A year after shipping two of his distaffers from New York to upset Lady Sabelia in the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2), trainer Kiaran McLaughlin returns with another pair of contenders in Takrees and Clothes Fall Off in Saturday's 2017 renewal at Laurel Park.
The 65th running of the Barbara Fritchie for females 4 and up is among six stakes worth $850,000 in purses on the 10-race Winter Carnival program and one of two graded events, along with the 41st running of the General George (G3) for 4-year-olds and up. Both races are run at seven furlongs.
Also on the card are the $75,000 one-mile Miracle Wood for 3-year-olds and $75,000 seven-furlong Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies; the $75,000 John B. Campbell for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; and the $75,000 Maryland Racing Media for females 4 and up at about 1 1/16 miles.
Cheyenne Stables, Southern Equine Stable and Gatewood Bell's Clothes Fall Off, second to stablemate Dancing House in last year's Barbara Fritchie, is back for another try. After leaving Maryland she won the six-furlong Correction at Aqueduct and was off the board following a tough trip in the Madison (G1) at Keeneland, and didn't race again until finishing fifth behind another McLaughlin trainee, Takrees, 9 ½ months later in the six-furlong Interborough Jan. 22.
“She just had some bruising of the cannon bone. We were pointing for this race with the [Interborough], so it worked out well. I wish she would have run better last time,” McLaughlin said. “She broke and was kind of chasing, and I don't think she wanted to be chasing. She just flattened out down the lane. She'll improve a lot from the run. She had been off a long time and she's come back and worked well since. She's doing well, so we think she'll run well. She liked the track last year.”
Shadwell Stable homebred Takrees, a 4-year-old Daaher filly, does her best running from far back. She rallied from dead last to win the Interborough by a neck and owns two seconds in as many tries at Laurel, a six-furlong maiden special weight in December 2015 and the seven-furlong Safely Kept Nov. 19, where she came flying six wide and was beaten 2 ¼ lengths.
“She has always just run well from way back. She's always shown no pace, but kicks strong. It was nice to win a stake with her last time; now it would be nice to win a graded stake. She's a nice filly and she deserves a chance,” McLaughlin said. “She ran well there last year, but she went around them. She was in the 10 path. We hope she doesn't have to angle from that far around again.”
Jay Em Ess' Grade 1 winner By the Moon returns to sprinting after finishing second by a half-length in Laurel's one-mile Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes Dec. 31 behind High Ridge Road, who also returns in the Fritchie. The 5-year-old Indian Charlie mare won the 2015 Caesar's Wish at Laurel and can top $1 million in career earnings by finishing first or second.
A model of consistency finishing in the money in 10 of 14 lifetime starts, By the Moon raced five times last year off a nine-month layoff winning the Bed o'Roses (G3) in June, running second by a half-length in the Ballerina (G1) and fifth by three lengths in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), all at seven furlongs.
Martin Schwartz's High Ridge Road raced in mid-pack before taking over at the top of the stretch and holding off By the Moon to win the Thirty Eight Go Go, four weeks after she came up a nose shy of Highway Star in the one-mile Go For Wand (G3) at Aqueduct. She enters the Fritchie with a perfect 3-0 record at Laurel, also having taken an entry-level allowance and second-level optional claiming allowance by a combined 15 lengths last spring. She has yet to try seven furlongs and hasn't sprinted since a pair of six-furlong races to open her career, the last in October 2015.
Like Clothes Fall Off, Clearview Stable's multiple stakes winner Wonder Gal returns from last year's Fritchie where she finished fifth. Given some time off by trainer Leah Gyarmati, the 5-year-old mare returned with a second-level optional claiming allowance win in September at Saratoga and was off the board in back-to-back graded stakes, including the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, before running third by a neck in the Go For Wand. Most recently, she romped by 13 ½ lengths in front-running fashion in the Ladies Handicap Jan. 13 at Aqueduct.
BB Horses' multiple stakes winner Sweet On Smokey enters the Fritchie off a rallying half-length victory in the What a Summer Stakes Jan. 14 at Laurel in her 5-year-old debut. Trained by winter meet leader Claudio Gonzalez, the daughter of Successful Appeal owns four wins, three seconds and two thirds in 12 lifetime tries at Laurel, though she is winless with three seconds in five starts at the distance.
Godolphin Racing's Regia Marina will be making her fourth straight stakes start and third in a graded event in the Fritchie, having run third in Woodbine's Seaway Stakes (G3) last August and sixth in the Presque Isle Downs Masters (G2) a month later. She has not raced since rallying for a 1 ¼-length triumph in the six-furlong Mahoning Distaff Stakes Nov. 21, but shows five sharp bullet works at Tampa Bay Downs for her return.
Shindel Thoroughbred Ventures' Rowd E Allie takes a three-race win streak into the Fritchie, all coming at Parx and each going six furlongs. Making her stakes debut, it will be the 5-year-old E Dubai mare's first try beyond 6 1/2 furlongs in her 19th lifetime start.
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