Our Braintrust ends layoff
Our Braintrust, a stakes winner against open company but coming off a six-month layoff, meets fellow stakes winner Scrap Copper in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Futurity, which headlines three stakes for Maryland-bred or Maryland-sired runners at Laurel Park.
Our Braintrust, who is trained and co-owned by Cathal Lynch, won both of his starts, and was flattered by his competition in both. He won his debut on May 3 at Laurel, and runner-up Tybalt came back to win next out and later place in stakes at Monmouth and Delaware. Our Braintrust then was up along the inside to prevail by three-quarters of a length in the Tremont Stakes on June 8 at Belmont. Runnerup Sombeyay won the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga in his next outing and later finished fourth in two Grade 1 events. Third-place finisher Mae Never No won the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth, while Sir Truebadour rebounded from his fourth-place finish to win the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill.
Our Braintrust has been working steadily at Laurel since the last week of September. He most recently turned in a bullet five-furlong move out of the gate on Nov. 30, going in 59.60 seconds.
“He’s been training really well,” Lynch said. “He had a good work here last weekend. I was very pleased with him. He galloped out strong and that’s kind of what I was looking for. I think Scrap Copper is the horse to beat, but our horse is doing well. He’s coming off a little bit of a break, for sure, but he’s run well fresh.”
Scrap Copper, a debut winner in July at Laurel, was beaten a nose in the Laurel Futurity on turf. He lost all chance in the Maryland Million Nursery when he stumbled badly at the start en route to a seventh-place finish, but rebounded to win the James F. Lewis III Stakes on Nov. 10 at Laurel, defeating Nursery winner Follow the Dog by three-quarters of a length.
“The race in the Maryland Million, he went right down on his nose and then he was boxed in and he had no chance to run,” trainer Hamilton Smith said. “We threw that race out and thankfully he came back and ran big.”
Scrap Copper earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 78 in the Futurity and a 77 in the Lewis, the top figures in this field. Our Braintrust posted a 73 in his Tremont win.
Jorge Vargas Jr., who was aboard for Our Braintrust’s debut, gets back up as the colt leaves from post 2 in the field of eight on Saturday. Leading local rider Trevor McCarthy retains his ride on Scrap Copper, who drew post 4.
Lynch and McCarthy team up in the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Stakes later on the card with Belial, who appears to be the class of the field. Belial, who drew the rail, is the only member of the field to finish in the top three in a stakes, having finished second in the Maryland Million Lassie in October. She came back to win an optional-claiming race going this same sevenfurlong distance at Laurel with a Beyer of 69, the top number in the field.
Rounding out the card’s stakes action is the $75,000 Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial Stakes for 3-yearold and up sprinters, which features a rematch between Lewisfield and Greatbullsoffire, the top two finishers in the Maryland Million Sprint in October. Lewisfield, who rolled by 8 3/4 lengths in that race, later finished third in the Fabulous Strike Stakes at Penn National.
Laki comes off a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash. Talk Show Man won the Maryland Million Turf, while Clubman was third in the Maryland Million Classic.
Our Braintrust, who will make his first start in six months in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity, wins the Tremont in June.