Cordmaker (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)
Whereshetoldmetogo Returns a Winner in $75,000 Not For Love; Kiss the Girl Becomes Stakes Winner in $75,000 Conniver
LAUREL, Md. – Hillwood Stable’s 6-year-old gelding Cordmaker, a four-time stakes winner without a victory of any kind in more than 17 months, ended his career-long drought with a front-running one-length triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial at Laurel Park.
The 35th running of the 1 1/8-mile Johnson for 3-year-olds and up was the third of five stakes worth $450,000 in purses on a nine-race program anchored by the $100,000 Private Terms for 3-year-olds. Also on the card were two sprints restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses – the $75,000 Not For Love for 3-year-olds and up and $75,000 Conniver for fillies and mares 3 and older.
Cordmaker ($8.60), the 2019 Harrison Johnson winner, earned his first victory since taking the DTHA Governors Day Handicap Sept. 28, 2019 at Delaware Park. He had gone 0-for-10 since with six stakes placings including third for a second straight year in the historic Pimlico Special (G3).
The winning time was 1:49.37 over a fast main track, the second-fastest in race history for 1 1/8 miles behind Ibex’s record of 1:48.60 set in 1993.
“We go through periods where we see down moments. As soon as we catch on to a down moment we give them a break,” winning trainer Rodney Jenkins said. “That’s the way horses are. They have their ups, they have their downs, like people.”
Cordmaker and regular rider Victor Carrasco were away well from Post 2 in a field of nine and rolled through fractions of 24.92 and 49.34 seconds under moderate pressure from Galerio, who was 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Cordmaker when second in the John B. Campbell Feb. 20 at Laurel.
The leaders remained unchanged after going six furlongs in 1:13.58 and a mile in 1:37.10, when Cordmaker shook free from the group and had plenty in reserve to repel a late bid from Galerio for his ninth lifetime victory. Galerio was second, two lengths ahead of Dixie Drawl in third. It was another half-length back to Forewarned in fourth.
“This horse has got some tactical speed, and we haven’t been using it,” Jenkins said. “Victor was great today. He got him out there, didn’t have to use him a lot and he finished like a good horse.”
Harrison E. Johnson Replay
The Harrison Johnson is named for the trainer who died in a 1985 plane crash at the age of 45. A native of Adelphi, Md., Johnson began training in 1969 and conditioned 1973 Hopeful Stakes winner Gusty O’Shay, named that year’s Maryland-bred champion 2-year-old.
Whereshetoldmetogo (Jerry Dzrewscinski/Maryland Jockey Club)
Whereshetoldmetogo Returns a Winner in $75,000 Not For Love
Whereshetoldmetogo began his 6-year-old campaign the same way he ended his 2020 season – winning a stakes race at six furlongs at Laurel Park.
Owned by Madaket Stables LLC, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and Black Cloud Stable, LLC, Whereshetoldmetogo drove four-wide at the head of the stretch under jockey Sheldon Russell to win the $75,000 Not For Love Stakes by 2 ½ lengths over Karen’s Notion. Day the Music Died checked in third.
A Maryland-bred son of El Padrino trained by Brittany Russell, Whereshetoldmetogo covered the distance in 1:09.82 for his 10th victory in 25 career starts. It was his fourth consecutive stakes score dating back to September of last year. He ended his 5-year-old campaigns with victories in the Dave’s Friend and Frank Whiteley at Laurel. The Not For Love was his first race since Dec. 26.
When asked about the nearly three month later, Brittany Russell said, “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time of year. This race and him being a Maryland-bred, it just looked like a good place to get the year started. I’m glad that the group was willing to give him a bit of time and let us have him ready to get the year started here.”
Rated off a :22.48 opening quarter, Russell moved Whereshetoldmetogo moved outside the pacesetters around the turn before getting clear inside the eighth pole.
The horse looked like he was comfortable the whole way,” Brittany Russell said. “Sheldon had him in a good spot and they took care of it.”
Russell said “we’ll probably keep him around here, but we’ll talk to everyone and see what we’re thinking.”
By Mr. Prospector, Not For Love was Maryland’s champion stallion a record 13 times and was the nation’s leading sire by North American earnings standing outside Kentucky from 2003-10. The lifetime resident of Northview Stallion Station was pensioned in 2015 and died the following year at age 26.
Not For Love Replay
Kiss the Girl Becomes Stakes Winner in $75,000 Conniver
Three Diamond Farm’s Kiss the Girl, second in the 2019 Schuylerville (G3) at Saratoga, picked up her first stakes win Saturday when she moved three wide entering the stretch under jockey Victor Carrasco to win the $75,000 Conniver by three quarters of a length.
A daughter of Into Mischief trained by Michael Trombetta, Kiss the Girl ($6) covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.21.
Breaking alertly, Kiss the Girl was rated off a :23.31 and :46.31 pace set by multiple stakes winner Artful Splatter. Entering the stretch, Carrasco drove to the lead inside the final eighth. Lookin Dynamic closed for the place and Whispering Pines finished third.
After being trained early in her career by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Kiss the Girl has a record of 5-2-1-1 with Trombetta.
Trombetta said the victory “means a lot to all of us. It’s always fun to win a stake, but you take a filly that has this type of pedigree and it becomes very important.”
Bred in Maryland by Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Conniver won the Brooklyn, Beldame, Comely and Vagrancy handicaps in 1948 to be named the nation’s top handicap mare. Nearly sold as a polo pony prior to her championship season, she retired in 1949 with 15 wins and $227,825 in purse earnings from 56 starts.