Nimitz Class Proves Too Much in $100,000 Harrison Johnson

Breezy Gust Blows Past Rivals to Take $75,000 Not For Love
Dramatic Late Rally Lifts Mavilus to $75,000 Conniver Win

BALTIMORE – Bred in Pennsylvania and based at Parx, Thomas Coulter’s Nimitz Class has made Maryland his home away from home, rolling to a third consecutive stakes victory at Laurel Park with a popular 6 ¼-length triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial at Laurel Park.

The 35th running of the one-mile Harrison Johnson for 4-year-olds and up was the third of five stakes worth $450,000 in purses following a pair of $75,000 events for older Maryland-bred/sired horses, the seven-furlong Conniver for females and six-furlong Not For Love.

Ridden by Jevian Toledo for trainer Bruce Kravets, Nimitz Class ($3.20) completed the one-turn mile in 1:36.43 over a fast main track for his third straight win following the Feb. 18 John B. Campbell and Dec. 30 Robert T. Manfuso, both going about 1 1/16 miles.

“I just think this horse wants to run a mile, whether it’s a flat mile or even further,” Kravets said. “I think he’ll run up to a mile and a quarter.”

Stakes winner Hello Hot Rod outran Nimitz Class to the lead and held it after going a quarter-mile in 24.21 seconds, with the 3-5 favorite stalking just to his outside. The half went in 47.26 as Nimitz Class eased past Hello Hot Rod without urging and straightened for home in command, opening up on his own through the lane.

Kelso (G2) winner Double Crown, sent off at 35-1, nosed fellow multiple stakes winner Ournationonparade for second. It was five lengths back to American Patrol in fourth, followed by Rough Sea, American d’Oro and Hello Hot Rod. Treasure Trove was scratched.

Nimitz Class now has three wins from four career races at Laurel, also finishing second in the seven-furlong Concern last summer. Overall, the 4-year-old Munnings colt has won eight of 14 lifetime starts.

“I think this horse will run just about anywhere that we take him. He loves it down here in Maryland,” Kravets said. “We like the tack surface, the track, everything about it.”

The Harrison E. Johnson honors the Bowie-based trainer who died at age 45 in the crash of a plane he was piloting from Saratoga to Virginia. A native of Adelphi, Md., his best horse was 1973 Hopeful (G1) winner Gusty O’Shay, named that year’s Maryland-bred 2-year-old champion.

Breezy Gust Blows Past Rivals to Take $75,000 Not For Love

With Grade 3-winning millionaire and even-money favorite Eastern Bay racing in tight quarters through the stretch, Trending Stable’s Breezy Gust blew past rivals on the outside and went on to post a 1 ¼-length victory in the $75,000 Not For Love for older Maryland-bred/sired horses.

Based at Parx with trainer Josue Arce, Breezy Gust ($6) was racing for the first time outside of Pennsylvania for just the third time and first since June 2021. With regular rider Dexter Haddock aboard, the 6-year-old gelding covered six furlongs in 1:10.30 over a fast main track.

“At the three-eighths pole when I asked, he responded very good,” Haddock said. “Going into the stretch, I said, ‘I got this race.’ I had a lot of horse.”

Haddock settled Breezy Gust off the pace of 40-1 long shot Kenny Had a Notion and Coastal Mission, who were in front through splits of 22.41 and 45.88 seconds with Eastern Bay – winner of Laurel’s General George (G3) Feb. 18 – saving ground on the rail in fifth.

Eastern Bay improved his position while still racing inside rounding the far turn with Breezy Gust having clear run outside. Once straightened for home Eastern Bay was unable to split horses and kept in check by Breezy Gust, who surged past a determined Kenny Had a Notion for his 10th career win and first in a stakes.

Kenny Had a Notion held second by a neck over Eastern Bay, with Karan’s Notion another three-quarters of a length back in fourth. Coastal Mission, Brilliant Ice and Arden’sluckytobe completed the order of finish.

A son of Mr. Prospector, the late Not For Love was named Maryland’s champion stallion a record 13 times and was the first stallion in Maryland history to surpass $6 million in progeny earnings in a single year (2008). As a broodmare sire, he is represented by two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome. He died at age 26 in 2016.

Dramatic Late Rally Lifts Mavilus to $75,000 Conniver Win

Continuing a torrid streak that began with a record-tying seven wins on Friday’s program, jockey Jaime Rodriguez gave Michael Scheffres’ long shot Mavilus a perfectly timed ride to spring a 26-1 upset in the $75,000 Conniver for older Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares.

Unhurried in the early going, Mavilus ($55.20) came with a dramatic late run on the far outside through the stretch to catch eight-time stakes winner Street Lute near the wire and win by a half-length in 1:25.16 for seven furlongs over a fast main track.

Mavilus trailed all but one horse as 1-2 favorite Response Time went the opening quarter-mile in 23.44 seconds pressed by Street Lute, who forged a short lead after the half went in 46.39. Rodriguez still had work to do entering the stretch and tipped to the middle of the track for a sustained run to the wire.

Street Lute held on for second, a neck ahead of Jerry Robb-trained stablemate Award Wanted. It was another half-length back to Summer Odds followed by Combat Queen, My Flicker, Quiet Imagination and Response Time.

His victory was Rodriguez’s ninth from 11 mounts including a win aboard Borracho ($18.60) in Saturday’s Race 4. Trained by Carlos Mancilla, the 5-year-old Mavilus has won three of her last four starts dating back to the Maryland Million Distaff Starter Handicap in October, and nine overall.

Named the top handicap mare of 1948 following a season that included wins in the Beldame, Comely, Vagrancy and Brooklyn handicaps, the latter over Hall of Famers Gallorette and Stymie, Conniver was bred in Maryland by Alfred G. Vanderbilt. She retired in 1949 after 15 wins from 56 starts.



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