Raven Run lures three graded win­ners

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Marty Mcgee

LEX­ING­TON, Ky. – There are three graded stakes win­ners among a field of 12 3-year-old fil­lies in the Raven Run Stakes on Satur­day at Keeneland.

Two of them, Lucy N Ethel and Light­stream, fig­ure among the fa­vorites in a well-matched 18th run­ning of the Grade 2, $250,000 Raven Run. The other, Covey Trace, does not.

“I love it,” said Brook Smith, who co-owns Covey Trace with trainer Billy Den­zik. “There are some pretty classy fil­lies in there. If we hit the board, I think we’ll be happy.”

Covey Trace won the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks, in which Sophia’s Song, the 1-5 fa­vorite, fin­ished third. Mak­ing her first start since that Sept. 17 race, Covey Trace was as­signed post 1 for the seven-fur­long Raven Run, the ninth of 10 Satur­day races. Brian Her­nan­dez Jr. has the call.

“The rail makes it tough, but if we get the trip, we’ll have the horse,” said Smith. “She’s train­ing like never be­fore and is com­pletely com­ing into her own. Maybe we’ll run our best race and only get fourth, but our form is re­spectable enough. We feel like we’ve got noth­ing to lose.”

Lucy N Ethel (post 4, Corey Lanerie), the win­ner of the Grade 2 Pri­oress in her last start, will be putting her 4-for-4 record at risk when mak­ing her first start for trainer Tom Amoss.

Light­stream (post 12, Julien Leparoux), trained by Brian Lynch, won the Grade 3 Beau­mont here in April and most re­cently was sec­ond to long­shot win­ner Paola Queen in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga on Aug. 6.

From the rail, the Raven Run field is Covey Trace, Ma Can Do It, Grace’s Trea­sure, Lucy N Ethel, South­ern Girl, Bel­la­men­tary, Mal­ibu Stacy, Curlin’s Ap­proval, Co­niah, Sophia’s Song, Takrees, and Light­stream.

The Raven Run lost a cou­ple of con­tenders when Bend­able was taken out of train­ing be­cause of a mi­nor splint in­jury and Chad Brown de­cided against send­ing Lewis Bay here from New York.

Three al­lowances (races 7, 8, 10) help con­clude a back-loaded Satur­day card that starts at 1:05 p.m. East­ern. At­ten­dance surely will be padded by thou­sands of col­lege foot­ball fans mak­ing a Blue Grass dou­ble­header out of the day. Ken­tucky hosts Mis­sis­sippi State at 7:30 p.m. at nearby Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium.

Bel­mont: Em­pire Show­case Day

ELMONT, N.Y. – If Em­pire Dreams can fin­ish 2016 like he did 2015, he cer­tainly will have made up for lost time.

Over the last 10 weeks of 2015, Em­pire Dreams won the $300,000 Em­pire Clas­sic and the $100,000 Alex M. Robb Hand­i­cap, and in be­tween those starts, he nar­rowly missed a third vic­tory in a divi­sion of the New York Stal­lion Stakes.

A planned lay­off fol­lowed by a splint-bone in­jury has lim­ited Em­pire Dreams to only one start this year. On Satur­day, he will make the sec­ond start of his 5-year-old sea­son when he seeks a re­peat in the Em­pire Clas­sic, the rich­est event on the Em­pire Show­case Day pro­gram at Bel­mont Park. The 11-race card, which com­mences at 12:25 p.m. East­ern, com­prises races re­stricted to New York-breds, in­clud­ing eight stakes with purses to­tal­ing $1.75 mil­lion.

Em­pire Dreams fin­ished last of nine in the 2014 Em­pire Clas­sic, after which he was gelded. In 2015, he went 3-2-2 and earned $422,834 for owner West Point Thor­ough­breds. Fol­low­ing his vic­tory in the Alex Robb on Dec. 31, he was given a fresh­en­ing. Trainer Tom Al­ber­trani said Em­pire Dreams was ready to re­turn in the spring but

de­vel­oped a splint-bone in­jury that needed some at­ten­tion.

Em­pire Dreams made his sea­sonal de­but in the Ge­ne­see Val­ley Breed­ers’ Stakes at Fin­ger Lakes, where he ral­lied widest of all and just lost the bob to Fox Rules.

“I thought he ran pretty well and was a lit­tle bit un­lucky to get beat a short nose,” Al­ber­trani said. “But he came back well and should ben­e­fit from that race.”

Em­pire Dreams drew post 9 in a nine-horse Em­pire Clas­sic field that, from the rail out, also in­cludes Wake Up in Mal­ibu, Gov­er­nor Mal­ibu, Pax in Terra, Good Luck Gus, Hit It Once More, Royal Posse, Sea Raven, and Clifton Plea­sure.

Last year, Won­der Gal came off an eighth-place fin­ish in the Grade 1 Test at seven fur­longs to win the Em­pire Distaff at Bel­mont Park by a con­vinc­ing 2 1/2 lengths. On Satur­day, she will try to bounce back off a fifth-place fin­ish in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at 6 1/2 fur­longs in the $250,000 Distaff at 1 1/16 miles.

Trainer Leah Gyarmati said she and owner Jeff Tread­way chose the Distaff over the $150,000 Iro­quois at 6 1/2 fur­longs be­cause they felt the race would be “a lit­tle bit softer, and she won’t have to run off her feet,” Gyarmati said.

Distaff con­tender Bar of Gold, who beat Havey­ougone­away in the Crit­i­cal Eye go­ing a mile in the spring, is 4 for 4 against New York-bred com­pe­ti­tion. She is com­ing off a third­place fin­ish in the Presque Isle Mas­ters.

