LAUREL, Md. – Music Amore, making her stakes debut while racing on dirt for the first time in more than a year, had no trouble adjusting to the company or surface with a front-running 2 ½-length triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 Searching.
Owned by trainer Gerald Brooks, Carl Hess Jr. and Ronald Clark, Music Amore ($18.40) notched her second win in three starts since being claimed by Brooks for $20,000 in May. She ran one mile in 1:38.88 over a fast main track to give teenage jockey Jeiron Barbosa his first career stakes win.
Breaking inside each of her seven rivals following the early scratch of Vergara, who had drawn the rail, Music Amore was hustled from the gate and raced on even terms with Queen Macha on her outside through a quarter-mile in 23.78 seconds with stakes winner Ocean Safari in the clear three wide and 6-5 favorite Lady Puchi racing between horses in fourth.
Music Amore began to edge away from Queen Macha entering the far turn while Lady Puchi was gaining ground along the inside and Ocean Safari, racing for the first time since her victory in the May 7 Honey Ryder at Gulfstream Park, was being ridden hard to keep up. Lady Puchi ranged up to Music Amore midway on the turn and the two straightened for home together, but Music Amore was able to keep the favorite at bay the length of the stretch.
Lady Puchi was a clear second, 9 ¼ lengths in front of Pharoah’s Song. Queen Macha, Cupid’s Strike, Quality Control, Tasweya and Ocean Safari completed the order of finish. Gastown Babe and Sparkle Blue were also scratched.
“When she made the lead going down the backside, I said, ‘We’ve got a shot.’ When she turned for home, she’s got a big heart and she took care of it,” Brooks said.
Music Amore had raced exclusively on grass and all-weather surfaces since finishing fifth in a five-furlong maiden sprint last July at Gulfstream. Winless in five starts at 2, she broke her maiden going a mile on the Tampa Bay Downs turf Jan. 8 and was claimed two starts later out of a front-running win at Presque Isle Downs, also going eight furlongs.
“I didn’t know. She has never been on the dirt [since her debut],” Brooks said of the surface switch. “I said, ‘Well, let’s go to the lead and see how far it can take us.’ She did it.”
According to Equibase statistics the 18-year-old Barbosa had placed twice in stakes this year, finishing second in the June 9 Tremont at Belmont Park aboard Putthepastbehind and third in the July 9 Delaware Handicap (G3) with Tonal Vision.
Barbosa, who speaks little English, began riding professionally Jan. 1 in his native Puerto Rico before arriving in Maryland and winning with his first two U.S. mounts March 25 at Laurel. He held off Jevian Toledo to win Laurel’s spring meet title, becoming only the third apprentice in track history to be leading rider following Yomar Ortiz (2013 winter) and Julio Correa (2019 summer).
“I’m happy,” Barbosa said.
Searching, a 1978 Hall of Fame inductee, was a bay daughter of 1937 Triple Crown champion War Admiral bred by Odgen Phipps that won the Gallorette Stakes at Pimlico in 1955 and 1957 for trainer Hirsch Jacobs, retiring with a record of 25-14-16 with $327,381 in purse earnings from 89 starts. As a broodmare, Searching also enjoyed great success with offspring such as Affectionately, an 18-time stakes winner and dam of 1970 Preakness winner Personality, and Admiring, the grand-dam of 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero.
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo: Jim McCue/MJC