Award Wanted (Jerry Dzierwinski/MJC)
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md. – No Guts No Glory Farm and Erica Upton’s Award Wanted slipped through an opening along the rail in mid-stretch and surged past multiple stakes winner Malibu Beauty and 22-1 long shot Bourbon Wildcat to win the $75,000 Geisha.
It was the second straight win and first in a stakes for Award Wanted ($11.40), who ran third in the 2021 Maryland Million Turf Starter Handicap. The winning time for one mile over a fast main track was 1:40.76.
Jockey Angel Cruz settled Award Wanted in fourth as 2-5 favorite Malibu Beauty, exiting front-running 7 ¾-length triumph in the Dec. 30 Carousel at Laurel, established an early advantage with a quarter-mile in 24.17 seconds. Bourbon Wildcat took the initiative and got through along the rail to take the lead after a half in 48.09 as Award Wanted moved up to third.
The order remained unchanged as they straightened for home but as Malibu Beauty on the outside went about trying to reel in the leader, Award Wanted stayed inside and sprinted past them both to win by 5 ¾ lengths for her eighth career victory, five of them coming at Laurel.
“I was confident the mile would work, but I wasn’t confident she was going to beat [Malibu Beauty],” winning trainer Jerry Robb said. “But we’ll take it.”
Bourbon Wildcat was second, 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Malibu Beauty. It was two lengths back to Sweet Gracie followed by Startwithabang, Sweet Surprise and Fool Yourself. Intrepid Dream was scratched.
The Geisha pays homage to Alfred G. Vanderbilt’s Maryland-bred daughter of Discsovery, foaled in 1943 at his Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Md. Bred to 1945 Preakness winner Polynesian, she produced one of the greatest racehorses and sires of the 20th century, Native Dancer, in 1950.