Live Racing Returns Friday with Graded-Stakes Quality Allowance

Live Racing Returns Friday with Graded-Stakes Quality Allowance

Multiple Stakes Winner Lewisfield Opens Season in Saturday Feature
Historic Sagamore Farm Recalls Former Manager Frank Alexander
Friday’s 11-Race Program Features Super Hi-5 Carryover, Stronach 5

LAUREL, MD – On the eve of Independence Day, Laurel Park will celebrate with some fireworks of its own with a graded-stakes quality feature event to highlight an 11-race program Friday, July 3.

Six stakes winners, two of them graded, and a veteran of the 2019 Triple Crown trail are among a field of 10 set to gather in Race 8, a $55,000 allowance for 3-year-olds and up going one mile on the main track. All told, the group has won 62 races and nearly $3.5 million in purses.

“It’s like a stakes race, really,” said trainer Jorge Duarte Jr., who entered both Grade 3 winner Name Changer and Compound It. “It’s a great race.”

Hillwood Stable’s Maryland-bred Cordmaker, a gelded 5-year-old son of two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin, will be making his season debut for trainer Rodney Jenkins. The four-time stakes winner, unraced in nine months since taking the DTHA Governors Day Handicap at Delaware Park, is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.

“It’s no gimmee, is it? He’s going to have to run,” Jenkins said. “He hasn’t run since September, so we’ll see. He’s the same horse all the time. You can’t tell until he gets in the race. He gets in the race and then he picks it up and usually does his job. Anything can happen, of course. But he looks well. We’re pleased with him.”

Cordmaker has worked nine times since late April for his return, delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic which shut down racing for much of the country, including 2 ½ months in Maryland until May 30. Most recently, he went four furlongs in 48.60 seconds June 29, fastest of 12 horses.

In his last race at a flat mile, Cordmaker won the 2018 Jennings at Laurel to cap his 3-year-old campaign. An eight-time winner from 17 starts, he was beaten two necks last May when third in the historic Pimlico Special (G3) at 1 ¼ miles.

“He’s the kind of horse that when you get ready to go, he’ll know. For some reason he can sense it the day of the race,” Jenkins said. “He’s doing well.”

Cordmaker will break from Post 7, one spot inside Runnymoore Racing’s Alwaysmining, the 3-1 program favorite. The 4-year-old Stay Thirsty gelding has raced four times this year with two wins, both in Laurel stakes – the one-mile Jennings and the about 1 1/16-mile John B. Campbell Memorial. They were the sixth and seventh career stakes wins for Alwaysmining, who swept Laurel’s series for 3-year-olds last year and finished 11th in the Preakness (G1).

To their inside, Colts Neck Stables’ stablemates Name Changer and Compound It also drew adjacent posts. Like Alwaysmining, Name Changer has earned over a half-million dollars, and the 7-year-old son of Uncle Mo was second to 2017 Preakness show finisher Senior Investment in the 1 1/8-mile Harrison E. Johnson Memorial  March 14 in his only 2020 start, a race where Alwaysmining ran third.

Name Changer owns three stakes wins among his eight lifetime victories, including the 2016 Richard W. Small at Laurel, and became a graded winner in the 2018 Monmouth Cup (G3). He raced just once last year, finishing third in the Swatara in November at Penn National.

“Name Changer came out of the last race at Laurel good. He’s fresh and ready to go,” Duarte said. “It seems like there will be some pace to run at there. The last time he got hurt when the pace was so slow at Laurel in the stake. There should be a better pace in there this time and I think that he’ll run big.”

Compound It, 4, captured a one-mile allowance facing older horses last summer at Laurel, and was last seen winning in a similar spot over a sloppy and sealed track in October at Penn National.

“We just basically gave him the winter off. There was nothing wrong with him. He was ready to go in April but there was no racing anywhere,” Duarte said. “They’re both doing good.”

The other graded winner in the field is Lael Stables’ homebred No Dozing, who took the seven-furlong Bold Ruler (G3) in his 2018 season finale. The Arnaud Delacour trainee, like Alwaysmining based at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., went winless in seven tries last year with three seconds and two thirds and is two-for-four lifetime at Laurel.

Drawing the far outside post is Frank Demarco’s Honor the Fleet, winner of the 6 ½-furlong Fire Plug Jan. 18 at Laurel. Third in the 2017 Pegasus (G3) at Monmouth Park, he was most recently seventh in the seven-furlong General George (G3) Feb. 15 at Laurel.

“He just didn’t get the right trip [in the General George]. It didn’t unfold the way I hoped it would, but that’s horse racing. He always trains well. He’s coming up to this race really on the muscle and doing well,” trainer Louis Albertrani said. “It’s a very competitive race, but he’s doing very well.”

Richest of the group is Matthew Schera’s John Jones, a stakes winner on both turf and dirt with $593,784 in purse earnings from 44 starts. The gelded 8-year-old son of 2004 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness winner Smarty Jones is 10-for-18 lifetime at one mile, with an optional claiming win, a second in the Jennings and a third in three starts this year for trainer Lacey Gaudet.

Laurel’s summer meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez entered both Harpers First Ride and Tybalt, both 4. Harpers First Ride is four-for-six since being claimed last fall, with all four wins at Laurel. Tybalt has lost his last seven starts since a one-mile optional claiming triumph last summer at Delaware but was twice stakes-placed at 2 and 3, including Laurel’s Miracle Wood and Private Terms for 3-year-olds.

Completing the field is Montuori Holt and Palumbo Racing Stable’s Tattooed, a four-time winner at Laurel who finished fifth in the 2019 Maryland Million Classic.

