Tony Dutrow trains Lord Snowdon (5-2), who raced in five stakes from January to June last year. He won the Paumonok Handicap and finished third in the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap, as well as his runner-up finish in the General George. The son of Seeking the Gold went to the sidelines in late June and returned in an optional claimer at Aqueduct on December 5th.
“He is a closer and he has a pretty good kick,” Rose said. “Last year in the General George he came flying on the outside and that seems to be the way he wants to be ridden. There is some speed in here and that should be a good set up for him. The one turn will be helpful as well. We’ll be able to sit closer and we should have a good run down the lane.”
Cave’s Valley (3-1) scratched out of an allowance sprint at Laurel Friday for this spot. The son of Stephen Got Even faced stakes company six times last year during his three-year-old campaign with his best finish a second in the Majestic Prince Stakes at Monmouth Park. He comes into the race off an impressive allowance victory here on November 26th. Julian Pimentel rides for trainer Mike Trombetta.
“That race was the effort we have been looking for out of him,” Trombetta said. “He won his first start at Saratoga (August 2007) impressively, just missing the track record, then won a pair of stakes races so we had high hopes. He hit a plateau and we couldn’t get to the bottom of why he couldn’t make that next step. We gave him some time off after the Tesio (April 2008) and he seems to be rounding into form.”
P V Lightening (7-2) sped to a runner-up finish in the Jennings Handicap in his last start. He also won the Owner’s Day Stakes at Delaware Park. The Sultry Song gelding will be ridden by Travis Dunkelberger for the 11th consecutive start. Trainer Gary Capuano won 13 of its last 20 races at Laurel in 2008 with 19 in the money finishes.
Sharps Island (9-2) brings a record of 7-5-6 from twenty-eight starts to this contest. He spent the bulk of 2008 battling optional claimers, winning twice and placing three times. Luis Garcia rides the Deputy Minister gelding for trainer Jimmy Murphy.
Mark Shuman now trains Crimson Comic (8-1), who raced in Florida, Kentucky, New York and Oklahoma last year in the Todd Pletcher barn. He posted two wins in eight starts in 2008.
Completing the field will be Southern Rainbow (10-1), who scored back to back wins over optional claimers in his last two starts, Emishi Warrior (15-1), who raced only three times in 2008 and I’vegottobeme (20-1), who mustered a win at Penn National after being claimed by Tim Hooper for $25,000 in October.