Entries from Pletcher, Nevin, Baker, Walder
Juvenile Sprints Among Six Christmastide Day Stakes Dec. 26
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md. – Following a similar path as his undefeated stablemate, Post Time, Michael Dubb and Morris Bailey’s Prince of Jericho will make the step up to stakes company for the first time off two straight impressive victories in the $100,000 Heft Dec. 26 at Laurel Park.
The 21st running of the Heft for 2-year-olds and 14th renewal of the Gin Talking for 2-year-old fillies, both sprinting seven furlongs, are among six $100,000 stakes on the 11-race Christmastide Day program Monday, Dec. 26.
Prince of Jericho, by multiple Grade 2-winning sprinter Munnings, ran third behind Post Time in debut, beaten 2 ½ lengths in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight originally scheduled for the turf Oct. 7 at Laurel. Stretched out to six furlongs in his return 21 days later, Prince of Jericho responded with a popular 11 ¾-length triumph in 1:11.77.
“I’ve always liked this horse, but he’s never been super flashy in the morning. He seems like a different beast in the afternoon,” fall meet-leading trainer Brittany Russell said following his graduation. “If that’s him, that’s great. What we saw [that day], that was a lot of fun to see.”
Sheldon Russell, aboard for each of his first two starts, gets the return call on Prince of Jericho from Post 7 in a field of eight.
Jay Em Ess Stable’s Full Moon Madness is entered to race for the first time outside of New York for trainer Michelle Nevin. The Into Mischief colt has never been worse than third, breaking his maiden third time out by 5 ¾ lengths and exiting a runner-up finish by less than a length in the one-mile Nashua (G3) Nov. 6, both at Aqueduct.
Also coming out of New York is Midnight Trouble, purchased privately by Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher and trainer Peter Walder after running third in the First State Dash and second in the Rocky Run two weeks apart this fall at Delaware Park. He worked twice at Belmont Park for his new connections before running in the 1 1/8-mile Nashua (G3) Dec. 3 at Aqueduct.
“He came out of the race good, this race showed up and we decided to take a look,” Walder said. “After this, he’s going to get a break and go down to Florida. He’s run a lot of races for a baby.”
Midnight Trouble has been worse than third just once in seven starts, with two wins. He wound up fifth in the Nashua after being jostled at the start and racing wide on both turns in his first race away from Delaware.
“Not too many 2-year-olds want to go a mile and an eighth at this time of year. It’s not easy to do,” Walder said. “I like the cutback to seven-eighths. I would imagine with seven races, he would have an advantage there.
“We figured we’d put him in here and try to get him back on track as far as getting his form back in order,” he added. “The Remsen was a pretty salty race, but it was what was there so we took a shot.”
Sheffield Stable’s Riccio, based at Laurel with trainer Richard Sillaman, finished sixth behind undefeated Recruiter in the six-furlong James F. Lewis III Nov. 12 at Laurel in his most recent start. His three prior starts came at Delaware, running second in the Sept. 1 Dover, fourth in the First State Dash and third in the Rocky Run.
Alottacents, a neck maiden special weight winner Dec. 10 at Laurel; Coffeewithchris, another seven-time starter that ran third behind Post Time in the Dec. 3 Maryland Juvenile; two-time winner We Don’t Need Roads and maiden Home School are also entered.
Having debuted as the Marylander in 1975, the Heft was renamed in 2016 to honor Maryland native and longtime horse owner Arnold Heft who campaigned such horses as millionaire Eighttofasttocatch, a three-time Maryland Million Classic winner, and fellow multiple stakes winners Red’s Round Table, Pulverizing and Baldski’s Choice. He passed away in 2014 at age 94.