King’s River Taking Next Step Up in $100,000 Nursery

King’s River Taking Next Step Up in $100,000 Nursery

Old Bay Looks to Spice Up Resume in $100,000 Lassie

LAUREL, MD – Bryan Minnich’s homebred gelding King’s River, taking advantage of a class drop to graduate in dominant fashion last time out, will step back up into stakes company for the first time in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery at Laurel Park.

The Nursery for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies, both sprinting six furlongs, are among eight stakes and four starter stakes on the 38th Jim McKay Maryland Million program, ‘Maryland’s Day at the Races’ celebrating the progeny of stallions standing in the state.

Highlighted by the $150,000 Classic for 3-year-olds and up, first race post time is 11:30 a.m.

By millionaire Irish War Cry, whose three graded-stakes wins included the historic Pimlico Special (G3) in 2018, King’s River was one of eight juveniles in for a $20,000 tag Sept. 29 on opening day of Laurel’s fall meet. He had finished off the board in each of his first two races, the first in a waiver maiden claimer and the second in a $50,000 claimer on the grass at Colonial Downs.

“We felt we needed to make that move because he’d been struggling a little bit and we thought it would be something to give him a little confidence. I don’t know if it gave him that much confidence, but we’re going to find out. It was definitely the race I was looking for,” trainer Linda Albert said. “We’ll see how it looks when we go to the big leagues this time.”

Breaking from the rail, King’s River quickly recovered after being bumped at the start to assume an early lead and go on to a front-running 13-length triumph while pulling away despite being green under a hand ride from jockey Forest Boyce. The performance convinced the connections to take a shot in the Nursery, which Albert won in 2007 with Regal Solo, who would return to win the Classic in 2010.

“After the race we were sitting there saying that the race is coming right up. You do only get one crack at it with a 2-year-old. It’s right here and it is one of my favorite days, so we’ll give it a try,” Albert said. “He’s doing great.

King’s River gets Boyce and the rail again in a full field of 14 that includes Maryland-bred also-eligibles Call Me Andy and It’s My Rainbow.

“It’s not ideal [but] it’s where he was last time. It’s going to kind of force his hand to be up close like that but, hopefully, he learned a little something last time,” Albert said. “That was the trouble in his other two races. He wasn’t learning much, but we’re going to give him a chance. We’re glad to have Forest bac. She’s got the hot hand right now.”

Four horses – Bigdaddysboy, Blame the Tux, Point Pelee and Full Proof – enter the Nursery off victories. No Guts No Glory Farm’s homebred Bigdaddysboy, a popular three-length debut winner Sept. 1 at Timonium, is one of three horses trained by John Robb, who won the Nursery in 1993 with Run Alden and 2011 with Glib.

Maryland’s leading trainer, Brittany Russell, is represented by Karmac Stable homebred Prado Road. The gelded son of Golden Rod was beaten a neck in his lone start, a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight over a wet-fast track Sept. 30 at Delaware Park.

Rolling Meadows Farm’s homebred maiden Summerstateofmind was second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths by Robb-trained Nursery entrant Dance for Green Aug. 6 at Laurel, and ran fourth in a six-furlong maiden special weight Sept. 15 at historic Pimlico Race Course. Trainer Tim Keefe is seeking his first win in the Nursery.

“I almost won it with a maiden a few years back [Dancing With Maude in 2016]. People thought I was crazy but I knew the horse belonged. He came flying and finished second,” Keefe said. “Obviously [Summerstateofmind] is still a maiden, but it doesn’t matter. He’s run well. His last race was good. He was beaten by a bunch of [well-bred] horses so we decided we’d give it a shot and see where we are with him.”

Catahoula Moon, Kohler’s, Street Tough and Speedyness complete the field.

Old Bay Looks to Spice Up Resume in $100,000 Lassie

Runaway Point Farms’ Old Bay, second in each of her first four races by a total of three lengths, goes after a breakthrough performance on the big stage in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Million Lassie for 2-year-old fillies at Laurel Park.

Bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman, who have been part of a record 16 Maryland Million winners, Old Bay shares her name with the popular Baltimore-based seasoning. The Lassie will be her first race in Maryland after racing exclusively at Delaware Park for trainer Mark Shuman.

“She keeps trying,” Shuman said. “I did try the blinkers two starts ago because it felt like she wouldn’t go past the horses on the inside of her but she got game as could be to the horses on the outside of her. I put the blinkers on and she got beat by a horse to the outside that I don’t think she should have gotten beat by, so I pulled them back off and realized it’s just immaturity. Ultimately, I think she’ll get better going farther.”

Such was the case with Old Bay’s two older siblings, Market Maven and Bawlmer Hon, the latter a winner of the 2017 All Along on the Laurel turf. Both took seven tries to break their maiden and went on to become six-figure earners.

“That’s the reason we purchased her. They always ran good, ultimately better as they went farther,” Shuman said. “Old Bay was a later foal than the other two but definitely shows more sprinting ability than her siblings did. She just hasn’t gotten it done. Short of winning, she’s done nothing wrong.”

Old Bay was beaten 1 ½ lengths at odds of 14-1 in her Aug. 2 debut, returning 17 days later to fall 1 ¼ lengths short when stretched out to six furlongs. She has lost by a neck in each of her last two races, a 5 ½-furlong waiver maiden claimer Sept. 7 and six-furlong allowance Sept. 27 while facing winners on a muddy and sealed track.

“It is back a little quick, but she came back good so we decided to look at it. If there were two or three in there that we thought were real standouts we would have possibly condsiered something different,” Shuman said. “She’s just had the bad luck of not being a winner. I felt like if we didn’t enter, we might have regretted skipping the race.

“Since the day we bought her she’s just done nothing wrong, ever. She’s good-feeling at times in the stall and everything, but anything you ask her to do on the track, in the paddock, getting on a van, she’s pure class. She acts like a 10-year-old gelding. She just has a ton of class and I think she has a ton of ability and keeps getting better. I hope that Saturday is a day she can put it together.”

Old Bay is one of six maidens in the Lassie, along with Go Sherry Go, Irish Angel, Miss Harriet, Enemynumbernine and Maryland-bred also-eligible Mischievousness. Barak Farm homebred Enemynumbernine has also finished second in each of her two races, maiden special weights at Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course, the latter Sept. 10.

Trainer John Robb, a three-time Lassie winner, will send out No Guts No Glory Farm’s Remember Me, a homebred daughter of Imagining, for her fifth start. She has never been off the board, graduating by 2 ¾ lengths July 22 at Laurel and finishing third by less than a length in the five-furlong Keswick at Colonial Downs. She finished second as the favorite to undefeated Just Great in an Aug. 31 allowance at Delaware last time out.

Boh’s N O’s, Lilly Lightning, Shine On Moon and Maryland-bred also-eligible Forest Fuel are coming off wins. Also entered are Kissedbyanangel, back on dirt after a failed turf attempt in the $150,000 Selima Sept. 30 at Laurel; Thistledown-based Lucky Cougar; Super Fabulous and Sheilahs Warcloud.