The Dancing Count, a six furlong test for three-year-olds, is the final race of the day at Laurel but the first leg of the Magna 5, a coast-to-coast pick five wager which includes races from Santa Anita, Gulfstream and Golden Gate Fields.
“We’re going to try to work him into that spot (the Dancing Count). The race that cancelled yesterday may go again in New York so we’re going to have to decide between the two,” assistant trainer Art Magnusson said Thursday morning from Belmont Park. “He’s been nice to us and we want to try him against winners. I’m concerned about that horse from West Virginia (Russell Road), who has won so many starts.”
Thursday afternoon Mr. Fantasy was entered in a first-level allowance for New York-breds on Sunday at Aqueduct.
If Mr. Fantasy does not ship to Laurel then Russell Road (9-2), who has won five straight starts at Charles Town including three restricted stakes, will be the strong favorite. His only loss was a second place finish in his maiden start. His most recent win was a lopsided victory in the West Virginia Futurity on November 29, which he won by 8-1/2 lengths. A son of Wheaton, who is a son of Alydar, Russell Road worked a bullet at Charles Town on January 21. Travis Dunkelberger picks up the mount.
James W. Casey, who handles Russell Road at Charles Town and who trained Coin Collector, one of the top West Virginia-breds of all time, said, “We really don’t know how good he is, but we want to find out. He won all of his races handily and really hasn’t been challenged. The question is ‘Who ran behind him?’ As a two-year-old, he was one of the best I’ve seen around here.”
Philadelphia Park shipper St John’s Gospel (6-1) is also a stakes winner. He won the Pennsylvania Nursery under Hector Ramos for trainer Andrea Gonzalez and has a career record of two wins and two seconds in four starts. Ramos continues as his rider.
Trainer Jerry Robb scratched Great Love (8-1) out of an allowance test as the odds-on favorite here Thursday afternoon for the Dancing Count. The son of Great Notion won at the distance last out but in his only stakes attempt was sixth in the Maryland Million Nursery. Eric Camacho picks up the mount. The colt is the only local horse in the field.
Completing the line-up are longshots Tipsy Saint (15-1), Fast Eddie (20-1) and Herb’s Fiddle (20-1).