Circling the Drain Gets Job Done in Holiday Monday Feature

February 20, 2023

Circling the Drain. (Jim McCur/MJC)

Second Win from Four Starts for Triple Crown-Nominated 3YO

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md. – Sycamore Hall’s 3-year-old Maryland homebred gelding Circling the Drain, nominated to the Triple Crown, took the next step in his promising career with a professional two-length victory during Monday’s Presidents Day holiday program at Laurel Park.

Ridden by Jevian Toledo for trainer Brittany Russell, Circling the Drain ($2.60) circled the field after trailing in the early going and went on to cover about 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.87 over a fast main track to capture the entry-level optional claiming allowance for sophomores.

Termsofengagement took the early initiative and led through fractions of 23.69 and 47.83 seconds, tracked by Lamarvelous and Byk with Coronova saving ground along the rail and Circling the Drain settled in the clear three wide. Toledo made his move midway around the turn and Circling the Drain moved up to even terms approaching the stretch, was set down for a drive once straightened for home and steadily edged clear.

Staying up for second was Termsofengagement followed by Byk and Coronova, while Upstate and Back was scratched. Winter meet-leading rider Jeiron Barbosa was unseated when Lamarvelous appeared to clip heels with Termsofengagement leaving the backstretch and went down. Both horse and rider escaped injury.

“It got a little eventful there on the turn, but the horse ran good,” Russell said. “We thought he would run well. He ran second to Feeling Woozy last time, and he came back and ran third in the [$100,000 Miracle Wood Feb. 18]. We’ve always liked this horse, so it was a good effort.”

It was the second win from four starts for Circling the Drain, a bay son of two-time Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire West Coast out of the Cozzene mare Who’s Cozy. Second in his Nov. 20 unveiling, he came back with a front-running seven-length waiver maiden claiming triumph going 1 1/16 miles Dec. 9.

Circling the Drain overcame some early trouble to run second in his 3-year-old debut, a Jan. 29 optional claiming allownace going one mile. In each of his two losses, both to Feeling Woozy, he finished more than five lengths ahead the next-closest horse.

“He’s just a big, good-doing horse. He travels well. He’s always worked well,” Russell said. “We’ve put him up beside some good horses in the mornings and he hangs [with them]. He shows that he should have run in him.”

Siblings Mike Golden and Lisa Hoffstetter, who have run Sycamore Hall since their father, noted owner-breeder Richard Golden, passed away in 2021, and Russell nominated but opted to skip the Miracle Wood with Circling the Drain. Laurel’s next stakes for 3-year-olds is the $100,000 Private Terms, also at about 1 1/16 miles, March 18.

Following the Private Terms is the $125,000 Federico Tesio April 15. The 1 1/8-mile Tesio is a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown nominated horses to the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course. Circling the Drain was among 369 3-year-olds made Triple Crown eligible by the early Jan. 28 deadline.

“I’ll get with Mike Golden and see. We’ve been a little conservative,” Russell said. “We probably could have tried something bigger with him, looking at the group of horses he’s been running with. But we wanted to get this race out of the way and then make a decision.”

Russell also has Michael Dubb and Morris Bailey’s Prince of Jericho nominated to the Triple Crown. Prince of Jericho won the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid Jan. 21 and was second to Coffeewithchris in both the one-mile Miracle Wood and 2022 Heft, also at seven furlongs.

A recent addition to the Russell barn is SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan’s Fort Warren. A 3-year-old son of Hall of Famer Curlin, he won his Oct. 30 debut and was third in the Jan. 29 San Vicente (G3) at Santa Anita for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and is also Triple Crown-nominated.

“They’ve been sending us some horses that they just thought would fit better out this way,” Russell said. “We’ve nominated him around a bit. I have not had a chance to work him quite yet. He seems to be doing well now so maybe we’ll get him worked this week and kind of get a better gauge on where we’re going to go with him.”

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