 saw Hidden Creek Farm’s Lasting Union ($5), by 2012 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags but outrun in three previous starts at Gulfstream Park this spring, go straight to the lead and hold off challenges from M J’s Lady on the turn and 35-1 long shot Ski Bunny approaching the wire to forge a front-running one-length triumph. The winning time was 1:45.35 for 1 1/16 miles. Lasting Union, like Union Rags, is trained by Michael Matz.

Largely thanks to Tambora’s $129.40 upset of Race 5, the 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved Friday to grow the carryover jackpot to $6,947.34 for Saturday’s nine-race program that kicks off at 12:40 p.m. Tickets with five of six winners each returned $208.10.

Saturday’s Rainbow 6 spans Races 4-9 and includes multiple stakes winner Hello Beautiful’s return to the main track in Race 8, an entry-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs. Hello Beautiful won the Maryland Million Lassie and Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship to cap 2019, then was seventh in her 2020 bow June 1 when facing older horses for the first time in a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint. She is the 4-5 program favorite from Post 3 in a field of seven.

There will also be a carryover of $4,216.95 in the 50-cent Late Pick 5 (Races 5-9). Tickets with four of five winners Friday were each worth $48.65.

Notes: Jockey Jevian Toledo won twice Friday aboard Tutti Benvenuti ($17.60) in Race 3 and Lasting Union ($5) in Race 6. Teen apprentice Charlie Marquez also doubled with Amphitrite ($10.20) in Race 1 and Bustoff ($9.60) in Race 7. Both Amphitrite and Eastern Bay ($8.20) in Race 8 are trained by Claudio Gonzalez.