LAUREL, Md. – Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s well-traveled Bankit, making his 27th career start but first in Maryland, swept to the lead on the far outside and powered through the stretch to a 1 ¾-length triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 John B. Campbell at Laurel Park.
The 67th running of the Campbell for 4-year-olds and up and the 38th edition of the $100,000 Nellie Morse for fillies and mares 4 and older, both at about 1 1/16 miles, were among six stakes worth $900,000 on a Winter Sprintfest program co-headlined by the $250,000 Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) and $250,000 General George (G3).
Bankit ($5.40), favored at 8-5 against seven rivals, had raced in New York, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia and Kentucky for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen before arriving at Laurel, where he registered his fourth career stakes victory and second in a row. The winning time was 1:42.07 over a fast main track.
It was the second consecutive stakes win on the card for jockey Sheldon Russell, following Maythehorsebwithu in the $100,000 Miracle Wood for 3-year-olds.
Bankit was unhurried in the early going as Zabracadabra, making his stakes debut, and Deal Driven, third in the Claiming Crown Iron Horse, dueled through fractions of 24.10 and 47.48 seconds, tracked by Dixie Drawl and Galerio, beaten a neck in the Jan. 16 Jennings at Laurel in his previous start.
Russell gave Bankit his cue rounding the far turn and the Central Banker gelding responded willingly, catching up to the leaders at the top of the stretch and opening up once in the clear. Galerio ran well to hold second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of late-running multiple stakes winner Cordmaker.
It was another 1 ¼ lengths back to 18-1 long shot Deal Driven in fourth, followed by Forewarned, Dixie Drawl, Zabracadabra and Awesome D J.
John B. Campbell Replay
“You can see on the Form he runs better with just a little bit of a stalking trip so I let him break sharp. A couple of the inside horses went, and he got into a good spot going into the first turn,” Russell said. “About the half-mile pole I felt I had a lot of horse. I opted to hang him out there five wide and he just got to running. And I knew at the top of the stretch, he pricked his ears, he’s a professional horse to ride.”
Lucky Stride stretches out Landing Zone to win $100K Nellie Morse (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)
Sonata Stable’s Lucky Stride wrested the lead from 40-1 long shot and fellow multiple stakes winner Artful Splatter at the top of the stretch and went on to a popular 1 ¼-length win over a stubborn Landing Zone in the $100,000 Nellie Morse.
Sent off as the 4-5 favorite in a field of eight, Lucky Stride ($3.80) hit the wire in 1:43.38 with Julian Pimentel aboard for trainer Mike Trombetta, who also teamed up to win the 2018 Nellie Morse with In The Navy Now.
Pimentel settled Lucky Stride in third between horses as Flashndynamite, a 12-time career winner, ran the opening quarter-mile in 24.30 seconds and the half in 47.67 pressed by Artful Splatter to his outside. Artful Splatter took over the lead midway around the turn when Pimentel made his move on Lucky Stride followed on his right hip by Lucky Move.
Lucky Stride was set down for the stretch drive once straightened for home, with Landing Zone maneuvering into a challenging spot and persisting to the wire. It was three lengths back to Artful Splatter in third with Lucky Move fourth.
Daphne Moon, Flashndynamite, Wicked Awesome and Pat’s No Fool completed the order of finish. Gracetown and Dreamer’s Moon were scratched.
“I had a great trip,” Pimentel said. “I was able to be outside the whole time. I spoke with [Trombetta] and he didn’t want me too far back but in contention. Last time at Laurel we faced a tough filly. Today we just needed to be in a good place.”
Lucky Stride won the 2019 Clasico Roberto Clemente (G3) and Clasico Dia del Veterano (G2) in Puerto Rico before joining Trombetta last summer, and has raced exclusively in stakes since. She was second to Allaire du Pont (G3) winner Eres Tu in the Thirty Eight Go Go Nov. 28 at Laurel and opened her 5-year-old season by winning the Wayward Lass Jan. 16 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Nellie Morse Replay
Photo: Bankit (Jerry Dzrewsinski/Maryland Jockey Club)