LAUREL, Md. – Trin-Brook Stables, Inc.’s 7-year-old gelding Forewarned, an 11-time career winner with multiple stakes victories in New York and Ohio, will continue chasing an elusive first victory in Maryland in Saturday’s $100,000 Native Dancer at Laurel Park.
The 54th running of the 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer for 3-year-olds and up and 34th edition of the six-furlong Primonetta for fillies and mares 3 and older are among five $100,000 stakes on the second of consecutive Spring Stakes Spectacular Saturdays.
Also on tap are the first three stakes scheduled for Laurel’s world-class turf course – the Henry S. Clark and Dahlia at one mile, the latter for females, and the 5 ½-furlong King T. Leatherbury, all for 3-year-olds and up. The Clark, Dahlia and Primonetta are part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series that launched its 2022 season April 16 at Laurel.
Owned and trained by Uriah St. Lewis, Forewarned has won two of his last four starts, both 1 1/8-mile Aqueduct stakes – the Dec. 19 Queens County and April 2 Excelsior, the latter by a head in his most recent effort.
“He’s doing great, fantastic. He’s coming in in good shape,” St. Lewis said. “He’s just one of those old-fashioned, hard-knocking horses.”
In his race prior to the Excelsior, Forewarned closed from mid-pack to be second by a nose behind Galerio in the 1 1/16-mile John B. Campbell Feb. 19 at Laurel. The son of Flat Out is winless in nine tries over the local surface, also finishing second to 2021 Pimlico Special (G3) winner Harpers First Ride in the 2020 Native Dancer.
“He just missed that stake at Laurel. One more jump and he wins it. Then he came back in New York and won that stake,” St. Lewis said. “He’s training good, and we’ll take a shot. He’s just a happy, happy horse and he has a guy who’s happy to ride him, and that combination is deadly.”
Dexter Haddock, like St. Lewis based at Parx, will be aboard for the sixth straight race, a stretch that began in the Richard W. Small last November at Laurel where they ran fourth behind subsequent Grade 3 winner Cordmaker. They drew Post 2 in a field of seven at co-topweight of 126 pounds.
“He’s got somebody that has confidence in him now, the jockey, and that makes such a big difference,” St. Lewis said. “Before, guys were getting on him and [going through the motions] and [Dexter] got on him and he rode him and said, ‘I love him.’ I said, ‘If you do the right thing you can stay on him,’ and he’s doing the right thing.
“Just break and keep him close, and don’t let him drop 25 lengths off of it,” he added. “The horse is happy. He’s real happy, and he loves running. He’s a big horse, so he can carry the weight.”
Bred in Ohio, Forewarned has won the 1 ¼-mile Best of Ohio Endurance three straight years starting in 2019. St. Lewis purchased him for $40,000 during Fasig-Tipton’s 2018 Midlantic December mixed sale at the Maryland State Fairgounds in Timonium.
St. Lewis has not been afraid to take big swings with Forewarned, running him in such races as the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) in 2021, Pimlico Special in 2020 and 2021, and Cigar Mile (G1), Woodward (G1) and Whitney (G1) in 2019.
“He seems like he’s getting better, but he was always good,” St. Lewis said. “I thought so much of this horse that he could have won races like the Jockey Club and the Whitney. He got beat [9 ½] lengths by McKinzie in the Whitney, and the jockey just sat on him around the racetrack instead of riding him and making a race out of it.
“He loves to train, and he loves to race. I’d love to have a barn full of him,” he added. “So long as he is within striking distance, I think he has a very, very good shot to win the race.”
Steven Walfish’s 7-year-old gelding Workin On a Dream ran fifth in the Campbell for Laurel-based trainer Robin Graham, his only time off the board in five starts. In the others he won a one-mile off-the-turf optional claiming allowance last November at Laurel and finished second in the Small and Robert T. Manfuso to end 2021 and the Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial last out March 19.
Trainer Bruno Tessore entered the Proud Stable, Inc. pair of Rough Sea and Big Venezuela. Rough Sea has run second in back-to-back starts at Laurel, most recently April 3 by less than a length to multiple stakes winner Clubman, while Big Venezuela comes back 16 days after running fourth to Excellorator in a Laurel allowance.
Plot the Dots, an optional claiming allowance winner going 1 1/8 miles first off the claim for leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez March 26 at Laurel, Ain’t Da Beer Cold and Bird King round out the field.
Grateful Bred Launches Comeback in $100,000 King T. Leatherbury
When it comes to her stable star, trainer Madison Meyers has plenty to be Grateful about.
Gordon Keys’ Maryland homebred Grateful Bred provided Meyers with her first victory at a recognized flat track July 11, 2020 at Laurel Park, after she recorded previous wins in a 2016 amateur event at Great Meadow in Virginia and a hurdle race in the fall of 2019 in Aiken, S.C.
Grateful Bred’s first stakes victory in the Meadow Stable last July at Colonial Downs was also the first for his trainer, whose small string at the Middleburgh (Va.) Training Center mixes Thoroughbred and steeplechase horses.
