$300,000 Virginia-bred Stakes Day Recap from Sept. 26 at Laurel
Two Notch Road and Rose Brier successfully defended their 2014 titles in Saturday’s $300,000 Virginia-bred Stakes Extravaganza at Laurel Park which featured five $60,000 stakes. The former captured a one length score in the Punch Line Stakes while the latter won by two lengths in the Bert Allen Stakes. Interestingly, the same jockeys that guided both to stakes wins in the 2014 editions were atop in the 2015 stakes — Julian Pimentel with Two Notch Road and Trevor McCarthy with Rose Brier.
Pimentel’s well timed, four wide move atop Two Notch Road in mid-stretch enabled the 3 year old Closing Argument gelding to win the 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint against 8 other foes. The heavy betting choice came into the race with $309,601 in turf earnings though it had been a year since he saw the winner’s circle.
“Julian just fits him like a glove,” said trainer Glenn Thompson after the race. “After the first time he rode him, I wished he could travel around the country with him and ride every race. Two Notch Road looks like a three year old,” added Thompson. “He is solid, robust and has good genes.” Co-owned by breeder James Hackman and Thompson, Two Notch Road has a stakes history in the Commonwealth — he was 4th in the 2012 Virginia Derby & 3rd in the 2013 Colonial Turf Cup. He may have one more start this year, possibly in an allowance race, before he gets a couple months off in Aiken, South Carolina over the winter. Made Bail finished second in the Punch Line and Simmstown was third.
Rose Brier also went off heavily favored in the Bert Allen Stakes and rider Trevor McCarthy guided the victor to a two length triumph again, against six other horses in the 1 1/16th miles test. A year ago, the 6 year old Mizzen Mast gelding won by 3 1/4 lengths. Rose Brier made his move midway through the turn, powered past Curve Of Stones and never looked back, finishing in 1:41.51. “He broke very sharp,” said McCarthy. “There was an opening in the first turn and I took advantage of it and got him outside. The pace was slow and the fractions were easy, so it set up pretty nicely for us.” Rose Brier is trained by Jane Cibelli and was bred by William Backer. He is out Mexicali Rose, by El Gran Senor. Special Envoy was second and Dannhauser finished third.
Complete St. kicked off the Virginia-bred action with a come from behind victory in the Brookemeade Stakes, a 1 1/16th miles race for fillies and mares. Fittingly, Horacio Karamanos, leading all time rider in Virginia thoroughbred history (at Colonial Downs) directed the effort for trainer Lilith Boucher. The 5 year old daughter of St. Averil lost by a neck in the same stakes in 2013 but got the better end of a four horse photo at the wire Saturday. She was fourth coming out of the turn and battled with Magician’s Vanity, Secret Or Not and Why Not Be Queen in a thrilling stretch duel. Complete St. won by a half length in 1:42.48. She was bred by the Mede Cahaba Stable and is out of Complete Number, by Polish Numbers. “We’re having a nice run with Virginia-breds this week,” said Richard Boucher in the winner circle. He guided Mushroom King to victory for his wife in the inaugural running of Virginia Downs at Great Meadow last Sunday while their Class Classic finished second to his stablemate. The large 12 horse field attracted a $306,410 all source betting handle, largest of the stakes on Saturday and $200 more than the Grade 2 Commonwealth Derby garnered.
Away We Go captured the Jamestown Stakes for 2 year olds in another four horse photo at the wire. The Tizway filly came outside from third early in the stretch to challenge Cryptos’ Holiday who was outside but closing fast, and previous leader Holiday Wishes, who was inside. Cherokee Cousin also joined the photo with a strong late kick. Away We Go covered The 5 1/2 furlong sprint in 1:03.94. “She’s been training great and closed really well in her last start at Timonium,” said winning trainer Rodney Jenkins. “She’s just a little thing and figured she’d break third or fourth which is exactly what happened. I told the owners that I had a feeling she would do well today.” The upset winner paid $33.20 and the resulting 3-10 exacta returned $1,079.60. Away We Go was bred by Carolyn Nicewonder and is out of Gone To Utah, by Salt Lake. Jenkins, who was born in Middleburg, Virginia, said it was gratifying to see a strong showing of Virginia-bred horses, even if it was at Laurel. “Virginia is missing out but it just goes to show you that if you put on a good betting card of Virginia-breds, people will come out. Horses came in here from Saratoga, Belmont and Monmouth to compete”. Over $1.5 million was wagered Saturday on the five stakes combined along with the Oaks.
Exaggerated, who wasn’t a repeat stakes winner from a year prior and did not end up in a four horse photo, dominated the Oakley Stakes in a stellar gate-to-wire effort, authored by jockey Daniel Centeno. The 3 year old Blame filly crossed 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Awake The Day in the 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint. The Lael Stables, who owned the well known Barbaro and more recently Showing Up, who won the 2006 Colonial Turf Cup, appear to have another talented horse in Exaggerated. The Arnaud Delacour trainee did not race as a 2 year old and only made her lifetime bow August 16th with a maiden special weight victory at Laurel. “To win two in a row with this horse is a bit more than we expected,” said happy owner Roy Jackson. The winner, bred by the Hart Farm, crossed in 1:02.10 and is out of Miz United States, by Valid Appeal.