Whereshetoldmetogo Makes Season Debut in $75,000 Not For Love
Kiss the Girl Seeks First Stakes Victory in $75,000 Conniver
LAUREL, Md. – Hillwood Stable’s Cordmaker, second or third in six of his last seven starts, looks to break through with a return to his multiple stakes-winning form 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 is among five stakes worth $450,000 in purses on a nine-race program including 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.
First race post time is 12:25 p.m.
Cordmaker’s resume shows eight wins, four in stakes, thirds in the historic Pimlico Special (G3) in 2019 and 2020 and a bankroll of more than $500,000 from 27 lifetime starts, but the 6-year-old son of two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin hasn’t won in 10 starts since the DTHA Governors Day Handicap in September 2019.
Six of those losses came in stakes, all in Maryland, including the one-mile Jennings against state-bred/sired horses Jan. 16 and 1 1/16-mile John B. Campbell Feb. 20, beaten a total of 5 ¼ lengths.
“He’s doing well. He always seems to get a good piece of it,” trainer Rodney Jenkins said. “He’s still got to get over that hump. He tries and he’s sound and doing well. I hope he runs well.”
Cordmaker enjoyed his best season in 2019, going five-for-eight led by wins in the Harrison Johnson and Polynesian at Laurel and a third by two necks in the Pimlico Special. His 5-year-old season was delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic that paused live racing in Maryland for 2 ½ months from mid-March to late May.
“It knocked him for a loop,” Jenkins said. “We’re trying to get him back and he seems to improve each time, so we’ll see. He’s dead sound. We’re not running a lame horse that’s not doing good. He’s training real well, so we’ll see.
“The whole thing is, if he can come through and win one he’ll get all his confidence back and be the same horse,” he added. “Right now, when he’s headed or anything like that he’s not putting out. It’s not because he’s not sound and fit. He’s hesitating with the other horses, is what he’s doing. When he gets a win, he’ll be back to himself.”
Regular rider Victor Carrasco will be aboard from Post 2 in a field of nine.
Holt, Montuori and Palumbo Racing Stable’s Tattooed defeated Cordmaker in their last meeting, the Jan. 16 Jennings, when the 6-year-old gelding came flying late for a neck victory over Galerio with Cordmaker another two lengths back in third.
Most recently, Tattooed made another strong late run from far back to finish second behind multiple Grade 3 winner Share the Ride in the seven-furlong General George (G3) Feb. 20. Both races came under Angel Cruz, who returns to ride from Post 4.
“Angel’s done a real good job with him. He’s not an easy horse to ride and Angel fits him perfectly. He rides him perfectly and he’s kind of shown up the last couple races,” trainer Tim Keefe said. “He runs consistent numbers.
“I train for a couple of guys that like to pay real close attention to numbers and one of my owners said Tattooed is one of the most consistent horses he’s ever seen. He just continuously runs really good numbers and consistent numbers,” he added. “You don’t usually see a real big bounce off of him.”
Tattooed has finished third or better in 21 of 33 career starts and is approaching $400,000 in purse earnings, with all six of his wins coming at Laurel. He has not been worse than third in eight consecutive races.
“The older he gets, it’s taken him a while to finally kind of mature mentally, also. He’s getting there. Everything’s just been coming together for him so we’ve been real lucky with that,” Keefe said. “It’s great, especially for the owners. They’ve been in the business for a long time and this is the first stakes horse they’ve ever had so they’re thrilled and very excited about it. It’s been fun.”
Forewarned, Dixie Drawl and Awesome D J, respectively fifth, sixth and eighth in the Campbell; stakes-placed Saratoga Jack, recent Laurel allowance winner Plot the Dots and Florida shipper Mischief Afoot are also entered.
Whereshetoldmetogo Makes Season Debut in $75,000 Not For Love
Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and Black Cloud Racing Stable’s Whereshetoldmetogo, winner of back-to-back stakes to end his 2020 campaign, returns looking to make it three in a row in Saturday’s $75,000 Not For Love.
Now trained by Brittany Russell, 6-year-old Whereshetoldmetogo is a six-time stakes winner with $541,291 in purse earnings. Four of his stakes wins have come from six starts at Laurel – the 2018 Concern and Star de Naskra and 2020 Frank Y. Whiteley and Fire Plug.
