Altamura, Elusive Mischief, River Deep & Paulita Score Virginia-Bred Stakes Wins On Commonwealth Day Card

The following is a press release from the Maryland Jockey Club and is a recap of the Commonwealth Day series of Virginia-bred/sired stakes on Sunday September 23rd.

LAUREL, MD – Lothenbach Stables’ Elusive Mischief paid immediate dividends for his new connections by splashing to a decisive 5 ¼-length victory in the $75,000 Punch Line Stakes Sunday at Laurel Park.

The 5 ½-furlong Punch Line for 3-year-olds and up was among four stakes for Virginia-bred/sired horses worth $300,000 in purses on a 12-race Commonwealth Day program. All four races were rained off Laurel’s world-class turf course and onto a sloppy and sealed main track.

Purchased for $92,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s July Selected Horses of Racing Age sale, Elusive Mischief ($5) dueled with Meadow Stable Stakes winner Homespun Hero for a quarter-mile, took over the lead on the turn and sprinted clear down the lane to win in 1:03.37 for 5 ½ furlongs for trainer Ian Wilkes and jockey Sheldon Russell.

Punch Line winner Elusive Mischief was bred by Jim Fitzgerald & Katie Fitzgerald. Photo by Jim McCue.

Divine Interventio put in a late run to be second, 3 ½ lengths in front of Homespun Hero. They were trailed by Fly E Dubai, third in the Meadow Stable, and White Oak Farm Stakes runner-up Available.

Elusive Mischief was second in her career debut last summer at Saratoga and had two wins from five starts this year for previous trainer Mark Casse, including a third in her previous effort, the Charlie Barley Stakes June 30 over Woodbine’s turf.

The $75,000 Bert Allen Stakes for 3-year-olds and up gave Russell his second stakes win of the day, as River Deep forged a short lead around the far turn and opened daylight on his rivals once straightened for home in an easy 8 ½-length victory as the 3-5 favorite.

River Deep won his second straight Virginia-bred stakes by capturing the Bert Allen Stakes September 23rd. Photo by Jim McCue.

It was the second straight win against Virginia-bred/sired horses for River Deep ($3.40), who romped to a 7 ¼-length victory in an off-the-turf edition of the one-mile Hansel Stakes Aug. 4 at Laurel, also as the top choice. The winning time for 1 1/8 miles Sunday was 1:51.34.

Runninginthevale, third in last year’s Bert Allen, took the field through fractions of 23.96 and 47.75 seconds as River Deep settled in second on his inside. Russell gave River Deep his cue midway on the far turn and he went in front after six furlongs in 1:12.26 and never looked back. Runninginthevale stayed on for second, a half-length ahead of Vincent Vangogo in third.

“He was great today,” Russell said. “Two starts back he sort of did the same thing when they came off the grass. He’s just a forward-going horse. Going into the first turn I was very comfortable even though [Runninginthevale] sort of had me outrun, but he’s such a cool horse to ride. Turf or dirt, it doesn’t really matter.”

Kept in the clear two wide, Hat Creek Racing’s Paulita ($4.20) reeled in pacesetting stablemate Well Blessed at the sixteenth pole and edged clear by 1 ¼ lengths to win the $75,000 Brookmeade Stakes for fillies and mares 3 and up.

Brookmeade winner Paulita was bred by Hat Creek Racing. Photo by Jim McCue.

The win gave trainer Arnaud Delacour a victory in all three of Laurel’s Virginia-bred/sired filly distance stakes. Paulita also won the William M. Backer Aug. 4, a race also taken off the turf, following Armoire’s triumph in the Nellie Mae Cox June 23. Armoire ran third in Sunday’s Brookmeade to complete a 1-2-3 finish for the Delacour stablemates.

Well Blessed was sent to the lead by jockey Feargal Lynch and tracked by Secret Or Not through a quarter-mile in 24.78 seconds until Paulita picked up the chase following a half in 49.66. Well Blessed made the turn in front but Paulita gained steadily down the center of the track to wear down her stablemate in deep stretch. The final time was 1:52.83.

Paulita was making her third start since being moved to Delacour’s Fair Hill, Md.-based string this summer. Well Blessed finished off the board in both the Nellie Mae Cox and 5 ½-furlong Camptown Stakes in her previous two races.

“[Paulita] has been very nice. She’s got tactical speed and she obviously likes the dirt,” Delacour said. “[Well Blessed also] has a lot of tactical speed and obviously carries it on the slop.”

Susan Moulton’s Altamura overcame a slight stumble out of the gate and a pair of challengers through the first half-mile before asserting herself once straightened for home and sprinting clear to her fourth straight victory in Sunday’s $75,000 Oakley Stakes at Laurel Park.

Altamura captured her third Virginia-bred stakes win of 2018 when she prevailed in the September 23rd Oakley. Photo by Jim McCue.

Altamura ($3.40) completed the distance in 1:04.89 under Midwest-based jockey Channing Hill to earn her third consecutive stakes win following the June 23 M. Tyson Gilpin and Aug. 4 Camptown and sweep Laurel’s three Virginia-bred/sired filly sprint stakes.

Second to Altamura in both a maiden special weight June 15 and the Gilpin, Virginia Fable outsprinted the 3-5 favorite early and held a short lead after going an opening quarter-mile in 22.90 seconds. Hugging the rail from her inside post, Altamura put that rival away but had to contend with Up Hill Battle, who loomed a challenger on the outside following a half in 46.27.

After rounding the turn together, Altamura edged clear through the stretch to win by 1 ¼ lengths. It was four lengths from Up Hill Battle to Virginia Fable in third, followed by Do What I Say and What the Beep.

Hill pulled Altamura up on the clubhouse turn as they jogged back to the winner’s circle after galloping out. Stewards said the 3-year-old daughter of Grade 1 turf winner Artie Schiller filly was taken back to the barn for X-rays on a left hind leg injury.

Live Racing Returns Friday, Sept. 28 with $75,000 Jamestown, Stronach 5

The 20th running of the $75,000 Jamestown for Virginia-bred/sired 2-year-olds and the debut of the national $1 Stronach 5 wager highlight the return of live racing to Laurel with a 10-race program Friday, Sept. 28.

First race post time is 1:10 p.m.

A field of eight juveniles was entered for the Jamestown, a 5 ½-furlong sprint on the All Along turf course carded as Race 2. Among the group are three horses from the barn of trainer Susan Cooney – maidens Ready to Run, Payneful and Drosselmoon – and Morgans Ford Farm homebred River Gal, a half-sister to Virginia-bred stakes winner River Deep.

There will be a guaranteed pool of $50,000 on the Stronach 5, a multi-track, multi-race wager with an industry-low 12 percent takeout being offered every Friday at Stronach Group-owned racetracks.

The Maryland Jockey Club will serve as host of the Stronach 5 and offer the multi-race bet as a separate wagering program. Carrying a $1 minimum wager, the Stronach 5 requires bettors to select the winner of five selected races from Laurel Park, Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields. If there is no winner, the entire pool will be carried over to the next Friday.

The first 100 fans who buy a program Sept. 28 at Laurel, Gulfstream, Santa Anita or Golden Gate will receive a free Quick Pick ticket on the Stronach 5. The fun, action-packed wager will take place in less than 60 minutes and past performances for the Stronach 5 will be available in programs at all Stronach Group tracks and in the Daily Racing Form.