Six Triple Crown-Eligible Horses Among Miracle Wood Nominees

February 15, 2024

Copper Tax battles for the victory in the James F. Lewis III (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

Laurel Park News & Notes

LAUREL, Md.— Triple Crown-eligible Circle P and Copper Tax and fellow stakes winners Chi Chi and Sweet Soddy J are among 24 sophomores nominated to the $100,000 Miracle Wood Feb. 24 at Laurel Park.

The one-mile Miracle Wood is the next step in Maryland’s series of stakes for 3-year-olds on the road to the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, May 18 at historic Pimlico Race Course. The first race, the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Jan. 27, was won by New York-based Guanare.

DeSales 85’s Circle P was a 1 ¾-length winner of the seven-furlong Maryland Juvenile Dec. 2 at Laurel in his fourth start and stakes debut. A minor issue kept him out of the $100,000 Heft three weeks later and he has been training steadily at Penn National for his season opener, breezing a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 Feb. 9.

Rose Petal Stable’s Copper Tax put together five consecutive wins last year including Laurel’s six-furlong James F. Lewis III before running sixth in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct. He was originally entered in the Spectacular Bid but when winter weather pushed the race back a week, he was rerouted to the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis (G3) Feb. 10 at Tampa Bay Downs, where he wound up 10th.

Sam Wilensky’s Chi Chi is the lone filly nominated to the Miracle Wood. Based in South Florida, she won stakes at Gulfstream Park and Remington Park last fall and most recently was third in the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G3) Feb. 3. Built Wright Stables’ Sweet Soddy J won the Timonium Juvenile and Heft at 2 and exits a decisive second in the Spectacular Bid.

Also prominent among nominees are Triple Crown-eligible American War Hero, Maximus Meridius, two-time Laurel winner Regalo and Startswithadream, 10-1 upset winner of his Jan. 28 unveiling at Laurel; Cool in Blue, third in the Heft; and Speedyness, third in the Maryland Juvenile.

Chi Chi is also one of 24 nominees to the $100,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies, a seven-furlong stop on Maryland’s road to the 100th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 17 at Pimlico. Mens Grille Racing’s Roanan Goddess won the first race in the series, the $100,000 Xtra Heat sprinting six furlongs Jan. 27 for trainer Hamilton Smith.

In 2022, Smith swept the Xtra Heat, Wide Country, Beyond the Wire and Weber City Miss with two-time Maryland-bred champion Luna Belle, recently sold for $100,000 as a broodmare prospect and booked to 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage.

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Carmelina is already a three-time stakes winner, having taken the Keswick at Colonial Downs, Shamrock Rose at Penn National and seven-furlong Gin Talking at Laurel in her final three dirt starts at 2, the latter Dec. 30. DARRS, Inc.’s Cap Classique ran second in the Gin Talking after winning Laurel’s six-furlong Smart Halo in mid-November.

Narrow Leaf Farm’s Miss Harriett sprung a 62-1 upset of the Maryland Million Lassie in her career debut last fall at Laurel. Fifth in the Smart Halo, she rebounded with a front-running seven-length optional claiming allowance triumph sprinting 5 ½ furlongs Jan. 14. Stronach Stable Inc. homebred Shamans Girl won the six-furlong Shady Well Dec. 2 on Woodbine’s all-weather surface in her lone start.

Other Wide Country nominees include Kissedbyanangel, winner of Laurel’s Maryland Juvenile Filly last fall; CC Royal, third in the Xtra Heat; Living Magic, a stakes winner on turf and all-weather surfaces last year, and Phil Schoenthal-trained stablemate Determined Driver, second against boys in the 2023 Timonium Juvenile; Irish Maxima, fifth behind Eclipse Award-winning Just FYI in the Frizette (G1); and stakes-placed Perfectly Wicked, Princess Mayfair and Sheilahs Warcloud.

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