Among Five Stakes Worth $400,000 in Purses Saturday, July 30
LAUREL, Md. – Morris Kernan, Yo Berbs and Jagger Inc.’s Grade 3 winner Magic Michael, a 5-year-old veteran of 27 starts, will bring his act to Laurel Park for the first time Saturday attempting to better his runner-up finish of a year ago in the $100,000 Deputed Testamony.
The 1 1/8-mile Deputed Testamony for 3-year-olds and up, contested last year at historic Pimlico Race Course, is the richest of five stakes worth $400,000 in purses on a 10-race program that marks the last of Laurel’s three spectacular Saturdays in July featuring a total of 11 stakes worth $1.05 million.
Also on the card are four $75,000 stakes restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses – the Star de Naskra for 3-year-olds and Miss Disco for 3-year-old fillies, both sprinting seven furlongs; Ben’s Cat for 3-year-olds and up and Jameela for fillies and mares 3 and older, each scheduled for 5 ½ furlongs on the grass.
First race post time is 12:40 p.m.
Magic Michael owns 10 career wins, eight of them from 15 starts with three seconds and one third for trainer Jamie Ness since being claimed for $30,000 in November 2020. He went 7-for-12 with three seconds in 2021, ending the year with back-to-back one-mile allowance wins at Parx.
“He had a hard campaign last year, really hard. He ran a lot and he won a lot of races so he deserved the time off,” Ness said. “Once we got him started back up we wanted to give him a race or two to get him ready for his peak performances, which would be right about now.”
Magic Michael returned after more than six months between starts to run fifth behind Grade 3 winner Eons in the June 14 Bensalem on the turf at Parx, then finished third behind multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Tax in the July 9 Battery Park over a sloppy Delaware Park main track.
“This will be his third race off the layoff. I gave him the whole winter off before we brought him back,” Ness said. “He started out on the turf and just kind of ran even, and last time he ran a good third. I think he’s coming into this third start in peak condition right now.”
Magic Michael was second to Grade 3 winner Phat Man in last year’s Battery Park before going off as the favorite in the Deputed Testamony, but his rally came up 1 ½ lengths short of 2020 Pimlico Special (G3) winner Harpers First Ride though he was more than two lengths ahead of third-place finisher and subsequent General George (G3) winner Cordmaker. Two starts later, the Dramedy gelding captured the 1 ½-mile Greenwood Cup (G3) at Parx to kick off a three-race win streak.
“He ran a good race to be second last year. He’s one of those classic distance horses, so our main goal is to get back to the mile and a half race that we won last year,” Ness, who races as Jagger Inc., said. “The bigger, wider track [at Laurel] is probably best for him. He’s a big, strong, late-running kind of horse that relishes the longer distances and should appreciate it.”
Jaime Rodriguez is named to ride from Post 7, outside each of his six rivals.
Treasure Trove will be making his 38th career start and first since being claimed for $50,000 by owner-trainer Norman ‘Lynn’ Cash’s Built Wright Stables out of a runner-up optional claiming allowance finish June 26 at Laurel, where the 6-year-old gelding has a record of 2-2-1 from eight tries.
Breaking a step slow, Treasure Trove ran sixth of 10 behind First Captain in the May 20 Pimlico Special which he entered off a rallying optional claiming allowance triumph going 1 1/8 miles April 21 at Laurel, his only win in sixth tries at the distance.
“I’ve watched him for a long time. A friend of mine had him. They bought him as a 2-year-old at the 2-year-old in training sale, and then he got claimed away. He just keeps blossoming,” Cash said. “He’s always in the money, always coming. He just seems like he just keeps getting better and better.”
Treasure Trove has run third or better 19 times with eight wins. He tuned up for his latest stakes attempt with a half-mile work in 47.40 seconds July 15, the fastest of 15 horses, and will be ridden Saturday by Horacio Karamanos from Post 5.
“We had to back off just a little and give him six or eight days to kind of relieve some soreness, but he’s been training really, really strong the last 2 ½ to three weeks. We almost think that some of the soreness might have been with him for a while, but he’s doing really good,” Cash said. “The [Pimlico Special] was a tough spot, a much tougher spot than this one. We think this is a really good spot. The mile and an eighth will suit him because he’s a deep closer. We hope for him to run well. We’d love for him to hit the board and of course we’d be ecstatic if he won.”
Ronald Cuneo’s Armando R enters the Deputed Testamony off a popular victory at the course and distance June 12 for trainer Damon Dilodovico, who claimed the 6-year-old Blame gelding for $16,000 out of a win last fall at Laurel. Eighth in debut for his new connections to cap 2021, he has posted two wins, a second and two thirds from six starts this year.
The exception for Armando R came May 21 on the Preakness Stakes (G1) undercard at Pimlico, where he made a bid on a far outside but was unable to make up ground and wound up fourth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths. Jorge Ruiz, up for his most recent win, gets the return call from Post 3.
“The first race for us was a big disappointment, but after that I feel like we’ve got him on a good foot,” Dilodovico said. “He’s got a very solid, classy group of races. The race at Pimlico it just seemed like nobody was able to close on that track for the majority of that meet and that’s kind of his deal. We came back to Laurel and just got a beautiful trip from Jorge Ruiz and it really paid off. He just dominated a pretty solid field.”
Completing the field are Commandeer, a Laurel allowance winner last fall racing for the first time since finishing fifth in the April 2 Ghostzapper (G3) at Gulfstream Park; Plot the Dots, third in the April 23 Native Dancer at Laurel returning to the dirt after running fifth in the June 19 Find on turf; Ridin with Biden, second last out in the Battery Park as well as the 2021 Dwyer (G3); and Tappin Cat, winner of an off-the-turf Sussex going one mile July 7 at Delaware.
The Deputed Testamony returned to the Maryland stakes calendar in 2020 after not having been run since 2008. It pays homage to the last Maryland-bred winner of the Preakness Stakes (G1), who upset Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Sunny’s Halo in 1983. Bred and raced by Bonita Farm and Francis P. Sears and trained by Bill Boniface, Deputed Testamony also won the 1983 Haskell (G1) and Federico Tesio.
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Main Photo: Magic Michael winning the Greenwood Cup at Parx September 25, 2021. (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)