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Coffeewithchris Seeks Second Straight Win in Spectacular Bid
Maryland Million Winner Chickieness Returns in $100,000 Xtra Heat
BALTIMORE – Coffeewithchris, who became a stakes winner with his 16-1 upset of last month’s Heft in his juvenile finale, wheels back in three weeks looking to maintain that momentum in Saturday’s $100,000 Spectacular Bid at Laurel Park.
The third running of the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid for 3-year-olds and sixth renewal of the $100,000 Xtra Heat for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs are among six stakes worth $550,000 in purses on a nine-race program that begins at 12:25 p.m.
Owned by Fred Wasserloos, Anthony Geruso and trainer John Salzman Jr., Coffewithchris won two of his eight starts as a 2-year-old, with one second and two thirds. His other victory came when he was promoted to first following the disqualification of Tiz No Clown for interference in a mid-May maiden claimer at historic Pimlico Race Course.
“The horse runs hard all the time. He’s had a lot of problems with traffic and getting bothered, he gets bumped. He’s had a lot of issues and he finally had a pretty good trip last time and he ran a big race,” Salzman said. “He’s doing super. I’m going to lead him over there and see how he does.”
Coffeewithchris, a Maryland-bred son of 2014 Preakness Stakes (G1) runner-up Ride On Curlin, raced just off the lead of New York shipper Full Moon Madness for a half-mile in the Heft under first-time rider Jaime Rodriguez, had a 1 ½-length advantage at the top of the stretch and put away Prince of Jericho through the lane to win by 2 ½ in 1:24.96 for seven furlongs.
In his prior two starts Coffeewithchris was third behind Post Time and Maryland Million Nursery winner Johnyz From Albany in the Maryland Juvenile and fourth to Recruiter in the James F. Lewis III. Both Post Time and Recruiter remain undefeated.
“I thought the last one was a little easier than [facing] Post Time and Johnyz From Albany and Recruiter. He’s been hooking some tough horses, but he runs hard all the time,” Salzman said. “Blinkers really helped him too. He’s a tough horse to ride. You sort of have to stay after him all the time.
“Jaime just seemed to get a lot of run out of him. He just sort of got him running and then sat on him and didn’t panic when that New York horse came up inside him,” he added. “He put away Prince of Jericho with confidence. That horse was sitting and having the perfect trip and my horse was battling, and when he came to him at the head of the lane my horse sort of just put him away.”
Rodriguez gets the return call on Coffeewithchris, who drew Post 6 in a field of eight.
“The race is back kind of quick,” Salzman said. “It’s back in three weeks and it’s hard to get a horse that runs that good, that big of a number, to run back to his number. But, he’s training good and everything is leaning toward running him.”
While Post Time is sitting this one out, trainer Brittany Russell will be represented by Michael Dubb and Morris Bailey’s Prince of Jericho. The Munnings colt was third to Post Time in their Oct. 7 unveiling, then won his next two races by 17 combined lengths before making his stakes debut in the Heft.
A former Russell trainee, the multiple stakes-placed Heldish, will make his debut for owners Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher and Michael Dubb, who purchased the Great Notion colt for $160,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s December Midlantic mixed sale and moved him to trainer Mike Maker. Heldish was never worse than third in five starts at 2, running second in the Hickory Tree at Colonial Downs and Maryland Million Nursery and third in the James Lewis.
Another horse racing first time for new connections is Lucky 7 Stables’ B West, claimed for $62,500 out of a two-length optional claiming allowance victory going one mile Dec. 17 at Laurel. The son of 2003 champion older horse and Horse of the Year Mineshaft was a 12-length maiden claiming winner of his prior start Nov. 21, taken out of that race by trainer Mike Trombetta for $45,000.
“We tried to get him the race before,” Joey Lloyd of Lucky 7 said. “He’d been running against good company and he wanted to stretch out to the mile, and I think he can go even further. We were looking for an allowance race but it didn’t go, so [trainer] Jerry [Robb] said, ‘Let’s just put him in the stake and see what he can do.’ He’s been training great and he’s in really, really good form.”
B West had an eventful trip running fourth in the 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight that produced Post Time and Prince of Jericho, then came back to be second by less than a length in a seven-furlong maiden claimer in early November. Stable rider Xavier Perez gets the assignment from Post 5.
“I’m excited to see what he can do on Saturday. I know he wants to go a little bit longer so seven is a little short, but I’m hoping he shows a good effort and a little promise. There’s a good series of stakes [for 3-year-olds] here in Maryland so hopefully this can set him up to keep going in those races if he can show he’s good enough,” Lloyd said. “Let’s see what he can do. Hopefully he shows up and he can surprise a couple people.”