First-race post time Friday is 12:40 p.m. Post time for Race 8 is 4:21 p.m.
Multiple Stakes Winner Lewisfield Opens Season in Saturday Feature

Linda Zang’s Maryland homebred Lewisfield, whose four career stakes wins have all come at Laurel Park, will launch his 6-year-old campaign Saturday in a third-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up carded as Race 10 on an 11-race July 4 holiday program.

The six-furlong sprint also attracted such horses as 2019 Maryland Million Sprint winner Taco Supream, fourth by less than a length to Lewisfield in the 2019 Howard & Sondra Bender Memorial; Completed Pass, favored winner of the Jim McKay Turf Sprint last May at Pimlico Race Course; 2020 General George (G3) runner-up Threes Over Deuces and Onemoregreattime, second in the 2018 Star de Naskra.

Based at Charles Town with trainer Jeff Runco, a winner of more than 4,300 career races, Lewisfield has finished in the top three in 19 of 23 career starts with eight wins. His most recent came in his last start, a front-running neck triumph over Grade 2 winner Still Having Fun in the six-furlong Bender Dec. 7.

“The horse is doing great. He’s been training well. He’s had a longer than expected break, but it does him well,” Runco said. “It’s time. It’s been a tough, tough year for racing so it’s good to get him back going again.”

Lewisfield has done well in Maryland, with a record of 7-3-2 from 14 starts at Laurel and thirds in the 2018 and 2019 Maryland Sprint (G3) at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard. He shows four works since mid-May at Charles Town, two of them bullets, and a three-furlong move in 35.80 seconds June 27.

“He put on weight over the winter and he looks really good right now. We expect him to run well, hopefully,” Runco said. “I think he’ll be sharp and he’s ready to go. He usually runs well fresh so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and see how it goes. He’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”

Big Bertha Stable’s Taco Supream raced twice over the winter, finishing third in an optional claimer Jan. 3 and first in a starter optional Feb. 15, but was disqualified to fourth for interference in the latter. All seven of his career wins have come at Laurel, where he has been worse than third just four times in 20 tries.

Robert D. Bone’s Completed Pass, whose last seven races have come on turf, is winless in five starts since the Jim McKay. In his lone effort this year, he rallied to dead heat for third in a 5 ½-furlong optional claimer over Laurel’s world-class turf course June 8 for summer meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez.

Historic Sagamore Farm Recalls Late Former Manager Frank Alexander

Frank Alexander passed away at the age of 82 June 26 after retiring in 2012 from a distinguished training career best known for conditioning 1994 Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Cherokee Run, the 2013 Preakness (G1) runner-up.

Long based in New York, Alexander began training on his own full-time in 1974 after spending four years as the racing manager for Sagamore Farm, the historic property in Glyndon, Md. bequeathed to Alfred G. Vanderbilt Jr. for his 21st birthday in 1933 as a gift from his mother.

Alexander’s first win came with Maryland-bred Solo Jim at Pimlico Race Course in 1974. In his later years, he owned a home in upstate New York near Saratoga Race Course and wintered in South Florida.

“My family has known him for years, and I usually only saw him in Saratoga,” Sagamore Farm president Hunter Rankin said. “Stan Hough trains for us and he loved Stan. He would come by and always tell old stories about Sagamore. He loved the farm and he loved Maryland. What a nice man. What a professional.”

Vanderbilt, who died in 1999, was still very much a part of the operation during Alexander’s tenure before he sold it to developer James Ward in 1986. Maryland native Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, purchased the farm, once home to Hall of Famer Native Dancer, in 2007.

“I had a lot of respect for him and what he accomplished here and what he accomplished throughout his career in racing. He loved the game, he loved the farm and he was a great man,” Rankin said. “Since we’ve been here we’ve tried to build on the tradition that was here starting back in the 20s with Mr. Vanderbilt. There have been a lot of people through here that have accomplished a whole lot in the sport. I think it says a lot about the place and, obviously, Mr. Vanderbilt, and Frank was a big part of that.”

Alexander won 997 races and $28.5 million in purses according to Equibase statistics, including Grade 1 winners K.J.’s Appeal, Lucky Roberto, Wallenda and Nonsuch Bay. Other stakes winners trained by Alexander included Babae, Beru, Flash Runner, Good and Tough, Killer Diller, Richmond Runner, Timmy and Windsor Castle.

Friday’s 11-Race Program Features Super Hi-5 Carryover, Stronach 5

A carryover of $3,206.74 in the $1 Super Hi-5 and a $100,000 guaranteed pool in the national weekly Stronach 5 wager are among the highlights when live racing returns to Laurel Park Friday, July 3 with an 11-race program.

The Super Hi-5 begins in Race 1, a waiver maiden claiming event for fillies and mares 3 and up scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Dahlia turf course, which attracted a field of 11.

In all, 66 horses were entered in six races over Laurel’s world-class turf course, an average of 11 horses per race.     

The 20-cent Rainbow 6, solved by one lucky bettor on consecutive racing days last weekend, spans Races 6-11 and includes the featured Race 8, a $55,000 third-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up at one mile that drew 10 horses, six of them stakes winners.

Friday’s Race 7 opens the Stronach 5, which offers an industry-low 12 percent takeout. The sequence continues with Race 9 from Gulfstream Park, Race 8 at Laurel and Race 10 at Gulfstream, concluding with Race 9 from Laurel.

The multi-race, multi-track Stronach 5 is a $1 minimum wager. If there are no tickets with five winners, the entire pool will be carried over to the next Friday. The Maryland Jockey Club serves as host of the Stronach 5.