Maryland-bred Runners, Pacers, Trotters on Display

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Ted Black

July 16th, 2017

Saturday afternoon at Laurel Park a quartet of Maryland-bred three-year-olds of both genders were permitted to display their talents on the grass in a pair of stakes, but it was the only open stakes on the card that produced the winner with the most ability and most potential.

In the penultimate race on the card, 4-5 favorite Morticia (Jose Lezcano) lived up to her role as the 4-5 favorite in the $100,000 Stormy Blues Stakes for three-year-old fillies when she gained command early, yielded to the wicked move of Smiling Causeway on the far turn, then reeled that one in easily in the lane en route to a two-length score in 1:01.29 for the 5 1/2-furlongs. A sophomore daughter of Twirling Candy trained by George Arnold II, Morticia recorded her second straight stakes tally and her fourth win in six career outings and gave every indication she will be a major player in turf sprints this summer and fall.

Morticia was the lone mount for Lezcano on the card - his other mount scratched - but it proved to be well worth the wait as he guided the filly to her second straight stakes score and third overall. On a day when Songbird garnered much of the attention with her all-out, uninspiring victory in the Grade I, $750,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park, Morticia may eventually prove to be the stakes-winning filly on the day that could garner a Breeders Cup title later this fall at Del Mar.

Several races earlier on the card, I'm Betty G (Horacio Karamanos) notched the first stakes tally of her career when she outfought Riley's Choice (Feargal Lynch) in the lane for a nose victory in the $75,000 Pearl Necklace Stakes for Maryland-bred three-year-old fillies on the lawn. The sophomore daughter of Into Mischief trained by Michael Maker has won two straight outings after being drubbed in the first three starts of her career in New York while still in Todd Pletcher's barn. That race was named in honor of Pearl Necklace, who won 21 of 48 starts and earned over $740,000 before the Breeders Cup era began.

Speaking of Pletcher, the future Hall of Fame conditioner appeared to have saddled a stakes winner earlier on the card only to watch his trainee Bonus Points (Lynch) get nailed in the final strides by favored Just Howard (Alex Cintron) in the $75,000 Caveat Stakes for Maryland-bred three-year-old colts on the Laurel lawn. Like I'm Betty G, Just Howard notched the first stakes tally of his career by edging Bonus Points in 1:40.87 for trainer Graham Motion. That race was named in honor of Caveat, hero of the 1983 Belmont Stakes for trainer Woody Stephens.

That same afternoon at Delaware Park, Maryland-bred juveniles Cheese On (Sheldon Russell) and Whereshetoldmetogo (Gerald Almodovar) finished one-two in a five-furlong allowance/optional $75,000 claiming race for two-year-olds on the main track. Cheese On had prevailed at 12-1 in his career debut against maiden special weight foes at Laurel Park while Whereshetoldmetogo had scored at a similar price in his first outing over the Delaware Park strip last month.

That same evening at the Meadowlands, Devious Man (Andy Miller) finished second in the $165,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters behind juvenile champion Walner (Tim Tetrick) in 1:50.2. Devious Man had scored previously in the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial final at Pocono Downs and the $250,000 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs, but he proved no match for Walner in the Stanley Dancer and will have to improve considerably over the next three weeks to upend that one in the Grade I, $1.5 million Hambletonian.

Several races later on the Meadowlands card, Agent Q (David Miller) maintained her status as the division leader when she overcame an extended first over bid to capture the $165,000 Mistletoe Shalee final by two lengths in 1:48.4. A Maryland-bred sophomore daughter of Western Terror trained by Chris Ryder, Agent Q prevailed for the fifth time in eight starts this year and now owns an 8-9-0 slate and $820,000 banked from 18 career tries.

Several races later in the featured $750,000 Meadowlands Pace final for three-year-old pacing colts, Maryland-bred Classic Pro (Trevor Henry) overcame post nine and his 60-1 longshot status to finish third behind Huntsville (Tetrick) and Downbytheseaside (Brian Sears) who battled to the wire in 1:47.4. A sophomore son of Shadow Play trained by Dr. Ian Moore of State Treasurer fame, Classic Pro owns a 3-2-1 slate and nearly $200,000 banked from eight starts this year.

Then several races later in the $200,000 Golden Girls for older pacing fillies and mares at one-mile and one eighth, Lady Shadow (Gingras) overcame post 10 to gain command down the backside, but she was eventually overtaken late by the pocket-sitting Nike Franco N (Tetrick) in 2:01.2. A Maryland-bred six-year-old Shadow Play trained by Ronald Adams, Lady Shadow suffered her first setback in six starts this year, but the reigning division champion and Maryland-bred harness horse of the year performed admirably despite being upended in her Golden Girls title defense.

That same evening at Yonkers Raceway in New York, Eighteen (Jason Bartlett) used the combination of his natural gate speed and inside draw to their fullest advantage to capture a $40,000 claiming race in virtual wire-to-wire fashion in 1:52.4. A nine-year-old Cam's Card Shark stallion trained by Richard Banca, Eighteen posted his fifth win in 14 starts this year and now sports a solid 42-24-24 slate and $840,000 banked from 192 career tries.