Harpers First Ride, Whereshetoldmetogo, Air Token Take Laurel Fall Festival Of Racing Stakes

MCA Racing Stable’s Harpers First Ride, Maryland-bred winner of the historic Pimlico Special (G3) last month, swept past his rivals on the far outside around the turn and powered through the stretch to a three-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Richard W. Small at Laurel Park in Maryland.

The 25th running of the Small at about 1 1/16 miles and $100,000 Frank Y. Whiteley at six furlongs, both for 3-year-olds and up, were among six stakes worth $600,000 in purses on the Fall Festival of Racing program that included the $100,000 Concern for 3-year-olds sprinting seven furlongs.

Favored at even money in a field of 10 featuring fellow graded-stakes winners Name Changer and Monongahela, multiple graded-stakes placed Cordmaker and Bal Harbour and Mexican Triple Crown winner Kukulkan, Harpers First Ride ($4) completed the distance in 1:41.92 over a fast main track.

It was the second career Small victory for trainer Claudio Gonzalez following Afleet Willy in 2017 and first for Angel Cruz, also aboard for wins in the Pimlico Special and Primonetta that preceded a last out second to Monday Morning Qb in the Maryland Million Classic.

“He’s a special horse,” Cruz said. “He gave me my biggest win of the year and he just gave me another one. Those horses are special. They mean a lot, and when you get on them, it means more.”

Bal Harbour, dropping out of graded-stakes company for the first time in 12 races dating back to December 2018, and multiple Pennsylvania-bred stakes winner Wait for It battled through a quarter-mile in 23.14 seconds and a half in 46.24 with Cordmaker – third in the 2019 and 2020 Pimlico Special – and 2019 Iowa Derby winner side-by-side tracking in behind.

Having settled by himself in fifth, Harpers First Ride got his cue rounding the far turn responded by coasting to the lead on the extreme outside. Set down by Cruz at the top of the stretch, the 4-year-old gelding sprinted clear as Cordmaker took second and Name Changer edged Top Line Growth by a length for fourth.

Forewarned, Midnight Act, Monongahela, Bal Harbour, Wait for It and Kukulkan completed the order of finish.

“We knew there a couple horses that had a lot of speed and my horse is just a game horse and he’s even, he doesn’t have that much speed. But he broke good and I sent him and he sat behind the pace. He just relaxed for me and on the far turn, I had a lot of horse,” Cruz said. “When I tapped him he responded to me. I had tons of horse. He ran his heart out today.”

Whereshetoldmetogo Edges Laki in $100,000 Frank Whiteley
Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and Black Cloud Racing Stable’s Whereshetoldmetogo, disqualified from a stakes win in his previous start, outran favored Laki down the stretch and survived a double claim of foul to capture the eighth running of the $100,000 Frank Whiteley.

Laki broke sharply from his outside post but ceded the early lead to longshots Arthur’s Hope and Zenden, in front after a sharp opening quarter-mile in 21.59 seconds. Day the Music Died, who broke a step slow, rushed up the rail to be third with Laki settled in fourth.

Whereshetoldmetogo ($9.80), racing in mid-pack early on, began gaining ground quickly along the inside around the turn as the half went in 44.42 seconds and Laki was steered to the far outside. Whereshetoldmetogo and jockey Sheldon Russell split Day the Music Died and Zenden approaching the stretch and took over the lead as Laki swept in to challenge on the outside. The two battled through the lane with Whereshetoldmetogo holding off Frank J. De Francis Dash (G3) winner Laki by a nose.

Both jockey Horacio Karamanos and trainer Damon Dilodovico lodged a claim of foul against Whereshetoldmetogo while fourth-place finisher Charge to Victory claimed against Laki, both incidents coming outside the quarter pole. Both were disallowed.

“We had a good trip. He came up the inside,” winning trainer Brittany Russell said. “I know we had a little issue there and I was hoping we didn’t get DQ’d but it looked like it wasn’t as big of a thing as maybe we originally thought. I felt like our horse was full of run and he’s tough and he’s game and he kept his head down, so I was confident.”

It was the second stakes win of the day for husband and wife, who teamed up with Hello Beautiful in the $100,000 Safely Kept. Whereshetoldmetogo was racing third time for Russell, having run fourth in the Sept. 5 Primonetta at Laurel and disqualified to second for lugging in mid-stretch of the Sept. 26 New Castle after hitting the wire 1 ½ lengths in front.

Air Token Flies Past Favored Francatelli to Win $100,000 Concern
Air Token, owned and trained by Jose Corrales, wore down favored stakes winner Francatelli through the stretch and edged clear to a 16-1 upset in the fourth running of the $100,000 Concern.

It was the first stakes win in his 12th career start for Air Token ($35.60), who completed seven furlongs in 1:22.29 under jockey Horacio Karamanos for this second straight victory. Horse and rider teamed up to win an off-the-turf allowance Nov. 7 at Laurel.

“I think this horse can go longer but Mr. Corrales made the decision to run seven-eighths. We expected him to run good because the horse is really improving a lot,” Karamanos said. “I know him. I rode him one race before, one mile, and he won in good time. I thought he was going to give me a nice kick. Sometimes he flattens out but today he didn’t and he won nice.”

Francatelli, a turf stakes winner in September bet down to 1-2 off a third-level optional claiming allowance last out Oct. 30 at Laurel, set fractions of 22.73 and 45.28 seconds for a half-mile under moderate pressure from Carey Times and stakes-placed Johnny Ritt. Karamanos settled Air Token in mid-pack along the rail until tipping out around the turn, setting their sights on the leader and steadily gained ground to win by a neck.

“We just sat behind the speed. Mr. Corrales told me to not rush him,” Karamanos said. “He broke out of the gate really nice. I saw [Francatelli] was the favorite. At the top of the stretch he was moving outside clear and nicely. He gave me a really nice kick and fought to the wire. He ran big today. I was confident all the way around.”

Golden Candy ran third, two lengths behind Francatelli, with 40-1 long shot Informative another 3 ¼ lengths back in fourth. Multiple stakes winner Lebda was scratched.

The post Harpers First Ride, Whereshetoldmetogo, Air Token Take Laurel Fall Festival Of Racing Stakes appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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