Law Professor on Target for G3 Pimlico Special

April 16, 2023

Law Professor in the winner’s circle following his Excelsior score (Susie Raisher)

Debut Winner Harrodsburg Pointing Towards Belmont Allowance

G3 Vagrancy and $125K Dancin Renee Targets for Rossa Veloce

Allowance-winning Balpool Will Be Nominated to G2 Black Eyed Susan

Stakes-placed Mr Phil Returns Thursday at Aqueduct

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Twin Creeks Racing Stables Kentucky homebred Law Professor, last out winner of the Excelsior here on April 1, breezed a half-mile in 49.36 this morning over the Belmont dirt training track in preparation for the 1 3/16-mile Grade 3 Pimlico Special on May 19 at Pimlico Race Course.

“He came out of the race really good, I was really happy with him. He worked an easy half-mile today,” trainer Rob Atras said.

The 5-year-old Constitution gelding equaled a career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure in the nine-furlong Excelsior. With Manny Franco up from post 2, Law Professor raced to the inside of Miles D and eventual pacesetter Keystone Field into the first turn before getting off the rail to stalk from second position. He took command at the five-sixteenths and drew clear to a comfortable 4 1/4-length score in a final time of 1:50.34.

“There were a couple anxious moments last race into the first turn where we thought we’d have the lead and two horses wanted to go after him,” Atras said. “Manny had to tap the breaks a little and then he got him outside and he was a little bit rank, but he did a good job to get him to settle down and into a rhythm.”

The Excelsior score came on the heels of a distant third-place finish under Jose Ortiz in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap in February at Oaklawn Park that the victorious Last Samurai exited to win the Grade 3 Essex at the Hot Springs, Arkansas oval and runner-up West Will Power returned to capture the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic at Fair Grounds.

Atras said Law Professor, who shipped to Oaklawn six days before the race, never truly settled in at the busy facility and this time will arrive at Pimlico on top of the race.

“Oaklawn wasn’t Jose’s fault. The horse was too worked up and he couldn’t get him to relax, I don’t know if anybody could that day,” Atras said. “He likes to run out of his stall and I know he’ll have to ship a little bit, but it’s not like we have to change his whole routine. He’ll just ship for the race and come right back.”

Franco, who is expected to retain the mount for the Pimlico Special, is a perfect 2-for-2 aboard Law Professor, including a win in the nine-furlong Queens County here in January.

Law Professor spent his first 10 starts in the care of trainer Michael McCarthy, taking the off-the-turf 2021 Grade 2 Santa Anita Mathis Mile. He made a winning debut for Atras in September at Kentucky Downs, scoring a half-length victory in the restricted Tapit over turf ahead of a game second to multiple Grade 1-winner Life Is Good in the Grade 1 Woodward on October 1 at Belmont at the Big A. He closed out his 2022 campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Keeneland.

Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Kentucky homebred Harrodsburg registered an 87 Beyer in a sparkling debut here on March 26, taking the 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for 3-year-olds and up by 2 1/4-lengths.

The 3-year-old Constitution gelding touted his ability with a half-mile breeze from the gate in 47 flat on March 18, best of 123 works at the distance on the day.

“You never expect to win, but we were expecting a good race out of him,” Atras said. “He’d shown pretty good ability in the morning, but it’s nice to see that transfer from the morning into the race.”

Harrodsburg breezed a half-mile in 48.11 Sunday over the Belmont dirt training track and is pointing to an allowance race early in the 40-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet which will open on Thursday, May 4 and continue through Sunday, July 9, featuring 54 stakes races worth $15.57 million in total purses.

“He worked good today. There’s still room for improvement with him, too,” Atras said. “Hopefully he’ll run at Belmont here in early May. The first option would be to run a first-level allowance and then go from there.”

Harrodsburg, a half-brother to stakes-winner Rome, is out of the graded-stakes placed Exchange Rate mare Gracer.

Robert Derr’s Rossa Veloce, a 5-year-old New York-bred daughter of Girolamo, has won 2-of-3 starts this year, including a 5 1/4-length romp in the six-furlong Correction in March over a sloppy and sealed Big A main track.

Last out, the pacey filly stumbled at the start of the Grade 3 Distaff and was rushed up to third down the backside before fading to fourth when stretched out to seven furlongs for just the second time in 26 career starts.

“The race was maybe farther than she wanted to go and she got totally taken out of her game. It was definitely frustrating,” Atras said. “She took a little stumble step and as she tried to recover she stumbled again and bumped with a horse. She almost went down.”

Atras said Rossa Veloce will target a pair of sprints at Belmont, including the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3, $175,000 Vagrancy on May 14 and the longer-term goal of the state-bred $125,000 Dancin Renee going six furlongs on June 25 at Belmont.

“We don’t have a New York-bred stake for her until late June, so we’ll have to look at the Vagrancy and go from there,” Atras said.

Madaket Stables’ Balpool, a sophomore Uncaptured filly, romped to a 9 1/2-length score here last Friday in a one-turn mile optional-claimer under current meet-leading rider Manny Franco. The frontrunning effort garnered an 83 Beyer as the filly made her third straight start traveling a one-turn mile.

Balpool finished fourth on debut in December here under Junior Alvarado in a six-furlong maiden special weight before graduating at second asking under Franco when stretched out to a one-turn mile over the Big A main track on February 5. She shipped to Laurel and ran a troubled fourth in a one-mile optional-claimer on March 10 ahead of her last-out coup.

“The first time I ran her, I thought she was going to want to go further. She’s a big filly. Junior got off her and said, ‘this filly is nice,'” Atras said. “We had a couple minor setbacks with her and then got her a maiden going a mile and she ran great. When she ran at Laurel, I didn’t know what to make of the effort. She didn’t get the greatest trip and ended up getting bounced off the rail.”

Atras said Balpool will be nominated to the nine-furlong Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan on May 19 at Pimlico.

“We were scratching our heads a little bit at what quality she was, but I was definitely happy to see her run the way she did last time,” Atras said. “She’s a big, good-looking filly and obviously the mile or a little further is no problem for her.”

Sanford Goldfarb, Madaket Stables, Jorge Casal and the Estate of Ira Davis’ stakes-placed Mr Phil, last seen finishing third in the restricted Tale of the Cat at Saratoga, returns in Race 3 at Aqueduct on Thursday in a six-furlong optional-claiming sprint.

“He’d run hard all winter and wasn’t running the same numbers. He just didn’t seem to be the same horse. There were a few issues there, so we gave him some time off,” Atras said.

The 6-year-old Mr Speaker gelding, claimed for $32,000 last February, registered a career-best 101 Beyer in an optional-claiming score in May at Belmont ahead of a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 True North in June over Big Sandy.

He has breezed consistently over the Belmont dirt training track including a half-mile effort in 49.66 Saturday. Manny Franco has the call from the inside post.

@jonathanstettin I had goosebumps reading that. Excellent work, thank you for sharing!

Michael Glew (@Harnessracer101) View testimonials