LAUREL, MD – Grade 2 stakes opportunities don’t present themselves very often in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in the dead of winter, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin had decided to double up for Saturday’s $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2) with New York shippers Dancing House and Clothes Fall Off.
Godolphin Racing’s Dancing House earned Grade 1 stakes-placed credentials during her juvenile campaign and Clothes Fall Off set a track record in her most recent start for Cheyenne Stables, Southern Equine Stable and Hat Creek Racing, but neither has won a stakes.
Dancing House, who was off the board only once in six starts on turf, has demonstrated stakes-caliber talent on dirt in her last two races. The 5-year-old daughter of Tapit captured an allowance race at Keeneland in April and came off a nine-month layoff to finish second in the Interborough Stakes over Aqueduct’s inner dirt course Jan. 9. In her most recent start, she finished 2 ¾ lengths behind 2015 Eclipse Award champion La Verdad, the recently retired half-sister to Hot City Girl, who is also entered in the Barbara Fritchie.
“She just finished second to La Verdad [in her second start] off a layoff and is training well. I’d really like to win a stake with her,” McLaughlin said. “She’s been stakes-placed several times but hasn’t won a stake yet. She belongs and is doing very well.”
Dancing House captured her career debut over Saratoga’s main track in July 2013 before finishing a distant third in the Spinaway (G1) and moving to turf. The Kentucky-bred mare won twice and was stakes-placed twice in seven starts on turf before returning to the main track last year at Keeneland.
“She was third in the Spinaway, a Grade 1, as a 2-year-old. She went to turf and was successful on turf, but we thought, ‘We need to take a look at her on dirt again, just in case,’” McLaughlin said. “She won at Keeneland and finished second to La Verdad last time out, so we’re keeping her on dirt for now. She likes it.”
Aqueduct-based Kendrick Carmouche, who was aboard for the Interborough placing, has the return mount.
Clothes Fall Off has finished first or second in eight of nine career starts, including a narrow loss in the Fort Springs Stakes at Keeneland on the Breeders’ Cup undercard Oct. 31.
“We think she’s improving all the time. She set a track record last time at Aqueduct, so we’re excited about her,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a big step up from an allowance race to the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie, a prestigious race, but we feel like it’s time to step up again. She finished second in a stake a Keeneland. Seven-eighths she should love and she’s doing well, so we’re entered up and hope we have a big chance.”
Jevian Toledo, the leading rider in Maryland last year, picked up the mount on the 4-year-old daughter of Daaher.
Lady Sabelia Ready to Defend Title in Saturday’s Feature
A year ago, no one was in the path of Lady Sabelia as she romped to a front-running 1 ½-length victory in the Barbara Fritchie (G2) at Laurel Park.
This year, the Robin Graham-trained 6-year-old mare may very well have to contend with Hot City Girl for pacesetting duties in the $300,000 seven-furlong stakes for fillies and mares. The Linda Rice-trained Hot City Girl, a half sister to Eclipse Champion La Verdad, has set the pace in her last four starts, including a second-place finish in the La Brea (G1) at Santa Anita last time out and a 8 1/4-length winner in the Safely Kept Stakes at Laurel Nov.14.
Although also blessed with speed, Lady Sabelia has shown the ability to rate off the early pace in the past, particularly in her two most recent starts, off-the-pace stakes scores in the Pumpkin Pie at Belmont and the Willa On the Move Stakes at Laurel.
“It really doesn’t make any difference which way they do it. If a couple of horses go, then we can sit just off of them,” said Graham, who expressed pleasure about her veteran sprinter drawing outside of Hot City Girl in the starting gate. “And, if nobody goes, then we can go.”
The daughter of Majestic Warrior, who has won eight of her last 11 starts, worked five furlongs in 1:00 3/5, handily, at Laurel last Sunday.
“She did that just the way we wanted her to – started off easy and picked it up as she went,” said Graham, who awarded the return mount to Horacio Karamanos. “She is coming into it great.”
Graham will also saddle Gypsy Judy for a start in Saturday’s $75,000 Maryland Racing Media Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for fillies and mares. The 4-year-old daughter of Kitalpha was victorious at Laurel a year ago while winning the Wide Country Stakes on the Barbara Fritchie undercard.
Gypsy Judy, who has scored two of her three career wins over Laurel’s main track, will be equipped with blinkers for the first time Saturday after a pair of subpar showings in the Commonwealth Oaks (G3) and Safely Kept.
“I don’t think the last couple of races she’s gotten to show what she’s got,” Graham said. “So, I thought we’d try blinkers.”
Golden Glint Gets Another Shot at Page McKenney in John Campbell Stakes
Finishing second behind Page McKenney is hardly an embarrassment. A lot of very successful horses have been defeated by the prolific winner of multiple stakes races in the Mid-Atlantic in recent years, including Golden Glint.
After finishing 3 ½ lengths behind Page McKenney in the Native Dancer Stakes Jan. 2, Timothy Hopkins’ 7-year-old gelding is again scheduled to challenge trainer Mary Eppler’s defending champion in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile $75,000 John B. Campbell Stakes at Laurel Park.
“He came out of it great and he’s ready to go. He’s ready to go and we’re looking forward to it,” trainer Kieron Magee said. “We’ll let him run his race and just hope they change positions at the finish.”
Claimed for $32,000 from the connections of Page McKenney out of an optional claiming victory at Laurel Nov. 17, Golden Glint finished a distant third Nov. 29 in his first start for Magee when he ran out of racing room while making his late run. The son of Medaglia d’Oro was able to get better early position in the Native Dancer and raced evenly to be second, 1½ lengths clear of the third-place finisher.
“He just had a better trip that time than the race before when he got in some trouble,” said Magee, the leading trainer in Maryland last year. “We sat off last time and came running and nobody was beating Page McKenney that day.”
Golden Glint has finished first or second in 12 of 18 career races.
Source: Laurel Park