LAUREL, Md.—Wasabi Ventures Stables’ Why Not Tonight drew alongside multiple stakes-winning pacesetter Can the Queen in deep stretch and surged past approaching the wire to give trainer Jesus Cruz his first career stakes victory with a three-quarter-length triumph in the $75,000 All Brandy.
It was also the first stakes win for Why Not Tonight ($16), a 4-year-old Taptiture filly bred in Maryland by Mr. & Mrs. Charles McGinnes. With Angel Cruz aboard, she ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.30 over a firm Exceller turf course.
Jesus Cruz is coming off his best year as a trainer with 20 wins and $337,826 in purse earnings from 82 starters in 2021. According to Equibase statistics, he won with his first career starter, Maryland’s Best, April 2, 2017 at Laurel.
“It means a lot,” Cruz said. “This was the first track I got my training license at, I ran my first starter here, won my first race. It’s our first stakes win, and for the right owners. [They] have supported me when no one else did and I can’t thank them enough. Just a lot of people, from the group that supports me with them to all my staff that has worked for me all over the country, and my mom. She taught me everything.”
A two-time turf sprint stakes winner in Maryland racing beyond six furlongs for the first time, Can the Queen broke sharply and was in front through splits of 23.95 and 47.40 seconds. Why Not Tonight laid off the front-runner but was alone leading the second flight of horses that included stakes winner Epic Idea and multiple stakes-placed No Mo Lady.
Can the Queen was still in front and moving well once straightened for home, though the gap behind her was closing led by Why Not Tonight. Under Cruz’s urging, Why Not Tonight ranged up outside a stubborn Can the Queen and dug in to get by late.
“I told Angel she’s got some speed, but she’ll kind of walk away from the gate. I think that’s what happened to her last time. She kind of broke slow and then just got covered up and was in bad trouble,” Cruz said. “I told Angel to be aggressive with her leaving there. We thought [Can the Queen], coming off the short races, would have much more speed so we were hoping to just be tucked in behind her and hopefully we’d get some room turning for home. No one really came up next to her, so we had the perfect trip.”
Can the Queen held on for second, with Coconut Cake third, narrow 3-1 favorite No Mo Lady fourth and She Is Wisky fifth.
Why Not Tonight now owns four wins from 11 starts, two of them coming in four starts since being claimed for $16,000 last September at Monmouth Park. She ended 2021 with an allowance victory at Tampa Bay Downs, then finished off the board on the Tapeta at Gulfstream Park to open 2022. In her prior start she ran a troubled fourth, beaten 2 ¼ lengths, May 12 at Pimlico.
“When we claimed her we thought she was a nice filly. We didn’t get to run her until Tampa and she ran a monster race first time out. Then we tried her in a stake on the Tapeta which she didn’t handle much at Gulfstream,” Cruz said. “We got her up here and I was excited to run her against Maryland-breds. Sometimes it’s racing luck, especially on the turf. We just had a troubled trip last time. She came out of it well, thank God, and she trained well. She had a really nice breeze last week at Monmouth. I told Angel if she got a clean trip today she’d be right there with them. She’s a fighter. [Can the Queen] didn’t want to give up and she fought to get to the wire first.”
Bred by John Manfuso Sr., former owner of the Maryland Jockey Club, All Brandy was named Maryland’s champion 3-year-old filly of 1962 who would go on to win three stakes in 1963 including the Barbara Fritchie Handicap. All Brandy was also the granddam of Maryland’s 1981 champion 2-year-old colt A Magic Spray.
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo by Jerry Dzierwinski/MJC