2022 Maryland Million Classic winner Ournationonparade challenges 2020 Classic winner Monday Morning Qb. (Jim McCue/MJC)
• Nine Races as Laurel Park Fall Meet Resumes Friday
• MSW for 2YO Fillies, Stakes-Quality Allowance Top Card
• Nominations Close Saturday for Four $100,000 Stakes Dec. 23
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md – A maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies and stakes-quality optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up will be run back-to-back as live racing resumes Friday at Laurel Park.
Post time for the first of nine races is 12:25 p.m.
Four first-time starters are among the seven juvenile fillies entered in Race 3 going 5 ½ furlongs led by Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister’s Shake the Sugar, a $170,000 daughter of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire World of Trouble trained by Brittany Russell and favored at 6-5 on the morning line. Shining Spirit on Nov. 4 at Delaware Park and C C Royal Nov. 6 at Laurel were each third in their respective debuts, both sprinting six furlongs.
Friday’s feature comes in Race 4, a third-level event for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles that drew a field of eight including the Jamie Ness-trained entry of 2021 Greenwood Cup (G3) winner Magic Michael, a last-out winner Nov. 12 at Laurel in for a $55,000 tag, and 2022 Maryland Million Classic winner Ournationonparade.
Built Wright Stables’ Monday Morning Qb, winner of the 2020 Maryland Million Classic, will break alongside Ournationtoparade coming off a three-quarter-length triumph sprinting seven furlongs on Thanksgiving Day at Laurel. Berks has won two straight this fall at Laurel, claimed out of his most recent effort at the same distance Nov. 5 by trainer Kieron Magee. The 9-5 program favorite is 4-year-old Shaft’s Bullet, never worse than third in six starts with three wins that finished second, a half-length behind Magic Michael, Nov. 12.
A pair of horsemen begin the weekend closing in on career milestones. Jockey Forest Boyce, named in five races Friday and one each Saturday and Sunday, is nine wins shy of 1,000. Trainer Cal Lynch, who has two horses entered Saturday, is at 993 wins.
Saturday’s nine-race program is highlighted by an entry-level optional claiming allowance for 2-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles that includes Thedingoateyobaby, second in the one-mile Rocky Run Oct. 14 at Delaware coming off a rough trip in a similar spot Nov. 17 at Laurel, and five last-out winners, among them War Master, undefeated in two starts; and Pandagate, a nine-length debut victor Oct. 13 at Aqueduct for trainer Christophe Clement.
Eight races are on tap for Sunday. Race 7 is a 1 1/8-mile allowance for 3-year-olds and up where Michael Scheffres’ 3-year-old Martini Martin goes after a third straight victory after two straight over his elders by seven combined lengths. Dr. Michael Harrison’s homebred Jack’s Legend will be trying dirt for the first time after three grass starts including running third by a length in the 1 1/8-mile Maryland Million Turf Oct. 14.
Free nominations close Saturday for four $100,000 stakes to be run Saturday, Dec. 23 – the 1 1/16-mile Robert T. Manfuso and six-furlong Dave’s Friend for 3-year-olds and up and 1 1/8-mile Carousel and 6 ½-furlong Willa On the Move for fillies and mares 3 and older.
Entries will be taken, and post positions drawn for all four stakes on Sunday, Dec. 17. Nominations can be made by contacting stakes coordinator Eleanor Albert at Eleanor.Albert@marylandracing.com or calling 301-725-0400.