LAUREL, Md. – Proud of his horse’s effort no matter what, trainer Arnaud Delacour was able to celebrate a victory when Mark B. Grier’s Grade 3 Eons was promoted to his second straight stakes win following the disqualification of first-place finisher English Tavern in Saturday’s $100,000 Prince George’s County at Laurel Park.
The third running of the Prince George’s County for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Big Dreyfus for fillies and mares 3 and older, both 1 1/8 miles on the grass, were among four stakes worth $450,000 in purses on an 11-race program highlighted by the $150,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs on the main track.
All four races, including the $100,000 Alma North for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting 6 ½ furlongs, were part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series.
Ridden by Jorge Ruiz, Eons ($6.60) registered his fifth career stakes win and second in a row following a nose decision over Beacon Hill in the June 14 Bensalem at Parx. Beacon Hill, a winner in his only previous try on the Laurel turf, ran last of six as the even-money favorite.
It was Nick Papagiorgio, winner of the June 19 Find at Laurel, that broke on top but Beacon Hill established himself as the leader by the first turn and continued to take the field down the backstretch and into the far turn. English Tavern, who trailed early under jockey Sheldon Russell, began to roll on the outside and engaged with Eons midway around the far turn as they loomed on Beacon Hill.
Eons switched to the outside once straightened for home and dueled with English Tavern down the stretch but came up a nose short after 1:51.97 over an Exceller turf course rated good. Following a jockey’s objection and steward’s inquiry, Eons was moved up to first and English Tavern placed second. They were followed by multiple graded stakes winning millionaire Pixelate, making his first start in 203 days, Nick Papagiorgio, Nathan Detroit and Beacon Hill.
“He ran a great race, regardless of the outcome of the inquiry,” Delacour said. “I thought it wasn’t an easy spot for anyone because we didn’t know how to ride the race. There was not a lot of speed, and he’s a pretty difficult horse to ride. I thought considering everything he ran great, and he’s in good form, for sure.”
Ruiz had yet to be aboard English Tavern, whose most recent stakes win came under former Maryland champion Trevor McCarthy, now based in New York.
“The last time I pretty much didn’t give any instructions to trevor because he rode him so many times that I didn’t have to. This time, I had to be a little more specific with Ruiz because he’s never rode on him. I told him because there’s no pace, he should be a little bit closer.”
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo by Jim McCue/MJC