Friday, February 06, 2009


"LAUREL, MD. 02-06-09---Nominations for the three races which highlight the President’s day holiday weekend at Laurel Park were released by the Maryland Jockey Club’s racing office this afternoon.

SprintFest features two graded, seven furlong contests - the $150,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (GII) for fillies and mares on Saturday, February 14 and the $150,000 General George Handicap (GII) for 3-year-olds and up on Monday, February 16. Saturday’s co-feature is the $50,000 John B. Campbell Handicap at nine furlongs.

Twenty-six runners, before late mail, are named to the General George, headed by multiple stakes winner Fabulous Strike. A winner of twelve races and $939,412, Fabulous Strike has won three graded tests, the Aristides at Churchill Downs, the Vosburgh at Belmont Park and the Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct. He won as odds-on favorite in the Gravesend and was ridden by Ramon Dominguez for trainer Todd Beattie. Fabulous Strike, a son of Smart Strike, is based at Penn National though the son of Smart Strike has shipped down to Laurel this week to work. The six-year-old went five-furlongs in 1:00.60 on Tuesday morning.

Lord Snowdon finished second in last year’s General George after racing wide, exchanging bumps and missing by a head to Bustin Stones. Tony Dutrow trains Lord Snowdon, who shipped to Laurel from Aqueduct on January 3 and captured the Native Dancer Stakes.

King Leatherbury trains Ah Day, a runner-up in the 2007 General George who missed the 2008 edition after being sidelined with a shoulder injury that happened less than a week before the race. The son of Malibu Moon has not started since early August but returned to training recently, posting five workouts at Laurel this year, including a bullet four-furlong breeze two days ago. The six-year-old has won ten of his twenty-three starts and eight stakes races, seven in Maryland.

Saturday’s Barbara Fritchie attracted twenty-nine nominees including Richard Dutrow’s By The Light, who won her first five starts and has won eight races overall, including seven stakes. Five of the stakes were against restricted, New York-bred company, but the other two came in the Delta Princess at Delta Downs and the Pearl City at Belmont.

Access Fee, heroine of the local runners with four wins in six starts, is a speedy daughter of Menifee who won the What A Summer Stakes at Laurel on January 10. Larry Murray trains Access Fee, who posted a bullet drill at Laurel since that start.

The Campbell Stakes drew twenty-five nominees, including runners from the barns of Todd Pletcher, John Terranova, Gary Contessa and Kiaran McLaughlin.

On Saturday, the first 4,000 full-paid fans will receive a free Laurel Park cap and can get free admission to the Monday card by wearing the cap.

The weekend features several promotions. Saturday festivities include several treasure chest drawings, including a spa romance package at Turf Valley Resort. Monday’s treasure chest drawing will be for premium seating to the 2009 Preakness® Stakes.


Seven promising 3-year-old fillies are in for a scramble, not just for the win but for favoritism in Saturday’s $50,000 Marshua Stakes at Laurel Park. The first four choices in the Marshua range in odds from 5-2 to 4-1 and a strong argument can be made for each. The three remaining runners have legitimate credentials.

The case for Strut the Canary (5-2), who is the morning line favorite, was made by his trainer Tim Tullock, “We have a lot of good things going for us right now. She’s an improving filly, she’s working well this week and we get Jeremy (Rose) to ride. We expect her to run well.”

Tullock’s chestnut daughter of Mineshaft is two-for-three lifetime with an impressive score at Philadelphia Park as her most recent start and a bullet workout at Laurel since that effort. On Saturday she will break from the inside post with Rose who has been aboard the last two Marshua winners: Laila’s Punch (2007) and Throbbin’ Heart (2008).

“She broke about a neck slow but she was into the race in about four strides,” added Tullock. “Jeremy let her go up in there to keep position. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t want the one hole, but I don’t think she has to be on the lead.”

Our Khrusty (3-1) won a stakes a Penn National, one of her three wins in five starts. She tried stakes runners at Aqueduct last out, finishing sixth in the Busanda and picks up a new rider in Oliver Castillo for trainer Lester Stickler.

Speed from the two outside post positions will be served up by Asenglow (7-2) and Heaven’s Voice (4-1). Neither horse has even been headed. Asenglow, a Gary Capuano trainee won in hand by eleven lengths in her debut. Travis Dunkelberger retains the mount. Heaven’s Voice, two-for-two at Laurel Park for trainer Chris Grove, will keep J.D. Acosta as her pilot.

Completing the field are You Rock and Call of a Lion, both 8-1, and Huge, who is 12-1.


Trainer Graham Motion and jockey Jeremy Rose teamed up to win three races on the Friday card. The duo reached the winners’ circle with Just Call Me Jimmy ($3.60-second), Rutledge Storm ($4.60-fifth) and Kurbat ($10.20-eighth).

“It was a great day,” Rose said. “Riding for Graham is an honor and not just for the opportunity to ride quality horses. All the people you deal with are all first class and he is the easiest person to ride for-he never gets upset. When a horse runs badly he looks to blame himself more than anyone else and a lot of trainers are not like that. I told Kid (Rose’s agent Kid Breeden) if we ever get a Breeders’ Cup horse it will be from this barn where we have an opportunity to break its maiden then be around and go to the big dance. I’d really like to win a Breeders’ Cup race one day and he is the guy who could get me there.”

Rose, who won the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes with Afleet Alex in 2005, added another victory, aboard S K R’s Spartan ($3.40) in the third race.

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