Union Lake handily winning an AOC Aqueduct Dec. 31, 2022. (NYRA Coglianese)
• Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby Offers Berth in Preakness 148
• 12:25 Post Time for Saturday’s Live Nine-Race Program at Laurel
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md. – Steven Schoenfeld’s Grade 2-placed filly Union Lake breezed a half-mile Friday over the Belmont Park training track ahead of a planned start in the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) Feb. 18 at Laurel Park.
Trained by John Terranova, Union Lake went four furlongs in 48.47 seconds to rank eighth of 69 horses at the distance. Terranova’s wife and assistant, Tonja, oversaw the work while he was with their string at Tampa Bay Downs.
“Tonja said she looked fantastic. Beautiful. Perfect,” Terranova said. “She’s going to go to the Barbara Fritchie. She had a nice breeze this morning and everybody’s real happy, so we’re good to go right now.”
The seven-furlong Fritchie for fillies and mares 4 and up will mark a return to graded competition for UnionLake, a 4-year-old daughter of Speightster who ran third in the six-furlong Prioress (G2) last summer at Saratoga and a troubled ninth in the Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland, also going seven-eighths.
Two months later, Union Lake came back with a 3 ½-length optional claiming allowance triumph over older horses sprinting 6 ½ furlongs Dec. 31 at Aqueduct. She has had five timed works at Belmont this year for her season debut.
“The Raven Run was her only misfire, but it was just a throwout. She was down inside, and it was hard to see, but she touched heels with another horse in front of her and as soon as that happened it sort of startled her and she just kind of let go of [jockey John Velazquez],” Terranova said. “She rebounded well from that.”
The Barbara Fritchie is one of six stakes, two graded, worth $900,000 in purses on a Winter Carnival program co-headlined by the $250,000 General George (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs.
Also on the card are the $100,000 Miracle Wood for 3-year-olds and $100,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies, $100,000 John B. Campbell for 4-year-olds and up and $100,000 Nellie Morse for fillies and mares 4 and older.
Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby Offers Berth in Preakness 148
Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby for 3-year-olds, contested at 1 1/8 miles over the all-weather Tapeta course at Golden Gate Fields, is a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Mr. & Mrs. Larry Williams’ California homebred Passarando is the 2-1 program favorite in a field of eight. Trained by Steve Specht, he won the seven-furlong Golden State Juvenile on dirt at Santa Anita and the one-mile Gold Rush Dec. 3 at Golden Gate and was third in the California Cup Derby going 1 1/16 miles Jan. 7 at Santa Anita in his sophomore debut.
Triple Crown nominees Gilmore and Nullarbor are both trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan’s Gilmore raced twice at 2, winning a one-mile maiden special weight Dec. 10 at Los Alamitos in his most recent start.
Campaigned by the same connections, Nullarbor broke his maiden third time out in a restricted optional claimer sprinting six furlongs Jan. 6 at Santa Anita. He cost $500,000 as a yearling at Keeneland’s September 2021 auction, the same sale where Gilmore fetched $250,000.
The El Camino Real Derby is carded as Race 8 with a post time of 7:54 p.m. EST. Rombauer used the El Camino Real Derby as a springboard to Triple Crown glory in the 2021 Preakness.
Jockey Angel Cruz doubled Friday aboard Open the Books ($5.40) in Race 3 and Golden Effect ($11.20) in Race 8 … Post time for Saturday’s nine-race program is 12:25 p.m. The 9-year-old gelding Sevier goes after his third straight win and 27th in 65 career starts in Race 7, an optional claiming allowance for older horses sprinting six furlongs … Race 8 is similar spot for 3-year-old fillies where Happy Clouds is the 9-5 program favorite to extend her win streak to three.