Tea Time Starts Comeback in $100,000 Primonetta

Tea Time Starts Comeback in $100,000 Primonetta

Multiple Stakes Winner Making First Start Since Last August

Maryland-Bred Females Line Up for $75,000 Geisha

BALTIMORE, MD., 04/16/15 --- Helen Groves and Jon and Sarah Kelly’s multiple stakes-winning homebred Tea Time will make her first start in nearly eight months in Saturday’s $100,000 Primonetta at Pimlico Race Course. 

The 28th running of the Primonetta for fillies and mares 3 and up going six furlongs on the main track is one of six stakes worth $575,000 on a 10-race program that also includes the $75,000 Geisha for Maryland-bred females at 1 1/16 miles.

A 4-year-old bay daughter of multiple graded stakes winner Pulpit, Tea Time owns four wins in 10 lifetime starts including stakes victories in 2013 and 2014. She will be reunited in the Primonetta with jockey Joshua Navarro, whose only two rides were victories in the Jostle Stakes and Beautiful Day Stakes last summer.

“She’s always showed that she had ability. A couple of times we ran her seven-eighths and that might just be a hair too far for her, but she’s doing well,” trainer Michael Matz said. “At this part of the season, you always hope that everything goes well and so far she’s doing well.” 

Tea Time was sixth in the Frizette (G1) in just her third lifetime start and was fifth in the Beaumont (G2) and fourth in the Miss Preakness at Pimlico in successive starts last year prior to her stakes wins. After finishing off the board in both the Test (G1) and Prioress (G2) at Saratoga, she got the rest of the year off. 

“She just needed a little rest. She’d had a good 3-year-old season and we gave her a rest over the winter,” Matz said. “I think she’s making a good transition from her 3-year-old season to her 4-year-old season. She’s done well in her training so this looks like a nice spot for her to get started.” 

R. Larry Johnson and R.D.M. Racing Stable’s Wherethere’sfire will be making her stakes debut in the Primonetta for trainer Mike Trombetta. In her most recent outing, the 4-year-old Forestry filly romped to a front-running 10-length victory in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance April 1 at Penn National. 

“She ran really well. She seems to have an affinity for Penn National and on the flipside of that, I don’t think she’s real fond of Parx, that surface. She’s a Pennsylvania-bred, so we try to maximize what we can do and take advantage of the conditions,” Trombetta said. “She’s won a few allowance races now so it’s given us a few less options. We’ll give her a try at home in a stakes and see what she can do.” 

Wherethere’sfire was second or third in each of her first four starts before putting together a three-race win streak in November and December to end 2014. She was fifth by less than a length in her 2015 debut Jan. 17 at Laurel and second in a Parx allowance Feb. 8 prior to her runaway victory at Penn.

“She’s like any other horse. She had a few setbacks along the way, but she’s on her good foot now and running good,” Trombetta said. “Her last race she ran exceptionally well and I think that while they’re doing good is the time to take a chance and see if they can handle stakes company. I always thought she had a good bit of ability and she’s shown it on a few different occasions now. Hopefully, I can get her to do that when it really counts.” 

An intriguing prospect in the Primonetta is Vivace Stable’s Queen’s Blade, a Korean-bred daughter of Menifee making her first North American start. Based at Pimlico with trainer Valora Testerman, Queen’s Blade has earned more than $971,000 and captured both the Korean Derby (G1) against males and Korean Oaks (G1) for fillies last spring and summer. 

Queen’s Blade will be cutting back to a sprint for the first time since winning a seven-furlong allowance last January. Her last nine starts have been at a mile or longer, including the President’s Cup (G1) and Minister’s Cup (G2), each at 1 ¼ miles. The Derby and Oaks are both run at 1 1/8 miles.

“Of all the horses they’ve sent me so far, I really, really like this filly. She’s a different kind of animal. She acts like a stakes horse,” Testerman said. “The other ones, I don’t know if the competition here was just too tough for them. Probably. With her, it’s a little hard to tell where she’s going to fit in. Sprinting her, going three-quarters especially at Pimlico, on a speed track where speed holds, in all honesty I can’t really get a handle on how she’s going to run until I run her. But, I really like her.” 

Willa on the Move Stakes winner She’s Ordained will make her 40th lifetime start in the Primonetta, having finished fourth in last year’s race. She is joined by recent allowance winners Tarnished and Sustainable, along with Aix En Provence, Romantica Mia and Galiana.


Celtic Katie and Brenda’s Way, who ran 1-2 in last year’s Geisha, will square off again in the Maryland-bred stakes, carded as the fourth of 10 races. 

Lewis Family Racing Stable’s Celtic Katie has been winless since her Geisha victory, which came for previous trainer Chris Grove. Brenda’s Way ended her losing streak with a 5 ¾-length triumph in a one-mile optional claiming allowance March 13 at Laurel. 

Eddy Gourmet, winner of the Conniver Stakes March 21 at Laurel in her latest outing; Tri-State Futurity Stakes winner Sara Rocks; and Bazinga B, a winner of her last two starts, complete the field.

The Geisha is named for Alfred G. Vanderbilt’s Maryland-bred daughter of Discovery who was foaled at her breeder’s Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Md. in 1943. Bred to Preakness winner Polynesian, in 1950 she produced Native Dancer, one of the greatest racehorses and sires of the 20th century.