An old track and some new equipment proved to be a winning combination for Lael Stables' homebred No Dozing, who was able to overcome an awkward break, an off track and a formidable challenge on the far turn to capture Saturday's $75,000 Concern at Laurel Park.
The seven-furlong Concern for 3-year-olds is named for Robert E. Meyerhoff's Maryland-bred multi-millionaire whose four career graded stakes wins for late trainer Dickie Small included the 1994 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) and 1995 Californian (G1).
Trained by Fair Hill-based Arnaud Delacour, No Dozing ($3.60) had not reached the winner's circle in six tries after an entry-level optional claiming allowance victory last September, his only previous trip to Laurel. It was also the last time the son of 2012 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags had raced shorter than a mile.
Heavily favored at 1-2 and fitted with blinkers for the first time, No Dozing was rushed up to the lead from his rail post by jockey Daniel Centeno and was in front after going a quarter-mile in 23.14 seconds while pressed by Honor the Fleet to his outside. The top two entered the far turn together where Honor the Fleet appeared to stick a head in front following a half in 45.89.
“He always runs a little bit the same way. On the turns, you think that he's done and when he gets balanced, he finds another gear, and he did today,” Delacour said. “He's done it before all the time and that's why we try to put aggressive jockeys on him, because he needs a lot of solicitation. I was very happy with it.”
Honor the Fleet looked poised to spring an upset as the leaders straightened for home but Centeno set No Dozing down for the drive and he sprinted clear down the stretch to win by four lengths in 1:22.85 over a muddy and sealed main track. Two-time stakes winner Proforma was third and Alex Again fourth.
“He put blinkers on today to try and make a little progress. The one-hole didn't help at all or the track today,” Centeno said. “We tried to put him right in the race and he took the lead really comfortable. Right on the turn I got a little worried when I saw [Honor the Fleet] right next to me sitting on him, but when he switched leads in the stretch he was able to re-break and open up.”
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