Neither Sweet Goodbye nor Five Diamonds is the program favorite in the six-furlong Primonetta. That honor goes to Wind Caper (8-5), who ships to Pimlico from Michael Hushion’s barn at Belmont Park. The daughter of Touch Gold rose from the claiming ranks to post three straight on-the-board finishes against stakes company this winter in New York. Sheldon Russell picks up the mount.
Grove will also saddle Snap Happy (8-1), who entered his Bowie stable after campaigning for Dallas Stewart in the mid-west. Since coming east, the 4-year-old daughter of Lion Heart has won twice in four starts, both against optional claimers. Malcolm Franklin picks up the mount.
“I love this filly,” Grove said. “She keeps improving and has a ton of heart.”
With Sweet Goodbye headed to West Virginia, trainer John Salzman, Jr. said Five Diamonds (5-1) would more than likely run in the Primonetta. The daughter of Flatter has finished first or second in 10 of her 13 starts for Salzman, including a win in the 2009 Twixt Stakes at Laurel Park. She started her 5-year-old campaign by finishing second in the What A Summer Stakes and then delivered a dominating, 7-1/2 length score against optional claimers at Laurel on Feb. 18 before a disappointing sixth place performance in the Conniver Stakes. Harry Vega is her regular rider.
“She has done pretty much everything we have asked of her,” Salzman said. “I was disgusted with what happened the other day (Conniver). No excuses but she has been training really well since and she deserves another chance. The Charles Town race isn’t that tough but with Sweet Goodbye going there it makes this race a little easier.”
Miss Fleetfoot (8-1), Tough Talkin Lady (12-1) and All Night Labor (15-1) round out the field.
TWO-YEAR-OLDS DEBUT TOMORROW, SATURDAY
For nine of the last 11 years, the winner of the first two-year-old race of the year in Maryland has been conditioned by a Salzman (John Sr., Tim and John Jr.). Friday afternoon’s opener is a $30,000 maiden special for two-year-old fillies at 4-1/2 furlongs. Half of the eight fillies are from the barn, including Bluegrass Atatude, the 8-5 second choice.
The daughter of Two Punch, who is trained by John Salzman, Jr., has produced three bullet works since Feb. 26. Salzman won the first juvenile race in 2009 (Gator Prowl) and 2010 (Twelve Pack Shelly) with record-breaking performances at Laurel Park.
“She is really exciting,” said Salzman. “I don’t usually like to show bullet works but she is doing everything very easy. At this point, she‘s done more at this time than either of the other two. Those other two never had the bullet works like her. I always try to slow them down but this filly is doing things with her neck bowed. I am excited to see her run. Wesley Ward has the favorite (Forever Noble) and is the horse to beat. His horses are always very fast and he does a great job. I am also hearing something about Lori Testerman’s horse (Defy Gravity), so it isn’t an easy spot.”
In Saturday’s opener, another $30,000 maiden special test at 4-1/2 furlongs, the Salzman brothers have four of the eight starters, including 8-5 morning line choice Threeanddonedan, a half-brother to Twelve Pack Shelly.
“He’s a nice horse,” said John Salzman, Jr. “He definitely seems like he’ll be able to stretch out and not be just a sprinter.