Winter Meet Jockey Race Going Down to Final Weekend; Watch and Wager on Florida Derby, Dubai World Cup at Laurel
LAUREL, Md. – Stakes-placed gelding Wondrwherecraigis, undefeated in his only two starts at Laurel Park, has returned to the work tab as he continues preparations for his first start as a 4-year-old.
Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ Wondrwherecraigis breezed three furlongs in 38 seconds March 21 over Laurel’s main track for trainer Brittany Russell.
It was the first timed work since Nov. 1 for the son of multiple graded-stakes winning sprinter Munnings, unraced following a fourth-place finish behind Yaupon in the six-furlong Amsterdam (G2) last August at Saratoga.
“He’s doing really well. We just opted to give him some time there after he ran so big at Saratoga,” Russell said. “He just came back a little banged up, nothing huge, so we just turned him out. He’s training well now and hopefully every week he keeps progressing.”
Wondrwherecraigis debuted with a 2 ½-length maiden special weight victory last March going six furlongs at Laurel, two days before live racing was paused for 2 ½ months in Maryland amid the coronavirus pandemic. He was equally impressive in his return, overcoming a slow start to rally for a half-length allowance score sprinting 5 ½ furlongs.
The connections sent Wondrwherecraigis out of town for his final two starts at 3. Prior to the Amsterdam he ran second, beaten a head by Liam’s Pride, in the six-furlong Gold Mover at Belmont Park, but was disqualified to third for interfering with show finisher Long Weekend.
No decision has been made on when or where, or on what level, Wondrwherecraigis will begin his comeback.
“He’s eligible for the two-other-than [allowance], so we’ll probably try to knock that out if we can and see how he comes back,” Russell said. “You want to try and give him the easiest spot probably that you can off a break like that, so if we can get that accomplished that would be the goal.”
Winter Meet Jockey Race Going Down to Final Weekend
Jockey Sheldon Russell enters the final weekend of Laurel Park’s 2021 winter meet in position to claim his second straight riding title, ranking second by one win with three racing days remaining.
Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Alexander Crispin, who hasn’t ridden since Feb. 28 while serving a suspension, holds a slim 33-32 advantage over Russell, the winter meet leader in purse earnings with $1.172 million. Apprentice Charlie Marquez is third with 24 wins.
Russell is named on eight horses as live racing returns to Laurel Friday, March 26 including Barry Schwartz’s 4-year-old ridgling Obsessed for Hall of Fame-nominated trainer Todd Pletcher in the featured seventh, a 1 1/8-mile allowance for older horses. A $330,000 yearling purchase by More Than Ready, Obsessed is the 6-5 program favorite in a field of six.
On Saturday, Russell is named in five of 10 races including 2019 Remsen (G2) winner and 2020 Withers runner-up Shotski, racing without blinkers for Laurel-based trainer Jerry O’Dwyer. The 4-year-old colt returned from 11 months between races Jan. 15 at Aqueduct, was third in a second-level optional claiming allowance going about 1 1/16 miles Feb. 25 at Laurel, and comes back in a similar spot having drawn Post 9 in an overflow field of 12.
Russell, represented by agent Marty Leonard, owns eight career riding titles in Maryland and was the state’s leading rider in 2011. The winter meet closes Sunday, March 28 before Laurel opens its 19-day spring stand Thursday, April 1.
Claudio Gonzalez leads the winter meet trainer standings with 28 wins, 11 more than runner-up Mike Trombetta.
Post time for the first of nine races Friday is 12:40 p.m. Races 8 and 9 lead off the weekly national Stronach 5 wager, followed by Race 3 from Santa Anita and Golden Gate and capped by Race 10 from Gulfstream Park.
There will also be carryovers of $2,347.13 in Laurel’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9) and $504.90 in the $1 Super Hi-5 (Race 2) wagers Friday.
Watch and Wager on Florida Derby, Dubai World Cup at Laurel
In addition to Friday’s live program, Laurel Park will offer advance wagering on Saturday’s entire 14-race Florida Derby Day card from Gulfstream Park.
The Gulfstream program features 10 stakes, six graded, worth $1.85 million in purses anchored by the 70th running of the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa for 3-year-olds, which has produced a remarkable 60 Triple Crown race winners.
Laurel will open its doors at 8:30 a.m. Saturday to allow for wagering on the Dubai World Cup program from Meydan Racecourse, beginning with the Dubai Gold Cup (G2) on turf in Race 3 (8:50 a.m. EST). The $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) will go off as Race 9 (12:50 p.m. EST).
Nominations for April 17 Spring Stakes Spectacular Close Saturday
Nominations for Laurel Park’s Spring Stakes Spectacular program April 17, featuring seven stakes worth $750,000 in purses, close Saturday.
Headlining the program are the $125,000 Federico Tesio, a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds to the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 15, and $125,000 Weber City Miss, a ‘Win and In’ event for 3-year-old fillies to the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 14, both at Pimlico Race Course.
The Spring Stakes Spectacular will also feature the season’s first stakes over Laurel’s world-class turf course – the $100,000 Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Dahlia for fillies and mares 3 and older, both at 1 1/16 miles, and $100,000 King T. Leatherbury for 3-year-olds and sprinting 5 ½ furlongs.
Rounding out the stakes action are a pair of $100,000 sprints, the seven-furlong Frank Y. Whiteley for 3-year-olds and up and six-furlong Primonetta for fillies and mares 3 and older.
Laurel Park Press Release
Photo: Wonderwherecraigis, (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)