Ournationonparade Marching Ahead in $75,000 Jennings

Ournationonparade Marching Ahead in $75,000 Jennings

Stablemates Malibu Beauty, Intrepid Dream Top $75,000 Geisha

BALTIMORE – Morris Kernan Jr., Yo Berbs and Jagger, Inc’s Ournationonparade, victorious in the Maryland Million Classic three starts back, shortens up in his return to restricted company seeking to regain his winning form in Saturday’s $75,000 Jennings at Laurel Park.

The 79th running of the Jennings for 4-year-olds and up and 50th renewal of the $75,000 Geisha for fillies and mares 4 and older, both contested at one mile and restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses, are among six stakes worth $550,000 in purses on a nine-race Winter Sprintfest program.

First race post time is 12:25 p.m.

Trainer and co-owner Jamie Ness claimed Ournationonparade for $50,000 out of a seven-furlong sprint last September at Churchill Downs with the Maryland Million in mind, and the now 6-year-old Cal Nation gelding rewarded his new connections with a decisive 5 ¾-length triumph.

Ournationonparade remained at 1 1/8 miles for Laurel’s Richard W. Small and took a one-length lead into the stretch but was unable to hold off late-running Armando R and settled for second, beaten a half-length.

Most recently, Ournationonparade pressed the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Robert T. Manfuso Dec. 30 at Laurel before tiring to be third behind Nimitz Class and Jennings rival Ain’t Da Beer Cold. He has gone off as the betting favorite in each of his last six races.

“He ran a good race [in the Classic], catching Maryland-breds. When we caught open company he ran second and third in stakes,” Ness said. “It was a little tougher competition and maybe a little further than he wanted to go ideally. He’s doing great and he’s back with Maryland-bred or sired horses, and the last time he was with those kinds of horses he got the ‘W.’”

Ness likes the cutback in distance and will once again team up with jockey Jaime Rodriguez from outermost Post 8. Ness and Rodriguez won 53 of 194 races (27 percent) together in Maryland in 2022.

“I think going a mile and a sixteenth, mile and an eighth kind of stretches his distance a little bit. I think this is more of his natural distance,” Ness said. “Jaime rides most of my horses and we’ve been very successful together, so we like to stick with what works. He’s coming into a good spot, I think.”

Owner-trainer Norman ‘Lynn’ Cash entered the trio of Monday Morning Qb, Galerio and Plot the Dots. Monday Morning Qb, winner of the 2020 Maryland Million Classic, has won one of six starts since being claimed for $62,500 last summer including a fifth to Ournationonparade in the Maryland Million.

Cash was the fifth trainer to claim Grade 3-placed Galerio over his 36-race career, getting him for $50,000 last April. He didn’t run again until Jan. 14, finishing sixth in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer in his comeback. The 7-year-old Jump Start gelding was second by a neck in the 2021 Jennings and third by two lengths in 2022, becoming a stakes winner in Laurel’s 2022 John B. Campbell.

Plot the Dots is seeking his first stakes win, having placed twice in 10 previous tries. The last two came since being claimed by Cash for $40,000 last fall, running fourth in the Manfuso and sixth in the Queens County Jan. 7 at Aqueduct.

Whiskey and You, fourth by less than two lengths in the Maryland Million Sprint last out; One Ten, second to multiple stakes winner Alwaysinahurry in the Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial Nov. 25 at Laurel; and 2021 Robert Hilton Memorial winner Exculpatory complete the field.

The Jennings honors William Jennings Sr., one of Maryland’s greatest horsemen whose Glengar Farm was located six miles from historic Pimlico Race Course. Jennings bred, owned and trained 1887 Preakness winner Dunboyne. His grandson, Henry S. Clark, followed in his footsteps and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1982.

Stablemates Malibu Beauty, Intrepid Dream Top $75,000 Geisha

ZWP Stable, Inc. and Non Stop Stable’s multiple stakes winner Malibu Beauty and stablemate Intrepid Dream, riding a three-race win streak into her stakes debut for owner Paul Fowler Jr., make a formidable duo for trainer Gary Capuano in the $75,000 Geisha at Laurel Park.

Malibu Beauty capped a 2022 season where she had three wins and three seconds from eight starts with a front-running 7 ¾-length triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Carousel Dec. 30 at Laurel. It was the fourth career stakes win for the 5-year-old mare, both sprinting and around two turns.

“Malibu is coming off a real nice win last time out. She’s good, she’s in a good spot there. She’s got speed [and] she’s got tactical speed. She’s got the inside post which isn’t ideal, but it’s fine,” Capuano said.

Malibu Beauty is 1-for-2 going a mile, most recently winning the Peach Blossom last summer at Delaware Park. She was beaten 1 ¼ lengths when second to Fille d’Esprit in the seven-furlong Maryland Million Distaff and ran fourth to another multiple stakes winner, Hybrid Eclipse, in the 1 1/16-mile Thirty Eight Go Go prior to her season-ending victory.

“She’s pretty tough most of the time. She runs a really good race. She’s been running against some top horses,” Capuano said. “The time before last we tried to rate her a little bit without getting too aggressive and she fought the jock a little bit too much trying to get off the early speed. We tried to take her back a little bit and she fought it and kind of flattened out and finished fourth that day. So, last time out we just let her go to see what happens and it worked out nice.”

Intrepid Dream, 5, has won four of just five career starts going back to her debut triumph in September 2020 at Delaware. She ended a 14-month gap between races to go 2-for-2 last year, taking Delaware allowance in October and an optional claiming allowance in November at Laurel, both going 1 1/16 miles, the latter by 6 ½ lengths.

“She’s a real big filly and she’s just been getting better and better. I think the second-wire mile will help her a lot more than the other filly,” Capuano said. “She deserves a shot in there. It’s a Maryland-bred race, so she’s fine in there. If she steps up a little bit she could be pretty competitive, I think.”

Jaime Rodriguez rides Malibu Beauty from the rail and Carlos Lopez is named on Intrepid Dream from Post 6 in a field of eight.

“They’re both going into it really nice,” Capuano said. “We got two decent shots in there it looks like on paper.”

Fool Yourself, who finished behind Malibu Beauty in the Maryland Million Distaff and Timonium Distaff last year, is entered to make her first start back with Claudio Gonzalez, Maryland’s overall leading trainer each of the last six years.

Stakes-placed on turf, Award Wanted finished third or better in nine of 11 starts last year with four wins capped by a season-ending half-length victory sprinting 5 ½ furlongs Dec. 18 at Laurel.

Sweet Gracie is seeking her first stakes win having placed three times previously. She was third in the 2021 Maryland Juvenile Fillies, second by a nose to Divine Huntress in the Miss Disco and third in the Maryland Million Distaff last year.

Also entered are Bourbon Wildcat, Startwithabang and Sweet Surprise.

The Geisha pays homage to Alfred G. Vanderbilt’s Maryland-bred daughter of Discsovery, foaled in 1943 at his Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Md. Bred to 1945 Preakness winner Polynesian, she produced one of the greatest racehorses and sires of the 20th century, Native Dancer, in 1950.