Bar of Gold drew the rail, and Won­der Gal drew post 2 for the Distaff. Out­side of them are Is­abelle, Mecke’s Mada­lyn, Jules N Rome, High­way Star, JC’S Shoot­ing Star, Su­per Sur­prise, and Lit­er­ata.

La Ver­dad won the $150,000 Iro­quois in back-to-back years for owner Sheila Rosen­blum and trainer Linda Rice. On Satur­day, Hot City Girl will try to step in for her re­tired older sis­ter when she heads a field of six en­tered in the Iro­quois at 6 1/2 fur­longs.

Hot City Girl, also owned by Rosen­blum and trained by Rice, is com­ing off a 1 3/4-length vic­tory in the Union Av­enue Stakes at Saratoga. Prior to that, she fin­ished third be­hind Havey­ougone­away and Que­zon in the Danc­ing Re­nee.

Que­zon, sec­ond in the Gallant Bloom last out, will be Hot City Girl’s main ri­val. The field also in­cludes Court Dancer, Won­der­ment, E War­fare, and Frosty Mar­garita.

Lubash, Kharafa, and King Kreesa are the last three win­ners of the Mo­hawk Stakes, and they re­unite in Satur­day’s re­newal of the $200,000 stakes, which drew a field of nine 3-year-olds and up go­ing 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Kharafa won the Ash­ley T. Cole last month, while King Kreesa won the West Point ear­lier in the year. All the ma­jor play­ers in the state­bred male turf divi­sion are in this field, in­clud­ing Tap­i­ta­tion, who won the Kingston here in May.

Also en­tered are Brother O’con­nell, Latigo Trail, Macagone, and Of­fer­ing Plan. The Crocheron Kid was en­tered for the main track only.

Twelve were en­tered in the $150,000 Ti­con­deroga, but they all have Fourstar Crook to beat in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for fil­lies and mares Satur­day. Fourstar Crook, who drew the out­side post, has won six straight, in­clud­ing the Yaddo and John Het­tinger. Her ri­vals are Se­len­ite, Flipcup, Mah Jong Maddnes, C D’cat, Neck of the Moon, In­vad­ing Hu­mor, Ta­hoe Ti­gress (main track only), Feel­ing Bossy, Carame­away, Old Har­bor, and The Tea Cups.

Week­end Hide­away looms the short­est-priced fa­vorite on Satur­day’s Em­pire Show­case card when he meets just four ri­vals in the $150,000 Hud­son Hand­i­cap at 6 1/2 fur­longs. Week­end Hide­away drew post 2 in a field that in­cludes Drama King, Breakin The Fever, Can­did De­sire, and Ostrolenka.

Run­away Lute, 2 for 2 against state­breds be­fore a sixth-place fin­ish in the Grade 1 Hope­ful, drew post 7 in a field of 10 2-year-olds en­tered in the $250,000 Sleepy Hol­low Stakes.

Mo Prom­ise, an eightlength maiden win­ner in the slop here Sept. 30, and Iron Mizz, the win­ner of the Seek­ing the Ante Stakes at Saratoga, head a field of nine 2-year-old fil­lies en­tered in the $250,000 Maid of the Mist.

Lau­rel: Mary­land Mil­lion card

Ph­lash Phelps was per­fect last year, win­ning all four of his starts, in­clud­ing the Mary­land Mil­lion Turf. This sea­son, things haven’t gone as smoothly.

Ph­lash Phelps is 1 for 4 this year as a 5-year-old, but on Satur­day at Lau­rel Park, he’ll have a chance to get back on track when he seeks a re­peat vic­tory on Mary­land Mil­lion Day. Ph­lash Phelps will be a top con­tender in the Turf, as he will be mov­ing back into re­stricted com­pany after mak­ing three of his starts this year against open com­pany.

Ph­lash Phelps is a gelded son of the Mary­land stal­lion Great No­tion, who stands at Northview Stal­lion Station in Ch­e­sa­peake City. He was pur­chased by the Hill­wood Sta­ble of Ellen Charles for $85,000 at the FasigTip­ton east­ern fall year­ling sale at Ti­mo­nium and is trained by Rod­ney Jenk­ins.

“He’s do­ing real good,” Jenk­ins said. “He just hasn’t had a lot of luck this year. Noth­ing has re­ally gone right for him.”

Ph­lash Phelps fin­ished third to Rose Brier in the open Henry Clark Stakes at Lau­rel in April. Rose Brier is 4 for 6 this year, in­clud­ing wins in a pair of Vir­ginia-bred stakes. He was a close third in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Mon­mouth in June and sec­ond in the West Vir­ginia Speaker’s Cup in Au­gust.

Ph­lash Phelps won his sec­ond start of the year in an open op­tional-claim­ing race at Pim­lico. He has had trou­ble in his two most re­cent races, the Mary­land-bred Find Stakes at Pim­lico and the Grade 2, $200,000 Com­mon­wealth Turf Cup at Lau­rel.

In the Find, Ph­lash Phelps bob­bled at the start and en­ter­ing the first turn, then was stead­ied near­ing the back­stretch. In the Com­mon­wealth Turf Cup, he was ral­ly­ing in the stretch when he had to be stead­ied and fin­ished fifth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

“He was in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing in the stretch, and an­other horse cut him off,” Jenk­ins said. “It hap­pens.”

The 11-race Mary­land Mil­lion card will in­clude seven stakes and two starter hand­i­caps for Mary­land-sired horses. The nine Mary­land Mil­lion races will of­fer to­tal purses of $900,000. If fewer than six Mary­land-sired horses are en­tered in a race, it will be opened up to nom­i­nated Mary­land-breds.

COADY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Charles Town Oaks win­ner Covey Trace goes in the Raven Run.

JIM MCCUE/MARY­LAND JOCKEY CLUB

Ph­lash Phelps seeks a re­peat in the Mary­land Mil­lion Turf.

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