LAUREL, Md. – Blue Lion Thoroughbreds, Craig Taylor and Diamond T Racing’s Grade 3 winner Morello, unraced since mid-June, overcame a bit of a poor start to win Laurel Park’s featured race Saturday, a $62,000 allowance optional claimer at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Morello, winner of the Gotham Stakes (G3) and Jimmy Winkfield in the spring, hopped at the start under jockey Sheldon Russell and spotted the field roughly three lengths. But the 3-year-old son of Classic Empire made up ground down the backstretch and around the turn easily under Russell before moving five-wide entering the stretch and drawing away from his competition by 2 ¾ lengths.
Morello covered the six furlongs in 1:10.56. Greeley and Ben was second and Going to the Lead third.
The victory by Morello, purchased for $250,000 out of Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic 2-year-old in training sale last May at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, was his first start since finishing sixth in June at Belmont in the Woody Stephens (G1).
Racing continues Sunday with eight races with a first race post of 12:40. Race 5, a $58,000 allowance optional claimer scheduled for 5 ½ furlongs on the turf, drew 16 (two main track only). The field includes Boat’s a Rockin, second last time out in the Turf Monster (G3), Smithwick’s Spice, who has won his last three consecutive starts at Monmouth at this distance and surface, and Premier Choice, 3-for-7 at the distance.
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo by Jim McCue/MJC