Post Time Returns Home for $100,000 City of Laurel

Post Time Returns Home for $100,000 City of Laurel

Unified Alliance Takes on Six in $100,000 Safely Kept
Familiar Foes to Tangle in $100,000 Richard Small

LAUREL, MD – Hillwood Stable’s champion Maryland-bred Post Time, who suffered his first career loss last month, returns home with designs on starting a new win streak in Saturday’s $100,000 City of Laurel at Laurel Park.

The 13th running of the City of Laurel for 3-year-olds is the first of three $100,000 stakes on a nine-race Thanksgiving Saturday program followed by the Safely Kept for 3-year-old fillies, also sprinting seven furlongs, and the 1 1/8-mile Richard W. Small for 3-year-olds and up.

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

Post Time was third, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, in the seven-furlong Perryville Oct. 21 at Keeneland finishing behind Grade 3 winner Raise Cain, who had run in more graded-stakes than Post Time had races, and Dr. Venkman, who had gone 2-0 in California. It was the first road trip for Post Time, following four victories at Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course by a combined 17 lengths.

“He got off the van from Kentucky and we had to send him to the racetrack because it didn’t take anything out of him,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “He’s awesome. He’s doing great.”

Russell’s husband, champion jockey Sheldon Russell, was aboard Post Time in the Perryville, where they trailed a field of six into the far turn. They tipped out at the top of the stretch and rallied between horses to get up for third while closing on the top pair. It was 5 ½ lengths back to fourth-place finisher Loyal Company.

“I was really happy with him. Sheldon just sort of said, ‘Honestly, if you look at how he’s run every time, has he ever really had to come off the bridle and get on his belly?’ He’s always been so much the best,” Russell said. “Sheldon just kind of felt like when he really had to call on him, he probably had to sit on him a little longer at the head of the lane and wait for a little bit of room rather than come 10 wide.

“But, when he kind of asked him for run he was probably a little confused and Sheldon said once he figured it out, it was like ‘Bam,’” she added. “You kind of go back and go, ‘Oh, a little bit of a longer stretch and maybe we catch them,’ but I don’t think like that. I think he ran great and I think it’s a good stepping stone for what’s to come. The whole point of going there is, of course you want to win, but he’s also a nice horse and that was his first real test away from home.”

Post Time is 4-0 in Maryland, having won all three of his starts last year when he was named Maryland’s champion 2-year-old male, capped by a 3 ¾-length triumph in the Maryland Juvenile. Minor issues kept the Frosted colt away from the races for 295 days before returning to beat his elders in an open six-furlong optional claiming allowance Sept. 22 at Pimlico, again rallying from last.

Sheldon Russell, aboard for both races this year, returns to ride from Post 4 of nine.

“Timing-wise, it’s the [right] move to run him against 3-year-olds at home. There’s a lot beyond that,” Brittany Russell said. “I’m happy with him. I think he has a bright future and there’s a lot to look forward to.”

LC Racing homebred Ninetyprcentmaddie is a five-time winner, three in stakes, two of them in open company including an off-the-turf edition of the six-furlong Carle Place Oct. 22 at Aqueduct in his most recent start. Based at Parx with trainer Butch Reid, he has made one prior start at Laurel, beaten a head when second to Perform in the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio April 15.

John Salzman Jr., Fred Wasserloos and Anthony Geruso’s Coffeewithchris won Laurel’s Heft at 2 and the Miracle Wood in February over Post Time’s stablemate, Prince of Jericho. He has placed in five other stakes, running third to Post Time in the Maryland Juvenile, and was fifth by 2 ½ lengths in the Tesio before running seventh in the 148th Preakness (G1). Third by less than a length in the seven-furlong Star de Naskra July 29 at Laurel, he has not raced since finishing eighth in the Robert Hilton Memorial Aug. 25 at Charles Town.

Two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox will send out Spendthrift Farm et. al’s Giant Mischief, who won two of three starts at 2 and was second in Remington Park’s Springboard Mile. The Into Mischief colt that fetched $475,000 as a yearling has raced twice this year, running sixth in the Rebel (G2) and winning a six-furlong optional claiming allowance Sept. 20 at Churchill Downs.

Other prominent shippers are Let It Ride and Veeson. R A Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbreds’ Let It Ride went unraced at 2 and has run three times this year with back-to-back wins over his elders by eight combined lengths at Aqueduct heading into his stakes debut. Chuck Russo’s homebred Veeson has been third or better in eight of 10 career tries and ran his win streak to three in the seven-furlong Jump Start Oct. 24 at Parx against fellow Pennsylvania-breds.

Also entered are Laurel-based Star de Naskra winner Super Accelerate, stakes-placed Praetorian Guard and Byk.

Unified Alliance Takes on Six in $100,000 Safely Kept

Reagan Jack Racing, John Hickey, Michael McKenna and Anthony Pepe’s Unified Alliance, a front-running stakes winner at Saratoga this summer, returns from a brief freshening out of her graded debut seeking a return to form in the 33rd edition of the $100,000 Safely Kept.

Unified Alliance, by Unified, has raced once previously at Laurel Park when she was third to Liquidator in a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance March 3 when she was trained by John Servis. She was moved to New York-based Tom Morley in the summer, winning an off-the-turf renewal of the 5 ½-furlong Coronation Cup July 14 in her first start.

