Joe, 3YO Stakes Winner on Turf & Dirt, Getting Time Off
Jockey Boyce, Trainer Keefe Team Up for Friday Double
LAUREL, MD – Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ Grade 3 winner Wondrwherecraigis breezed a half-mile at Laurel Park Friday morning as the connections weigh options for his next start.
Based at Laurel with trainer Brittany Russell, Wondrwherecraigis went four furlongs in an easy 49.80 seconds over a fast main track. It was the second timed work for the 5-year-old Munnings gelding since his runner-up finish in Laurel’s Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash July 16, also going a half in 49.60 Aug. 4.
“He’s training really well and he’s doing well. We’re very happy with him,” Elkstone’s Stuart Grant said. “We just have to be smart enough to put him in the right spot and he should continue to do well.”
Wondrwherecraigis was nominated to the six-furlong Chesapeake August 16 at Colonial Downs, which drew a field of 14 including Laurel-based runners Threes Over Deuces and Factor It In as well as Jalen Journey, promoted winner of the 2021 De Francis (G3) following the disqualification for interference of first-place finisher Wondrwherecraigis.
Other upcoming open dirt sprint stakes for 3-year-olds and up include the $250,000 Russell Road August 26 at Charles Town and $250,000 Pat O’Brien (G2) August 27 at Del Mar, both going seven furlongs, and $100,000 Lite the Fuse September 10 at historic Pimlico Race Course, scheduled for six furlongs.
Wondrwherecraigis became a stakes winner last August at Saratoga in the Tale of the Cat, which preceded his De Francis effort. He bounced back to capture the Bold Ruler (G3) last fall at Belmont Park and opened this year with a victory in the Jan. 29 Fire Plug at Laurel before finishing off the board in the $2 million Golden Shaheen March 26 in Dubai. After some time off he made his return in last month’s De Francis, to the delight of Grant.
“It was awesome, especially after coming back from Dubai. You never know if you’re going to get the same horse,” Grant said. “He really dug in there and worked hard. Ultimately, he didn’t come up with it, but it was a hell of a race and I feel like we got the same Craig back, so that’s good.”
Grant said that Elkstone’s 3-year-old Maryland homebred Joe, a stakes winner on turf and dirt named for U.S. President Joe Biden, is in the midst of a break before he returns to training.
“We gave Joe time off. Joe had several tough races,” Grant said. “He’s been running so well and digging in and it’s his 3-year-old year. He was starting to get a little sore and we just didn’t want to beat on him. He doesn’t owe us anything and he’s done great, and so we gave him a few months off. He’s in South Carolina, enjoying being a horse and freshening up, and he’ll be back.”
Joe won two of his three starts last year including the Maryland Juvenile to be named the state’s champion 2-year-old male. This year he was second in the Private Terms and won the Federico Tesio on dirt at Laurel and, after briefly being considered for the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1), was put on turf where he defeated Ready to Purrform in the James W. Murphy at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard.
Ready to Purrform, winner of the 2021 Laurel Futurity, most recently won the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (G2) Aug. 5 at Saratoga.
“I was up here in Saratoga watching the horse he beat the last time out win the Grade 2 up here. It was so tempting,” Grant said. “If you push them too hard … he started racing in the fall of his 2-year-old year and none of his races were easy. That horse works, so we just said, ‘Let’s do what’s right by the horse.’ And we did.”
Notes: Jockey Forest Boyce and trainer Tim Keefe teamed up for a pair of winners Friday, Elusive Agent ($4.40) in Race 3 and Canoodle ($6.80) in Race 7 … Jeiron Barbosa also doubled with Albertano ($7) in Race 4 and Spotake ($3.60) in Race 8 … A 3-year-old gelding making his second career start for Mrs. E. Allen Murray Jr., Elusive Agent dueled for the early lead before taking over at the top of the stretch and drawing clear for a popular three-length victory in the 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight for horses age 3, 4 and 5. Originally carded for the turf, the winning time was 1:04.55 over a fast main track … 4-year-old filly Canoodle, entered for main track only, drew into the feature when the race came off the grass and picked up her fourth career win and third in eight starts this year in the 5 ½-furlong allowance for females 3 and up … There will be a carryover of $2,721.45 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 for Saturday’s 10-race card that begins at 12:40 p.m. Multiple tickets with all six winners Friday each returned $146.06.