Access Fee (9-5), a lightly raced four-year-old filly, has won three of five starts for trainer Larry Murray, including a perfect three-for-three at her home track. The daughter of Menifee began her three-year-old campaign with a pair of impressive wins at Laurel Park then finished second on the grass at Philadelphia Park in July. After a four month layoff she won an allowance test here before ending 2008 with a trip to Aqueduct with a fourth place finish as the co-favorite in the Foil Stakes on December 14. Murray’s star worked a half-mile Sunday morning in 48 seconds, the fastest of 11 times in preparation for this test. Jose Caraballo has the mount.
Trainer Scott Lake sends out Vicar’s Vixen (7-2), who climbed out of the claiming ranks to finish third in two stakes last year, including Squan Song Stakes on November 29. Ten days before that start the daughter of Vicar finished three lengths behind Access Fee.
Multiple stakes winner All Giving (9-2) is certain to be a pace factor. The well traveled daughter of Allen’s Prospect, second in this race last year to millionaire Silmaril, competed at nine different racetracks in 2008 while taking the Conniver Stakes at Laurel, The Very One Stakes a Pimlico and the Alma North at Timonium. Jonathan Joyce has ridden her since the Timonium victory and has accompanied the Flint Stites trainee to the Meadowlands, Philadelphia Park and Mountaineer Park since a second place finish in the Maryland Million Distaff.
“She just gives you everything she got every time she runs no matter what the distance,” Joyce said. “Even in the morning she is professional. She does not have to be on the lead and whatever I ask her to do Saturday she’ll be sure to adjust.”
Now It Begins (6-1) won her final start of 2008, a front-running score in the Squan Song Stakes, one of four races she’s captured at Laurel. Charlie Forrest continues to ride for trainer Mike Trombetta.
Hongkong Tour (6-1), another lightly raced filly, has won all four of her starts for trainer Gary Capuano. The daughter of Broken Vow won two races in November 2007 and two in December 2008, the first at Laurel on December 6. Regular rider Travis Dunkelberger will be aboard.
“She has more heart than any horse on the grounds,” Dunkelberger said. “She didn’t get ahold of the track at Charles Town last time out (December 21) but got the lead and refused to give it up while being pressured the entire trip.”
Completing the field are Outside Lane (10-1) and 20-1 shots Golden Thief, She’s Golden, Shine On Me and the PTK LLC entry of Andrea’s Pic and Citi Charisse, both stakes winners at Colonial Downs.