Laurel Preview Day Winners Among Claiming Crown Noms

Laurel Preview Day Winners Among Claiming Crown Noms

Juveniles in Spotlight in Pair of Feature Races Sunday at Laurel

BALTIMORE – All five of Laurel Park’s Claiming Crown preview race winners as well as several Maryland-based horsemen are among the nominees for the 23rd Claiming Crown to be held Saturday, Dec. 4 at Gulfstream Park.

Laurel played host to Claiming Crown Preview Day Oct. 10, where preview race winners each earned an automatic berth to the Claiming Crown as well as a $2,500 stipend toward travel costs to South Florida.

Stablemates Belgrano and Aequor, trained by 79-year-old Frank Russo, were respectively nominated to the $90,000 Canterbury for 3-year-olds and up which have not started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2020-21 sprinting five furlongs on turf and $75,000 Express for 3-year-olds and up that have run for a tag of $8,000 or less lifetime going six furlongs.

Peace Sign Stables’ Belgrano has strung together three consecutive wins including the Rainbow Heir Aug. 28 at Monmouth Park in his preview day prep. The 7-year-old gelding ran seventh in last year’s Canterbury. Also among the 33 nominations is Winning Stables, Inc.’s Xy Speed, neck winner of the Oct. 2 Laurel Dash for trainer Gerald Bennett.

Morning Moon Farm’s Aequor edged Sevier by a neck in the Express preview, his second straight win. Formerly based at Gulfstream, the 6-year-old gelding ran ninth in the 2019 Claiming Crown Jewel. Sevier, from the barn of trainer Jamie Ness, is also one of 24 Express nominees.

Travin Stables’ Lookin At Roses rebounded from a fourth behind Magic Michael in the Greenwood Cup (G3) to win Laurel’s preview for the $85,000 Rapid Transit, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2020-21. Ness-trained Magic Michael is nominated to the $125,000 Claiming Crown Jewel as well as Laurel’s $100,000 Richard W. Small Nov. 27, both going 1 1/8 miles.

Other Rapid Transit nominees include Silent Malice and Grade 3 winner Tusk. Silent Malice is one of three horses nominated to Claiming Crown races by Laurel-based trainer Rodolpho Sanchez-Salomon, along with Foggy Dreams ($95,000 Tiara) and Calypso Ghost ($80,000 Glass Slipper). Trainer Mary Eppler, based at historic Pimlico Race Course, also nominated Tusk to the Jewel and $95,000 Emerald, Seranade a Kitten to the Tiara and Heza Kitten to the Emerald.

Bruno Schickendanz’s Mandate, trained by Robert J.W. Johnston, is among 50 nominees to the 1 1/16-mile Emerald on turf for 3-year-olds and up which have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2020-21. The 4-year-old Blame gelding won Laurel’s Emerald preview by 3 ½ lengths and followed up with a victory in the one-mile Artie Schiller on the grass at Aqueduct Nov. 13.

You Must Chill and Just Whistle, respectively third and fifth in Laurel’s Emerald preview for trainers Ness and Michael Matz, are also nominated, as is Ten Strike Racing’s Caribbean, a 7-year-old Australia-bred gelding claimed for $40,000 out of his most recent start Marc 19 at Oaklawn Park by Laurel-based trainer Lacey Gaudet. Caribbean is also nominated to the Jewel.

Team Valor International’s Beantown Baby, from the Fair Hill, Md. barn of trainer Arnaud Delacour, was a popular neck winner of Laurel’s Distaff Dash preview, her third win from five 2021 starts. The $90,000 Distaff Dash at five-furlongs on turf is for fillies and mares 3 and up that have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2020-21.

Juveniles in Spotlight in Pair of Feature Races Sunday at Laurel

Swore and The Thunderer, a pair of first-time starters from trainer Graham Motion, are among eight 2-year-olds entered in a one-mile maiden special weight as part of Laurel Park’s nine-race program Sunday.

Both Swore and The Thunderer have been working for their debuts at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. Stone Farm’s Swore is a homebred son of Broken Vow while Earle Mack’s The Thunderer is by Grade 1 winner Blame.

Narrowly favored at 2-1 on the morning line for Race 3 is Patrick Costello’s Maryland-bred Off Course, trained by Laurel’s Jerry O’Dwyer. Off Course ran a troubled third in a six-furlong maiden claimer Oct. 15 at Laurel in his lone start.

Sonata Stable’s Caminero, trained by Mike Trombetta, was beaten a neck in his Oct. 22 unveiling at Laurel, a seven-furlong maiden special weight where the Lord Nelson colt encountered trouble at the start and trailed the field through the opening quarter-mile. He is 3-1 in the program.

Also in the field is Stud Costa Dorada’s Espresso Lungo, a son of 2016 Preakness (G1) winner and Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Exaggerator that has gone winless in maiden special weights Sept. 29 at Delaware Park and Oct. 22 at Laurel.

Juveniles are also featured in Race 6, an entry-level optional claiming allowance going one mile that attracted a field of nine led by lukewarm 3-1 program favorite Achilles Heel. By Fed Biz, Gaining Ground Racing’s Achilles Heel broke his maiden in a seven-furlong off-the-turf maiden special weight Aug. 20 at Saratoga, his first start for reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox.

Trombetta counters with Sonata Stable’s Conclusive, a $155,000 son of 2016 Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist that graduated in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight Oct. 31 at Laurel originally carded for the grass.

Notes: Bobby G, a 7-year-old gelding owned and trained by David Mohan, made a triumphant return in Saturday’s seventh race, rallying on the far outside in the second-level optional claiming allowance. It was the first win in more than a year and 16th career win from 47 starts in his first race since Feb. 7. He is nominated to the $75,000 Claiming Crown Iron Horse Dec. 4 at Gulfstream Park, where he ran second in 2020 and fifth in 2019 … Post time for the first of nine races Sunday at Laurel is 12:25 p.m.