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Private Terms Stakes 2024 | Laurel Park Picks
Speedyness (Maryland Jockey Club)

Private Terms Stakes 2024 | Laurel Park Picks

Morris Kernan Jr. and Jagger Inc.’s Speedyness, an aptly named front-running winner of his last two starts, chases his third consecutive victory and second straight in a stakes in Saturday’s $100,000 Private Terms at Laurel Park.

The 35th running of the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms is the next step in the Laurel series of stakes for 3-year-olds following the one-mile Miracle Wood Feb. 24 and preceding the $125,000 Federico Tesio going 1 1/8 miles April 20, a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 18 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Joining the Private Terms on Saturday’s 10-race program is the 36th renewal of the $100,000 Beyond the Wire for 3-year-old fillies going one mile on the road to the 100th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 17 at Pimlico. First race post time is 12:25 p.m.

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Bred, co-owned and trained by Jamie Ness, Speedyness has won four of his last five starts dating back to Oct. 29, each one in gate-to-wire fashion; the lone loss came when third as the favorite to Private Terms rival Circle P in the Maryland Juvenile.

This year, the Maryland-bred son of Great Notion opened with a 14 ¼-length optional claiming allowance romp Jan. 7 and followed up with a 1 ½-length triumph in the Miracle Wood over Point Dume, with Circle P third. Point Dume also returns in the Private Terms.

“He grew up a lot. Before he’d go to the lead, have the lead by himself and then draw off [but] last time he got pressure. I didn’t know how he would take pressure, nobody really did, and he took it fine,” Ness said. “Sometimes that separates good horses from just horses, if they can take the pressure, take the adversity, and still run their race. I was proud of him. When you compete in stakes races, they’re not gimmes so you have to be able to take the pressure, deal with adversity and overcome it. The good ones are able to do that.”

The Private Terms will be the first time around two turns for Speedyness. Regular rider Jaime Rodriguez will be aboard at co-topweight of 124 pounds.

“I don’t see it being an issue. He’s fit, sound and he likes to run so we’re going to give it a try and see,” Ness said. “After he won first out, I just thought he’d always be a sprinter, but stretching him out he seems to have the speed and can carry it. Nobody is more surprised than me.”

Sheffield Stable’s Point Dume is a $450,000 yearling that had a two-race win streak snapped in the Miracle Wood, his stakes debut and second start since being claimed for $30,000 out of an 11-length maiden triumph Dec. 31 at Laurel. The Into Mischief colt is also making his two-turn debut.

“I like the two turns for him. Hopefully he can save a little ground around the first turn and go from there,” trainer Kieron Magee said. “This horse is bred to be a nice horse. He broke his maiden pretty easy and then came back in the stake race when [Speedyness] got the clear lead and nobody pressured him, so you knew he wasn’t going to stop. Nobody was catching him.”

DeSales 85’s Circle P was a half-length back of Point Dume in the Miracle Wood, which was his first race since the Maryland Juvenile. The Speightster gelding also ran third to Speedyness in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance Oct. 29 at Laurel and is one of five Triple Crown-nominated horses in the Private Terms.

The other nominees are Copper Tax, Speed Runner, Inveigled, and Startswithadream.

Rose Petal Stable’s Copper Tax returns to Laurel for the first time since extending his win streak to five in the James F. Lewis III Nov. 11. Since then he ran a troubled sixth in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) Dec. 2 at muddy Aqueduct and 10th in the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis (G3) Feb. 10 at Tampa Bay Downs.

“In New York he got clipped on the back of his foot so, of course, that hindered him in that race. The last race was the same thing,” Rose Petal’s Chris Loso said. “Being back at Laurel, he loves the track. The mile and a sixteenth is a good distance for him and having [jockey] Jaime [Rodriguez] on him will really be good. There’s a lot of good horses in this race, so he’s going to have to place himself coming out of the one-hole fairly quickly and put himself in a good position.”

Mark Grier’s Inveigled, trained by Jane Cibelli, raced twice at Laurel last year with an eight-length maiden special weight win going 5 ½ furlongs in October and a second, beaten a neck by Copper Tax, in the six-furlong Lewis. The Enticed gelding has run his last three races at Gulfstream Park, winning an optional claiming allowance and running fourth in the Mucho Macho Man, both at a mile, and fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull (G3), the latter Feb. 3.

“He came out of it very well. We just kind of felt like we were chasing good horses and it was just going to get tougher and tougher,” Cibelli said. “So, we just kind of backed off of him a little and gave him a bit of a breather, which is hard for him because he’s very forward and aggressive and wants to do it. We spend the summer in Laurel anyway, so we figured we’d go up a little early and try him in there and see how he does.”

Whisper Hill Farm homebred Speed Runner, by 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, was third in debut in October before being stretched out to 1 1/8  miles for his graduation two months later. He has raced once this year, finishing a troubled sixth in the 1 1/8-mile Withers (G3) over a muddy Aqueduct surface Feb. 3.

“I think this will be a good test for him to kind of see where we are,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said, “and it could set him up for some further options in Maryland, who knows.”

Startswithadream, fourth by three lengths in the Miracle Wood, just his second career start; Celtic Contender, a 10 ½-length waiver maiden claiming winner going one mile Feb. 18 at Laurel; and I Know Map, a winner of two straight yet to race beyond seven furlongs, complete the field.