Girl Trouble Chasing Stakes No. 3 in Weber City Miss

April 13, 2023

Girl Trouble sloshes to victory in the Parx Futurity Jan. 3 (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

‘Win & In’ for 3-Year-Old Fillies to 99th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 19

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md. – Swilcan Stable and LC Racing’s multiple stakes winner Girl Trouble will get the chance to snap a two-race losing streak and earn herself a date against graded-stakes competition in Saturday’s $125,000 Weber City Miss at Laurel Park.

The Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies going about 1 1/16 miles serves as co-headliner with the $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds on an 11-race program featuring four stakes worth $450,000 in purses. First race post time is 12:25 p.m.

It is the first of back-to-back Spring Stakes Spectacular Saturdays at Laurel, followed by an April 22 program featuring five $100,000 stakes including the first three of the season scheduled for Laurel’s world-class turf course.

In its eighth year, the Weber City Miss once again affords the winner an automatic berth to the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on Preakness Eve, May 19, at historic Pimlico Race Course. Of the six previous winners that went on to Pimlico, Lights of Medina came the closest to sweeping both races when she was second by a head in 2017 for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.

Girl Trouble, by Grade 1-placed sprinter Fast Anna, was beaten 2 ½ lengths when third as the favorite in her prior start, the one-mile, 70-yard Main Line March 6 over her home track of Parx, just a nose out of second. Under jockey Paco Lopez, they broke from the rail and raced in tight quarters behind horses early before being tipped outside in the stretch.

“I wasn’t real satisfied with the ride that the jock gave her last time but we talked about it and he actually apologized for it,” trainer Robert E. ‘Butch’ Reid Jr. said. “I thought she should have been on the lead in that race and he kind of took her back off a real slow pace and once he started to let her run she got in a little bit of a jackpot. Not taking anything away from the winner, but I think we would have been a lot closer with a better trip.”

The New Jersey-bred Girl Trouble has never finished worse than third in nine career starts, four of them wins, including three straight from November to January capped by the six-furlong Future Stars Filly and seven-furlong Parx Juvenile. Favored in each of her last five races, she ran second to Interpolate in the Feb. 5 Ruthless at Aqueduct.

“She doesn’t run a bad one, and at all different distances, too. I’m still not sure she’s a dyed-in-the-wool route of ground horse. She maybe more middle distance, seven-eighths to a flat mile, but we’re going to go ahead and take our chances here. She certainly did well enough last time to go ahead and give her another opportunity,” Reid said. “She’s a real solid filly. We went to the sales looking for what we thought would be a solid Jersey-bred, so she’s outraced any expectations we’ve had for her so far.”

Lopez gets the return call from Post 3.

Laurel-based trainer Brittany Russell entered the pair of Pharoahs Baby Gyal and Cats Inthe Timber. G S S Tbred’s Pharoahs Baby Gyal, by 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, was scratched out of what would have been her stakes debut in the March 18 Beyond The Wire at Laurel, and has not raced since an eye-catching 10 ½-length optional claiming allowance romp going one mile Jan. 13 in her sophomore debut.

“Honestly, you wish you had that run into her,” Russell said. “It’s getting a little tricky to where we had to train on her a little harder. She’s doing well and she’s responding to it. You can probably potentially see these races getting tougher as they get longer and she’s going to have to be able to handle that as well.”

Both of Pharoahs Baby Gyal’s wins have come in front-running fashion, including her graduation in an off-the-turf maiden special weight sprinting 5 ½ furlongs last October. Russell is anticipating more of the same Saturday.

“I worked this filly early on and I kind of thought the catch-me-if-you-can style is something that she really enjoyed,” she said. “I think going long, especially with all this time in between, she’s going to be forward. That’s going to be her. She’s naturally just a forward-running filly so I expect she’ll be right there.”

Haymarket Farm’s homebred Cats Inthe Timber raced in mid-pack in the Beyond The Wire and wound up fourth, beaten a nose for third, in her first try against stakes company. She has shown determination with both of her wins, at six furlongs and a mile, coming by a neck, and she was only a head out of second against her stablemate in January.

“I think this is a really honest filly, and sometimes you just don’t know how these races are going to set up, who shows up and that kind of thing,” Russell said. “I think she’s definitely capable of hitting the board in one of these races and being competitive. I think she ran hard last time. She does need to improve, but she trains well and we see no reason not to try.”

Russell’s husband, Sheldon Russell, will ride Pharoahs Baby Gyal from Post 6 while Jevian Toledo gets the assignment on Cats Inthe Timber from outermost Post 7.

George Hall and Annestes Racing’s Crypto Mama was a popular 1 ¾-length optional claiming allowance winner going one mile March 10 at Laurel in her most recent start. Trained by Kelly Breen, who recently registered in 1,000th career victory, the daughter of 2017 Preakness (G1) winner Cloud Computing will be trying stakes company for the third time, having run second in the White Clay Creek last fall at Delaware Park.

Horacio Karamanos, up for her Laurel win, climbs back aboard from Post 4.

Mi Patria Racing’s Six the Hard Way takes a two-race win streak into the Weber City Miss. Claimed for $30,000 Feb. 26 by trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon, the late-running Creative Cause filly rallied for a two-length waiver maiden claiming triumph March 17 and came back eight days later to capture an optional claiming allowance by a half-length, both sprinting seven furlongs.

Six the Hard Way will break from Post 5 with Laurel’s winter meet-leading rider Jaime Rodriguez.

Ginger Girl, a maiden making her third start and second since being claimed by owner-trainer Joanne Shankle for $30,000 in January, and Cynergy’s Electra complete the field.

Weber City Miss won the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Hilltop and finished second in the Alabama (G1) and third in the Ladies Handicap (G1) to be named Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old filly of 1980. Nine of her 17 career wins came in stakes, including the 1982 Beldame (G1). As a broodmare, her first foal was multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Slew City Slew. 

Jonathan Stettin is a New York Legend. He's been a Horseplayer, earning his living at the track, since he was 19 years old. @jonathanstettin

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