Onus returns to favorite turf for Lady Baltimore

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

September 7th, 2016

Onus was hardly disgraced in falling short against some of the country's leading fillies and mares during the Saratoga meet in the Diana (G1) and Ballston Spa (G2). On Saturday, the gray four-year-old returns to Laurel, where she is three-for-three, to contest the $150,000 Lady Baltimore.

The Lady Baltimore, at 1 1/16 miles, is the richest of five turf stakes, six in total, on Saturday's program, dubbed as the Laurel Turf Festival.

Owned by Stuart Janney III and trained by Shug McGaughey, Onus tore up the Laurel turf last summer and fall, winning three times by a combined 23 lengths. The last of these was the nine-furlong Commonwealth Oaks (G3), which the filly captured by 4 1/2 lengths.

Onus has captured just one race, a May 21 Belmont allowance, in five interim starts. Appearing to dislike less-than-firm ground in the Mrs. Revere (G2) last November and the $100,000 Perfect Sting in July, she turned in two credible efforts in the aforementioned Diana and Ballston Spa, losing both by 2 1/4 lengths.

The graded-quality race receives another class boost from Tuttipaesi, who captured the Santa Ana (G2) at Santa Anita in March for Valor Ladies and trainer Bill Mott. Second to front-running Zipessa in the Dr. James Penny Memorial (G3) on July 4, she was most recently a solid fourth in the Beverly D. (G1) behind Sea Calisi.

Robillard, owned by Godolphin and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, faded to third behind Sea Calisi in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) in her season debut back in May. Rebounding to win a Belmont allowance, the four-year-old was most recently sixth in the $100,000 De La Rose at Saratoga after a troubled trip.

Another possibility is Catcha Rising Star, who was cross-entered to another race at Delaware Park on Saturday. The Graham Motion charge has won two straight, including the $100,000 West Virginia Senate President's Cup at Mountaineer in wire-to-wire fashion under Edgar Prado.

Fan Favorite Ben's Cat will look to reverse a three-race losing skid in the $100,000 Laurel Dash over six furlongs, but recent form suggests age might finally be catching up with the venerable 10-year-old, who has bankrolled more than $2.6 million for Hall of Famer King Leatherbury.

Spring to the Sky, who led gate-to-wire in winning the Laurel Dash a year ago over yielding ground, is back in. Other serious contenders include Sallal, who captured his U.S. debut at Laurel in July for Motion; Mosler, a Grade 2-placed stakes winner from the Mott ban; and Mister Brightside, second in the Twilight Derby (G2) in his U.S. bow last fall who makes a belated 2016 debut after being gelded.

Hoping to draw in off the also-eligible list is John Jones, upset winner of the $75,000 Mister Diz over Ben's Cat on August 20.

Leading contenders in the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles are Renown, hero of the $50,000 Cape Henlopen at Delaware and third in the $100,000 John's Call at Saratoga last out; Eyeplayeveryday, winner of the $74,000 Find for Maryland-breds at Pimlico in June; and the Mike Maker-trained Generous Kitten.

Stakes winner Greatsbullsoffire and Saratoga debut winner Hembree figure to be the most heavily backed in the $75,000 Laurel Futurity for two-year-olds, while another Spa graduate, Zero Zee, might be the one to beat in the $75,000 Selima for juvenile fillies. Both race grass stakes are at 5 1/2 furlongs.

(Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)