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Full Fields & Competitive Racing for Thanksgiving Saturday Card
‘Same Ol’ Cordmaker’ Back for More in $100,000 Richard W. Small
LAUREL, MD – Thanksgiving weekend continues at Laurel Park with a strong Saturday program featuring full fields and competitive racing led by a trio of post-holiday stakes worth $300,000 in purses.
A total of 97 horses were entered for the nine-race card, an average of 10.7 starters per race, all scheduled for Laurel’s recently refurbished main track. Post time is 12:25 p.m.
Race 2 is a 6 ½-furlong claiming sprint for maidens age 3, 4 and 5 that attracted a field of 14 including Gold Fellow from fall meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez and Damon Dilodovico-trained stablemates Divine Proportion and Creative Storm.
Eleven fillies and mares 3 and up were entered in Race 4, a six-furlong claimer, including Fudge Cake, exiting the Maryland Million Distaff Starter Handicap. A field of 12 will contest Race 5, a 6 ½-furlong claiming sprint for 3-year-olds and up, where Interesting Legacy (12), Stroll Smokin (10), Getoffmyback (15) and Mr. Pete (11) combining for 48 career victories.
The stakes come in succession – the seven-furlong, $100,000 City of Laurel for 3-year-olds in Race 6, where stakes winner Everett’s Song goes after his fourth straight victory and Pickin’ Time seeks to regain his graded-stakes winning form; seven-furlong $100,000 Safely Kept for 3-year-old fillies in Race 7 featuring stakes winners Street Lute, Prodigy Doll and Malibu Beauty; and 1 1/8-mile, $100,000 Richard W. Small for 3-year-olds and up in Race 8.
Friday’s nine-race card at Laurel, featuring a pair of $75,000 stakes, attracted 96 entries. Laurel’s world-class turf course has closed for the season, meaning Races 3 and 6 will be contested over the main track. Race 3 is a 5 ½-furlong claiming sprint for fillies and mares 3 and up, while Race 6 is a Maryland-bred/sired allowance for 3-year-olds and up to be run at one mile.
Hello Beautiful will go after her fourth straight win and ninth career stakes victory in Race 4, the six-furlong Politely for Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and up, where the 4-year-old filly drew Post 1 in a field of eight and was installed as the 1-2 morning line favorite.
Brittany Russell-trained stablemate Whereshetoldmetogo is the narrow 3-1 program favorite in Race 8, the seven-furlong Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up. The 6-year-old gelding is a 12-time career winner, nine in stakes.
‘Same Ol’ Cordmaker’ Back for More in $100,000 Richard W. Small
Hillwood Stable’s Cordmaker, still going strong at the age of 6, will go after his seventh career stakes victory and fifth over his home track when he faces 10 rivals in Saturday’s $100,000 Richard W. Small at Laurel Park.
The 21st running of the 1 1/8-mile Small for 3-year-olds and up, part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series, is one of three $100,000 stakes on a nine-race program, along with the City of Laurel for 3-year-olds and Safely Kept for 3-year-old fillies, each sprinting seven furlongs.
First race post time is 12:25 p.m.
Cordmaker finished second in last year’s Small behind Harpers First Ride, who eight weeks earlier captured the historic Pimlico Special (G3). Cordmaker ran third in the Special in 2019 and 2020 and fourth this year.
“When he gets things his way or things go right, he’ll be right there no matter what kind of horses he’s with, [in] Grade 1 [races] or whatever,” trainer Rodney Jenkins said. “In a race like this, if he gets a trip he’ll be tough.”
A gelded son of two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin bred in Maryland by the late Bob Manfuso and Laurel-based trainer Katy Voss, Cordmaker finished second, beaten a length by Captain Bombastic, in the one-mile Polynesian Sept. 18 at Laurel in his most recent start. He was disqualified for interfering with Alwaysmining in the stretch and placed sixth.
“He tried real hard. That was such a [strange] thing that happened,” Jenkins said. “But, he came out of it good, he had nothing on him and he was happy. He’s been going great since. Same ol’ Cordmaker. He keeps trucking along.”
