Noses Comedy Town at Wire in Five-Furlong Turf Sprint
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BALTIMORE, Md. – William Branch’s Carotari, returning to the site of his most recent victory, fended off Comedy Town the length of the stretch and got his nose down in time for a dramatic triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 Laurel Dash at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The 24th running of the Laurel Dash for 3-year-olds and up sprinting five furlongs on the grass anchored four stakes worth $400,000 in purses on the final Saturday program of the nine-day fall meet.
In earlier stakes, Can the Queen defended her title in the $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash, Smash Ticket dominated the $100,000 Weather Vane and Benevengo won the $100,000 Polynesian.
Carotari, a gelded son of Grade 1 turf winner Artie Schiller, had finished off the board in back-to-back stakes since winning the five-furlong Jim McKay Turf Sprint May 21 on the undercard of the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1), his 6-year-old season debut. That victory, like the Laurel Dash, came in front-running fashion though by a comfortable 1 ½ lengths.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of options, to be honest,” Erin Lynch, wife and assistant to trainer Brian Lynch, said. “There is no turf at Churchill at the moment, which is where we’re based, so it was either [run] here or go against the big guns at Keeneland and we know he likes this track because he won here on Preakness day. So, this was the obvious choice.”
Sent off as the 6-5 favorite in a field of seven, Carotari was guided to the front by jockey Kendrick Carmouche, who was also aboard Smash Ticket two races earlier. They went the opening quarter-mile in 22.06 seconds chased by Comedy Town, who closed the gap to a half-length after four furlongs went in 44.53 seconds.
The two were inseparable as they straightened for home, with Carotari digging in along the rail and Angel Cruz encouraging Comedy Town to his outside. They separated from the field and approached the wire together with Carotari winning the head bob after covering the distance in 56.20 seconds over the firm course.
“I just was thinking, ‘Hang on there, buddy,’” Lynch said. “He can get a little intimidated on the inside there sometimes, so I was just hoping he was going to put his head down at the right time and he did.”
It was another length back to Matta, who was two lengths better than Grateful Bred for third. They were followed by Justwaveandsmile, Spycraft and Sky’s Not Falling. Defend was scratched.
A claim of foul by Feargal Lynch, the rider of Matta, against Carotari alleging interference shortly after the start was dismissed by the stewards.
The Laurel Dash was the 11th career win and sixth in a stakes for Carotari, the others coming at Gulfstream Park and Ellis Park. He also finished second by a half-length in the 2021 Troy (G3) at Saratoga and is approaching $700,000 in purse earnings from 29 starts.
“So proud of him. He is just the coolest horse,” Lynch said. “He’s such a cool dude.”
The Laurel Dash had been contested exclusively at Laurel Park since its debut in 1988, when it was won by Steinlen, a multiple Grade 1 winner of more than $3 million in purses trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. Other notable winners include multiple graded-stakes winner Texas Glitter and Ben’s Cat, a 26-time stakes winner and Maryland’s four-time Horse of the Year who passed away in 2017.
Notes: Apprentice Jeiron Barbosa tripled Saturday aboard Baton ($8.20) in Race 1, Berks ($4) in Race 2 and English Tavern ($6.60) in Race 5 to take a 10-8 lead over Horacio Karamanos in the race for the fall meet riding title. Claudio Gonzalez, Jamie Ness and Mario Serey Jr. are tied atop the trainer standings with three wins apiece … Pimlico wraps up its nine-day fall meet with an 11-race program Sunday starting at 12:40 p.m. and featuring mandatory payouts in the 20-cent Rainbow 6, 50-cent Late Pick 5 and $1 Super Hi-5 wagers. There will be carryovers of $4,553.50 in the Rainbow 6 (Races 6-11) and $695.87 in the Super Hi-5 (Race 1).
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo by Jim McCue/MJC