Breeze Easy's Grade 3 winner Late Night Pow Wow, her streak having grown to eight races since the only loss of her career 10 months ago, will face the toughest test yet in her return to graded-stakes competition for Saturday's $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel Park.
The 67th running of the Barbara Fritchie for fillies and mares 4 and older and the 43rd renewal of the $250,000 General George (G3) for 4-year-olds and up, both at seven furlongs, co-headline a 10-race Winter Carnival program that features five stakes worth $800,000 in purses.
A trio of $100,000 stakes are also on tap – the one-mile Miracle Wood presented by Blackwell Real Estate for 3-year-olds and Wide Country at about 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-old fillies, and the 1 1/8-mile John B. Campbell presented by Fidelity First for 4-year-olds and up.
First race post time is 12:30 p.m.
In addition to live racing, Saturday's program will include ice sculptures, an ice carving demonstration, an ice wall with $3,000 in prizes and Tech Glove giveaway with program purchase, while supplies last.
The Barbara Fritchie has attracted a contentious field of 11 including defending champion Ms Locust Point, a career earner of $507,435 in purses; Spiced Perfection, winner of the La Brea (G1) to cap her 2018 campaign; Laurel-based stakes winners Shimmering Aspen and Timeless Curls; and out-of-town stakes winners Dawn the Destroyer, 2018 Gallant Bloom (G2) runner-up Your Love and Late Night Pow Wow's Javier Contreras-trained stablemate Devine Mischief.
Spiced Perfection, purchased privately by Adam Wachtel of Wachtel Stable and transferred last week to trainer Peter Miller in California, is taking advantage of a Maryland Jockey Club policy initiated for 2019 waiving the entering and starting fees for any Grade 1 winner in the past 12 months that runs in an MJC stakes, excluding the May 18 Preakness (G1).
Late Night Pow Wow made each of her first nine starts at Charles Town with Contreras as owner-trainer, before he sold the 4-year-old West Virginia-bred daughter of Fiber Sonde to Mike Hall and Sam Ross of Breeze Easy. She hasn't missed a beat, running her consecutive stakes streak to five.
“I'm always confident in her,” Contreras said. “Races like this are going to draw some decent horses … so she's going to have to earn it. But, she's doing very well.”
Late Night Pow Wow is undefeated in four career starts at the Barbara Fritchie distance as well as two tries over Laurel's main track, taking the Willa On the Move in November to cap her 2018 season and the What A Summer Jan. 12 by a combined 11 ¼ lengths. In her only previous graded attempt, she captured the seven-furlong Charles Town Oaks (G3) Sept. 22.
“I don't really want to say I expect her to run the same race as she has been, but I'm hoping she does. She has come into this race as good as she has come to every one of her races. She's been pretty amazing,” Contreras said. “I'm very excited. I'm always excited to run her. I love watching her run and, obviously, I love the results. I'd love to win another graded-stakes with her.”
Charles Town's Fredy Peltroche, aboard for each of Late Night Pow Wow's races, rides again from Post 2 at 122 pounds, two fewer than topweight Spiced Perfection.
As he did in the What A Summer, Contreras also entered Breeze Easy's Devine Mischief, winner of the 6 ½-furlong Ruling Angel Stakes over Woodbine's synthetic surface in October in her 3-year-old finale. She rallied up the rail to get second by a neck in the What A Summer.
“I thought she ran a good race last time,” Contreras said. “She came out of the race very good, very happy, and she has continued on well and moved forward quite a bit. I'm very happy with her.”
Horacio Karamanos has the call from Post 7 at 120 pounds.
Cash is King and Jim Reichenberg's Ms Locust Point stretched her win streak to four races in a snowy edition of last year's Barbara Fritchie, which she won by 4 ½ lengths in front-running fashion. She went winless in four subsequent tries, two in graded company and the Willa On the Move, where she set the pace before holding on for second by a neck.
Ms Locust Point got a confidence-building three-length victory in an open six-furlong allowance on New Year's Day at Parx to kick off her 5-year-old season. She is four-for-five lifetime at Laurel, her only loss coming to Late Night Pow Wow.
