Stakes-Winning Carmelina Seeks Turf Success in $150K Selima

September 27, 2023

Photo by Maryland Jockey Club

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md.— Cash is King and LC Racing’s Carmelina, who became a stakes winner on dirt in her last start, will look to transfer that success to the turf when she returns from a short freshening in Saturday’s $150,000 Selima at Laurel Park.

The 94th running of the Selima for 2-year-old fillies and 97th renewal of the $150,000 Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds, both scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass, co-headline an 11-race program featuring four stakes worth $500,000 in purses on opening weekend of the calendar year-ending fall meet.

Also on the card are the $100,000 Japan Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for 1 ½ miles on the grass and the $100,000 Twixt for fillies and mares 3 and older going 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

First race post time is 12:25 p.m.

Out of the St Averil mare Complete St., who won the 1 1/16-mile Brookmeade in 2015 and was runner-up in the 1 1/8-mile Maryland Million Ladies in 2016 on the Laurel turf, Carmelina will be racing at her fourth different racetrack in as many starts and her first since a rallying half-length triumph in the five-furlong Keswick Aug. 5 at Colonial Downs.

Prior to that, the Maximus Mischief filly ran fifth after setting the pace in the six-furlong Schuylerville (G3) July 13 at Saratoga following a 5 ¾-length debut victory going 4 ½ furlongs June 18 at her home track of Parx.

“She came out of her last race great,” trainer Robert E. ‘Butch’ Reid Jr. said. “We asked a lot of her early in her career. We had three races kind of back-to-back to back, and her last one was the best one yet. We pushed her hard and shipped her from Saratoga down to Colonial so we wanted to give her a nice break between these last two and we got that accomplished. She breezed great the other day and she’s coming into it in great shape.”

Carmelina was bred in Pennsylvania by Lillith Boucher, who trained Complete St. Racing for the first time beyond six furlongs, she drew Post 8 in a field of 10 and will be ridden by Abner Adorno.

“We’ve got a couple questions [about] the turf and the two turns. I don’t think the two turns will be a problem, and her mother was absolutely a grass horse so that’s why we decided to give it a shot this early on,” Reid said. “It’ll help us as far as what we’re going to think about for next year and what we’ve got left here the remainder of this year. We wanted to get this out of the way early, just to see where we stand.”

Yatta (Coady Photography)

Trainer Graham Motion won the Selima in 2019 with Sharing as a springboard to her upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). He returns this year with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Yatta, a popular 2 ½-length maiden special weight winner going one mile Sept. 7 at Kentucky Downs, her third start.

Yatta debuted against the boys sprinting five furlongs on the Delaware Park turf July 2, running second by a half-length, then made a late run after encountering trouble in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on the grass Aug. 12 at Colonial Downs.

“Her last race was really impressive,” Motion said. “To be honest, she was really unlucky in the race at Colonial the start before. She got in a lot of trouble, and I was surprised she finished up as well as she did that day. So, it wasn’t completely unexpected the last time. We like her, and I think she keeps improving.”

Yatta has raced over three different turf courses rated soft, good and firm and shown the ability to run well either on or off the pace. Jorge Ruiz gets the riding assignment from Post 6.

“I think she’s pretty adaptable, but I think she’s still kind of figuring it out, really,” Motion said. “I’m not concerned really with any conditions. She’s kind of bred to handle it, but having run over different courses and conditions definitely helps.

“We’ve certainly liked her right along. Did I think she’d come around as quickly as she has? Not necessarily, but we’ve always thought highly of her,” he added. “It’s that time of year so this is an important race for her.”

Red Oak Stable homebred Gorgeous Girl, out of the Lightnin N Thunder mare Ima Jersey Girl, ships in from Monmouth Park to make her grass debut for trainer Greg Sacco off a determined neck maiden special weight victory sprinting six furlongs Aug. 13. In her debut, the Liam’s Map filly chased the early pace before tiring to be sixth as the favorite going 5 ½ furlongs.

“I trained the mare. She was a stakes winner for us and she won going short and long, so she’s pretty versatile,” Sacco said. “Gorgeous Girl is a big, tall filly and she showed some promise early on during her works. First race, she kind of shot out there to the front and got a little discombobulated, kind of rushed off her feet. The second race we told the jock to settle with her and make a run, and she kind of ran the way we thought she would the first time.”

Sheldon Russell gets the call from Post 2 on Gorgeous Girl, whose effort Saturday will help the connections which direction to go in future races.

“She’s shown some nice promise on the dirt. She acts like a filly that’s going to want two turns and we’ll just see if she runs to her [breeding]. A lot of the Liam’s Maps do take to the turf. She has a little bit of a high action which is an indicator that she will, but you never know until you try them on it,” Sacco said. “We’re optimistic that she’ll take to it, and she’s bene training really well. We’re hoping for a good race, and we’ll get a good line going forward if we’re going to stick to the dirt or switch to the turf.”

Bird and Grady’s Low Mileage, based at Laurel with trainer John Salzman Jr., made her turf debut a winning one Sept. 2 in the 5 ½-furlong Jamestown against fellow Virginia-breds at Colonial after finishing fifth behind Carmelina in the Keswick. Her first two starts came at her home track, winning a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight in debut May 5 and running second against the boys in a five-furlong optional claiming allowance July 14.

“I think she’s a nice filly,” Salzman said. “In the [Keswick] she got beat five lengths and she came back all cut up. She got hammered from both sides leaving the gate and [jockey] Jevian [Toledo] said he thought that’s where it all happened because after that she just didn’t want to really show a good effort. She only got beat five lengths, so I wasn’t too disappointed.

“The Virginia-bred race, it looked pretty impressive but I don’t know what else was in there so I really don’t have a good line on her,” he added. “She runs like a horse that will keep going. I think she’ll go long, and I think she’ll run turf or dirt. I just don’t know what to expect.”

Toledo returns to ride Low Mileage from Post 3.

Trainer Chad Brown entered Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Michael Kisber and William Rucker’s Positive Carry as he seeks a third Selima victory following subsequent multiple graded-stakes winners Fluffy Socks in 2020 and Consumer Spending in 2021. Positive Carry, bred in Ireland, made a belated run to be second by 2 ¼ lengths in her only race to date, a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight Aug. 31 at Saratoga.

Completing the field are Brocknardini, exiting the one-mile Natalma (G1) at Woodbine; Determined Sail, third by two lengths after setting the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Kitten’s Joy against males Sept. 9 at Colonial; Flowers for Me, a last out maiden winner on the dirt Aug. 17 at Saratoga; Kissedbyanangel, claimed out of a 6 ¾-length debut victory Sept. 10 at historic Pimlico Race Course; and Hekate.

First run in 1926, the Selima is named for the great English race mare who was imported to the U.S. in the 1750s by Benjamin Tasker Jr., manager of the famed Belair Farm in Prince George’s County. The daughter of the Godolphin Arabian, considered ‘Queen of the Turf,’ also gained fame as a broodmare.

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