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G1 Winners Firenze Fire, Mind Control Top Laurel Stakes Noms
Four Stakes Worth $350,000 in Purses Saturday, Jan. 18
LAUREL, MD – Grade 1 winners Firenze Fire and Mind Control and Anna’s Bandit, whose nine wins last year tied for the most of any horse in the country, are among 80 nominees to four stakes worth $350,000 in purses as older horses take the spotlight Saturday, Jan. 18 at Laurel Park.
The Four Big Stakes program includes the $100,000 Fire Plug for 4-year-olds and up and $100,000 What A Summer for fillies and mares 4 and older, both at 6 ½ furlongs, as well as a pair of $75,000 events for Maryland-bred/sired horses going one mile – the Jennings and Geisha, the latter for females.
Mr. Amore Stables’ homebred millionaire Firenze Fire owns nine career wins, eight in stakes, four of them graded topped by the 2017 Champagne (G1). He has won his past two races for trainer Jason Servis, most recently in the Gravesend Dec. 22 at Aqueduct. Stablemate Happy Farm, winner of the 2019 Fall Highweight (G3) and second in the Gravesend, is also nominated.
Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ Mind Control has not raced since his victory in the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) last summer at Saratoga. Also a winner of the 2018 Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, the Stay Thirsty colt finished third in the Concern Stakes last July in his lone try at Laurel.
Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Terp Racing’s 2018 Woody Stephens (G2) winner Still Having Fun, second by a neck in the Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial Dec. 7 at Laurel in his first start in seven months, is also nominated. The Grade 1-placed gelding registered his two other career stakes wins at Laurel in the 2018 Miracle Wood and Frank Whiteley Jr.
Other prominent Fire Plug nominees include Grade 2-placed American Anthem; 2019 Claiming Crown Express winner Brother Chub; multiple stakes winner Clubman; Joevia, runner-up in Laurel’s 2019 Private Terms who went on to finish third in the Belmont Stakes (G1); and Laurel stakes winners Follow the Dog, Taco Supream, Tiz He the One and Vorticity.
Multiple stakes winners Majestic Reason and Needs Supervision top 21 nominees to the What A Summer. Hillwood Stable and Richard Golden’s Majestic Reason has four wins, four seconds and a third in nine career tries over Laurel’s main track, including victories in the 2018 Miss Disco and six-furlong Willa On the Move Dec. 28 to cap her 2019 campaign for trainer Graham Motion.
Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Madaket Stables and Mike Karty’s Needs Supervision, trained by Jerry O’Dwyer, was most recently fourth in the Go For Wand (G3) Dec. 7 at Aqueduct, coming just seven days after her dominating triumph in the Imagining Safely Kept Stakes Nov. 30 at Laurel.
Also among nominees are 2018 Victory Ride (G3) winner Dixie Serenade; stakes winners Last True Love, Saguaro Row, second in the Go For Wand, and Wildcat Combat, runner-up in the Willa On the Move; and Warm, a winner of four of six career starts at Laurel.
No Guts No Glory Farm’s Anna’s Bandit ended 2019 on a six-race win streak, five of them in stakes, capped by the six-furlong Politely Dec. 7 at Laurel. Trained by Jerry Robb, who is closing in on his 2,000th career victory, Anna’s Bandit went nine-for-11 in 2019 and finished in a seven-way tie for most wins by a horse. Her $401,830 in purse earnings was the most among those horses.
Stakes winners Enchanted Ghost, Limited View and Majestic Reason; 2019 Turnback the Alarm (G3) runner-up Another Broad; Artful Splatter, a winner of three straight; and Three Hawk, third to Anna’s Bandit in the Politely, are also nominated.
Matt Schera’s 8-year-old turf and dirt stakes winner John Jones is among 19 horses nominated to the Jennings, a race he won in 2016 and 2017 for trainer Lacey Gaudet. John Jones won two of nine starts in 2019, including a Colonial Downs track-record performance for one mile (1:34.28). His younger stablemate Sparty, a winner of two straight and three of his last four, is also nominated.
Runnymede Racing’s Alwaysmining, a stubborn runner-up in the 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer Dec. 28 at Laurel, is also prominent among nominees. The 4-year-old Stay Thirsty gelding is seven-for-11 lifetime at Laurel including stakes wins in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity and Heft at 2 and Miracle Wood, Private Terms and Federico Tesio at 3.
Still Having Fun, Clubman and Taco Supream are also nominated, along with multiple stakes winner Bonus Points, fourth in the Native Dancer, and Bustoff, a winner of five of his last six starts.
Post time for the Jan. 18 Four Big Stakes program is 12:25 p.m.