G2Ws Royal Ship, Double Crown Top Native Dancer Noms

March 31, 2024

Double Crown winning the Polynesian. (Jim McCue/MJC)

Among Four $100,000 Stakes April 13 to Launch Spring Stakes Schedule

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md. – Grade 2 winners Royal Ship and Double Crown and local stakes winners Be Better, It’s Sizzling Time and Shaft’s Bullet are among 19 horses nominated to the $100,000 Native Dancer Saturday, April 13 at Laurel Park.

The 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer for 3-year-olds and up is one of four $100,000 events that kick off Laurel’s spring stakes program, joined by the one-mile Heavenly Cause and six-furlong Primonetta for fillies and mares 3 and older and seven-furlong Frank Y. Whiteley for 3-year-olds and up.

Bred in Brazil where he was a Group 1 winner, 8-year-old Royal Ship owns eight wins and $733,905 in purse earnings from 24 starts, the last 17 in Southern California for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella including the 2021 Californian (G2) and 2022 San Diego Handicap (G2). Unraced since last July, he has been working since mid-February at Fair Hill for trainer Graham Motion.

Double Crown was named Maryland’s champion older male in 2023 and has banked $883,685 in purse earnings from 49 career starts, taking the Kelso (G2) at Aqueduct in 2022. His two most recent stakes wins have come in Maryland in the 2023 Robert T. Manfuso at Laurel and Polynesian at Pimlico. He has run five times this year, second by a nose to It’s Sizzling Time in the Feb.17 John B. Campbell, also at 1 1/8 miles, and third behind Shaft’s Bullet in the one-mile Harrison Johnson Memorial March 16.

Repole Stable’s Be Better, a homebred son of champion Uncle Mo, won Laurel’s 1 1/8-mile Deputed Testamony last summer and returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since in his most recent start, a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance March 17 by 2 ¼ lengths, also at Laurel, for trainer Brittany Russell.

Malinois, a 3-year-old Dortmund gelding that has yet to face stakes company through eight starts, has won three straight races this year since being claimed for $20,000 out of a fifth-place finish Dec. 23 by trainer Phil Capuano.

Royal ShipIt’s Sizzling Time, Malinois and Shaft’s Bullet are also among seven horses cross-nominated to the Whiteley, which drew 33 nominations including multiple stakes winners Classier, Coastal Mission, Coffeewithchris, Factor It In, Prince of Jericho, Stage Left, Sweet Soddy J and Three Over Deuces as well as multiple graded-stakes placed Castle Chaos.

A total of 23 horses were nominated to the Heavenly Cause led by Grade 3-placed Beguine, winner of Laurel’s 2023 Alma North; the top three finishers from the March 16 Conniver at Laurel – Too Many Kisses, Royal Whisper and Bay Street; Grade 1-placed Goddess of Fire; and stakes winners Disco Ebo, Kant Hurry Love, Miss Harriett and Saddle Up Jessie.

Beguine, Disco Ebo, Kant Hurry Love, Miss Harriett, Royal Spa and Royal Whisper are among 10 horses cross-nominated to the Primonetta, whose 19 nominees also include Centre Court Champ, riding a two-race win streak; and Intrepid Dream, who returned from a 15-month layoff March 2 at Laurel to extend her own win streak to four.

Laurel capped its calendar year-opening Heritage Meet March 30 with Jaime Rodriguez leading all jockeys with 50 wins and $1,786,368 in purse earnings. Trainer Jamie Ness was tops with both 28 wins and $1,040,230 in purses earned; together he and Rodriguez clicked at 29 percent (26-for-89). J.G. Torrealba edged Andres Chavez, 19-15, for most wins among apprentice riders.

Ness’ Jagger Inc. won six races each with partners Morris Kernan Jr. and Madison Avenue Racing to finish atop the owner standings.

Laurel’s 15-day spring meet runs Friday, April 5 through Sunday, May 5. There will be carryovers of $20,865.83 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9) and $1,704.99 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five (Race 6) wagers for Friday’s nine-race program that begins at 12:25 p.m.

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