Panic Stable LLC's Rose Brier became a stakes winner for the first time when he captured the $60,000 Bert Allen Stakes, the sixth in a series of Virginia-bred races contested at Laurel Park Saturday afternoon because of the shuttering of Colonial Downs this summer.
Rose Brier, a Mizzen Mast offspring who is trained by Jane Cibelli and ridden by Trevor McCarthy, paid $5.20 as the favorite in the 1-1/16th mile test over the firm turf. The 5-year old beat second choice Hard Enough by 3-1/4 lengths, with Dannhauser finishing only a nose back in third. His winning time was 1:42.97.
McCarthy has ridden Rose Brier in his past three starts. He said, “My horse clipped heels and I took him back a little bit but it didn't seem to bother him. They were kind of going slow in front. He handled the track and the pace perfectly. Once outside I knew he'd be fine. Rose Brier and I get along very well. He's a big horse and I fit him. He's one pace but when he gets his stride he rolls. I told Jane she'll have to fly me to Gulfstream to ride him again.”
McCarthy won the first division of the Jamestown Stakes earlier on Saturday's twelve race card.
Rose Brier is five for seven this year, with all his wins coming on the turf. He started the year racing for a $35,000 claiming tag in Florida.
William M. Backer Revocable Trust's Moon River shot through a seam between the inner rail and frontrunner Tiz What She Is and drew away to win the second division of the $60,000 Jamestown Stakes for 2-year old Virginia-breds.
Victor Carrasco accepted the riding assignment from trainer Jonathan Sheppard aboard this first time starter by Bluegrass Cat. The bay colt was patiently ridden until a path cleared, allowing him to wrest the lead and complete the 5-1/2 furlong distance over the firm turf in 1:03.45. Moon River won by 2-1/4 lengths over Johns Kitten, with Willisville taking third.
Assistant trainer Keri Vrion said, “He trains well, vans well, behaves nicely and has really been like an older horse from the very beginning. Mr. Sheppard usually thinks a lot of a horse when he starts one for the first time in a stakes race. We had big expectations coming into today because this horse has done everything right and he showed us that we were right.”
Moon River paid $8.20.
James Hackman and Glenn R. Thompson's Two Notch Road blew the doors off his competition and won the $60,000 Punch Line Stakes for Virginia-breds.
After racing under a snug hold for much of the way in the 5-1/2 furlong test on the firm turf, Two Notch Road and Julian Pimentel roared by the leaders down the stretch and won by two lengths in 1:01.91. Post time favorite Boltin' Out could not match strides with the winner but finished a game second, while Joe Tess took third.
The winner, a Partner's Hero offspring trained by part-owner Thompson, had not won a race since June 2010 and age seven, was notching only his fourth lifetime victory.
“Julian rode him very well,” said Thompson. “It means a lot to win here because it's been a long, dry spell. I feel like things are finally turning. I think we'll be back here for the Dash.”
“We wanted to get him to relax and make a key move,” said Pimental. “It was my first time on the horse. He's pretty good.”
Two Notch Road paid $9.80.
R. Larry Johnson's Heaven Knows What cruised to victory in the $60,000 Oakley Stakes for Virginia-bred fillies and mares.
Victor Carrasco held the reins atop the Michael Trombetta trained daughter of Holy Bull. The grey-roan mare was still under a drive when she reached the 1/16th marker but was geared down going to the wire. She finished two lengths in the clear in 1:02.76 for 5-1/2 furlong distance over the firm turf. Lion Down by Me rallied to take second and Wardelle was third.
“Victor is familiar with her,” said Trombetta. “He has ridden her a couple of times now. He keeps her in the race and gives her a good chance. I was worried about her coming back in two weeks but you have to run when the races are offered. Fortunately, she kicked on and kept running today. I was very proud of her.”
Heaven Knows What finished second in last year's Oakley Stakes when the race was contested at Colonial Downs.
The winner was bred by her owner. She paid $5.80 as the program and post time favorite.
Owner-trainer Wesley Ward sent Hooligan to Laurel Park after the Saratoga meeting and worked her here on September 6, a prep which set up her popular victory in the first division of the $60,000 Jamestown Stakes for 2-year olds.
The race was hard fought as Trevor McCarthy urged the daughter of Exchange Rate to chase and press rivals before finally pushing to the fore a dozen strides from the finish line. She won by a length in 1:03.81 over the firm turf. Bay Finn arrived late on the scene to take second money away from Secret or Not.
“She's young and still learning but she definitely has some talent,” said McCarthy. “I think she'll be something down the road. She had one race under her belt and the experience helped. I kept her out of trouble and when I asked her at the top of the stretch, she made her run.”
Hooligan, who had balked at the gate in her previous start at Saratoga and finished off the board, paid $2.60 this afternoon.
Owner-trainer Susan Cooney sent Embarr out to win the $60,000 Brookmeade Stakes.
Embarr, a six year old daughter of Royal Academy, left the gate as second choice in the field of eight fillies and mares. Forrest Boyce had already guided Embarr to six of her previous eight victories. Today she gave Embarr a patient, stalking trip, racing in mid-pack before sending her after the leaders around the far turn. Embarr reached the front in deep stretch and won by a neck in 1:42.38 over the firm turf. Misty In Malibu finished second and post time favorite Lawn Party, a Todd Pletcher trainee, took third.
Embarr won the Brookmeade in both 2011 and 2012 when it was contested at Colonial Downs.
“She ran very well today,” said Cooney. “We have been racing her in graded company and today she was in where she had a good chance to win. I was concerned when they slowed the pace but Forrest had her in the right spot and she was able to run them down. We are hoping that she can win against graded company and we plan to give her one more race this year, then she will become a mommy next year. She is still sound and able but she's getting older now.”
Embarr, whose last victory came when she defended her title in the Dahlia Stakes at Pimlico in April, paid $7.60.
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