Hardspun Reason Tests Streak in $100,000 Prince George’s County

Hardspun Reason Tests Streak in $100,000 Prince George’s County

G1-Winning Stablemate Highland Chief Among Rivals Sunday at Laurel

LAUREL, MD – Hardspun Reason, bred and co-owned by Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds and Hillwood Stable, will face seven rivals including Grade 1-winning stablemate Highland Chief in an attempt to stretch his win streak to four races in Sunday’s listed $100,000 Prince George’s County at Laurel Park.

The fifth running of the Prince George’s County for 3-year-olds and up, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the Kelso turf course, headlines a nine-race program that includes a pair of six-furlong grass sprints restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses 3 and older – the $75,000 Jameela for fillies and mares and $75,000 Ben’s Cat.

First race post time is 12:25 p.m.

A Maryland-bred son of Hard Spun, the 5-year-old Hardspun Reason comes into the Prince George’s County with three wins and a third in five tries over the Laurel turf, and is a perfect two-for-two at the distance, having won an open allowance last August and a restricted allowance in October to cap his 2023 season, the latter by 3 ¾ lengths.

Hardspun Reason got some time off before returning with a three-quarter-length optional claiming allowance triumph going 1 1/16 miles on the grass June 15 at Laurel under jockey Victor Carrasco, who is signed on to ride back from outermost Post 8.

“He’s a little bit untested, this horse. I’m not really sure we’ve seen how good he is,” trainer Graham Motion said. “He’s won his last couple pretty comfortably, I think. He’s a fun horse, a very generous horse. He really tries hard. He actually handles the dirt OK, too.”

Motion believes both more distance and being based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. has been part of Hardspun Reason’s recent success story. He has been doing so well the trainer opted to keep him in open company rather than wait for Laurel’s $75,000 Find for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles Aug. 18.

“I think longer helps him,” Motion said. “He’s a difficult horse in the morning. He’s a terrible stall-walker so he’s outside most of the time. He kind of has a little bit of a way of keeping himself fit in that respect. I’d like to run him in the Maryland-bred stake, but that’s another month away.

“I think he can be competitive with this group, and I’d rather run him on Sunday than wait another month for the next opportunity,” he added. “He’s been off all winter. We gave him some time off because he just wouldn’t do well in Florida. He really needs to be outside as much as he can.”

Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s Irish homebred Highland Chief is cross-entered in Saturday’s $125,000 Million Preview, also going 1 1/8 miles at Colonial Downs, but Motion expects the 7-year-old bay to race closer to home.

“I’m probably more inclined to run on Sunday at Laurel if the forecast is OK,” he said. “It looks like there’s a little bit of rain around.”

Highland Chief has raced twice this year, returning from 533 days between starts to run fifth in the 1 ½-mile Elkhorn (G2) April 20 at Keeneland. Last time out he finished a troubled fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Dinner Party (G3) on the undercard of the Preakness Stakes (G1) May 18 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

“It’s been a little frustrating this year,” Motion said. “I thought he trained really well in Florida all winter. I threw him in probably an ambitious spot off the layoff at Keeneland and it looked like he got a little tired. I really just want to get him back on track. I do think he’ll handle a mile and an eighth. I don’t think Pimlico was a very fair test. He got in a little bit of trouble and it was so soft that day.”

Group 2 and 3-placed in Europe, Highland Chief got away slowly and finished a distant ninth in his North American debut in April 2022 at Aqueduct. Four weeks later, he sprung a 19-1 upset of Belmont Park’s 1 3/8-mile Man o’ War (G1) and went on to win the 1 ½-mile Sycamore (G3) that fall at Keeneland.

Jorge Ruiz is named to ride from Post 6.

“I’m hoping I can just get him in a spot where he can get back on track. He’s such a nice horse. He’s a Grade 1 winner, so he has plenty of ability,” Motion said. “Obviously they thought a lot of him in England. The first time I ran him, typical for a European he was a little slow out of the gate. The Man o’ War, I’m not afraid to take a shot in those kinds of races and it just worked out. He’s a lovely horse.”

The other graded winner in the Prince George’s County is Jeremy Brooks’ homebred Wow Whata Summer, courtesy of an 83-1 shocker in the 2022 Penn Mile (G2). The 5-year-old gelding came within a neck of winning the 1 1/16-mile Bert Allen last fall at Colonial, finishing third, and captured a one-mile optional claiming allowance May 17 at Pimlico two starts back. Last out he ran fifth after encountering some early trouble in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer June 30 at Laurel.

Live Oak Plantation homebred Forever Souper won the 1 1/16-mile Sunshine Turf Jan. 21 at Gulfstream Park and 1 1/8-mile Turf Classic March 24 at Tampa Bay Downs, both against fellow Florida-breds, in successive starts for trainer Mike Trombetta. The gelded 5-year-old son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has run third, 1 ½ lengths behind Motion-trained Dataman in each of his last two starts – the one-mile Henry S. Clark April 20 at Laurel and 1 1/16-mile Cliff Hanger May 25 at Monmouth Park.

The Elkstone Group’s 5-year-old Maryland homebred The Addison Pour is chasing his first win since a 1 1/16-mile restricted allowance last June on the Laurel turf. The late-running Tonalist gelding has been third or better in six of eight subsequent starts and been beaten a length or less in six of his last seven races.

Jockey Sheldon Russell, aboard for five of those races as well as each of his last two wins, returns to ride from Post 7.

“It’s so frustrating. He’s always running, that’s the thing. He’s always running, trying, and it looks like he’s going to get there,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “It’s tough. He’s a big horse, he’s like a train. Sheldon’s a great turf rider and he’s going to be the one that saves ground and tries to get the trip. I probably get in his head a little bit when he rides this horse because I’m like, ‘Don’t get him stopped.’

“On the turf course you don’t want to be telling riders to go wide but sometimes with a horse like this it’s like, ‘Just take the long way,’ and make sure he stays running,” she added. “That’s sort of what he is. He’s sort of trip dependent and I’m hoping he’ll get his day on the right day.”

Completing the field are Stellar Lute, second in an open 1 1/16-mile allowance July 6 on the Laurel turf first off the claim for trainer Gina Perri; and Eldest Son, claimed from Russell by trainer Nolan Ramsey out of his most recent start when he was fourth behind Hardspun Reason, The Addison Pour and next-out winner Sports Editor June 15 at Laurel. Ain’t Da Beer Cold is entered for main track only.