Brocknardini adds a stakes win to her resume in the Selima (Maryland Jockey Club)
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md.— Thomas Brockley and Daryn Bedinotti’s Brocknardini, stretched out and dropped in class off a nightmarish stakes debut against Grade 1 company just two weeks earlier, returned to the races in style with a 2 ¼-length victory in the $150,000 Selima Saturday at Laurel Park.
The 94th running of the 1 1/16-mile Selima for 2-year-old fillies was the first of four stakes worth $500,000 in purses on opening weekend of Laurel’s calendar year-ending fall meet, co-headlined by the $150,000 Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds.
Brocknardini ($9.40), sent off as the third choice in a field of 10 at 7-2, covered the distance in 1:47.45 over a Dahlia turf course rated good. Her victory continued an outstanding season for New York-based trainer George Weaver, who is 16-for-44 on the year with 2-year-olds including 13-for-30 on the grass.
“I’ve been blessed to ride for George a lot in the past. I have a lot of confidence in him and what he says, so when he says he thinks we’re live I’ve got full faith in him,” winning jockey Joe Rocco Jr. said. “I just went out there confident and she ran that way, so it all worked out.”
Brocknardini was away alertly and settled in the clear in fifth as Carmelina, a stakes winner on dirt in her last start trying turf for the first time, got out well and led through a quarter-mile in 24.77 seconds and a half in 51.26, tracked by 17-1 long shot Flowers for Me with Hekate saving ground along the rail and Determined Sail, exiting a third in the Kitten’s Joy on the Colonial Downs turf, racing fourth.
Flowers for Me ranged up to challenge Carmelina for the lead around the far turn while Rocco stayed patient on Brocknardini, tipping the Palace Malice filly out once straightened for home. Rocco set Brocknardini down for a drive to reel in Flowers for Me and turn back a spirited bid on the far outside from Yatta, a last-out maiden winner 23 days earlier at Kentucky Downs.
“She actually broke better than I thought. Not that I thought she’d break bad, but I thought she’d be a little slower early to get going and she actually broke really well and put herself in really good position and made my job a lot easier,” Rocco said. “I just tried to point her in the right direction. I was able to get out to where I thought the ground would be a little firmer down the stretch and I had a lot of horse to go to the wire.”
Flowers for Me held on to second by a neck over Yatta. It was 1 ¼ lengths back to favored Positive Carry in fourth, followed by Low Mileage, Determined Sail, Carmelina, Kissedbyanangel, Gorgeous Girl and Hekate.
Purchased for $35,000 out of Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale in May at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Brocknardini broke her maiden at first asking by 4 ¾ lengths Aug. 2 at Saratoga against fellow New York-breds. The effort earned her a trip to Woodbine for the Sept. 16 Natalma (G1), where she hopped at the start, got fanned well wide and had to check in the stretch and wound up last of 13 though placed 12th via disqualification.
Brocknardini faced none of those issues in the Selima.
“Today she was very professional,” Rocco said.
Saturday was the first day of racing on the grass at the fall meet, which opened Friday following the Maryland Jockey Club’s boutique fall stand at historic Pimlico Race Course.
“It seems safe; it’s just soft. I mean, it’s fall racing on the turf,” Rocco said. “When it rains and it’s not 90 degrees and sunny out it just takes longer to dry out but as long as it’s safe for the horses and the riders that’s the most important thing.”
First run in 1926, the Selima is named for the great English race mare who was imported to the U.S. in the 1750s by Benjamin Tasker Jr., manager of the famed Belair Farm in Prince George’s County. The daughter of the Godolphin Arabian, considered ‘Queen of the Turf,’ also gained fame as a broodmare.