Sweet Soddy J, Tok Tok Lead Laurel Futurity Noms

September 20, 2023

Sweet Soddy J winning the Timonium Juvenile. (Jerry Dzierwinski/MJC)

> Undefeated Stakes Winners Among 37 Noms for $150K Turf Stakes
>> Trainers Brown, Motion Well-Represented in $150,000 Selima
>>> Total of 132 Nominations for Four Stakes Worth $500K Sept. 30

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md. – Undefeated stakes winners Sweet Soddy J and Tok Tok and Grade 3-placed Spirit Prince top 37 2-year-olds nominated to the $150,000 Laurel Futurity Saturday, Sept. 30 at Laurel Park.

The 97th running of the Futurity and 94th renewal of the $150,000 Selima for 2-year-old fillies, both scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass, are among four stakes worth $500,000 in purses on opening weekend of Laurel’s calendar year-ending fall meet that drew a total of 132 nominations.

Built Wright Stables homebred Sweet Soddy J has yet to race on turf or around two turns but has been impressive in each of his two starts. He won a six-furlong maiden claimer by 3 ½ lengths Aug. 10 at Colonial Downs and sprung a 9-1 upset of the 6 ½-furlong Timonium Juvenile Sept. 2 during the Maryland State Fair meeting.

Wertheimer & Frere homebred Tok Tok is also 2-0, having won both of his starts on the grass at Colonial Downs. He rallied for a popular half-length debut triumph going 5 ½ furlongs July 27 and returned with a 1 ¼-length score in the Sept. 9 Kitten’s Joy at 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Graham Motion won the Futurity in 2019 with Irish Mias.

Oakwood Stables, Scott Krase, Donarra Thoroughbreds, Ken Beitz and Gail Beitz’s Spirit Prince is still looking for his first win but has placed in each of his two starts, both going 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga, for trainer Christophe Clement. The Cairo Prince colt ran second by a half-length in his July 22 unveiling and finished third by less than two lengths in the Aug. 21 With Anticipation (G3). Clement-trained Therapist was the 2017 Futurity winner.

In addition to Sweet Soddy J and Tok Tok, 10 other nominees are coming off victories including Elevated Game, a 7 ¼-length debut winner sprinting 7 ½ furlongs on the Canterbury Park turf Aug. 27; Fulmineo, a 2 ¼-length maiden special weight winner Sept. 2 at Colonial Downs at 1 1/16 miles on grass; and Understudy Kitty, a gutsy front-running neck winner sprinting 5 ½ furlongs Sept. 8 at Colonial for Kentucky Derby (G1)-winning trainer Michael Matz, who saddled Barbaro to victory in the 2005 Futurity.

The Futurity has a rich history dating back to 1921 inaugural winner Morvich, who would go on to win the 1922 Kentucky Derby. The Futurity has also been won by Triple Crown champions Affirmed, Citation and Secretariat along with Barbaro, In Reality, Honest Pleasure, Quadrangle, Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid and Tapit.

Motion used a victory in the 2019 Selima as a prep for her upset triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Sharing would race five more times in 2020, winning the Edgewood (G2) and placing in two stakes including a third in the American Oaks (G1).

Memorialize breaking her maiden at Saratoga. (Susie Raisher)

Based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., Motion has four nominees to the Selima in Memorialize, a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight winner Aug. 20 at Saratoga; Yatta, who graduated third time out in a one-mile maiden special weight Sept. 7 at Kentucky Downs; Toupie, second in the 5 ½-furlong Rosies on the Colonial Downs turf Sept. 9; and Union Suit, runner-up in the June 11 Astoria at Belmont Park yet to run on grass.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown won the Selima in back-to-back years with Fluffy Socks (2020) and Consumer Spending (2021). Fluffy Socks also won the 2020 Jimmy Durante (G3), 2021 Sands Point (G2) and May 6 Distaff Turf Mile (G3). Consumer Spending went on to run sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf before capturing the 2022 Wonder Again (G2) and a pair of Grade 3 stakes this spring – the May 7 Beaugay at Belmont and June 17 Matchmaker at Monmouth Park.

