Sugar Gray Leonard Delivers Knockout for Maiden Triumph

May 6, 2022

Sophomore Maclean’s Music Colt Graduates Thursday in Third Try

Ness Takes Over Training Lead, Barbosa Still Tops Jockey Standings 

LAUREL, MD – Third time proved the charm for Zilla Racing Stables and Acqua Nova Stable’s Sugar Gray Leonard, as the 3-year-old colt pulled away from pacesetting stablemate Raise a Speights in the stretch to graduate by 4 ¼ lengths Thursday at Laurel Park.

In against older horses for the first time, Sugar Gray Leonard ($3.60) was sent off as the 4-5 favorite in the maiden special weight for horses ages 3, 4 and 5. The winning time was 1:24.22 over a main track upgraded from good to fast prior to the race.

Second in a maiden claimer in his April 7 unveiling at Laurel, Raise a Speights broke sharply from the inside to grab the lead and hold it through a quarter-mile in 23.42 seconds while Jevian Toledo had Sugar Gray Leonard positioned in the clear two wide pressing the pace. Sugar Gray Leonard took over the top spot rounding the far turn and opened up once straightened for home, with Raise a Speights 4 ¼ lengths better than Late Call in third.

“It was a perfect setup. I actually thought [Sugar Gray Leonard] was the speed, but then my other horse jumped out of there and surprised me,” winning trainer Brittany Russell said. “You never know with second-timers what they’re going to do, and obviously stretching out a little bit you would have expected it. So, they were smart. Toledo just sat off the other horse and he just had more animal at the end, so it worked out great.”

A gray or roan son of Maclean’s Music out of the Classic Account mare Miss Fontana, Sugar Gray Leonard fetched $100,000 as a 2-year-old in training last May at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium after selling for $15,000 as a yearling in September 2020 at Keeneland.

“Originally he came over from the sale and I had him for bit, but his shins got sore on us so we just stopped on him and gave him some time,” Russell said. “He’s kind of a small horse, so I was a little bit concerned that he didn’t really grow and that he might have just been an early type, but he’s very athletic. He’s a racy little horse.”

Sugar Gray Leonard debuted March 20 sprinting seven furlongs at Aqueduct, where he got away a step slow and raced in midpack before finishing third. In his next start, he ran second as the favorite to Damon Dilodovico-trained Super Love in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight April 16 at Laurel. Super Love came back to beat winners convincingly in his first try in Laurel’s Race 7, an entry-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds sprinting six furlongs. 

“First race, we sent him out of town not by design, and he ran OK up there. He just ran like a first-timer going seven-eighths in New York,” Russell said. “He came back here and he hooked a good horse of Damon’s last time, and I think he got a good number, so we weren’t disappointed with that effort. I was actually going to wait and run this horse at Pimlico, but this race looked like it was going to come up a short field and it [became] a case of ‘why not?’ It worked out good today.”

Notes: Seven-pound apprentice Jeiron Barbosa took Friday’s opener to give him 20 wins and maintain his four-win advantage over runner-up Jevian Toledo, who captured Race 3 on Sugar Gray Leonard ($3.60) to keep pace … Jamie Ness won Race 4 with It’s Game Time ($6) to move past Claudio Gonzalez and Brittany Russell for the lead in the trainer standings, 11-10. Sugar Gray Leonard’s win briefly put Russell in a three-way tie for first … In addition to Friday’s 10-race live program, Laurel will offer advance wagering on Saturday’s full Kentucky Derby card from Churchill Downs. Laurel will open its doors at 10 a.m. with a 12:40 p.m. first post … There will be mandatory payouts in Laurel’s Rainbow 6, Late Pick 5 and Super Hi-5 wagers for Sunday’s eight-race live program, closing day of its spring meet.

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release

Photo: Maryland Jockey Club

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