Stakes winner Hibiscus Punch retires to broodmare
Summer Meet Leaders Barbosa, Gonzalez Team Up for Friday Triple
Rainbow 6, Super Hi-5 Carryovers for Saturday’s Live Program
LAUREL, Md. – Ed Seltzer, Beverly Anderson and Krista Seltzer’s Visby, a stubborn second in her lone start two months ago, will take the step up into stakes company for her return in Sunday’s $100,000 Stormy Blues at Laurel Park.
Based at Laurel with trainer Justin Nixon, Visby drew Post 5 and will have jockey Denis Araujo back aboard in the Stormy Blues, a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies that serves as the headliner on a 10-race Father’s Day program.
“We were obviously very happy with the first time out,” Nixon said Friday. “In conversation with Ed and discussions we had, we felt that he’d like to get some black type on her for the family and everything that that entails. She’s got quite a bit of turf in her pedigree, so we thought we’d give it a whirl.”
What Visby – a homebred daughter of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Midshipman out of the Stormy Atlantic mare Flower Class – lacks in seasoning, she makes up for in determination. In her April 22 debut over Laurel’s main track, also going 5 ½ furlongs, she pressed the early pace before taking over the top spot approaching the stretch then dueled with eventual winner La Casa d’Oro through the lane but came up a length short. It was 10 ¾ lengths back to third-place finisher Senson.
“She was still trying. She’s a pretty tough little mare. She’s got a bit of talent and some desire, too,” Nixon said. “She did a lot of work in that race and never ever chucked it. She was running right through the wire; unfortunately, she just got beat that day.”
Visby was entered in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight May 26 on the grass at historic Pimlico Race Course, but the connections opted to skip that race to wait for the Stormy Blues.
“We scratched her out. Ed wanted to concentrate on this race,” Nixon said. “The race was up at Pimlico and Ed and I talked about it. We were just concerned about the paddock and everything new. She can be a little bit flighty with new things. She likes to see everything a couple of times. So, we just thought that taking her up there might just unsettle her a little bit and we wanted to concentrate on this race coming up and have her as good as we could for this attempt.”
The Stormy Blues attracted a field of nine including stakes winner Derrynane, fourth by a length when facing males in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) last fall; Buy the Best, a multiple stakes winner on dirt entered for her seasonal and turf debut; Fly Me Home, a winner of two straight; and stakes-placed Artos, fourth of 21 horses in the 2021 Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot.
“I think that if she runs back to her maiden race or improves, she ought to get a piece of it. She should be around there,” Nixon said. “It’s obviously a big jump up into a stakes race and there’s other horses in there with more seasoning, but there’s very few straight 3year-old filly turf stakes around. So, while we have the opportunity for a straight 3-year-old filly turf race we thought we’d give it a shot.”
Nixon reported that Seltzer and Anderson’s 7-year-old homebred mare Hibiscus Punch, 41-1 upset winner of the 2021 Barbara Fritchie (G2), has begun life as a broodmare. She only raced twice since the Fritchie, most recently finishing ninth in the What a Summer Jan. 29 at Laurel.
“She was bred to Munnings, so I don’t think that we’ll see her again,” Nixon said. “I believe that she’s either in foal or being bred back but, yeah, she went to Munnings. I’m excited about that. Hopefully she has a big career as a broodmare and, with any luck, I’ll get to train some of her babies.”
The Stormy Blues (Race 7) is the second of three turf stakes on Sunday’s card, preceded by the $75,000 Find (Race 5) for 3-year-olds and up and followed by the $75,000 All Brandy (Race 9) for fillies and mares 3 and older. Both races are restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses and run at 1 1/16 miles.
Notes: Apprentice jockey Jeiron Barbosa and trainer Claudio Gonzalez teamed up for three winners Friday, Esperannna ($3.80) in Race 3, Bakeneko ($3.60) in Race 5 and Deshackled ($4.40) in Race 9. The 18-year-old Barbosa and Gonzalez lead their respective standings at the summer meet … Jockeys Jevian Toledo doubled aboard Prairie ($4.20) in Race 2 and Walks Like a Lady ($5.40) in Race 6, while apprentice Jean Alvelo also visited the winner’s circle twice with Special Freedom ($7.80) in Race 1 and Justwaveandsmile ($5.60) in Race 8 … Steven Newby’s Justwaveandsmile completed 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.23 over a firm Exceller turf course to win the allowance for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up in his second start of the year after ending 2021 on a three-race win streak for trainer Dale Capuano … Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds’ 4-year-old Maryland homebred Frightland ($3.60) powered home an eight-length winner in 1:10.61 for six furlongs on a fast main track to graduate in Race 7, a maiden special weight for horses age 3, 4 and 5. It was the fourth start for the Munnings gelding, trained by Brittany Russell … Laurel will host a live, 10-race program Saturday starting at 12:40 p.m. There will be carryovers of $5,128.58 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 5-10) and $655.53 in the $1 Super Hi-5 (Race 2). Multiple tickets with all six winners in Friday’s Rainbow 6 each returned $38.88.
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Main Photo Hibiscus Punch was a 41-1 upset winner of the 2021 Barbara Fritchie (G2), (Jerry Dzierwinski/Maryland Jockey Club)