“That's a nice filly, man. We were second-best when we ran to her before, but my filly is a whole lot better now than she was then,” Kentucky Derby (G1)-winning trainer John Servis said. “She's not coming off any layoffs, she's primed and she's going to give it her best effort. If we can't beat her, we can't beat her.
“She's trained really, really well on a deep racetrack, so she's going into the race good,” he added. “She seems to be as competitive as ever when she trains and everything. I've always felt that a 5-year-old was the best year of a horse's career, as far as peak performance. Obviously they can make a lot more money as a 3-year-old running against straight 3-year-olds, but I always felt if they last that long, that their 5-year-old year was usually their best year.”
Jorge Vargas Jr. will ride Ms Locust Point from Post 8 at 122 pounds.
Spiced Perfection is a four-time stakes winner that will be racing for the first time outside her native California after compiling six wins, four seconds and two thirds with purse earnings of $622,405 in 14 starts for Dare to Dream Stable and trainer Brian Koriner. The seven-furlong La Brea was the bay filly's first try against graded company and came under Flavien Prat, who is flying in to ride her back from Post 1.
New York-based trainer Kiaran McLaughlin ran 1-2 in the 2016 Barbara Fritchie with Dancing House and Clothes Fall Off, respectively, and is back for another try with Stonestreet Stables homebred Dawn the Destroyer.
A 5-year-old daughter of champion sprinter Speightstown, Dawn the Destroyer has won her last two races after returning from a seven-month break between starts where she underwent a procedure to help her breathing following back-to-back losses on the turf. She took a 6 ½-furlong allowance by 4 ¼ lengths in her Nov. 29 comeback and most recently rallied to capture the seven-furlong Interborough Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths Jan. 25, both at Aqueduct.
“The throat surgery was the big turnaround in her form, to win both of these two races since she came back. Seven-eighths is a good distance for her, and the Barbara Fritchie is an important race. We've been fortunate to win it before, and it'd be great to get it done again,” McLaughlin said. “We're happy we have a nice filly to point that way. The competition is going to be tough, but we're going to give it try.”
Junior Alvarado comes in from New York to ride from Post 4.
Hillwood Stables' 5-year-old Shimmering Aspen has not raced since finishing fourth in the Willa On the Move, contested over a sealed muddy surface. She is five-for-nine lifetime over her home track, including stakes wins in the 2017 Twixt and Alma North, and also won sprint stakes last summer and fall at Timonium and Delaware Park. In her other graded-stakes attempts, both as a 3-year-old, she was seventh in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and sixth in the Charles Town Oaks.
“She's doing good, feeling good and she looks healthy, knock on wood. Everything is on go. If it comes up muddy I probably won't run her, because she's run three times in the mud and run bad all three times,” trainer Rodney Jenkins said. “The horse from Charles Town is a nice horse, but we'll see. She deserves a shot to run in a race like this. She's been so good to us.”
Victor Carrasco will be aboard for the fifth straight race from Post 3.
Sookdeen Pasram's Timeless Curls drew Post 9 under 2018 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Weston Hamilton. Trainer Dale Capuano is also considering the $100,000 Maryland Racing Media Stakes for older females going about 1 1/16 miles for the 4-year-old daughter of Hall of Famer Curlin, who has won four straight, three coming at one mile or longer, punctuated by a 3 ¾-length triumph in the Nellie Morse Stakes Jan. 12 at the Maryland Racing Media distance. The race highlights a special Presidents Day holiday program Monday, Feb. 18.
Completing the field are Interborough third-place finisher Honor Way from trainer Linda Rice, winner of the 2017 Barbara Fritchie with High Ridge Road; Your Love, who captured the Shine Again Stakes last summer at Saratoga prior to the Gallant Bloom and was fourth in the Interborough; stakes-placed South Florida shipper My Cousin Martha; and Lady Vicki, who had a three-race win streak snapped when second by less than a length Dec. 30.
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