CLEVELAND, Ohio, May 2, 2012 – The $50,000 Dr. T. F. Classen Memorial Stakes highlights Thistledown’s season opener on Friday, the first of 10 stakes scheduled for Friday afternoons. Although written for Ohio accredited fillies and mares 3 years old and up, the six furlong race drew nine older distaffers.

Leading the field is 4-year-old Startin Something, a multiple state-restricted stakes winner who most recently was third behind 2011 Ohio accredited female champion Indian Ink in the Bobbie Bricker Memorial Handicap at Beulah Park. The seven-length defeat the Bobbie Bricker and the fact that “most recently” means November raise a small flag, but she ran second sprinting in the Royal North Stakes at Beulah to begin her 2011 season after a similar layoff. That finish may warrant another slight caveat: only two of Startin Something’s six wins were sprints. But trainer Tim Hamm, who also bred and owns the filly as Blazing Meadows Farm, has her ready; after training on Keeneland’s Polytrack in recent weeks, she worked three furlongs in :36.80 Monday on the Thistledown dirt, fastest of 11 at the distance. Scott Spieth, fresh off his 4,000th career win, has the mount. Startin Something is the highweight at 122 pounds.

Also a multiple state-restricted stakes winner, 6-year-old Gathering Dreams tops the field in earnings with $227,713. The Classen is her first start since two starts at Parx Racing in January, the first a win and the second off the board in the mud. She has finished in the money six times in 11 starts at Thistledown and has twice won here at the Classen distance, including this race in 2010. Three starts back she was second in the Bobbie Bricker, a head better than Startin Something. Christian Pilares rides Gathering Dreams for trainer Susan Waszak, who saddles the mare for the first time.

Luis Gonzalez won eight of Thistledown’s 17 stakes last year and begins 2012 aboard Catch the Waves, a 4 1/2-length front-running Beulah allowance winner in her last start. The T. F. Classen is her first stakes attempt. Now 6 years old, the mare was unraced until age 4 and then waited nearly a year before returning as a 5-year-old in July 2011. She has raced consistently since, with three wins, two seconds, and two thirds in a dozen starts. Robert Cline trains.

Banjo Lady also tries stakes company for the first time, emboldened by a 13 1/4-length victory in an allowance sprint at Beulah April 10. The 4-year-old is trained by Ivan Vazquez and will be ridden by Luis Martinez Jr.

The field for the Dr. T. F. Classen Memorial from the rail out: Rollin for Mercy (jockey to be announced); School Lass (Faith Schorr); Catch the Waves; Startin Something; Derby Day Storm (Victor Urieta-Moran); Banjo Lady; Gathering Dreams; Sheza Runaway Star, also trained by Vazquez (Rodrigo Vergara); and Scarlet Savvy (Nathan Solomon).

The Classen is the sixth of eight races on Friday’s opening day card. First post is 1:50 p.m.