Preview of “Commonwealth Day” Graded Stakes At Laurel Saturday Sept. 30

Jump Sucker Stable’s Blacktype could be the bridge from the Commonwealth Turf Cup and the renamed Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup Stakes (G2T) to be run Sept. 30 at Laurel Park.

Blacktype, a French-bred son of Dunkerque trained by Christophe Clement, prevailed by a half length in last year’s Commonwealth Turf. He returns to Laurel to try to become the first repeat winner of the grade 2 one-mile turf race.

The $200,000 Baltimore/Washington International is the headliner for Laurel Park’s “Class on the Grass” event. The 12-race program includes eight turf stakes, three of them graded, with $850,000 in purse money. There are two graded stakes for 3-year-olds, the $200,000 Commonwealth Derby (G3T) and $150,000 Commonwealth Oaks (G3T).

Blacktype, trained by Christophe Clement, squeaked out a victory in the 2016  Grade 2 Turf Cup Stakes at Laurel.

The three graded stakes formerly were conducted at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va., which has not offered racing since 2013. The Virginia Equine Alliance and Virginia HBPA are presenting the two grade 3 races.

The Baltimore/Washington International drew a field of eight that includes grade 1 winner Ring Weekend, multiple grade 2 winner Tower of Texas, and a pair handled by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown: Projectedand Catapult.

Blacktype, who drew post seven, won his most recent start, a 1 1/16 miles optional claimer on Sept 9. at Belmont Park. It was his first victory of the season highlighted by a third-place finish in the Longines Dixie Stakes (G2T). Prior to his Commonwealth Turf Cup victory in 2016, Blacktype won the Oceanport Stakes (G3T) at Monmouth Park. Horacio Karamanos, who won the 2013 Commonwealth Turf on London Lane, will ride Blacktype.

Ring Weekend, co-owned by St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds, is a well-traveled, accomplished veteran who leads the Baltimore/Washington International field with more than $1.5 million in earnings. He picked up his grade 1 victory in the 2015 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita Park. Trainer Graham Motion saw some positives in his most recent race, a fourth in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2T) on a yielding turf course at Saratoga Race Course on Sept. 4.

“I think he’s probably not quite the horse he was, though his numbers are still very solid with this group of horses,” Motion said. “He’s a little bit more laid back perhaps than he was, which shows in his races. He tends not to get so involved early in the races. I actually thought his last race at Saratoga was strong enough against what’s the stronger group of horses that we have on the East Coast.”

Trainer Stuart Janney seeks his third straight win in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Oaks on Saturday.  In The Lee is his hope for a hat trick.

In the Commonwealth Oaks, Stuart Janney III will try to win with a homebred for a third straight year. He won the 1 1/8-mile turf race in 2015 with Onus and last year with My Impression. Janney will go for the hat trick Saturday with In the Lee, a daughter of Tapit  out of Janney’s graded stakes-winning mare Quiet Harbor.

“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 Commonwealth Derby, Motion will send out Just Howard off a three-race win streak. The son of English Channel  will make his graded stakes debut in the 1 1/8-mile turf test.

Just Howard is a Maryland-bred with deep roots in the state. He is named after his breeder, the late Howard Bender, is owned by Skeedattle Associates, the long-standing partnership of three friends from Clarksville, Md. and is trained by Motion, who is based at Fair Hill in Elkton, Md.

Motion said that adding blinkers in May isn’t the only reason why Just Howard broke his maiden in his sixth try and then won two Laurel stakes on turf.

“That’s probably a part of it,” Motion said. “I do think he’s a horse that just kind of matured. He hasn’t done much wrong, this horse. He’s a pretty cool horse.”

Entries: Commonwealth Oaks presented by the Virginia Equine Alliance and the Virginia HBPA (G3T)

Laurel Park, Saturday, September 30, 2017, Race 7

  • Grade IIIT
  • 1 1/8m
  • Turf
  • $150,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 3:30 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1Proud Reunion (KY) Ashley Castrenze 120 Thomas F. Proctor 10/1
2 2Fly By (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Jevian Toledo 116 Leah Gyarmati 15/1
3 3Rymska (FR) Feargal Lynch 116 Chad C. Brown 2/1
4 4Canny (KY) Sheldon Russell 116 Michael Stidham 20/1
5 5I’m Betty G (MD) Julian Pimentel 116 Michael J. Maker 12/1
6 6Charged (KY) Daniel Centeno 116 Michael Stidham 15/1
7 7Taperge (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Nik Juarez 116 Chad C. Brown 5/2
8 8Chubby Star (MD) Jose Lezcano 116 Horacio DePaz 6/1
9 9Flower Fashion (FR) Horacio Karamanos 116 Christophe Clement 8/1
10 10In the Lee (KY) Forest Boyce 116 Claude R. McGaughey III 12/1

Entries: Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup S. (G2T)

Laurel Park, Saturday, September 30, 2017, Race 8

  • Grade IIT
  • 1m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo’s & up
  • 4:00 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1Glorious Empire (IRE) Sheldon Russell 118 Carlos F. Martin 12/1
2 2Projected (GB) Nik Juarez 118 Chad C. Brown 9/5
3 3Tower of Texas (ON)Keeneland Sales Graduate Jesse M. Campbell 118 Roger L. Attfield 6/1
4 4Catapult (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Feargal Lynch 118 Chad C. Brown 7/2
5 5Ring Weekend (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Edgar S. Prado 118 H. Graham Motion 9/2
6 6Xmas Sky (KY) Jevian Toledo 118 Elizabeth M. Merryman 30/1
7 7Blacktype (FR) Horacio Karamanos 118 Christophe Clement 9/2
8 8Special Ops (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Daniel Centeno 118 Michael J. Maker 15/