Ruis Racing's Grade 1 winner Union Strike and three horses from defending champion trainer Linda Rice are among 30 older fillies and mares nominated to the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2) Feb. 17 at Laurel Park.
The Fritchie for fillies and mares 4 and older and the $250,000 General George (G3) for 4-year-olds and up, both at seven furlongs, headline six stakes worth $950,000 in purses on Laurel's Winter Carnival program.
Union Strike, based in California, won the 2016 Del Mar Debutante (G1) and was second by a head in the Eight Belles (G2) last summer for owner-trainer Mick Ruis. The Union Rags filly returned from a seven-month layoff to run fifth in the La Canada (G2) Jan. 13 at Santa Anita.
Rice, who won last year's Fritchie with High Ridge Road en route to tying Kieron Magee for Laurel's winter-spring meet training title, nominated Downtown Mama, Holiday Disguise and Just Got Out. Downtown Mama won her first three starts before finishing off the board in back-to-back graded-stakes last fall, Holiday Disguise has won three straight but is unraced since taking the Bouwerie last May, and Just Got Out is coming off back-to-back wins capped by a front-running neck triumph in the Ladies Handicap Jan. 21 at Aqueduct.
Also prominent among nominees are 2017 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) winner Actress; multiple graded-stakes winners Highway Star and Lucy N Ethel; Safely Kept winner Berned; and John Servis-trained stablemates Bishop's Pond, winner of the Jan. 8 Thirty Eight Go Go, and Ms Locust Point, a winner of three straight including the Willa On the Move and What a Summer, all at Laurel.
Mind Your Biscuits, looking to make his 5-year-old debut for trainer Chad Summers, and fellow Grade 1 winner Takaful head 33 nominees to the General George. Mind Your Biscuits, targeting a return to defend his title in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) last March, is unraced since a runner-up finish in the Cigar Mile (G1) Dec. 2. Takaful, winner of the Vosburgh (G1) last fall, most recently ran third in the seven-furlong Toboggan (G3) Jan. 27 at Aqueduct.
Claimer-turned-millionaire Page McKenney, 14-for-19 in the money lifetime at Laurel, is also nominated along with fellow graded-stakes winners Awesome Banner, Classy Class, Great Stuff and Watershed, and multiple stakes winners Afleet Willy, Do Share, Fellowship, John Jones, Sonny Inspired and Struth.
Three-year-olds will share the spotlight in the $100,000 Miracle Wood at one mile and the $100,000 Wide Country for fillies at seven furlongs. The Miracle Wood was the most popular race with 38 nominations led by stakes winners A Different Style, Clever Mind, Dak Attack, He Hate Me, Still Having Fun, Whirlin Curlin and William and Mary.
Limited View, a three-time stakes winner at Laurel including the six-furlong Marshua Jan. 27; and multiple stakes winner Strategic Dreams, who owns three straight victories including the seven-furlong Gin Talking Dec. 30 at Laurel, top 27 nominees to the Wide Country.
Afleet Willy and Page McKenney are among 23 horses nominated to the $100,000 John B. Campbell for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, along with multiple Grade 3 winner El Areeb, Grade 3 winner Control Group and multiple stakes winner Bodhisattva, while the $100,000 Maryland Racing Media Stakes for females 4 and older attracted 25 nominations topped by Bishop's Pond, Just Got Out and stakes winners Frost Wise, In the Navy Now, Line of Best Fit and Miss Inclusive.
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