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Breeze Easy LLC's Grade 3 winner Late Night Pow Wow will face five rivals in her bid for a fifth straight stakes victory and eighth consecutive win overall in Saturday's $100,000 What a Summer at Laurel Park.
The 33rd running of the six-furlong What a Summer for fillies and mares 4 and up leads off the 2019 stakes schedule in Maryland as the first of four $100,000 stakes on a nine-race program that begins at 12:30 p.m.
It is joined by the Fire Plug for 4-year-olds and up, also at six furlongs, and the Native Dancer for 4-year-olds and up and Nellie Morse for females 4 and older, both at about 1 1/16 miles. A total of 65 stakes, 13 graded, worth $9.2 million in purses have been scheduled in Maryland into mid-October.
Late Night Pow Wow ventured outside her home state for the first time in her career last out, routing a field that included fellow West Virginia-bred multiple stakes winner Moonlit Song and Grade 2 heroine Ms Locust Point by five lengths in the six-furlong Willa On the Move Nov. 24 at Laurel.
It was also the first race since trainer Javier Contreras sold his ownership share in Late Night Pow Wow to Mike Hall and Sam Ross of Breeze Easy, who Contreras said have committed to running the Fiber Sonde daughter through her 4-year-old season.
“That was exciting. People told me that she looked solid in there and I liked her. I didn't think she was going to draw off like that and win with that kind of authority, but she sure showed us she's got some grit,” Contreras said. “She's been doing pretty good. We were thinking about giving her a little time off but we decided to keep her going. She's rested a little bit, but she's ready to roll.”
As he did prior to the Willa On the Move, Contreras brought Late Night Pow Wow to Laurel early and worked her over the track, where she had a bullet five-furlong breeze in 58.60 seconds Jan. 3. Regular rider Fredy Peltroche will be back aboard from Post 2 at topweight of 124 pounds.
“I'm sure we'll look to go somewhere else later on in the year, as long we keep her sound and everything,” Contreras said. “I talked to the new connections and they've decided to keep her in training for this whole year, so we definitely we're going to be looking at some big place somewhere, give her a shot and see what we've got. She looks to me like she's right on top of her game.”
Contreras and Breeze Easy will also be represented by another 4-year-old filly in Devine Mischief, winner of the Ruling Angel Stakes over Woodbine's synthetic surface in her sophomore finale Oct. 14. She, too, worked at Laurel Jan. 3, going five furlongs in 59.60 seconds, bested only by her stablemate.
“She's had a little bit of a longer time off, but she didn't lose a lot of fitness. She looks pretty good and she showed me in her work the other day at Laurel that she's right on top of things, too,” Contreras said. “She's an honest little filly, very honest.”
Horacio Karamanos has the call from Post 4 at 122 pounds.
Bred, owned and trained by Tim Grams, Moonlit Song returns for another try at Late Night Pow Wow after finishing third, a neck behind Ms Locust Point, in the Willa On the Move. The 6-year-old daughter of champion Uncle Mo is a 13-time winner from 23 career starts, including five stakes wins. Regular rider Oscar Flores gets the mount from Post 5 at 120 pounds.
Moonlit Song has run behind Late Night Pow Wow in each of her last two starts, including a half-length loss when second in the West Virginia Cavada Breeders' Classic Stakes Oct. 13 at Charles Town.
“She's been a real honest mare for us and, pretty much until last year when Javier's filly came along, she was pretty dominant here for probably a year and a half,” Grams said. “She beat us up there and we only lost by a half a length the time before that. It was a good race. I give a lot of respect to Javier's filly. I don't know if I can get her or not, but we'll be right there.”
Multiple stakes winner Limited View, She's Stunning and Behrnik's Bank complete the field.
Pletcher Looking to Score ‘Points' in $100,000 Native Dancer
Three Diamonds Farm's Bonus Points, whose three career wins at Laurel include the 2017 Maryland Million Classic, makes a quick turnaround to race over his favorite track in the $100,000 Native Dancer.
A 5-year-old son of Majestic Warrior trained by Todd Pletcher, Bonus Points also owns four seconds in seven lifetime tries over Laurel's main track. He will break from Post 5 in a field of eight under Jorge Vargas Jr., Maryland's leading rider in 2018. All horses will carry 120 pounds.
Bonus Points hadn't finished worse than third in five straight starts including two wins at Laurel before finishing sixth in the 1 1/8-mile Queens County Stakes Dec. 22 at Aqueduct. He owns two wins and was beaten a neck when second in his last three tries at the Native Dancer distance.
“We're running him back on a little bit of short rest, but he seems to like Laurel and he bounced out of the race well so we decided to give it a try,” Pletcher said. “I don't know if it was the track conditions or what, but he didn't fire last time and he's generally pretty consistent, and he was training really well going into the race. He just didn't seem to run as well as he did his previous times at Laurel.”
