Turf Racing Returns Friday

Paper Mansion Chasing Seventh Straight Win in Friday Feature
5YO Mare Favored in One of Three Grass Races to Open Turf Season

BALTIMORE – Jagger Inc. and Longball Stables’ 5-year-old mare Paper Mansion will chase a seventh consecutive victory, eighth on the grass and 12th overall when live racing resumes at Laurel Park Friday marking the eagerly awaited start of turf season in Maryland.

Three races that drew a total of 37 horses are scheduled for Laurel’s world-class turf course including the featured eighth, a second-level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/16 miles on the All Along course layout.

Laurel’s 142-foot wide course allows for six different layouts based on the position of the portable rail, each named for some of racing’s finest champions – All Along (hedge), Bowl Game (17 feet), Kelso (35 feet), Dahlia (52 feet), Exceller (70 feet) and Fort Marcy (87 feet).

Post time for the first of 10 races is 12:25 p.m.

A dozen were entered in Race 8 including Continentalcongres, Respectfully and Haint Blue for main track only. Paper Mansion, trained and co-owned by Jamie Ness, is the 9-5 program favorite.

Paper Mansion began her win streak Oct. 29 at Laurel in a six-furlong starter optional claimer, her second race since being moved to the grass by Ness, who claimed her the previous spring for $25,000. The chestnut has won six of seven following the switch, including a sweep of the filly and mare division of the Tampa Turf Test, a series of four races for horses 4 and up that have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2023.

The last horse to register a sweep in the winter series was Brother Pat in 2015, also owned and trained by Ness. Paper Mansion has won by 11 combined lengths during her six-race win streak, scoring at distances from six furlongs to 1 3/8 miles and carrying as much as 127 pounds. She was assigned topweight of 126 pounds for Friday’s race, three more than each of her rivals.

“She’s a filly we had and when we put her on the turf she just seemed to like it,” Ness said. “She seemed to improve once we switched her and when she got down to Tampa for that series, she was just a better horse than those. So we brought her up here and put her back on the turf tomorrow, and we’ll see what happens.”

Among the rivals for Paper Mansion is On the Shortlist, who had three wins and a second in her first four starts since being moved to the grass last summer and got the winter off after running sixth in the Pebbles (G3) in mid-November at Aqueduct. She Is Wisky was fifth by less than three lengths in Laurel’s 2022 All Along on the turf and won twice on the grass last summer for trainer Brittany Russell.

Turf season is scheduled to get under way in Race 2, a starter optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the All Along. Ten were entered led by Mid Day Image, who captured Maryland’s turf opener last April. The 8-year-old gelding owns 13 career wins including the 2021 Claiming Crown Emerald, and ran third in both the six-furlong Laurel Dash and Monmouth Park’s 5 ½-furlong Wolf Hill last summer.

Lucci, first or second in four straight starts to cap 2023 including back-to-back runner-up finishes by one length combined at Laurel, is entered to make his 5-year-old debut for trainer Michael Moore. Six horses will run for a tag including Phantom Image, a $200,000 son of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper in for $30,000 and exiting the five-furlong Turf Dash Feb. 24 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Race 5 is an open 1 1/8-mile allowance for 3-year-olds and up on the Dahlia layout that drew an overflow field of 15 including also-eligibles Eye of Gunfighter and Home School and main track only entrant Running River.

Mission Man, unraced since Oct. 26, is a younger half-brother to dual Grade 1-winning millionaire Caravel and multiple stakes winner Witty, Maryland’s champion male turf horse of 2023 that is entered to make his season debut in the $100,000 King T. Leatherbury Saturday at Laurel. Fulmineo has run second in the 1 1/16-mile Pilgrim (G2) last fall and one-mile Columbia March 9.

There will be carryovers of $3,630.08 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 5-10) and $2,443.51 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five (Race 6) wagers Friday.


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