Encouraged by the effort, the connections stretched her out to six furlongs and stepped her up in company in the Sept. 2 Prioress (G2), where she chased a blazing pace of 21.73 and 44.64 seconds before tiring to be last of five behind Alva Starr, subsequently second in the Raven Run (G2). Runner-up Jersey Pearl came back to win the Cheryl S. White Memorial Nov. 20 at Mahoning Valley.

“We made a little bit of a mistake in the Prioress where we tried to go forward and threw some very fast fractions with some very fast fillies. But she’s a filly that’s had a little freshening after Saratoga and she’s come back and been working extremely well,” Morley said. “I feel great about her. I’ve had this race in the back of my mind for a long time with the view to it being seven furlongs. I think it is absolutely this filly’s optimum trip.”

Unified Alliance has raced once before at seven furlongs, going gate to wire in a 10 ¼-length romp April 3 at Parx. She drew Post 2 of seven and will have jockey Eric Cancel in from New York to ride for the first time.

“Obviously we would have loved an outside draw, but she’s a filly that has tactical speed. If someone wants to go on in front of her, then they can go on in front of her,” Morley said. “She’s not a need the lead type, but she’s very comfortable there if it’s offered up to her.

Liquidator, a five-time winner in Maryland this year that was beaten a head when second in the seven-furlong Miss Disco July 29 at Laurel, returns in her first start since being claimed for $25,000 out of an Oct. 27 win by owner-trainer Joanne Shankle. Overall, the Divining Rod filly has four wins and two seconds in eight tries going seven furlongs.

Servis entered Villa Rosa Farm Inc.’s Worst Behaviour, a winner of three of six starts since joining the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1)-winning trainer this spring. By champion Bernardini, she has won back-to-back starts over older horses going 5 ½ and six furlongs at Penn National heading into her stakes debut.

LNJ Foxwoods’ Howl is entered to make just her second career start in the Safely Kept. Trained by Brad Cox, the daughter of Practical Joke debuted with a popular, eye-catching 7 ¾-length maiden special weight triumph sprinting six furlongs Oct. 28 at Keeneland.

Apple Picker, winner of the six-furlong Weather Vane Sept. 16 at historic Pimlico Race Course most recently fourth in the Raven Run; twice stakes-placed Warrior’s Ransom and last-out winner Dot Marie round out the field.

The Safely Kept honors the champion sprinter of 1989 and member of the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame Class of 2011. The daughter of longtime Maryland sire Horatius was the first sprinter to top $2 million in earnings, the first Maryland-bred to win a Breeders’ Cup race in the 1990 Sprint (G1), a four-time Maryland-bred champion including Horse of the Year twice (1989,1990) and is one of only seven horses to win three Maryland Million races. She won 24 races, 22 in stakes, from 31 lifetime starts.

Familiar Foes to Tangle in $100,000 Richard Small

Market Maven and Ain’t Da Beer Cold, who crossed the wire first and second in the Maryland Million Classic five weeks ago before a disqualification reversed the finish, are entered to line up again in the 23rd renewal of the $100,000 Richard W. Small.

Gregory Gordon’s Market Maven pressed the pace in the 1 1/8-mile Classic, taking a short lead at the top of the stretch and holding it through the lane to edge Ain’t Da Beer Cold by a neck. Stewards ruled there was enough contact between the two horses to promote Ain’t Da Beer Cold, winless in his previous 11 starts, to the victory.

Matt Spencer, Kelly Jo Cox and Bonuccelli Racing’s Ain’t Da Beer Cold, also entered in Friday’s $75,000 Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial for Maryland-bred/sired horses sprinting seven furlongs, drew Post 7 in a field of eight, two spots outside Market Maven, making his fourth start since joining fall meet leading trainer Jamie Ness.

Repole Stable homebred Be Better put together a three-race win streak over the spring and summer capped by his first stakes victory in the 1 1/8-mile Deputed Testamony July 29 at Laurel, beating such accomplished horses as Nimitz Class and Ournationonparade. Third as the favorite behind Grade 3 winner Double Crown in the Sept. 10 Polynesian at historic Pimlico Race Course, he most recently ran fourth – a half-length behind third-place finisher Nimitz Class – in the M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile Oct. 17 at Parx.

Outlier and millionaire Forewarned have combined for 22 wins from 128 lifetime starts. Built Wright Stable’s Outlier, fifth in last year’s Cigar Mile (G1), has a win and a third in his last two tries at Laurel while Trin-Brook Stables Inc.’s Forewarned is a seven-time stakes winner that has placed in a pair of graded-stakes but is 0-for-13 lifetime at Laurel.

Movisitor, winner of the 1 1/16-mile Crowd Pleaser June 23 and coming off a front-running optional claiming score over elders going a mile and 70 yards Oct. 30, both at Parx; Sept. 23 Alphabet Soup Handicap winner King Kumbalay, runner-up in the Ballezzi; and Hay Chief complete the field.

Formerly run as the Broad Brush, the multi-millionaire and four-time Grade 1 winner he trained, the Richard W. Small was renamed following the beloved horseman’s death from cancer in 2014. Baltimore-born ‘Dickie’ Small served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War as a Green Beret before becoming a trainer, also campaigning Broad Brush’s son, 1994 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Concern. He won at least one stakes race in Maryland every year but one between 1974 and 2014 and is also known for helping launch the riding careers of female jockeys such as Andrea Seefeldt, Jerilyn Brown, Rosie Napravnik and Forest Boyce.