Thursday, April 09, 2009


LAUREL, MD. 04-09-09---Gator Prowl won the first two-year-old race of the year in Maryland by a whopping 11-1/2 lengths in 52.11, breaking a 45-year-old track record for the 4-1/2 furlong distance over the main track at Laurel Park.

The daughter of Roar of the Tiger is trained and co-owned by John Salzman, Jr. It is the eighth time this decade that a Salzman (John Sr., Tim and John Jr.) conditioned the first juvenile winner of the year in the state.

Gator Prowl rocketed to the lead under jockey Jonathan Joyce and won as her rider pleased. She paid $5 and drew comparisons to Xtra Heat, who was trained and co-owned by John Salzman, Sr. The sprinting sensation earned the Eclipse Award for top three-year old filly in 2001, winning nine of 13 starts and retired two years later with 25 stakes victories, the most ever by a filly or mare.

“She’s the best thing we’ve had in the barn since her,” added Salzman Jr., whose brother Tim trained multiple graded stakes winner Bsharpsonata. “This filly is made like her-she’s little and runs downhill and does everything perfect. She is all business when you take her back to the barn. Now in the morning she is a little wildfire. I think she has dropped Jonathan more times than not. I think the score in 5-4 in her favor and that includes today. So I was a little nervous and wanted to get her to the gate and get her out of there safely.”

Salzman, Jr. has 21 first or second place finishes from just 32 starters during the current winter meet and received rave reviews from co-owner Danny Divver.

“I believe in this guy, he is going to be a Kentucky Derby trainer,” said Divver, who has five horses in training with Salzman, Jr. “He is honest, tells you like it is and puts the horses in the right places. His dad is the king and he is a prince.”

“I was taught by the best,” added Salzman, Jr. “My dad helped me pick this filly out. He and my mom are the greatest.”

Weighmaster established the 4 -1/2 furlong record on January 1, 1964.


Graham Motion’s Sefroua faces twelve other fillies and mares in Saturday’s $50,000 Dahlia Stakes at one mile on the turf, the closing day feature of the winter meet at Laurel Park.

Sefroua (2-1) stands out among her rivals. She has raced eight times with three victories – a maiden win, an allowance win and a stakes win, all in France. She came to the United States in late summer and finished third in the Grade III Noble Damsel at Belmont and seventh in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland. She’s been training over the turf at Palm Meadows in Florida.

Starting to her outside are her closest rivals, Social Queen and Julia Tuttle.

Social Queen (4-1) has won four of nine on the grass. All four victories were at Monmouth, two in 2007 and two in 2008. Last year’s wins were triumphs in the Politely Stakes and the Grade III Eatontown Handicap. Since then, she has finished off the board in four graded stakes. Alan Goldberg trains the Dynaformer mare and Julian Pimentel has the mount.

Julie Tuttle (6-1) is a three time winner over the turf including the Twin Lights Stakes at Monmouth last year. Her game is to rush to the lead and try to stretch her speed in route races. She turns back from the 1-1/2 mile Grade III Orchid Stakes at Gulfstream Park, where she opened to a huge early lead before fading to last. Mario Pino has the mount for trainer Ferris Allen.

Sales Tax (6-1), a two time stakes winner on the turf, has Rosie Napravnik up for trainer Hamilton Smith. She makes her first start since winning the All Brandy Stakes here in November.

First Ascent (8-1) is three for three on the turf at Laurel. She wintered at Tampa Bay, where she finished fifth at odds of 116-1 in the Grade III Hillsborough Stakes beaten just a length and a half despite a six-wide trip. Luis Garcia rides for Leigh Delacour.

Rounding out the field will be British Event (10-1), Mikeslittlegirl (15-1), Clara’s Smile (20-1), Marias Golden Rose (20-1), Rap Tale (20-1), All Smiles (20-1), a multiple stakes winner on dirt, and the 20-1 entry of Avie’s Tale and Nasty Fever.

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