Cordmaker had won two of his previous four starts, the Aug. 23 Victory Gallop at Colonial Downs and March 13 Harrison Johnson Memorial at Laurel, the latter snapping a 10-race losing streak dating back to the fall of 2019 and during which he ran second or third in six stakes.
After winning two of nine starts over his first two seasons, including his first stakes in the 2019 Jennings at Laurel, Cordmaker blossomed as a 4-year-old when he went 5-for-8 and earned $284,427 in purses. Overall he owns 10 wins and a $674,640 bankroll from 32 career starts.
“He’s a horse that it took him a long time to get him to where he is. I never really pressured him at all until he told me he wanted to be something different,” Jenkins said. “Then, when he started being something different, he’s been that way ever since. If anything, he’s doing better than ever. He’s a good horse.”
Cordmaker has had two timed five-furlong works since the Polynesian, both the fastest of the day, going 59.20 seconds Oct. 16 and 59.40 Nov. 11. Regular rider Victor Carrasco will be aboard from Post 7.
“He’s going into it real well. He’s very sharp,” Jenkins said. “When the weather turned cool, he got cool. He likes it.”
There is added incentive in the Small for Cordmaker, who leads the 3-year-olds and up long dirt division of the MATCH Series with 24 points, 13 more than Harpers First Ride. The total is also good for second overall behind Hello Beautiful’s 27 points.
“We’re going for the MATCH [title],” Jenkins said. “He’s ahead right now for the males. This is one of them, so we’re going to try this one, too.”
Among those taking on Cordmaker are Trin-Brook Stables, Inc.’s Forewarned and Uriah St. Lewis-trained stablemate Informative. Forewarned, 6, is a multiple Ohio-bred stakes winner that ran fifth in last year’s Small, while 4-year-old Informative earned his first career stakes victory in the June 12 Salvator Mile (G3) at Monmouth Park.
Stakes-winning Laurel-based stablemates Shackqueenking and Tappin Cat are also entered. Pocket 3’s Racing’s Shackqueenking, riding a two-race win streak, captured the 1 1/16-mile Howard County last December, while Non Stop Stable’s Tappin Cat won the DTHA Governors Day Handicap Sept. 25 at Delaware Park and was beaten a neck as the favorite in the Maryland Million Classic Oct. 23 at Laurel.
Coming in off wins six days apart at Laurel are Sola Dei Gloria Stable’s Bustoff, who scored first off the claim Nov. 6, and Steven Walfish’s Workin On a Dream, a front-running 9 ¾-length optional claiming allowance winner Nov. 12.
McElmore Avenue, second to Cordmaker in the Victory Gallop; Mischief Afoot, fourth in the Governors Day Handicap last out; Plot the Dots, unraced since a fifth in the Harrison Johnson; and Treasure Trove, fifth by less than a length in the April 10 Ben Ali (G3) and claimed out of his last start Oct. 14 at Keeneland, complete the field.
Formerly run as the Broad Brush, the multi-millionaire and four-time Grade 1 winner he trained, the Richard W. Small was renamed following the beloved horseman’s death from cancer in 2014. Baltimore-born ‘Dickie’ Small served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War as a Green Beret before becoming a trainer, also campaigning Broad Brush’s son, 1994 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Concern. He won at least one stakes race in Maryland every year but one between 1974 and 2014 and is also known for helping launch the riding careers of female jockeys such as Andrea Seefeldt, Jerilyn Brown, Rosie Napravnik and Forest Boyce.
Notes: Fall meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez sent out two winners on Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day card, Algebraic ($3.40) in Race 1 and He’s a Shooter ($3.60) in Race 8 … Jockey Yomar Ortiz was shaken up following a spill in Thursday’s fourth race when his mount, Manicomio, stumbled in mid-stretch while on the lead. Ortiz walked to the waiting track ambulance and took off his only remaining mount, Always Forgiven, in Race 7…