Maryland-breds Could Take Center Stage on Saturday

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Ted Black

June 22nd, 2017

Saturday afternoon Laurel Park will host a stakes-filled card that will include two events for Maryland-breds on the turf and four grass races for Virginia-bred runners and then later that evening Pocono Downs will offer a stellar card complete with a dozen eliminations for four lucrative stakes next Saturday night for sophomore pacers and trotters.

Saturday's $75,000 Mister Diz Stakes at Laurel will feature Ben's Cat, although the durable and talented King T. Leatherbury homebred has found winning far more difficult over the last 18 months than he did during the first five years of his career. Then the fillies and mares will clash in the Jameela Stakes on the grass where Everything Lovely and Lovable Lady will vie for favoritism and the lion's share of the purse in an event named for a member of the Maryland-bred Hall of Fame.

Then on Saturday night at Pocono Downs, Maryland-bred Tequila Monday (Brian Sears) will look to regain her winning ways when she starts from the rail in the first of three eliminations for the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial final. A sophomore daughter of American Ideal trained by Chris Oakes, Tequila Monday settled for third as the 3-5 choice in the $320,000 Fan Hanover final at Mohawk Raceway last weekend two starts after capturing the $140,000 Lismore final at Yonkers Raceway.

Tequila Monday should earn a berth in the lucrative final next weekend, although her two main rivals drew right alongside her. Idyllic Beach, fourth as the 2-1 second choice in the Fan Hanover last weekend after winning her elim the week before, will start from post two while Inverse Hanover, a sharp second as the 4-5 choice in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division last week at The Meadows near Pittsburgh, will try her luck on the other side of the state for trainer R. Nifty Norman.

Just past the midway point of the 14-race card, Devious Man (Andy Miller) will look to remain perfect on the season when he heads a field of eight in the second elimination for the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters. Another Maryland-bred and a sophomore son of Credit Winner trained by Julie Miller, Devious Man has won all three of his starts this year and looms the solid 8-5 favorite from post six following his handy, four-length score in the $250,000 Empire Breeders Classic final at Vernon Downs.

One race later in the second elimination for the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for three-year-old pacing colts, homebred Ponderingjacksfame will look to regain his winning ways in a very difficult spot. This sophomore son of Ponder owned and bred by Jim Magno and Joe Fonte of Maryland, has yet to hit the board in eight starts this year and drew in against Fear The Dragon, hero of the $750,000 North America Cup final at Mohawk last week and the current top-rated horse of any age or gait in the Hambletonian Society National Top 10 poll.

All three eliminations for the $500,000 Ben Franklin final for aged pacers should offer plenty of speed, drama and intrigue. Split The House tops the first division that includes Boston Red Rocks, Check Six, Soto and Shamballa. The second split includes McWicked, Freaky Feet Pete, All Bets Off, Mach It So, Keystone Velocity, Lyons Snyder and Rockeyed Optimist in genuine battle for final berths among a field that combines for nearly $10 million in career earnings. Then the third Ben Franklin elim features railbound Mel Mara, fresh off a 1:48 score in the Preferred at The Meadowlands, Rockin Ron, Sunfire Blue Chip and Luck Be Withyou.

Saturday's finale is the third elimination for the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial for thre-year-old trotters and the field includes the best sophomore filly trotter in the land - Ariana G. In each of her starts this year Ariana G has been very impressive and she will be likely be favored in her first try against the boys this week and she could be favored in next week's final. Ariana G has won both of her starts this year and 11 of 13 overall and her appearance in the Beal elims will be well worth the wait.