Rug­by­man can step for­ward with City of Lau­rel vic­tory

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Jim Dun­leavy

The five Satur­day stakes on Salute the Troops Day at Lau­rel Park in­clude two sev­en­fur­long sprints for 3-year-olds and two six-fur­long races for 2-year-olds. The card is topped by the Richard Small Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile race for older horses.

The 3-year-old stakes have lured com­pet­i­tive fields. The Safely Kept, which drew 10 fil­lies, is carded as race 5. It closes the early pick five and be­gins the Rain­bow 6.

The nine-horse City of Lau­rel is race 8 and the third leg of the late pick five, which also in­cludes the James F. Lewis III and Small stakes.

The 10-race card be­gins at noon, 30 min­utes ear­lier than usual.

The City of Lau­rel goes through the tal­ented and steadily im­prov­ing Rug­by­man. The huge son of Tapit has shown flashes of po­ten­tial dur­ing seven starts this year, but has yet to put it all to­gether.

Rug­by­man romped by 14 lengths over a muddy track in a Bel­mont Park maiden race in May, then came back to fin­ish sec­ond by a neck in the Easy Goer Stakes on the Bel­mont Stakes un­der­card. In his last two starts for Gra­ham Mo­tion, he has won a Lau­rel al­lowance and fin­ished third in a Keeneland al­lowance.

Rug­by­man’s com­pe­ti­tion in­cludes Oldies But Good­ies, who is com­ing off two sharp op­tional-claim­ing vic­to­ries for Mike Trom­betta; Spar­ti­cle, who re­cently won an op­tional claimer by five lengths at Parx Rac­ing for Michael Pino; and stakes-win­ning Ma­jes­tic Dun­hill, who will be go­ing turf to dirt for Ge­orge Weaver.

The field also in­cludes Golden Brown, win­ner of the Grade 3 Kent on turf for Pat McBur­ney, who will be switch­ing to dirt and short­en­ing in dis­tance. Old Time Re­vival is com­ing off a re­stricted stakes win at Lau­rel for Ken­neth Decker.

The Safely Kept lineup in­cludes four last-out win­ners. Ken­tucky ship­per Amer­ica’s Tale earned a 90 Beyer Speed Fig­ure win­ning a sec­ondlevel op­tional-claim­ing race at Churchill Downs by 5 1/4 lengths and could go post­ward a slight fa­vorite.

Trained by Bernie Flint, Amer­ica’s Tale will be turn­ing back in dis­tance from a one­turn mile. Trevor McCarthy picks up the mount.

Split Time has won three stakes for Linda Rice. She took the New York-bred Mad­die May in March at Aque­duct, the open Alma North in June at Lau­rel, and the state­bred New York Oaks in July at Fin­ger Lakes.

In her most re­cent start, Split Time was sec­ond-best be­hind 4-year-old Bonita Bianca, who won the $250,000 Em­pire Clas­sic Distaff Hand­i­cap by six lengths at Bel­mont.

Other con­tenders in­clude Pa­cific Gale and Spe­cial Rel­a­tiv­ity, who fin­ished first and sec­ond, sep­a­rated by a head, in a sec­ond-level op­tional claimer at Bel­mont. The stakes win­ner Smok­in­pad­dy­lassie has been fresh­ened since Au­gust and could come back sharp at a price.

All eyes will be on Con­grats Gal in the Smart Halo, which is slot­ted as race 3 and has a field of seven. Con­grats Gal has shown a wealth of ta­lent in her four starts for trainer Cal Lynch and comes into the race off a 14-length romp in a Lau­rel op­tional claimer in Septem­ber.

In her first three starts, Con­grats Gal won a Lau­rel maiden race by 6 1/4 lengths, fin­ished third in the Grade 3 Schuylerville at Saratoga, and was sec­ond to Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile Fil­lies and Frizette win­ner Jay­walk in the White Clay Creek Stakes at Delaware Park.

The Smart Halo is not a walkover, as it also has at­tracted Mae Never No, who won the Colleen at Mon­mouth Park for Wes­ley Ward; Our Su­per Freak, who has looked good win­ning two straight for Jamie Ness; and Love My Honey, whom Mike Maker sends in from Ken­tucky.

Ward has Fayette War­rior and Hawai­ian Noises in the James F. Lewis III. Fayette War­rior fin­ished fourth of 11 last out in the Fu­tu­rity at Bel­mont. Hawai­ian Noises closed from fifth in her sec­ond ca­reer start to win a Keeneland maiden race by a neck.

The field also in­cludes Fol­low the Dog, who im­proved with the ad­di­tion of blink­ers last out to win the Mary­land Mil­lion Nurs­ery for Parx-based Marya Mon­toya. Scrap Cop­per, the 6-5 fa­vorite in the Nurs­ery who lost his chance with a poor start, also is en­tered.

PHOTO CREDIT

Rug­by­man notched his maiden win May 13 at Bel­mont. He is a con­tender in the City of Lau­rel.

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