ABL Stable, Dominic Bossone, James Cahill and Peter Donnelly's Just Call Kenny is winless in seven starts since capturing the 2017 Iselin (G3) at Monmouth Park. He raced just three times in 2018, his last two at Laurel, most recently finishing sixth in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance Dec. 23.
Marengo Road, a multiple stakes winner at Laurel as a 3-year-old; stakes winner Rich Daddy, second in the Claiming Crown Jewel Dec. 1 at Gulfstream Park, his third straight runner-up finish; Stan the Man, sixth in the Cigar Mile (G1) Dec. 1 at Aqueduct; General Downs, Saratoga Jack and Tour de Force are also entered.
Home Run Maker Taking His Cut in $100,000 Fire Plug
Jeff Drown's Home Run Maker, having come into his own since arriving in Maryland last fall, makes his stakes debut in the $100,000 Fire Plug off back-to-back wins over Laurel's main track.
A 4-year-old son of Into Mischief, Home Run Maker will break from Post 2 in a field of six for trainer Jeremiah Englehart, with Jorge Vargas Jr. aboard. All horses will carry 120 pounds.
New York-based Englehart established a string at Laurel for the first time in the fall, finishing tied for seventh with 14 winners from 40 starters, his 35 percent success rate tops among leading trainers. Two of those wins came from Home Run Maker, both at the Fire Plug's six furlongs.
After being beaten a head when third in his Laurel debut Sept. 14, Home Run Maker returned to take a similar open allowance Oct. 25. He capped his campaign with a second-level optional claiming allowance triumph, also by three-quarters of a length. All three races came with Vargas riding.
“He seems like he's a horse that's kind of gotten a little bit better with age and experience. Early on in his career he didn't really have his mind to business but he seems like he's been doing very well since coming to Laurel and stabling here,” Englehart said. “When he was 2 and 3 he just seemed like he was a horse that just didn't give you his all every time.
“His last race seemed like it was the one race where he put it all together. His numbers are getting faster and he seems like a horse now that can take his game to the next level,” he added. “I think now is the right time to put him in a stake and see what he can do.”
Rounding out the field are multiple stakes winners Cautious Giant, most recently fourth in the six-furlong Dave's Friend Dec. 29 at Laurel, and Grade 3-placed Do Share; Sheikh of Sheikhs, a winner of five of his last seven starts dating back to last May; and Shane's Jewel.
Timeless Curls Making Stakes Debut in $100,000 Nellie Morse
Sookdeen Pasram's Timeless Curls, never off the board in eight career starts, will take the next step in her progression when she tries stakes company for the first time in the $100,000 Nellie Morse.
The chestnut daughter of two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Hall of Famer Curlin comes into the Nellie Morse having won three consecutive optional claiming allowance races to cap her 3-year-old season, the last two at Laurel, where she also broke her maiden Aug. 2.
“She was just getting better as she went along. She's always been pretty decent, but she really put it together the last part of the year,” trainer Dale Capuano said. “She was just a nice, useful horse, we thought, but you never know until you get them running. Sometimes they train better than they race, but luckily for us she's run better than she trained, especially in the beginning. She's doing well now. Her works have been much better, so I expect a good race out of her.”
Timeless Curls is three-for-five lifetime at Laurel with one second and one third. Weston Hamilton, an Eclipse Award finalist for 2018 champion apprentice that has been aboard for all eight of her races, gets the return call from Post 4. All six fillies and mares will carry 120 pounds.
Showing some grit to match her talent, Timeless Curls raced in fifth after a half-mile before surging between horses to get up by a head over Isotope going seven furlongs last time out Nov. 29. Isotope returned to capture the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go Dec. 29 at Laurel.
Timeless Curls has worked four times for the Nellie Morse, registering back-to-back bullet five-furlong breezes in 59.40 seconds Dec. 30 and Jan. 6.
“She's had a couple of good works the last few weeks, and she's fresh, so hopefully we get some good luck. I expect her to run well,” Capuano said. “She's pretty versatile, so with her you just have to see how the race shakes out and the rider just has to use good judgement. She's gone through her conditions and she's earned her shot.”
Godolphin homebred Face It ships in from New York where the chestnut daughter of Tapit broke her maiden by 10 lengths and toppled winners 23 days later – both going a mile – in November at Aqueduct for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Jorge Vargas Jr. rides from outside Post 6.
Also entered are Blue Union Rags, fourth in a pair of Grade 3 events last summer; Mo Knows and Enthrall, most recently off the board in the Thirty Eight Go Go; and Mzima Springs.
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