Coffeewithchris scoring in the Heft at Laurel Park with Jaime Rodriguez up Dec. 30, 2022. (Jim McCue/MJC)
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md. – Coffeewithchris, who became a stakes winner with his 16-1 upset of last month’s Heft in his juvenile finale, wheels back in three weeks looking to maintain that momentum in Saturday’s $100,000 Spectacular Bid at Laurel Park.
The third running of the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid for 3-year-olds and sixth renewal of the $100,000 Xtra Heat for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs are among six stakes worth $550,000 in purses on a nine-race program that begins at 12:25 p.m.
Owned by Fred Wasserloos, Anthony Geruso and trainer John Salzman Jr., Coffewithchris won two of his eight starts as a 2-year-old, with one second and two thirds. His other victory came when he was promoted to first following the disqualification of Tiz No Clown for interference in a mid-May maiden claimer at historic Pimlico Race Course.
“The horse runs hard all the time. He’s had a lot of problems with traffic and getting bothered, he gets bumped. He’s had a lot of issues and he finally had a pretty good trip last time and he ran a big race,” Salzman said. “He’s doing super. I’m going to lead him over there and see how he does.”
Coffeewithchris, a Maryland-bred son of 2014 Preakness Stakes (G1) runner-up Ride On Curlin, raced just off the lead of New York shipper Full Moon Madness for a half-mile in the Heft under first-time rider Jaime Rodriguez, had a 1 ½-length advantage at the top of the stretch and put away Prince of Jericho through the lane to win by 2 ½ in 1:24.96 for seven furlongs.
In his prior two starts Coffeewithchris was third behind Post Time and Maryland Million Nursery winner Johnyz From Albany in the Maryland Juvenile and fourth to Recruiter in the James F. Lewis III. Both Post Time and Recruiter remain undefeated.
“I thought the last one was a little easier than [facing] Post Time and Johnyz From Albany and Recruiter. He’s been hooking some tough horses, but he runs hard all the time,” Salzman said. “Blinkers really helped him too. He’s a tough horse to ride. You sort of have to stay after him all the time.
“Jaime just seemed to get a lot of run out of him. He just sort of got him running and then sat on him and didn’t panic when that New York horse came up inside him,” he added. “He put away Prince of Jericho with confidence. That horse was sitting and having the perfect trip and my horse was battling, and when he came to him at the head of the lane my horse sort of just put him away.”
Rodriguez gets the return call on Coffeewithchris, who drew Post 6 in a field of eight.
“The race is back kind of quick,” Salzman said. “It’s back in three weeks and it’s hard to get a horse that runs that good, that big of a number, to run back to his number. But he’s training good, and everything is leaning toward running him.”
While Post Time is sitting this one out, trainer Brittany Russell will be represented by Michael Dubb and Morris Bailey’s Prince of Jericho. The Munnings colt was third to Post Time in their Oct. 7 unveiling, then won his next two races by 17 combined lengths before making his stakes debut in the Heft.
A former Russell trainee, the multiple stakes-placed Heldish, will make his debut for owners Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher and Michael Dubb, who purchased the Great Notion colt for $160,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s December Midlantic mixed sale and moved him to trainer Mike Maker. Heldish was never worse than third in five starts at 2, running second in the Hickory Tree at Colonial Downs and Maryland Million Nursery and third in the James Lewis.
Another horse racing first time for new connections is Lucky 7 Stables’ B West, claimed for $62,500 out of a two-length optional claiming allowance victory going one mile Dec. 17 at Laurel. The son of 2003 champion older horse and Horse of the Year Mineshaft was a 12-length maiden claiming winner of his prior start Nov. 21, taken out of that race by trainer Mike Trombetta for $45,000.
“We tried to get him the race before,” Joey Lloyd of Lucky 7 said. “He’d been running against good company, and he wanted to stretch out to the mile, and I think he can go even further. We were looking for an allowance race, but it didn’t go, so [trainer] Jerry [Robb] said, ‘Let’s just put him in the stake and see what he can do.’ He’s been training great and he’s in really, really good form.”
B West had an eventful trip running fourth in the 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight that produced Post Time and Prince of Jericho, then came back to be second by less than a length in a seven-furlong maiden claimer in early November. Stable rider Xavier Perez gets the assignment from Post 5.
“I’m excited to see what he can do on Saturday. I know he wants to go a little bit longer so seven is a little short, but I’m hoping he shows a good effort and a little promise. There’s a good series of stakes [for 3-year-olds] here in Maryland so hopefully this can set him up to keep going in those races if he can show he’s good enough,” Lloyd said. “Let’s see what he can do. Hopefully he shows up and he can surprise a couple people.”
Completing the field are My Blue Eyes, exiting back-to-back front-running victories at Penn National; On the Mark, racing first time off the claim out of a 5 ¼-length maiden triumph Jan. 1 at Laurel; Tiz No Clown, respectively fifth and sixth in the Maryland Juvenile and James Lewis; and We Don’t Need Roads, who has sandwiched two wins at Delaware Park around a fifth in the Oct. 1 Laurel Futurity.
The Spectacular Bid is the first in Maryland’s series of stakes for sophomores leading up to the 148th Preakness May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course, followed by the $100,000 Miracle Wood going one mile Feb. 18, $100,000 Private Terms at about 1 1/16 miles March 18 and $125,000 Federico Tesio April 15. Once again, the 1 1/8-mile Tesio will serve as a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness.
Spectacular Bid was named champion colt at 2 and 3 and champion older horse and Horse of the Year at 4 for late Maryland-based Hall of Fame trainer Grover ‘Bud’ Delp, who called him “the greatest horse ever to look through a bridle.” ‘The Bid’ captured the 1979 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) and won each of his last 10 races, retiring with 26 wins and nearly $2.8 million in purse earnings from 30 starts. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.