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Epic Idea, Whispurring Kitten Meet Again in Saturday Feature
Juvenile Colt Pompous Prince Impressive in Friday Maiden Triumph
My My Girl, Away to Return Sharp Allowance Winners Friday
BALTIMORE – Michael Merryman-trained stablemates Epic Idea and Whispurring Kitten, separated by 2 ¼ lengths in the $100,000 The Very One May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course, will share the starting gate for a second time in two weeks in Saturday’s co-featured eighth race at Laurel Park.
Race 8 is a second-level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up scheduled to sprint 5 ½ furlongs over the All Along turf course. Laura McKinney’s 6-year-old homebred Whispurring Kitten, third in the five-furlong The Very One in her stakes debut, is the 7-2 program favorite for the grass from Post 12 in a stakes-quality field of 13 that includes four entered for main track only.
Vivian Rall’s 6-year-old Maryland homebred Epic Idea, the 2021 Maryland Million Ladies winner who was fifth in last month’s The Very One, drew the rail for Saturday’s race and rated at 6-1 on the morning line. Post time for the first of 10 races is 12:40 p.m.
“They’re both doing really well,” Pimlico-based Merryman said. “We kind of got forced into The Very One just because it’s spring turf [season] in Maryland. We had to scratch them a couple times. We got to walk them out of the barn. I really felt like if ‘Kitty’ had had gotten one race in her, she would have run really well.
“With Epic, she can sprint but I’m working to set her up for probably the All Brandy at the end of the month. She’s kind of one that can sprint and then go long every now and then,” he added. “I know the five-eighths was a little short for her but it’s a good way to set her up for the season and get her going.”
The $75,000 All Brandy for Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/16 miles is one of three stakes scheduled on Laurel’s June 19 Father’s Day program. $75,000 All Brandy for fillies and mares 3 and older, both restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses and going 1 1/16 miles.
Epic Idea used Pimlico’s The Very One as a starting point to her 2021 season that ended with a redemptive victory in the Maryland Million last October, one year after she finished first in the Ladies only to be taken down for interference. Similar to 2020, she did not run between Maryland Million and Preakness (G1) weekend, and will follow a familiar blueprint in 2022.
That’s kind of the plan, to have her set up by then and try to pick the right spots for her before then,” Merryman said. “She likes the 5 ½ [furlongs], so she should have some fun there and be fine.”
Whispurring Kitten had never run in a stakes until her prior start, when she was sent off at 47-1 and chased pacesetting winner Can the Queen into the stretch before getting caught late by favored Honey Pants for second. Beaten 2 ½ for it all, she was two lengths ahead of a four-way photo finish that saw Epic Idea a neck behind fourth-place finisher Adelaide Miss.
Like Epic Idea, last month’s The Very One also marked the season debut for Whispurring Kitten, who ran second to Beantown Baby in a starter allowance on Claiming Crown Preview Day last October at Laurel, coming within a neck of earning an automatic berth in the Distaff Dash at Gulfstream Park.
“She ran really well last time. She liked that five-eighths, too. I thought she’d be kind of tough in there. I knew she’d be a price, but she just needed a race,” Merryman said. “She’s a pretty nice filly. If you go back on her form, she hardly ever gets beat by much on turf. She’s just a little filly that tries really hard. She’s pretty cool.”
Jorge Ruiz has the call on Whispurring Kitten, who has done some of her best running near the lead, while Daniel Centeno will be back aboard Epic Idea, a closer. Among the competition are stakes winners Ellanation, Precious and Cavalier Cupid.
“They should be good,” Merryman said of his mares. “It’s a tough field in there but ‘Kitty’ should be solid and Epic, I’m hoping she’ll come with her late run.”
Juvenile Colt Pompous Prince Impressive in Maiden Triumph Friday
Dam Sire’s Dreams Racing Stable’s Pompous Prince, run down after taking a big lead in his May 1 debut, had no such trouble second time out in posting a front-running 4 ¾-length victory to kick off Friday’s opening day program of Laurel Park’s summer meet.
Ridden by J.D. Acosta for trainer Tim Salzman, Pompous Prince ($4.20) ran 4 ½ furlongs in 52.03 seconds over a fast main track as the maiden special weight’s even-money favorite. General J R was second, 5 ¾ lengths clear of California Ghost in third.
In his unveiling, Pompous Prince jumped out to a four-length lead after going a quarter-mile in 23.15 seconds, saw his lead shrink to a length at the head of the stretch and wound up third by three lengths to Putthepastbehind at odds of 13-1.
Pompous Prince had a similarly quick start Friday from his rail post, opening a five-length lead following a quarter in 23.41. General J R shaved a length off that advantage straightening for home but then lost ground as Pompous Prince powered through the stretch a confident winner.
Bred in New York by Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Guy Rice, Pompous Prince is a bay son of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Palace out of the Pomeroy mare Pompous Lady. After not meeting an $11,000 reserve as a yearling, he fetched $35,000 at OBS’ 2-year-old in training sale in March.
Friday’s feature, a $48,000 entry-level allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting 5 ½ furlongs over the main track, was split into two divisions. Down the Stretch Racing’s My My Girl ($16.20) sprung a 7-1 upset of favored Noble Bid in Race 6 in 1:04.75, with Away to Return ($6.40) rolling by five lengths over 35-1 longshot Fortes and 8-5 favorite Wicked Hot in Race 8. The winning time was 1:04.46.