Laurel Futurity Winner Congruent on Triple Crown Trail

Laurel Futurity Winner Congruent on Triple Crown Trail

Uncle Jake Making Laurel Debut When Live Racing Returns Friday

LAUREL, MD – Tami Bobo and Lugamo Racing Stable’s Congruent, winner of the Laurel Futurity last fall at Laurel Park, is on the Triple Crown trail following his upset victory in the John Battaglia Memorial March 4 at Turfway Park.

Based in South Florida with trainer Antonio Sano, Congruent trailed the field through six furlongs in the 1 1/16-mile Battaglia before unleashing a wide rally to go last-to-first and win by 3 ½ lengths at odds of 16-1 under jockey Sonny Leon.

“He came out of it like any other race. He was not tired at all, he was behaving. He was really, really good, actually. We were very impressed with his performance,” Lugamo’s Luis Gavignano said. “We were also very impressed with the connection between Sonny Leon and the horse. That was the first time that he rode the horse, and they got along really well together. Really, really well.”

Leon, who upset the 2022 Kentucky Derby on 80-1 long shot Rich Strike, will get the return call when Congruent returns to Turfway’s all-weather surface for the $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) March 25.

An early nominee to the Triple Crown, Congruent earned 20 qualifying points to the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1), ranking him 12th on the list. The top 20 point earners gain a spot in the Derby.

“We are dreaming, and I think we are dreaming with a good reason,” Gavignano said. “Because, with the way that he won, I think that he can have a really good race in the next one at the same track on the same surface, most likely with likely the same contenders, more or less. I think we have a good chance to qualify directly to the Kentucky Derby. And having Sonny Leon again on the horse will help a lot.”

Gavignano said Congruent returned to Gulfstream Park following the Battaglia to train for the Jeff Ruby, which will be his fifth start since running eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 4. He was also third in the Dec. 10 Pulpit, fourth in the Jan. 7 Dania Beach and sixth in the Feb. 4 Kitten’s Joy (G3), all on the Gulfstream turf.

Congruent became a stakes winner in the Oct. 1 Laurel Futurity, which was rained off the grass to a sloppy and sealed main track. Dismissed at odds of nearly 11-1, the gray or roan son of Grade 1 winner Tapit raced close to the pace before taking over at the top of the stretch and going on to win by 2 ½ lengths.

The Laurel Futurity has a rich history dating back to inaugural 1921 winner Morvich, who would go on to win the 1922 Kentucky Derby. The Futurity has also been won by Triple Crown champions Affirmed, Citation and Secretariat along with Barbaro, In Reality, Honest Pleasure, Quadrangle, Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid and Tapit. It has been run primarily on turf since 2004.

“We are very excited. I think the way that he performed last time it looks like he really matured and he’s really more like a 3-year-old,” Gavignano said. “We know that he has the talent. He’s improving every day.”

Uncle Jake Making Laurel Debut When Live Racing Returns Friday

Triple Crown-nominated Uncle Jake, a $675,000 son of champion Uncle Mo, is entered to make his first start for trainer Brittany Russell in Friday’s opener as live racing returns to Laurel Park.

The one-mile maiden special weight for 3-year-olds attracted a field of six led by 3-5 program favorite Uncle Jake, owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan.

Uncle Jake hails from the same connections that moved Fort Warren from Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert to Russell, recently voted her second straight Renaissance Award as Maryland’s top trainer. Fort Warren, third in the Jan. 29 San Vicente (G3) at Santa Anita, shows one breeze Feb. 25 at Laurel, going a half-mile in 50.20 seconds.

Out of the Harlan’s Holiday mare Tasha’s Miracle, a two-time Grade 3 winner in California, Uncle Jake debuted Jan. 29 in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita, finishing fourth following a slow start. The runner-up in that race, Sonoran, came back with a 7 ½-length maiden special weight romp Feb. 20 for Baffert.

Uncle Jake has had three breezes at Laurel, most recently going four furlongs in 48.40 seconds, handily, March 5. Jevian Toledo is named to ride from Post 4.

Russell will also unveil Brereton C. Jones’ Touchdown Montage, an American Freedom gelding that has breezed steadily at Laurel since mid-January for his debut. The Elkstone Group’s Maryland homebred Vax a Nation steps up after running second in three consecutive maiden claiming races ranging from one to 1 1/8 miles.

In Race 3, a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies, Russell will send out the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister’s Goodgirl Badhabits, a $135,000 daughter of Mastery that breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 March 1 in her final tuneup.

The second division of the filly maiden special weight comes in Race 7 where another Uncle Mo offspring, Soave Stables and Lynch Racing’s Ruthanne, drew the rail for her debut off a dozen works at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. Trainer Phillip Capuano will send out Devil Pays in Gold, a Maryland-bred daughter of stakes winner Uncle Lino, seventh in the 2016 Preakness (G1).

Winter meet-leading trainer Jamie Ness will send out the favored entry of Jardani and Under the Radar in Race 8, an entry-level allowance for 4-year-olds and up going about 1 1/16 miles. The co-feature comes in Race 7, a one-mile optional claiming allowance for 3-year-old fillies where six of the nine entrants were also nominated to the $100,000 Beyond The Wire March 18.

Notes: Post time will remain 12:25 p.m. for the duration of the winter meet, which runs through Friday, March 31 … There will be a carryover of $10,481.69 Friday in the 20-cent Rainbow 6, spanning Races 4-9.