Jorge Ruiz Notches Four Wins As Racing Returns To Laurel Park On Thursday

Live racing resumed at Laurel Park on Thursday, Dec. 16 for the first time since Nov. 28. The main track at Laurel was closed for an examination on Nov. 29 after an alarming number of fatalities – four from racing injuries and three while training – occurred between Nov. 6-28. The Maryland Jockey Club followed that inspection by cancelling racing and suspending morning workouts to allow for repair of the surface.

It was the second time in 2021 that racing at Laurel was halted because of track conditions. The first occurrence was in April after a spike in musculoskeletal injuries, which led to racing being shifted to Pimlico on an emergency basis. Track ownership undertook a multi-million dollar track renovation project that wasn’t completed until August, with racing resuming at Laurel in September.

With help from noted trackmen Dennis Moore from California, Glen Kozak from the New York Racing Racing Association, and former MJC track superintendent John Passero, Maryland Jockey Club officials explained at last week’s meeting of the Maryland Racing Commission that the most likely explanation for the cluster of fatalities was that water seeped into a seam in the base material of the stretch before that base material was able to cure, causing a slight depression. That has been repaired, and several additional changes have been made.

“We’ve been out every single day, day and night, to make sure that we have the best racing surface possible,” Laurel’s track superintendent Chris Bosley said during this Tuesday’s meeting of the Maryland Racing Commission. “There’s been a huge learning curve with this material and this track from when it was put in in July to where we are now.”

Jockey Jorge Ruiz notched four wins on the day, and Sola Dei Gloria Stable’s Bustoff completed a daily double for teenage riding sensation Charlie Marquez and trainer Hugh McMahon with his front-running triumph in Thursday’s feature race.

A 6-year-old Maryland-bred Haynesfield gelding, Bustoff ($7.40) completed one mile in 1:38.96 over a fast main track to win the third-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up by 3 ½ lengths. Torch of Truth rallied late to edge 20-1 long shot Whiskey and You by a neck for second.

The return of racing and condition of the track was met with positive reviews by horsemen.

“It’s much better; like night and day,” trainer Dale Capuano said. A winner of more than 3,500 career races, Capuano saddled Taking Risks Stable and Louis J. Ulman’s favored Zen Pi ($4.60) to victory in the opener, a six-furlong claimer for 3-year-olds and up. The winning time under jockey Jorge Ruiz was 1:12.55.

“We’re tickled to death. Jorge said the track felt good,” Capuano said. “You can tell by the time. These horses should run [1:12] and change and that’s what he did,” he added. “It’s good. I think they’re run on the right track. I think getting [consultants] John Passero and Glenn Kozak was the right thing to do. We’re all after the same thing. We might have different approaches to getting there but we’re all for safe racing and keeping our horses and riders safe.”

Ruiz’s other winners Thursday were Tenax ($12.20) for trainer Ken Cox in Race 3, Bourbon Wildcat ($30.20) for trainer Jose Magana in Race 6 and Capuano-trained Boss Logic ($6) in Race 8. Ruiz ranks second to Jevian Toledo in wins at the fall meet, 44-42.

Toledo leads all riders with 102 wins this year at Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course, two more than the 18-year-old Marquez. Angel Cruz is third with 84 and Ruiz fourth at 82.

“The track is now different. Before it was hard, now it’s deeper and a little fluffier,” Ruiz said. “The horses hit the ground a little more softly.”

Notes: Laurel will host a nine-race card starting at 12:25 p.m. Friday … Saturday is Maryland Spectacular Day with nine live races including a pair of $100,000 stakes for Maryland-bred/sired horses: the Maryland Juvenile and Maryland Juvenile Fillies. Also on the day are Holiday Giving Tree and Give a Gift/Get a Gift promotions, as well as a 2022 Maryland racing calendar giveaway.

The post Jorge Ruiz Notches Four Wins As Racing Returns To Laurel Park On Thursday appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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