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Just Howard Grinds Out Third Straight Win in $75,000 Find
Bawlmer Hon Springs Upset in $75,000 All Brandy
Turf Stakes Highlight 12-Race Maryland Pride Day Program
LAUREL, MD – After needing six tries to break his maiden, Skeedattle Associates’ Just Howard continued his forward progression by running down Dothat Dance and holding off Ghost Bay to earn a third straight win in the $75,000 Find Saturday at Laurel Park.
The 1 1/8-mile Find for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up was one of two turf stakes on the 12-race Maryland Pride Day program, along with the $75,000 All Brandy for Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and older.
Also on Saturday’s card was the $75,000 Miss Disco for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs on the main track.
Named for his breeder, the late Howard M. Bender, and trained by Graham Motion, Just Howard ($13.20) hit the wire in 1:57.10 over a Dahlia Turf Course layout listed as yielding to win by a neck. The only 3-year-old in the eight-horse field, it was his second win over elders and second straight in a stake following a head victory in the 1 1/16-mile Caveat July 15 at Laurel.
“Howard Bender was a very good friend of ours but also a good customer in our regular business and a mentor in this business,” said Skeedattle’s Robert ‘Willie’ White, president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. “When this horse was going to be sold in Kentucky, Frank Smith, Ham’s brother, went over to see him and we got lucky enough to buy him. And after he had him for a while he said, ‘I think we’ve done really good here.’ Today couldn’t be any better. My grandkids are here, our families are here. It’s a great day.”
English Minister, the 8-5 favorite who ran second by a neck after a tough trip in the 2016 Find and came up a neck shy of Phlash Phelps in the June 24 Mister Diz last time out, was quickest from the gate from his inside post to set fractions of 25.46 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 53.07 for the half.
Just Howard and jockey Alex Cintron settled in third as English Minister and Dothat Dance continued to slug it out through six furlongs in 1:18.09 until Dothat Dance took the lead straightening for home. Cintron swung Just Howard to the middle of the track where they steadily gained ground down the late to catch Dothat Dance and keep 13-1 long shot Ghost Bay at bay to his outside.
“The last few starts he would break and get a little rank and if you let him be there where he wants to be in the race, he won’t finish. The trainer said no matter how slow the pace was, stay behind horses and let him relax and finish. If you let him be clear, he will be in the bridle the whole way and at the top of the lane he’ll just hang,” Cintron said. “Today the pace was slow, but I had to do my own race. On the backside we were behind the two horses and he dropped the bit and behaved himself, and gave me a good kick at the end.”
Ghost Bay stayed up for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Dothat Dance. It was another 1 ¼ lengths back to English Minister followed by Talk Show Man, Daniel Le Deux, No Bull Addiction and Tizzarunner. How’s Your Sugar and Phlash Phelps, the 9-5 program favorite, were scratched.
“I had the feeling I was going to get there but the grass is so wet and deep and it was kind of hard for my horse to make up the ground,” Cintron said. “The outside and the middle of the racetrack was the best part because walking to the gate I could see it was a little more dry, but I didn’t want to go all the way outside. When I saw the other horse coming I put him out in the three path and he kept going.”
White said the 1 1/8-mile Commonwealth Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds Sept. 30 at Laurel would likely be the next step for Just Howard, a chestnut son of turf champion English Channel they purchased for $37,000 as a yearling.
“Today was a big step. He had to move forward some,” White said. “This turf course, you had to like it or hate it. They all ran it. They walked the course, it was a pretty slow time from what I saw and it’s very deep, but he fights. He won’t give up and that’s what you need. Especially in turf racing, there’s got to be a horse that’s willing to take it all the way to the wire, and that’s what he did.”
Bawlmer Hon Springs Upset in $75,000 All Brandy
Runaway Point Farms’ Bawlmer Hon, twice stakes-placed on the dirt and making her second career start on the grass, opened a clear advantage at the top of the stretch and had plenty left for a two-length upset victory in the $75,000 All Brandy.
It was the second straight win for Bawlmer Hon ($21.40), bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and late trainer Dickie Small. Though the 4-year-old Silver Train mare finished seventh in her turf debut July 13 at Delaware, she trains regularly over the grass at the Fair Hill Training Center.
“She loves the turf. A year ago she injured a foot in an allowance race down here out of the gate and she almost trains every day on the grass because of it,” winning trainer Mark Shuman said. “I was kind of disappointed with her last grass race but the jock kind of took her back to last and got beat four lengths. Today we kind of let her use her speed and it worked out.”
Though she won all the way on the lead in her last start, a one-mile and 70-yard allowance at Delaware that was rained off the grass to a sloppy and sealed main track, jockey Sheldon Russell was content to let speedy stakes winner Daylight Ahead dictate fractions of 24.46 and 50.20 seconds for the first half-mile.
Russell moved Bawlmer Hon to the front around the far turn and expanded their advantage to five lengths at the head of the lane, powering down the stretch to win in 1:58.04 over a soft Dahlia Turf Course.
“She broke nicely and put me in a great spot going into the first turn. Mark had stressed to me in the paddock to get a good break out of her and to be forward. She was very easy to ride,” Russell said. “I pretty much followed [Daylight Ahead] the whole way. The one thing Mark had said was when it’s time to go, go a little bit earlier. She’s a big, galloping filly and I thought she ran her heart out today.”
Nickyrocksforpops finished second, 7 ¼ lengths in front of late-running Look Who’s Talking. Northern Smile, the narrow 2-1 favorite, Daylight Ahead, De Marquee and Shirleys Curls completed the order of finish. Devilish Love and Good Roll were scratched.
“She’s been super since she was a young horse and done everything right. I think part of it is … she’s got to get into her stride and not take her back and use her speed naturally. He rode her perfect,” Shuman said. “The owner’s been patient when she had her little setbacks and stuff and everything’s been good. It’s finally coming together.”