Isabelle de Tomaso’s homebred Irish War Cry had to dig deep, but the 1-5 favorite narrowly averted an upset by 6-1 O Dionysus in Saturday’s $99,000 Marylander S. at Laurel Park.
Unexpectedly on the engine throughout for Fergal Lynch, the Graham Motion juvenile showed a resilient attitude to see off O Dionysus by a nose and remain unbeaten from two starts. Irish War Cry, a son of Curlin, had rallied from well back in his debut romp here in November.
“His first out was very good and we were very impressed with him,” assistant trainer Adrian Rolls said. “He’s trained on and improved. He’s a pretty easy horse to train; he’s very relaxed.
“Today he kind of jumped out of the gate and was on the bridle very early and I think it surprised [Fergal] a little bit. He had plenty of horse and gave him a good ride. He just kept him where he was comfortable. He got to idling a little bit in front but when the other horse came to him he kicked in again. It was very close again at the end but [the jockey] was confident he had enough horse.”
In the $100,000 Gin Talking for two-year-old fillies, even-money favorite Ms Locust Point rolled to a front-running 4 1/4-length decision, thereby becoming the third stakes winner for 2016’s champion freshman sire, Dialed In.
Trainer John Servis won this race last year with future Kentucky Oaks (G1) star Cathryn Sophia. While those are big shoes to fill, Ms Locust Point is promising, and her final time of 1:22.43 was quicker than Irish War Cry’s 1:22.71 (as track announcer Dave Rodman noted on Twitter). A Parx maiden winner in her prior start, she is campaigned by the partnership of Jim Reichenberg and clocker Bruno De Julio.
“I just got her out there and she did the rest,” winning rider Jorge Vargas Jr. said. “John had her ready. We did not have any trouble in the race, and I think that she can go a lot further.”
Earlier, Matthew Schera’s John Jones justified 1-2 favoritism when wiring the $74,250 Jennings by five lengths. Sadly, the one-mile test for state-breds was marred by the fatal breakdown of Just Jack in the stretch. His jockey, Alex Cintron, was reported to be OK.
The run of stakes favorites was halted in the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go, as Martin Schwartz’s High Ridge Road outfinished 3-5 By the Moon in the final furlong of the mile. It wasn’t exactly an upset, however, for the Linda Rice-trained winner was 2-1 in light of her near-miss in the Go for Wand (G3).
Similarly, the 5-2 Heaven’s Runway ran down even-money Chief Lion in the $100,000 Dave’s Friend to wrap up Laurel’s New Year’s Eve stakes program. Owned by Michael Dubb, the Rudy Rodriguez shipper was up in time in the Fall Highweight H. (G3) on Thanksgiving in his latest.