Crowded field in Small Stakes
The Richard W. Small is a fitting headliner on a fivestakes Salute the Troops preVeterans Day card at Laurel Park on Saturday. Small, who died in 2014, was not only a highly successful Maryland horseman, he served as a Green Beret in Vietnam.
The $100,000 Small Stakes has come up exceedingly strong and drawn a full gate of 14, plus two also-eligibles. The undercard includes a pair of seven-furlong sprints for 3-year-olds, the City of Laurel and Safely Kept, and two six-furlong stakes for 2-year-olds, the James F. Lewis III and the Smart Halo.
Eight of the 16 entrants in the 1 1/8-mile Small won their last start. Five have won stakes this year, including three at Laurel. Doctor Mounty, Name Changer, and Something Awesome are graded winners in 2018.
Jose Corrales, who is based at Laurel, trains Something Awesome and Unbridled Juan, both of whom are major players for the Stronach Stable.
Something Awesome was transferred to Corrales in October 2017 after going winless in eight starts on the year. He went on to score in five of his next six, including the Grade 3 General George at seven furlongs and the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic at 1 1/8 miles. He has not started since finishing last as the favorite in the Pimlico Special in May.
Corrales said Something Awesome bled in that race and believes “he was just tired” following a successful but testing campaign.
Something Awesome is only 50-50 to start in the Small, according to Corrales, who says the 7-year-old is about 75 percent cranked up for the race.
“The horse is training well and I think I have him where he needs to be,” Corrales said. “But it’s been a little hard to get him back. He would get a little body sore, he had an issue with this feet. Little things like that.”
Unbridled Juan, on the other hand, is in the best form of his career. Winless in 2017 as a 5-year-old, he was sent to Corrales last spring. He comes into the Small off victories in two of his last three races, including the Grover Delp Memorial at Delaware Park last time out.
“This horse has improved so much,” Corrales said. “I think he’s going to have a good campaign this winter. He’s going to show us what he can do.”
Doctor Mounty will be switching from turf to dirt for Shug McGaughey after winning the Grade 3, $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup at Laurel. The 5-year-old is 3 for 11 on both turf and dirt.
Bonus Points won the 2017 Maryland Million Classic at Laurel but was stranded on the also-eligible list for this year’s running. He has a record of 2-3-0 from five starts at Laurel for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Name Changer won the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup on Haskell Day for trainer Alan Goldberg. In the ensuing three months, he has only started once, finishing third in the Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes at Parx. He should take a step forward in this race.
Zanotti has made eight consecutive stakes starts – four graded – since winning the Queens County at Aqueduct in December 2017 for trainer Carlos Guerrero. While winless during that span, he has finished second six times and figures to once again be in the thick of the battle Saturday.