LAUREL, Md. – David Raim’s Run to Daylight, undefeated through three starts including back-to-back stakes wins, hits the road for the first time in an attempt to keep his perfect record intact in Saturday’s $100,000 James F. Lewis III at Laurel Park.
The 10th running of the Lewis for 2-year-olds and 25th renewal of the $100,00 Smart Halo for 2-year-old fillies, both sprinting six furlongs, join the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go for females 3 and older going 1 1/16 miles on the nine-race program. First race post time is 12:25 p.m.
Run to Daylight, a gelded bay son of champion sprinter Runhappy, has been favored in each of his first three races, winning by 11 ¼ combined lengths, all at trainer Jeff Runco’s Charles Town base. Run to Daylight debuted August 22 and captured the Sept. 18 Henry Mercer Memorial going 4 ½ furlongs, before taking the 6 ½-furlong Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders’ Classic Oct. 9.
“So far he’s done pretty good. He’s a nice Runhappy colt that’s won two stakes now, and he’s got a little experience,” Runco said. “We stretched him out and he kind of got off a little slow in his last start but was able to overcome that and ran very well. He kind of pulled away there at the end. He ran a nice race.”
Because of his tardy break last out, Run to Daylight showed a new dimension in the Moscarelli after a pair of front-running triumphs. All of his races have come under jockey Arnaldo Bocachica, who returns to ride from Post 2 in a field of eight. All horses carry 122 pounds.
“Whenever you have a horse that’s gone to the lead twice, and won both on the lead, if they get off slow and then they show that they can come from off the pace, its shows that the horse definitely has some talent and he’s versatile,” Runco said. “He doesn’t have to be in front. I like seeing that; I’m sure any trainer would. He ran a real nice race off the pace last time and finished up well.”
Run to Daylight initially fetched $115,000 at Keeneland’s January 2020 Horses of All Ages sale, then was purchased by Raim for $60,000 as a yearling eight months later from the Dromoland Farm consignment. Runco signed the ticket.
“We’ve liked him all along. I liked him when I bought him as a yearling. I’ve had some siblings out of same family, and they’ve all run pretty good. He’s a real nice-looking colt. Once we got him in training, he worked well,” Runco said. “I’m not sure if he’ll go a route or not yet. It’s still a little early, but that’s a possibility. He definitely looks like six or seven [furlongs] is going to be fine for him as a 2-year-old.”
Runco also entered Coleswood Farm, Inc.’s homebred Amidships, a maiden winner second time out Sept. 18 at Charles Town who ran a decisive second to his stablemate in the Moscarelli, 10 lengths clear of third-place finisher Ryan’s Sword. By Midshipman, he is also making his first start outside his native West Virginia.
“He ran a good race, and he had a little bit of a tough trip. He got off just a tick slow, not bad, but he had to chase three wide on a really hot pace. He was three wide around the turn and it just kind of got to him the last part of it.,” Runco said. “I’m not saying which one of the two is better; the other horse won the race. But when you chase three wide, that’s tough on a horse that’s only run two times. He’s a pretty nice colt, too. If he gets a good trip I think he’ll be formidable, also.”
Denis Araujo has the call on Amidships from Post 3.
Three other stakes winners are entered in the Lewis – Timonium Juvenile winner Cynergy’s Star, coming off a sixth in the Maryland Million Nursery Oct. 23 at Laurel; Local Motive, winner of the Hickory Tree on the Colonial Downs turf Aug. 8 in his second start; and No Sabe Nada, who captured the Sept. 25 First State Dash at Delaware Park. No Sabe Nada was most recently third in the one-mile Rocky Run Oct. 16 at Delaware; the winner, Cooke Creek, came back to be second in the Nov. 6 Nashua (G2) at Belmont Park.
Bird Mobberley’s Maryland-bred Local Motive was a debut winner July 24 going six furlongs on the main track at historic Pimlico Race Course, then cut back to five-eighths and switched to turf for the Hickory Tree, rallying by a half-length. In his most recent start, he pressed the pace set by eventual winner Buff Hello into the stretch before tiring to be third by 2 ¼ lengths, beaten a neck for second by Coastal Mission. Both horses were also nominated to the Lewis.
“He chased that horse all the way and he didn’t stop. He got beat a [neck] for second but, on a normal basis, I don’t think that horse beats him again,” trainer John Salzman Jr. said. “He’s doing fine, he’s training fine, he came out of that race and everything’s good. The only reason I’d hesitate is the three weeks. That horse ran big. It’s just going to be up to what the race looks like.”
Salzman is proud of how Local Motive has rebounded from a failed run in the Timonium Juvenile, where he went off as the favorite but was pulled up by jockey J.D. Acosta and vanned off following a freak incident. Acosta rides back from Post 7.
“He’s a nice horse. He’s done everything I’ve asked of him. He’s won on the turf, he’s won on the dirt. Timonium was just a freak thing,” Salzman said. “He got hit in the eye and it scared him more than anything. He was all over the place and he scared the rider. He did the right thing and he pulled him up. He thought something serious was wrong and, knock on wood, it wasn’t. He came back and he gave me a big effort.”
Completing the field are Timonium Juvenile runner-up Slaats, a popular waiver maiden claiming winner Oct. 15 at Laurel; Beast or Famine, a winner of two straight; and Tops the Chart, who exits a Sept. 25 maiden special weight victory at Monmouth Park.
The James F. Lewis III honors the late longtime Maryland horseman and first president of Maryland Million Ltd. He bred and/or campaigned a number of prominent runners in the region, led by 1974 Test (G2) winner Maybelline, Flirtation (G3) winner Heartful and multiple stakes winner Swift Attraction. His daughter, Lisa, is a multiple graded-stakes winning trainer based in New York and Florida.
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo: Trainer Jeff Runco (MJC)