Kaleem Shah Inc.'s Closer Look ($6.80), favored at 2-1 in a field of 12, cruised to a 4 ¾-length triumph in Race 7 Saturday to give journeyman Feargal Lynch his first win since returning to the Maryland circuit with Friday's opening of the 43-day summer meet at Laurel.
Lynch, a two-time meet titlist in Maryland who has ranked in the top six overall in wins the past two years, spent the winter and spring riding in Florida. He rode at Tampa Bay Downs into April before heading to Gulfstream Park, where his most recent mount came May 19.
“I spent the winter down in Florida just to break it up and start fresh. I enjoyed the nice weather and I was away for Christmas with the family so we took our time coming back up the road,” Lynch said. “The wife and dogs have all shipped back up and settled in. It's good to be home.”
Lynch made the trip back to Laurel Feb. 16 for Winter Carnival, winning the John B. Campbell Stakes aboard Bonus Points and running second with Majestic Dunhill in the General George (G3). He also finished third on Bonus Points in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial March 16 at Laurel.
Lynch had mounts in four of Saturday's 10 races, three of them over Laurel's world-class turf course. He also finished second aboard Bobby G in Race 1 and Dendrobia in Race 5.
“Like I always say, this is one of the nicest turf courses that I've ever ridden on and I really feel comfortable,” Lynch said. “I think that's the main thing, to be comfortable and to enjoy riding on it.”
Trevor McCarthy, named in six stakes at Penn National Saturday, was Maryland's leading rider in 2014 and 2016 and has won four consecutive meet titles since returning to the circuit full-time last fall. Jevian Toledo, the state's top rider in 2015 and 2017; Jorge Vargas Jr., who unseated Toledo in 2018; and 2018 Eclipse Award champion apprentice Wes Hamilton are among the familiar faces for Lynch.
Lynch shared the 2017 Preakness Meet riding title with Kevin Gomez and Horacio Karamanos before winning it outright in 2018.
“It's one of the toughest colonies in America. There's a lot of good up-and-coming riders,” Lynch said. “It's a good mix. There's a lot of experience in here and a lot of new kids coming through every year. It's a tough place.”
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