HRI Edited Release — Last December, Runnymede Racing’s Alwaysmining was just establishing the form that would see him become a multiple stakes winner and earn himself a berth in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
A year later, the Maryland-bred gelding goes after his first victory since having a six-race win streak snapped in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown in Saturday’s $100,000 Native Dancer at Laurel Park.
The 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer for 3-year-olds and up is among five $100,000 stakes on a nine-race Christmastide Day program that includes the Dave’s Friend for 3-year-olds and up and Willa On the Move for fillies and mares 3 and older, both at six furlongs.
Alwaysmining won the 2018 Maryland Juvenile Futurity and Heft Stakes to cap his juvenile season and opened this year with a sweep of Laurel’s 3-year-old stakes – the Miracle Wood, Private Terms and Federico Tesio – the latter earning him an automatic berth in the Preakness, where he wound up 11th after looming a threat at the top of the stretch.
From there, Alwaysmining was placed third in the June 8 Easy Goer at Belmont Park and ran ninth in the July 13 Indiana Derby (G3) before getting some time off at the owner’s farm in Pennsylvania and being pointed to a late fall campaign.
“He looks great. I’m very happy with how he’s come off of his break, and he came back from the sprint race in great shape,” trainer Kelly Rubley said. “He had a nice breeze this weekend and we’re looking forward to Saturday.”
Alwaysmining returned from nearly five months between races in the six-furlong Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial for state-bred/sired horses Dec. 7 at Laurel, pressing the pace and being passed late to be fifth, beaten two lengths. Finishing ahead of him were fellow stakes winners Lewisfield, Still Having Fun, Clubman and Taco Supream.
“He came out of the race in great shape. We used that race as a little bit of a prep for the Native Dancer,” Rubley said. “I thought he ran a great race. He was only beaten two lengths. I don’t think six furlongs has ever been his distance, but it was a good spot to get a little prep in.”
Alwaysmining, based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., is seven-for-10 lifetime at Laurel. Breaking from far outside Post 7 with Julian Pimentel, aboard for the third straight race, he will carry topweight of 123 pounds.
“I think the sprint race will put us somewhat forwardly placed in this race and hopefully we’ll hold off the closers,” Rubley said. “We’re hoping to get back to that [winning] form.”
Sareen Family Trust’s Major Cabbie, trained by California-based Peter Miller, enters the Native Dancer a week after he stumbled at the start and lost his rider in the Queens County Stakes at Aqueduct. This will be his third straight stakes attempt, having finished fifth in the Clark (G1) Nov. 29.
“He didn’t do much running in New York so we’re going to wheel him back,” Miller said. “He’s always shown a lot of talent. He doesn’t need the lead; he can sit off the pace if need be. On his best day, he’s a very nice horse.”
Major Cabbie, a 4-year-old bay son of Into Mischief, pressed the pace for a half-mile as a 24-1 long shot in the Clark, also run at 1 1/8 miles and won by Tom’s d’Etat. Prior to that he won back-to-back 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance races at Keeneland 19 days apart in October.