VA-breds dominate in stakes day at Laurel

On Saturday, Laurel Park generously hosted six Virginia-bred stakes races. Fields were tremendously competitive and good horses put in solid performances across the board.

Thanks from the Virginia Thoroughbred Association to the Laurel Racing Office for all of their help in attracting full fields and putting on a great day of racing!

Read the full results recap here.

Hooligan wins first group of Jamestown

Hooligan was impressive in the first group of the split-field Jamestown. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

Hooligan was impressive in the first group of the split-field Jamestown. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

Owned and trained by 2-year-old maestro Wesley Ward, the Audley-bred Hooligan took the 5 1/2-furlong Jamestown by a length in her second start. A length to the good here, the daughter of Exchange Rate came into the race off a sixth-placed finish at Saratoga in July.

“She’s young and still learning but she definitely has some talent,” said rider Trevor McCarthy. “I think she’ll be something down the road. She had one race under her belt and the experience helped. I kept her out of trouble and when I asked her at the top of the stretch, she made her run.”

The 2-year-old was a $95,000 Fasig-Tipton October yearling.

There were so many entries in the 2-year-old stake that the field for the Jamestown was split. Keep reading to find out who won the second heat!

Heaven Knows What dominates Oakley Stakes

Heaven Knows What winning the Oakley Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

Heaven Knows What winning the Oakley Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

R. Larry Johnson’s homebred Holy Bull filly Heaven Knows What turned in an impressive performance as the post-time favorite to finish 2 lengths the better in the 5 1/2-furlong contest. Second in last year’s rendition of the race at Colonial Downs, the 5-year-old came into the race on a 2-week turnaround.

“I was worried about her coming back in two weeks but you have to run when the races are offered,” said trainer Mike Trombetta. “Fortunately, she kicked on and kept running today. I was very proud of her.”

Lion Down by Me ran a game second and Wardelle was third.

Embarr wins Brookmeade for the third time

Embarr winning the Brookmeade Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

Embarr winning the Brookmeade Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

6-year-old Embarr won the Brookmeade for the third time for owner-trainer-breeder Susan Cooney. The daughter of Royal Academy won the race in 2011 and 2012, and put in a neck victory this year in the 1 1/16-mile contest.

“She ran very well today,” said Cooney. “We have been racing her in graded company and today she was in where she had a good chance to win. I was concerned when they slowed the pace but Forrest had her in the right spot and she was able to run them down. We are hoping that she can win against graded company and we plan to give her one more race this year, then she will become a mommy next year. She is still sound and able but she’s getting older now.”

Two Notch Road beats favorite

Two Notch Road in the Punch Line Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

Two Notch Road in the Punch Line Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

James Hackman and Glenn R. Thompson’s Two Notch Road won his second lifetime stakes in the Punch Line. The 7-year-old son of Partner’s Hero, bred by Hackman, has been a regular figure in graded stakes race up and down the east coast since winning the Continental Mile at Monmouth in 2009. He lodged a 2-length victory here, despite being caught 5 wide coming around the turn. Post-time favorite Boltin’ Out ran second in the 5 1/2-furlong test.

“Julian [Pimentel] rode him very well,” said Thompson. “It means a lot to win here because it’s been a long, dry spell. I feel like things are finally turning. I think we’ll be back here for the [$350,000 Frank de Francis Memorial] Dash.”

The de Francis Dash will be run November 6 over 6 furlongs.

Rose Brier makes Bert Allen look easy

Rose Brier winning the Bert Allen Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

Rose Brier winning the Bert Allen Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

Panic Stable’s Rose Brier completed a hat trick in the Bert Allen, winning his first stakes race and beating graded stakes winner Hard Enough in the process. The 5-year-old, trained by Jane Cibelli and bred by Bill Backer, won two back-to-back allowance races at Monmouth and Delaware this summer and dominated by over 3 lengths here. The favorite here, the son of Mizzen Mast left Hard Enough in second and stakes winner Dannhauser another nose behind in third.

“My horse clipped heels and I took him back a little bit but it didn’t seem to bother him,” said regular rider Trevor McCarthy. “They were kind of going slow in front. He handled the track and the pace perfectly. Once outside I knew he’d be fine. Rose Brier and I get along very well. He’s a big horse and I fit him. He’s one pace but when he gets his stride he rolls. I told Jane she’ll have to fly me to Gulfstream to ride him again.”

Moon River wins Jamestown on first start

Moon River dominating in the second heat of the Jamestown Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

Moon River dominating in the second heat of the Jamestown Stakes. Photo courtesy Jim McCue.

William M. Backer Revocable Trust’s homebred Moon River took the second group of the split-field Jamestown by 2 1/4 lengths, taking advantage a sneaky rail hole. The 2-year-old son of Bluegrass Cat, trained by Jonathan Sheppard, came into the race off of a bullet 4-furlong work at Delaware Park in 47.20.

“He trains well, vans well, behaves nicely and has really been like an older horse from the very beginning,” said assistant trainer Keri Vrion. “Mr. Sheppard usually thinks a lot of a horse when he starts one for the first time in a stakes race. We had big expectations coming into today because this horse has done everything right and he showed us that we were right.”