LAUREL, MD. 11-08-12---Tony Dutrow has started Whiskey Romeo only once but the maiden win was so impressive it has earned him the role as favorite in Saturday’s $125,000 James F. Lewis III Stakes for 2-year-olds at Laurel Park.

The Forestry offspring opened a long lead against five others in his debut before cruising home to a 78 Beyer speed figure on Sept. 29 at Parx Racing and is listed as the overwhelming 6-5 program choice in the 6-furlong test. Dutrow has worked Whiskey Romeo three times since the maiden win, including a half-mile bullet drill in 48 seconds on Nov. 4. Stewart Elliott will accompany the bay colt on his trip to Maryland.

Amerigo Vespucci (2-1) is undefeated in two starts for trainer Tim Tullock. Both wins came at Laurel last month under Erick Rodriguez, who retains the mount. In both victories, the son of Henrythenavigator was patiently ridden before surging to the lead in the final eighth of a mile.

“We were going to wait for the Marylander (Dec. 1) but he came out of his last start so well that this race came into our plan,” Tullock said. “He is a half to Gattopardo so we had high hopes for him and he has not disappointed. He is a nice horse who likes to stalk and chase horses down.”

Maryland Million Nursery runner-up Alpha Mike Foxtrot (5-1) has a win, two seconds and a third on his resume. The Dickie Small trainee had an unlucky trip where he stumbled and had to check during his second place finish in the Nursery. Forrest Boyce rides the son of Two Punch for the fourth time Saturday.

Gas Tank (6-1) has stakes experience, finishing third in the Chenery at Colonial Downs and fourth in the Laurel Futurity for trainer Dane Kobiskie. The speedy son of Leroidesanimaux has finished in the money in five of six career starts. Joshua Navarro has the mount.

The two outsiders in this field are Nice Going (12-1), who finished fifth in the Maryland Million Nursery, and maiden winner Indefinable Humor (20-1), who was 10th in the Laurel Futurity.

The Maryland Jockey Club will honor jockey Mario Pino, who moved into the top 10 on the all-time North American win-list in September, with a winners’ circle presentation before the James Lewis Stakes. The 51-year-old, who will be inducted into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame Thursday night, has 6,484 career victories, including 4,958 at the Maryland tracks.

Saturday is Military Appreciation Day at Laurel Park with free admission and a 25% food and beverage discount for all active and retired personnel and a guest. The afternoon will feature a Joint Service Color Guard prior to fifth race. Laurel will contribute $500 and 25% of paid admissions to the Combat Soldiers Recovery Fund.


MARYLAND RACING COMMUNITY TO COLLECT DONATIONS FOR HURRICANE SANDY VICTIMS IN NEW JERSEY

Laurel park-based trainer Donna Lockard is bringing her horse trailer to the central Maryland track Saturday to collect donations for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Lockard will be driving the donations to New Jersey Sunday for the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The trailer will be parked in front of the Laurel grandstand from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Food Bank has requested the following items:
• Bottled water
• Toilet paper
• Diapers
• Batteries and Flashlights
• Blankets
• Socks and Underwear
• Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
• Canned goods
• Juice boxes
• Instant coffee