Thursday, August 13, 2009


LAUREL, MD. 08-13-09---Heros Reward, who in his last start became the 19th Maryland-bred millionaire with a second place finish in the Grade III Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park, returns home to headline the $50,000 Mister Diz Stakes at Laurel Park, a 5 ½ furlong turf test on Saturday afternoon.

“That was pretty neat,” said trainer Dale Capuano, who has won 30 training titles at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park during his career. “To be able to earn a million dollars as a turf sprinting specialist is remarkable. It is very difficult because most of the races are full fields and you have to hope for a good trip each time just hoping to be there at the wire for a 1-2 finish.”

Heros Reward, a 7-year-old gelding, has won 11 times in 32 starts, with six stakes victories including three graded stakes races. The Maryland-bred has been a model of consistency with 21 in the money finishes in his last 26 starts, dating back to August 2006. He finished fifth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint a year ago. This year, the son of Partner’s Hero has won one of four starts, the Grade III Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland in April, and finished on the board in graded races at Woodbine and Belmont Park.

“Even though he hasn’t won as much as in previous years, the horse has run very well this year,” added Capuano. “He’s ready to go in this spot.”

Capuano indicated he’ll use the Mister Diz as a prep for the $100,000 Maryland Million Turf Sprint on September 26 and expects his star to compete in the Grade II Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine on October 17, a race he won two years ago.

Rosie Napravnik gets her first chance to ride Heros Reward, who breezed a half-mile in 48.2 at Laurel on August 9.

Love You Too is named as part of an entry with Heros Reward.

Nine other horses are entered to battle the Capuano entry, headlined by 10-time stakes winner Ah Day, the 6-1 third choice.

The pride of the King Leatherbury stable, Ah Day is a main track specialist who comes into the race off back-to-back wins, including the Chesapeake Stakes at Colonial Downs on July 27. He kicked off the year with a win in the Grade III Toboggan Handicap at Aqueduct and has won 13 times in 30 starts for $828,474. Sheldon Russell will pair up with the gelded son of Malibu Moon, who has just one turf start in his career, a second place finish in the Humphrey Finney Stakes two years ago.

Second on the morning line is Digger (4-1), who has never been on the turf in 27 previous starts. The Scott Lake trainee is three for five this year, including an impressive victory in an allowance test at Belmont on July 18. Two years ago, while in the Richard Dutrow barn, the son of Yonaguska won three state-bred stakes during the Laurel fall meeting. Team Lake also entered Sandbagin’ Lover (12-1), who has won half his six grass attempts.

Defending champion Lycurgus (15-1) has changed barns twice since winning for Lake in this race last October. The son of Not for Love has not won since but has finished in the money in five of 10 starts. Anthony Adamo now conditions the six-year-old gelding.

Natural Seven (8-1) has six turf sprint victories in 11 starts since being claimed by trainer Benny Feliciano in 2008. The son of Partner’s Hero lost by a nose to Kosmo’s Buddy in the 2008 Maryland Million Turf Sprint, his last start on home turf.

Rounding out the field are Disco Dandy (10-1), Love’s Strong Hart (15-1), A Reel Buster (20-1) and Earlswood Pete (20-1).

On Saturday, a Latin Fiesta with food and music will spice up the 10-race program. On Friday evening, Laurel will present live racing and a Twilight Crab Feast from 4-7 p.m.

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