Hard to Justify getting first win. (Susie Raisher)

Brown nominated eight fillies to the Selima including Hard to Justify, a daughter of 2018 Triple Crown champion Justify that rallied for a head victory going 1 1/16 miles July 23 at Saratoga in her lone start; fellow last-out winners It’s Hot in Here and Weigh the RisksLatte Lizzie, second in the one-mile Juvenile Fillies Sept. 10 at Kentucky Downs; and Steel Lute, runner-up behind Memorialize in her only start.

Carmelina and Living Magic, respective stakes winners on dirt and all-weather surfaces; Determined Sail, third to Tok Tok in the Kitten’s Joy; and Determined Driver, second to Sweet Soddy J in the Timonium Juvenile, are also nominated.

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.

Cross Border wins the 2020 Lubash Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. (Adam Coglianese)

Most popular among horsemen with 40 nominations is the listed $100,000 Japan Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for 1 ½ miles on the grass. Trainer Mike Maker, who won the race in 2021 with Tide of the Sea, nominated nine horses led by millionaires Cross Border, Red Knight and Therapist. Three Diamonds Farm’s 9-year-old Cross Border owns 13 wins, five in stakes including the 2020 and 2021 Bowling Green (G2), and most recently captured the 1 ½-mile Cape Henlopen Sept. 16 at Monmouth.

Trinity Farm’s Red Knight, also 9, is a 12-time winner with seven stakes victories, four graded, led by the 1 3/8-mile Man o’ War (G1) May 23 at Belmont. Claimed for $50,000 in January, Michael Dubb’s Therapist has 13 wins, 10 in stakes, two of them graded highlighted by the 1 3/8-mile United Nations (G1) July 22 at Monmouth. Most recently, the 8-year-old was eighth in the 1 ½-mile Kentucky Downs Turf Cup (G2) Sept. 9.

Dynadrive winning the 2022 the Lure. (Joe Labozzetta)

Other Maker nominees include 2022 Lure winner DynadriveMe and Mr. C, a stakes winner on both turf and all-weather surfaces; Red Run, third in the 1 ½-mile Brooklyn (G2) on dirt June 10 at Belmont that has two wins from seven grass starts; Starting Over, last out winner of the 1 ½-mile Colonial Cup Sept. 9; and claimer-turned-2022 Mac Diarmida (G2) winner Temple.

Also prominent among nominees are Armando R, the defending champion from last year’s off-the-turf edition; 2019 Kent (G3) winner Eons; 2022 Transylvania (G3) winner Sy Dog; turf stakes winners King Vega, Oceans Map and Grade 1-placed Pioneering Spirit; and graded-stakes placed Ajourneytofreedom, It Can Be Done and Limited Liability.

Rounding out the stakes action is the $100,000 Twixt for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/16 miles on the main track which attracted 21 nominations led by defending champion Battle Bling, who went on to win the Turnback the Alarm (G3) in her subsequent start and has gone winless in three tries this year, all in stakes, placing twice.

Interstatedaydream winning the 2023 Allaire Dupont Distaff (Jim McCue/MJC)

Flurry Racing Stables’ Interstatedaydream, trained by Brad Cox, won the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at historic Pimlico Race Course and Indiana Oaks (G3) last year and has run third or better in four of five starts this year, her lone victory coming in the 1 1/8-mile Allaire du Pont May 19, also at Pimlico.

Sixtythreecaliber, whose stakes wins include the 2022 Comely (G3); fellow multiple stakes winners Hybrid Eclipse, Malibu Beauty and Venti Valentine; and Maryland stakes winners Beguine, Intrepid Daydream and Misty Mauve are also prominent among nominees.

Laurel’s 50-day fall meet is scheduled to open Friday, Sept. 29 and run through Sunday, Dec. 31. A total of 28 stakes and four starter stakes worth a total of $3.13 million will be offered highlighted by the 38th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day Saturday, Oct. 14.

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