Among Five Stakes Worth $575,000 in Purses on Saturday Program
LAUREL, Md. – Given his breeding, Yurie Pascarella, Carl Pascarella and Herringswell Racing Club II’s Hendrickson arrived at the races this year with great expectations. A son of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist and grandson of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Birdstone, he is out of the stakes-winning mare Thank You Marylou, named in honor of Marylou Whitney, the late horsewoman and philanthropist who campaigned Birdstone.
Hendrickson takes the association one step further. The 2-year-old chestnut colt is named for John Hendrickson, Marylou Whitney’s widower who has maintained her philanthropy and continued to breed and racehorses in her name following her death at age 93 in 2019.
“The name is cool,” said trainer and co-owner Graham Motion, who launched HRC in 2021 and had its first runners this year. “It would be nice if he turned out to be a good one with that name. I can’t remember who, but somebody in our operation came up with it. I think [John] was quite happy to have it. It’s in Marylou’s honor. The last race really worked out well, and we’re hoping he continues to go on and do well.”
Nearly six weeks after graduating in his second start, Hendrickson will make the step up into stakes company for the 96th running of the $150,000 Laurel Futurity Saturday at Laurel Park.
Hendrickson broke his maiden at Presque Isle Downs Aug. 22. (Fast forward to 2:47 for race 3)
The Futurity for 2-year-olds and 93rd edition of the $150,000 Selima for 2-year-old fillies, both scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass, co-headline a 10-race program featuring five stakes worth $575,000 in purses on opening weekend of the calendar year-ending fall meet.
Also on the card are the $100,000 Japan Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and up going 1 ½ miles and a pair of dirt stakes, the $100,000 Twixt for fillies and mares 3 and older at about 1 1/16 miles and $75,000 Challedon for 3-year-olds and up which have not won an open sweepstakes sprinting seven furlongs.
First race post time is 12:40 p.m.
Hendrickson returns to the turf after breaking his maiden by 2 ½ lengths going a mile on the all-weather surface Aug. 22 at Presque Isle Downs. Each of the next two horses behind him, Dawgmentality and Deceitful, came back to win their next start.
The effort was a marked improvement from his debut, when Hendrickson got outrun early and finished last of eight in a July 15 maiden special weight sprinting five furlongs on the Monmouth Park turf.
“I thought he was really professional the night he won,” Motion said. “I think numbers-wise he actually ran the best numbers of all the maidens I won with that week although it was at Presque Isle, and the horse he beat came back and won. I couldn’t believe how poorly he ran the first time out because I always thought he was better than that. He’s had a very smooth couple of weeks since then.”
HRC II purchased Hendrickson for $150,000 as a 2-year-old in training in March after he fetched $70,000 as a Keeneland yearling last September. He has done most of his work at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., where Motion is headquartered.
“He was one that we picked out at OBS for our partnership, which is kind of a new venture for us. He really didn’t miss a beat since the sale. He was probably one of the first 2-year-olds that I had ready to run,” Motion said. “At that sale they breeze on the synthetic, so [turf] is always in the back of your mind. I just thought he handled the synthetic here better than the dirt, which kind of leans toward grass.”
Motion also entered Wertheimer et Frère’s Dataman, a homebred son of Tapit that ran fifth in debut sprinting 5 ½ furlongs over the Saratoga turf July 22 before coming back to graduate by 1 ¼ lengths Aug. 22 going a mile on the grass at Colonial Downs.
“He’s a little less straightforward in the morning, but otherwise has done well,” Motion said. “He won last time very nicely. I thought Saratoga was a little quick for him. He’s a little tricky in the morning being by Tapit. I think this was the logical spot for both horses.”
Also coming off an impressive maiden triumph is Maram homebred Dandy Handyman, a gelded son of 2016 Wood Memorial (G1) winner Outwork that came flying from far back to win at first asking going a mile Sept. 7 at Colonial Downs. Trailing by as many as 11 lengths after a half-mile, he got up in the final jump to beat heavily favored Take Me to Jimmy at odds of 22-1.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you I thought he was going to win. I was surprised, but I’ve always liked him,” trainer Keri Brion said. “He’s taken some time to come around and obviously he didn’t run until this last start. He’s always done everything just very easily and unassuming here at home. He’ll outwork a good horse but is just very classy and does his job. He’s not very flashy or anything.
“We knew he’d run well. I have a few horses for Sol Kumin, who actually is a partner in the horse that he beat,” she added. “He actually had said after the race how much they liked that horse. I hope he beat quite a good horse. I was not expecting to probably win. He paid crazy money. I was just hoping that he’d give a good show of himself, and he did that.”
Like Motion, Brion is based at Fair Hill where Dandy Handyman breezed five furlongs in 1:01 over the all-weather surface Tuesday, fifth-fastest of 13 horses. Though also nominated to Sunday’s Pilgrim (G2) at Aqueduct, Brion preferred the Futurity.
“He’s great. He ran a huge number when he won. He belongs in New York, as well, but I kind of just want to get him to evolve as a racehorse the best I can, so I think the next logical spot is the race on Saturday,” she said. “I wouldn’t mind running him back at a flat mile, but I knew anything longer was going to suit him even more. He’ll appreciate the distance.”
Quincy Cafe broke his maiden at Laurel Park on July 31.
KEM Racing Stable’s Quincy Cafe will be trying turf for the first time after three maiden special weight sprints on dirt for trainer Lacey Gaudet. The Mendelssohn colt ran third in each of his first two races, the second over a sloppy track, and was beaten a nose going seven furlongs last out July 31 but placed first following the disqualification of Alottacents for interference.
“He needs to go longer, and we would like to try him on the turf now before turf season is over to see if he is any better on it,” Gaudet said. “I think he’s coming along and learning more. He’s just a typical 2-year-old colt. Sometimes he doesn’t have his mind on business. The further he goes I think the better he’ll get, to an extent.”
Roan Burgundy broke his maiden on debut at Pimlico Race Course on Sept. 16.
Respect the Valleys, Karmac Stable and Designated Hitters Racing’s Roan Burgundy is entered two weeks following a professional 1 ¾-length debut victory going six furlongs Sept. 16 on the main track at historic Pimlico Race Course. By multiple Grade 1-winning dirt sprinter The Factor, he fetched $70,000 as a 2-year-old in training in May.
“He ran so big the other day. He’s still such a big kid. He still really doesn’t know what he’s doing, this horse. I think racing can only help him,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “It’s worth a shot to look, anyway.”
Free Soul, third in the 1 1/16-mile Kitten’s Joy on the Colonial Downs turf Sept. 6; Otago, a 4 ½-length winner going the distance in an off-the-turf maiden special weight Sept. 11 at Pimlico; Congruent, an Aug. 13 maiden special weight winner at Gulfstream Park; and maiden Fire Baron round out the field. Freedom Road, Fun Lovin Criminal, Splendor Beauty and We Don’t Need Roads are entered for main track only.
The Futurity has a rich history dating back to 1921 inaugural winner Morvich, who would go on to win the 1922 Kentucky Derby. The Futurity has also been won by Triple Crown champions Affirmed, Citation and Secretariat along with Barbaro, In Reality, Honest Pleasure, Quadrangle, Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid and Tapit.
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo: John Hendrickson and Marylou Whitney at Saratoga. (NYRA)