Nimitz Class Ups Win Streak to Four With Impressive Native Dancer Score

April 29, 2023

Nimitz Class wins again, boosting his win streak to four in a row (Maryland Jockey Club)

Classier Takes Henry S. Clark in Frontrunning Fashion

Misty Mauve Steps up and Pulls off the Upset in Dahlia

Princess Kokachin Makes It Eight Wins at Laurel in Primonetta

Stage Left Drives Home a Winner in King T. Leatherbury

Undefeated Goodgirl Badhabits One To Keep an Eye On

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release

LAUREL, Md.— Thomas Coulter’s homebred Nimitz Class showed no hesitation in running over an off-track for the first time, powering home by 2 ¾ lengths to extend his stakes-winning streak to four races in Saturday’s $100,000 Native Dancer at Laurel Park.

The 55th running of the 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer for 3-year-olds and up was the first of five $100,000 stakes rescheduled from April 22, including the six-furlong Primonetta for fillies and mares 3 and older.

The Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up and Dahlia for fillies and mares 3 and older, both going one mile, and 5 ½-furlong King T. Leatherbury for 3-year-olds and up were each moved from the turf to the main track due to heavy rain that passed through the area Friday and into early Saturday.

Ridden by Jevian Toledo for Penn National-based trainer Bruce Kravets, Nimitz Class ($2.40) proved too much for his five rivals in the Native Dancer, covering the distance in 1:52.11 over a muddy main track while finishing up under wraps as American d’Oro came with a late run.

“The horse trains phenomenal, he does everything right, but we’ve never run him on an off track,” Kravets said. “That was my biggest concern, but it didn’t seem to bother him at all.”

Nimitz Class, a 4-year-old Munnings colt, broke sharply and was met on the front end by 17-1 long shot Nostalgic Run, who pressed the 1-5 favorite through a quarter-mile in 24.37 seconds. Racing along the rail, Nimitz Class forged a short lead after going the half in 47.34 and was firmly in command around the far turn with little urging from Toledo, who has been aboard throughout the win streak.

“He knows the horse and there was a little speed in the race, so I told him, ‘You do what you think you need to do,’” Kravets said. “When he had him right there on the lead, I felt confident. He knows the horse and he knows how much horse he has.”

Nimitz Class opened up a six-length lead at the top of the stretch and sailed home from there, with only American d’Oro making up any ground late to get up for second. It was 7 ¾ lengths back to Forewarned in third, followed by Vance Scholars, Ain’t Da Beer Cold and Nostalgic Run.

“He did it pretty easy,” Toledo said. “They were the same kind of horses that he’s been running against, but he’s a nice horse. You can do whatever you want with him. I broke and got pressure the whole way on the outside. I really wanted to take a hold back and sit right behind him, but I saw [Ain’t Da Beer Cold] right there on the outside and I thought if I take a hold they’re going to box me in right there. I knew the horse that was putting on the pressure sooner or later was going to stop, and I didn’t want to be stuck behind him so I just kept my position. He’s a nice horse. Whatever you ask him to do, he does it.”

Nimitz Class now has nine wins from 15 starts and is 4-for-6 at Laurel, all his wins coming in stakes. He began his streak Dec. 30 in the 1 1/16-mile Robert T. Manfuso and this year captured the Feb. 18 John B. Campbell, also at 1 1/16 miles, and one-mile Harrison Johnson Memorial March 18. He has also won eight of 11 races since adding blinkers last March.

“I always thought he wanted to run long and he needed blinkers, and as soon as we did that he’s been a different horse,” Kravets said. “And, he loves Laurel.”

Kravets hinted the time may be right to try Nimitz Class against graded-stakes company for his next start, perhaps on the biggest weekend in Maryland racing.

“Eventually he’s going to have to step up. We’re thinking about the Pimlico Special,” Kravets said. “I don’t think [we’ve seen the best of him].”

The historic $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for 3-year-olds and up going 1 3/16 miles will be run Friday, May 19 at Pimlico Race Course on the eve of the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

The Native Dancer honors the Hall of Famer that lost only once in 22 career starts, finishing second by a head in the 1953 Kentucky Derby before going on to win the Preakness, Belmont Stakes and Travers. He was named Horse of the Year at 2 and 4 and was also champion 2-year-old, 3-year-old and older horse. Native Dancer would go on to a prolific stud career at Sagamore Farm in Maryland, where he was buried following his death in 1967. His progeny included champions Raise a Native, the sire of Mr. Prospector and Alydar, and Natalma, the dam of Northern Dancer.

Classier after a wire-to-wire score in the Henry S. Clark (Maryland Jockey Club)

Toledo earned a second consecutive stakes victory on Super C Racing Inc.’s Classier ($3.60), guiding the 5-year-old son of Empire Maker to a front-running 1 ¾-length triumph in the Henry S. Clark. Entered for main track only, it was the third straight win for Classier, all with Toledo up, and second in a row since being claimed by trainer Kieron Magee for $40,000 March 19. A $775,000 yearling in September 2019, Classier won the 2021 Los Alamitos Derby (G3) in his fourth career start for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Designated Hitters Racing’s Misty Mauve ($39.60), stepping up to stakes company for the first time, rolled past dueling pacesetters Silver Currency and Mit Mazel at the top of the stretch and pulled away to a 2 ¼-length upset in the Dahlia. It was the second straight win for the 4-year-old Paynter filly, ridden by Johan Rosado, since being claimed for $16,000 April 1 by trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon. Deciding Vote the defending champion and 8-5 favorite, finished fourth in her season debut.

Eric Rizer’s Princess Kokachin, a winner of seven of 13 starts at Laurel coming into the day, made it eight of 14 by winning the $100,000 The Primonetta by a half-length over a closing Oxana. It was three-quarters of a length back to Street Lute in third.

Princess Kokachin, who raced to the lead approaching the turn under jockey Jevian Toledo, covered the six furlongs in 1:11.95. John Robb trains the winner and third-place finisher.

A 5-year-old mare by Graydar, Princess Kokachin was fourth in the Primonetta last year and won the Politely in 2021. Princess Kokachin has won 11 of 22 starts and has placed first, second or third in 16 of her races.

In the King T. Leatherbury, moved from the turf to the dirt, the David Jacobson-owned and trained Stage Left drove three wide entering the stretch to win while covering 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03.83. Alwaysinahurry was second and Karan’s Notion third.

Entered for the main track only, Stage Left, based at Belmont Park, has won nine of 34 starts. The 7-year-old gelding by Congrats has won at Saratoga, Belmont, Aqueduct, Keeneland, Mahoning Valley and Laurel.

NOTE: A name to remember could be Jim Bakke’s and Gerald Isbister’s Goodgirl Badhabits. The 3-year-old daughter of Mastery, who won her debut March 10 by 12 ¾ lengths, followed up that performance Saturday with a 10 ¼ length victory in Race 7, while covering the seven furlongs effortlessly in 1:24.47. Goodgirl Badhabits, out of the Vindication mare Dazzler, is trained by Brittany Russell.

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