Friday, February 26, 2010


LAUREL, MD. 02-25-10---One of the many paths to the Triple Crown, specifically the Preakness Stakes, starts at Laurel on Saturday with the $70,000 Miracle Wood Stakes. Four of the previous winners of the Miracle Wood started in a Triple Crown race, including Sweetnorthernsaint (2006), who was the betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby and finished second in the Preakness.

A dozen 3-year-olds will race seven-furlongs in the afternoon’s finale, which is also the first leg of the Magna 5 wager.

Turf Melody, the only runner in the field who is nominated to the Classics, is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The well-traveled son of Maria’s Mon has raced at eight different racetracks in eight starts, with victories at Laurel, Colonial Downs and Remington Park, where he captured the Springboard Stakes. Trained by Graham Motion, Turf Melody ran a disappointing sixth at Fair Grounds in his most recent outing. Sheldon Russell, who was aboard for his victory at Laurel, regains the mount.

“I am on the fence about running,” Motion said. “I like him a lot but thought this would be a conservative spot for him but he does not stand out like I had hoped. I really want to keep him going around two turns so the Gotham (at Aqueduct on March 6) is possible.”

New York shipper Dont Blame the Cat (7-2) has won two of three lifetime. After breaking his maiden and then finishing fourth in Aqueduct’s Damon Runyon Stakes, the Catienus offspring won as a 1-9 favorite at Laurel despite stumbling at the start. Erick Rodriguez continues as rider for the Rick Dutrow trainee. Dutrow has won six of eight starts at Laurel during the current winter meeting.

Deputy Daney (4-1) brings a three-for-three record and a victory in the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct to the Miracle Wood. Trainer Cathal Lynch saw the Officer gelding win twice at home at Philadelphia Park before his stakes win in New York. Angel Arroyo will ride.

“He has done nothing wrong and beaten the horses we have put in front of him so far. That’s all you can ask,” Lynch said. “He’s a nice, well balanced horse with a great attitude. The race came up stronger than I thought. It looks as if only a couple of lengths separate four or five of the horses so the trip and the pace could dictate the winner.”

The parade of shippers includes Turbo Speed (5-1), who has won three of four starts for trainer Bernie Houghton including the Penn National Nursery. His most recent effort was a third place finish in Aqueduct’s Count Fleet Stakes. David Cora is his rider.

Cole T (8-1) has finished in the money in all six career starts with a victory at Laurel on Jan. 1. The speedy Desert Warrior colt carries Harry Vega for trainer/co-owner John Salzman, Jr.

Our Commander (10-1) finished last in the Count Fleet but before that he had won three in a row, including the Maryland Juvenile Championship on Dec. 12. Josean Ramirez will carry the reins for Gary Capuano. Ramirez is a perfect three-for-three aboard the son of Tenpins.

Day Flight (12-1) rides a two-win streak into the Miracle Wood for trainer Rodney Jenkins. Travis Dunkelberger helped him break his maiden and then beat optional/claimers. Both victories were at Laurel.

Completing the field are outsiders B’wanagoldmine (20-1), Kens Cape (20-1), Regal Warrior (20-1), Savatron (30-1) and Proud of Midway (30-1).


Geovany Garcia set a personal best today when he captured four races from seven mounts this afternoon at Laurel Park. The 21-year-old, who has been in the riding colony since his apprentice year in 2007, rode three winners at Laurel on Dec. 5, 2007 and Jan. 9, 2008.

The younger brother of Maryland mainstay Luis Garcia rattled off winners aboard Reckless Runner ($5-first), Jackie Lad ($9.60-second), Giron ($9.80-fifth) and Roi de Coeurs ($10-seventh).

“I am excited,” Garcia said. “When I won the first two (races) I thought it could be a big day.”

The career-best day helped move Garcia into fifth place in the rider standings during the current winter meeting. He began the day in a tie for 13th place with just seven victories from 83 mounts.

Only Erick Rodriguez (24 winners), Julian Pimentel (23), Harry Vega (21) and J.D. Acosta (17) have more first place finishes during the stand.


Miss Charm City, who went undefeated during her two-year-old campaign in 2008 before missing all of 2009, is expected to make her 2010 debut in Friday’s 8th race, a $32,000 optional/allowance test at six-furlongs. The daughter of Bowman’s Band will face seven other fillies and mares.

Two years ago, Miss Charm City won three consecutive races, including the Gin Talking Stakes and Maryland Million Lassie before injuring her left front suspensory while training for the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship.

She returned to the barn last September and has 18 published works, including a bullet half-mile breeze here Saturday when she stopped the clock in 48 seconds, the fastest of 36 works at the distance.

Her former trainer, Carlos Garcia, retired two months ago and is now a jockey agent. J.B. Secor conditions Miss Charm City.

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