Among Six $100,000 Stakes on Christmastide Day Monday, Dec. 26
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md. – The Elkstone Group’s Grade 2-placed Hybrid Eclipse, already a two-time stakes winner at Laurel Park, will face a solid group of 10 rivals as she looks to make it two in a row in the $100,000 Carousel.
Hybrid Eclipse, trained by fall meet leader Brittany Russell, exits a three-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile Thirty Eight Go Go Nov. 12 at Laurel. The next three horses that finished behind her – Berate, Champagne Toast and Malibu Beauty – all return.
“It’s a tough field, but she’s raring to go,” Elkstone’s Stuart Grant said. “She put in a good race last time and she beat a number of those horses, but that’s not saying they’re not real good horses. I think it’s a wide-open race. I think whoever gets the best trip is going to win, because there’s a lot of capable mares in there.”
Hybrid Eclipse was able to overcome an awkward start last out where she lunged out of the gate and found herself further back than usual but came with a three-wide run under patient handling from jockey Sheldon Russell, who gets the return call from Post 8.
“You certainly always want to get good break and a good position; that one might have worked out well for her. She has one run at the end, and that one was just timed really well,” Grant said. “Sheldon had to kind of go in and out of traffic a little bit and it worked well for us.”
Hybrid Eclipse is 4-for-5 lifetime at Laurel with one second and has won three straight races over its main track, including the one-mile Caesar’s Wish July 2. Following that race Grant purchased her for $107,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s July Horses of Racing Age sale, and she ran fourth in the Timonium Distaff and third behind Nest in the Oct. 9 Beldame (G2) before her most recent start.
“She’s won a couple of stakes, she’s Grade 2-placed, so we’re sort of building up her pedigree. I’m really happy with the purchase. There’s some nice mares running over the winter at Laurel, and kudos to the racing office for being able to attract a good group,” Grant said. “We’ll see if she can put together back-to-back quality races. I sure hope she can.”
ZWP Stables’ Malibu Beauty is a three-time stakes winner including the 2021 Miss Disco at historic Pimlico Race Course. The Thirty Eight Go Go marked the first time in five starts she hadn’t been first or second, having won the Peach Blossom and George Rosenberger Memorial at Delaware Park this summer and fall.
Trainer Gary Capuano also entered Paul Fowler Jr.’s Intrepid Dream, a Maryland homebred daughter of Jess’s Dream. He had nominated the 4-year-old filly to the Thirty Eight Go Go but opted instead for a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance the next day, which she won to extend her win streak to three races. She won an open allowance in the Delaware Park slop Oct. 26 – her first start in 14 months.
“She’s really, really big and she’s not real fast. At least, she never really shows it in the morning. She does show up in the afternoon,” Capuano said. “She’s one of those plodding horses. She’s huge and she’s just got one kind of pace. She doesn’t have a huge turn of foot, but she’ll just keep grinding and grinding and grinding and if you come back to her at all, she’s going to be there.”
Intrepid Dream will make her stakes debut under return rider Carlos Lopez from outermost Post 11.
“She’s steady and you’ve just got to keep working on her and she’ll just grind it out,” Capuano said. “We’ve run her two turns all the time because in the mornings and what have you, she’s never shown any kind of early speed, but she does break well and she has put herself in the races. We’ll see.”
John Fanelli’s Out of Sorts is familiar with Laurel, having begun her career with Brittany Russell and placed in two stakes before winning the 2021 Christiana at Delaware Park and being claimed for $30,000 out of a runner-up finish July 30. She was claimed again out of her next start, an Oct. 4 victory at Parx, for $25,000 and won the 1 1/16-mile Claiming Crown Tiara five weeks later in her most recent effort.
Jeff Gange’s 7-year-old mare Cover Version will be racing first time for trainer Cherie DeVaux after making seven West Coast starts since April, six of them in graded-stakes, including a third in the 6 ½-furlong Rancho Bernardo Handicap (G3) Aug. 28 at Del Mar.
Also entered are multiple stakes-placed Ninetypercentbrynn, Classic Colors, Runaway Monet and Go Big Blue Nation.
Inaugurated in 1985, the Carousel carried Grade 3 status from 1988 to 1997 and ran through 2002 before returning to the Maryland stakes calendar in 2021. Maryland-bred Squan Song, a three-time Grade 3 winner that was retired in 1987 with 18 victories and nearly $900,000 in purses from 36 starts, won the first two runnings.