A victory in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint last fall was another career highlight, followed up by a trip to New York where Grateful Bred was injured in a starting gate incident and wound up staying overnight at an equine clinic.
“He’s really awesome to be around, and we’re just lucky to have him,” Meyers said.
Grateful Bred is set to make his season debut Saturday in the $100,000 King T. Leatherbury, a 5 ½-furlong.
Grateful Bred has not raced since his front-running 1 ½-length triumph in the 5 ½-furlong Maryland Million Turf Sprint Oct. 23, a space of 183 days between starts. He was entered in the Aqueduct Turf Sprint last November but had to be scratched after breaking through the gate and getting loose.
“He ended up in the clinic there and got a bunch of stitches,” Meyers said. “He had a pretty large laceration to his hind leg, but we got him all healed up. Since he started back, he has not missed a beat.”
Named by Keys’ son, David, as a tribute to the Grateful Dead, his parents’ favorite band, Grateful Bred’s injury coincided with his annual winter vacation, one spent with Meyers rather than taking up his typical residency at the Keys’ Virginia farm.
“We would have stopped anyway because of the turf [season ending]. That would have been his last start of the year and normally he just goes home for about 60 days and then comes back to me,” Meyers said. “Instead, we just kept him with us to take care of the cut and everything and then started back and gone from there.”
A silver lining in a touch of grey.
Grateful Bred resumed training in February and has had five timed works at Middleburg since mid-March for his comeback. He made his 2021 debut in mid-June off an eight-month break between starts to capture a restricted five-furlong allowance on the turf at historic Pimlico Race Course.
“The only difference would be that he didn’t go back to the farm and get turned out. He stayed with us. It will be interesting to see if there’s any difference in him coming back, but so far in the mornings he seems happy and the same ol’ horse,” Meyers said. “I hope he runs a big race.”
Jevian Toledo is named to ride Grateful Bred from Post 2 in a field of 10. The Great Notion gelding has five wins and two seconds in 11 career races with purse earnings of $224,015.
“He just lays it all on the line every time, and he really tells you when he’s ready to run. He’s very easy to read that way. He just tries hard. He’ll gut it out no matter what it takes, and that’s pretty much all you can ask for in a racehorse,” Meyers said. “He’s showing all the signs he’s ready to run. Hopefully he does what he’s good at.”
Among Grateful Bred’s rivals is R. Larry Johnson’s True Valour, a Group 3 winner in his native Ireland that is coming off a more extended layoff. Winner of the City of Hope Mile (G2) and Thunder Road (G3) eight months apart in 2019 at Santa Anita, the 8-year-old horse trained by Graham Motion has not raced in more than a year since finishing sixth in the March 2021 Al Quoz Sprint (G1) in Dubai.
Ima Pharoah, co-owned by trainer Cal Lynch and Nick Sanna Stables, has been first or second in six of nine starts. He has raced once previously on the grass, running second in a July 2020 maiden special weight at Belmont Park. He returned from a five-month break between starts to win an open entry-level allowance by 1 ¼ lengths March 27 over Laurel’s main track.
“Going 5 ½, we thought that was a little short for him and he was able to win anyway,” Lynch said. “He’s doing well.”
Sterling Road Stables and LBR Racing Stable’s American d’Oro has two seconds and a third in three tries over the Laurel turf, and the 4-year-old son of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah will be making his season debut. A waiver maiden claiming winner going five furlongs on the grass at Pimlico last August, he won a one-mile allowance Dec. 23 at Tampa Bay Downs in his most recent start.
Robert D. Bone and Edward Rusty J. Brown Jr.’s Battle Station has raced once this year, promoted to second after running third in the seven-furlong Say Florida Sandy sprinting seven furlongs on Aqueduct’s main track Jan. 8. Five of his eight career wins have come on the grass, where he has made 24 of 43 starts, including seconds by a neck in the 5 ½-furlong Laurel Dash and a nose in the five-furlong Parx Dash (G3) last year.
Trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon entered the pair of Can the Queen and Rad Paisley. Joanne Shankle’s Can the Queen won the five-furlong Sensible Lady Turf Dash last summer at Pimlico and will be making her first start since an optional claiming allowance triumph going 5 ½ furlongs in October at Laurel. Racing second time off the claim, Abuelitas Racing Stables’ Rad Paisley wheels back seven days after finishing sixth in a 5 ½-furlong starter-optional claimer on the Laurel turf.
Proud Stables, Inc.’s Fair Catch, a winner of three straight last summer and fall in Maryland before getting a winter break; Cynthia McGuinnes and Francis J. Clemens’ Dendrobia, runner-up in the five-furlong Jameela last summer at Pimlico making her first start since September; and Hillwood Stable’s Valued Notion, winless in two tries on the grass, are also entered.
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photo: Forearned winning the Queens County at Aqueduct Dec. 19, 2021. (Susie Raisher)