Completing the field are My Blue Eyes, exiting back-to-back front-running victories at Penn National; On the Mark, racing first time off the claim out of a 5 ¼-length maiden triumph Jan. 1 at Laurel; Tiz No Clown, respectively fifth and sixth in the Maryland Juvenile and James Lewis; and We Don’t Need Roads, who has sandwiched two wins at Delaware Park around a fifth in the Oct. 1 Laurel Futurity.
The Spectacular Bid is the first in Maryland’s series of stakes for sophomores leading up to the 148th Preakness May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course, followed by the $100,000 Miracle Wood going one mile Feb. 18, $100,000 Private Terms at about 1 1/16 miles March 18 and $125,000 Federico Tesio April 15. Once again, the 1 1/8-mile Tesio will serve as a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness.
Spectacular Bid was named champion colt at 2 and 3 and champion older horse and Horse of the Year at 4 for late Maryland-based Hall of Fame trainer Grover ‘Bud’ Delp, who called him “the greatest horse ever to look through a bridle.” ‘The Bid’ captured the 1979 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) and won each of his last 10 races, retiring with 26 wins and nearly $2.8 million in purse earnings from 30 starts. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.
Maryland Million Winner Chickieness Returns in $100,000 Xtra Heat
Morris Kernan Jr. and Jagger Inc.’s Chickieness, popular winner of the Maryland Million Lassie last fall, chases her second straight win and second in a stakes in Saturday’s $100,000 Xtra Heat.
Chickieness raced eight times for breeder, trainer and co-owner Jamie Ness as a 2-year-old, running second in back-to-back stakes at Delaware Park behind then-undefeated Bound by Destiny before breaking through with a come-from-behind 1 ½-length triumph in the Lassie.
Following that effort the Blofeld filly ran third in an optional claiming allowance sprinting six furlongs and fourth to undefeated Malibu Moonshine in the seven-furlong Maryalnd Juvenile Fillies before rebounding with a front-running 3 ¾-length optional claiming allowance score Dec. 17.
“After she won Maryland Million Day we tried her in a couple other spots including the stake there. She was still eligible for the allowance, and she was able to win that the last time she ran,” Ness said. “There isn’t a lot of other options with a filly like this. You either run in the stake or you sit in the barn. She had a good work last week and that’s where we’re headed. She’s Maryland-bred, so we’re going to run her in Maryland.”
Out of the Harlan’s Holiday mare Chickaletta, Chickieness had things her way last out under regular rider Jaime Rodriguez, setting solid fractions before pulling away to win in 1:06.18 for 5 ½ furlongs. After making her first four career starts in Delaware, her last four have come at Laurel.
“The last time she actually won pretty easy, so maybe she’s still getting better. I think she’s still going to have to continue to improve to take on open stake fillies, but that’s what we’re going to try,” Ness said. “She’s done very little wrong. It means a little extra being the owner-breeder, and I ran the mare. She’s been at my farm since she was born so it’s nice to see her develop.”
Rodriguez returns to ride from the rail at topweight of 124 pounds, yielding six pounds to each of her five rivals.
Trainer Brittany Russell entered the pair of Grace and Charm and L Street Lady. Jeff Drown and Nicky Drion Thoroughbreds’ Grace and Charm graduated in her fourth and most recent start, a gate-to-wire maiden special weight triumph going six furlongs Jan. 1 at Laurel by 4 ½ lengths. Madaket Stables’ L Street Lady also exits a powerful maiden special win, hers by 7 ½ lengths sprinting 5 ½ furlongs Dec. 4 in her second lifetime start and first on dirt.
Robert Rutherford’s We’ll See, a Pennsylvania homebred daughter of champion Uncle Mo, is entered to make her stakes debut for trainer Bruce Kravets after winning her first two starts at Penn National by 20 ½ combined lengths, neither as the favorite.
Runnymoore Racing’s Filtered Light, a 3 ¼-length maiden special weight winner over fellow Pennsylvania-breds Dec. 12 at Parx; and Mario Serey Jr. owned and trained Ojitos Bellos, sixth after encountering trouble in the Dec. 30 Gin Talking at Laurel two starts back, are also entered.
The Xtra Heat honors the champion 3-year-old filly of 2001 and 2015 Hall of Famer that won 26 races, 25 in stakes, and nearly $2.4 million in purses from 36 starts between 2000 and 2003. Racing primarily for Marylanders Harry Deitchman and Kenneth Taylor and trainer John Salzman Sr., who purchased her for $5,000 as a 2-year-old in training, she won at least one graded-stakes every year she raced and 11 in all, including the Prioress (G1) and back-to-back editions of the Barbara Fritchie (G2), and was also multiple Grade 1-placed against males.