The Star de Naskra, Whiteley and Fire Plug are all run at the Not For Love’s six furlongs, a distance where Whereshetoldmetogo sports a 4-2-2 record from 11 tries. Russell nominated the El Padrino gelding to the Feb. 20 General George (G3) but opted to give him more time.
“He’s been just training right along. He seems like he’s tightened back up and mentally he acts like he’s ready to get back to racing,” Russell said. “We just kind of wanted to spot him and get him started on the right foot for the year. It just seems like a nice spot to get him going again.”
Whereshetoldmetogo has actually finished first in three consecutive races, but was disqualified to second for lugging in down the stretch of the six-furlong New Castle last September at Delaware Park.
“He had run three good races in a row so I just kind of backed off of him and let him catch his breath,” Russell said. “The winter racetracks here are tough and there are some days where I didn’t want to feel pressure to keep drilling on him for a race, so I took him out and kept him jogging and backed off of him and he seemed to respond to it.”
Russell’s husband, jockey Sheldon Russell, was aboard in the Whiteley and will ride back from Post 2 in a field of eight at topweight of 124 pounds.
“He’s a dude. He’s an absolute dude. And to be as good as he is, too, is even better. He’s right here in one of these first few stalls and he’s just a neat horse. He’s an older horse now and he just runs hard. He’s just pure racehorse. You have to love having him around,” Russell said. “I think he’ll run a good race off the shelf.”
Among the competition is Karan’s Notion, upset winner of the Maryland Million Sprint at odds of 16-1, bred, owned and trained by Nancy Heil. The 4-year-old Great Notion gelding has run fifth in two starts to open 2021, including the Fire Plug.
Rounding out the field are nine-time winner Stroll Smokin; Day the Music Died, sixth in the Whiteley; Abuelo Paps, Carey Times, Odds On and Tom Terrific.
Kiss the Girl Seeks First Stakes Victory in $100,000 Conniver
Three Diamonds Farm’s Grade 3-placed Kiss the Girl, second last out in her return to stakes competition, will get another shot at becoming a stakes winner in the $75,000 Conniver sprinting seven furlongs Saturday.
The Conniver will be the 12th career start for Kiss the Girl, a 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief, and fourth since joining training Mike Trombetta’s string. Prior to that she ran twice for Todd Pletcher, finishing second by a neck in the 2019 Schuylerville (G3), and won one of five 2020 starts for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen.
After running fourth first time out for Trombetta, Kiss the Girl won a restricted allowance sprinting seven furlongs Nov. 27 and was third in an open second-level optional claiming allowance Dec. 18 before finishing second in the one-mile Geisha, beaten 2 ¾ lengths by Gale.
“She came to us in the fall and she’s very solid,” Trombetta said. “She was coming off a layoff when I got her and it took her a race or two to kind of get in her best form. She’s doing well, working well and we’re looking forward to running her.”
Trombetta will also send out R. Larry Johnson and R.D.M. Racing Stable’s Lookin Dynamic for her stakes debut after placing in five consecutive races including an open entry-level allowance win Jan. 15 and a second to Queen of Tomorrow in a conditioned allowance Feb. 6, both going a mile at Laurel.
“She’s been a consistent horse so we figured we’ll take a shot in a Maryland-bred stake with her and maybe she can hit the board,” Trombetta said.
Victor Carrasco rides Kiss the Girl from Post 6 in a field of eight, while Julian Pimentel is named on Lookin Dynamic from Post 2.
Owned by NRS Stable, James Chambers and trainer Tim Keefe’s Avalon Farm, Coconut Cake ran third in the Geisha and fifth in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance Feb. 26 at Laurel in her last two starts. She took a three-race win streak into the Maryland Million Distaff but was forced to scratch when she developed a quarter crack leading up to the race.
“She’s been running OK, but she’s kind of tailed off. She had the quarter crack that affected her a little bit,” Keefe said. “My intention is to run her and then probably freshen her up a little bit off of that. We’ll see how the race goes, see what happens and go from there, but she’s doing fine.”
Forest Boyce has the call from Post 5.
Multiple stakes winner Artful Splatter, most recently third at 42-1 in the 1 1/16-mile Nellie Morse Feb. 20 at Laurel; Deep Red, Paisley Singing, S W Briar Rose and Whispering Pines complete the field.
Photo: Cordmaker (Jerry Dzrewscinski/Maryland Jockey Club)