LAUREL, Md. – Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Robert LaPenta’s impressive maiden winner Little Huntress, off the board in her season and stakes debut last month, returns as the narrow program favorite in Friday’s feature as live racing returns to Laurel Park.
Post time for the first of nine races is 12:40 p.m.
Little Huntress, a gray or roan daughter of multiple Grade 1 winner Frosted, drew Post 2 in a field of eight for Friday’s eighth race, an entry-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs. Sheldon Russell rides for his wife, trainer Brittany Russell.
A $100,000 yearling out of Keeneland’s September 2019 sale, Little Huntress didn’t debut until last November at Laurel when she ran second by less than a length as the favorite after setting the pace behind Journeytothemoon, fourth in the March 13 Beyond the Wire.
Stretched out to seven furlongs, Little Huntress responded with a front-running 14-length maiden special weight romp under wraps Dec. 27 at Laurel. The effort earned her a shot in the Feb. 20 Wide Country, also at seven-eighths. Little Huntress set a wicked pace of 22.62 and 44.91 seconds before tiring to be eighth as Street Lute went on to her sixth career stakes win.
Second choice at 7-2 is Sonata Stable’s Paradise Song, a maiden special weight winner second time out Jan. 15 who was second by less than a length in an optional claimer Feb. 12, both going six furlongs at Laurel. Julian Pimentel rides for trainer Mike Trombetta from outside Post 8.
Among other entrants are Breeze Off the Bay, third to Street Lute in the Jan. 16 Xtra Heat; Pretty Lori, unraced since a 7 ½-length win in an off-the-turf maiden special weight last September for trainer Hamilton Smith; Malibu Beauty, fourth in the Dec. 26 Anne Arundel County; and Kewpie Doll, with a record of 2-3-1 from six career starts at Laurel.
The feature is part of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 sequence (Races 4-9) that will offer a carryover jackpot of $15,617.22 from Sunday’s last live program. Race 7 is a six-furlong maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies that drew a field of eight including Above the Limit, second in a pair of maiden special events, most recently Feb. 28 at Laurel; and first-time starters Runners Dream, an Oregon-bred by champion sprinter Runhappy, Someday Is Today, Stir Crazy and Monster Rising.
The Rainbow 6 jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 60 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners while 40 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.
Laurel’s eighth race also kicks off the national weekly Stronach 5 wager, which returns this week with a $154,931.69 carryover from March 7. The sequence continues with Race 8 from Gulfstream Park, Laurel’s Race 9 and Race 3 from Santa Anita Park before wrapping up with Race 3 from Golden Gate Fields.
Maryland Jockey Club hosts and analysts Tim Tullock and Naomi Tukker give their picks for the Stronach 5.
The sports bar on Laurel’s second-floor clubhouse will be open for both simulcasting as well as the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament starting Friday. The track is allowing a maximum of 400 patrons on live race days with all screening, social distancing and safety protocols in place.
Laurel Park Press Release
Photo: Little Huntress, (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)