Janney Seeks Rare Hat Trick in Saturday’s Commonwealth Oaks — 8 Turf Stakes To Be Contested At Laurel
This Saturday, September 3oth, is “Commonwealth Day” at Laurel. Eight turf stakes, worth a combined $850,000 in purse monies, will be contested. Five are for Virginia-breds — the Punch Line, Oakley, Brookmeade, Bert Allen and Jamestown Stakes — and the other trio are open graded stakes that were formerly held at Colonial Downs. The Commonwealth Derby (Gr. 3), Commonwealth Oaks (Gr. 3) and the renamed Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (Gr. 2) were formerly known as the Virginia Derby, Virginia Oaks and Colonial Turf Cup. Here is a preview of the Oaks courtesy of a Maryland Jockey Club press release.
Oaks One of Eight Turf Stakes – Three Graded – Worth $850,000 Saturday at Laurel
LAUREL, MD – It’s rare that a breeder and owner can run in the same graded stakes race for three consecutive years. Rarer still that the owner and breeder could win that same graded race three years in a row.
Such is the possibility for Stuart Janney III.
After winning the Commonwealth Oaks (G3) at Laurel Park in 2015 with Onus and last year with My Impression, Janney will go for the natural hat trick Saturday afternoon with In the Lee, a son of Tapit out of Janney’s graded stakes-winning mare Quiet Harbor.
The $150,000 Oaks is one of eight stakes – three graded – scheduled Saturday on Laurel’s turf course.
“I worry that if I think about it too much it won’t come to pass,” said Janney of the possibility of winning the 1 1/8th mile turf event for 3-year-old fillies. “But it would be great. I care a lot about Maryland racing and everyone has been doing a great job there. I was toured all around the facility recently and it’s great what they’re doing. [Commonwealth] is a great day and it’s a fun race to win.”
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who will try to saddle his third consecutive Oaks winner for Janney, In the Lee is from a very special family that can be traced back to 2001, when Seth Hancock purchased the A.P. Indy mare Meghan’s Joy for Janney in foal to Deputy Minister at the Keeneland November sale. Meghan’s Joy has produced five graded stakes winners for Janney – Ironicus, Hunting, Norumbega, On Leave and Quiet Harbor – as well as the multiple stakes winner Seal Cove.
“It’s been a good family,” Janney said. “Meghan’s been a terrific broodmare and she’s been bred to some very good stallions.”
In the Lee, who has raced only three times, will have to be on her best Saturday to reward Janney and McGaughey with another Oaks victory. The nine other fillies entered to run against In the Lee include Rymska, making her first start for trainer Chad Brown since winning the Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream back in February, and the stakes-placed Flower Fashion, making her first start in the U.S. for trainer Christophe Clement.
In the Lee is undefeated in her only two turf starts, winning her debut June 30 at Laurel and winning again under entry-level allowance conditions by 3 ½ lengths Sept. 15. Between those two victories is a third-place finish in a race taken off the turf and run on a sloppy main track.
“We took a chance to see if she would like the slop, and she didn’t,” Janney said. “But she’s come along well and we know she likes Laurel’s turf course.”
Along with Rymska, Brown has also entered stakes-placed Taperge, who returned from a four-month layoff to win under allowance conditions Aug. 17 at Saratoga. Others entered include Canny, fourth in the Pucker Up (G3), Chubby Star, fourth in the Lake George (G3), and Charged. Both Canny and Charged are from the barn of Michael Stidham.