As comebacker Glorious Empire began to tire in the stretch of Saturday’s $200,000 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup (G3), Glen Hill Farm’s homebred Caribou Club reached top gear to break the course record at Laurel. Trained by Tom Proctor and piloted by Fergal Lynch, the 7-2 second choice covered the mile on a firm Dahlia course in 1:33.35, lowering the mark of 1:33.40 established by Tizzarunner in 2017.
Caribou Club, who just set a Mountaineer course record when navigating a mile and 70 yards in 1:37.09 in the West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup, bided his time near the back of the pack early. Up front, Macagone was winging it, stalked by Glorious Empire, the 5-2 favorite despite returning from a suspensory injury. Glorious Empire traveled like a dream for the first seven furlongs or so, readily dismissing Macagone and setting sail for home. But lack of race-fitness told inside the final furlong.
Meanwhile, Lynch had begun to stoke up Caribou Club, thereby getting a decisive jump on fellow deep closer Frontier Market. Caribou Club, the first to pounce on Glorious Empire, fended off Frontier Market by a head. Cullum Road snatched third late from Up the Ante with Just Howard fifth in the blanket finish. Glorious Empire was relegated to sixth, but should benefit from this tightener, and Macagone retreated to last.
“There was a lot of speed in the race with the Jason Servis horse (Macagone) in it,” Lynch recapped. “He set a very fast track record last time out at Saratoga so there was going to be a lot of speed in there with the outside horse coming back, as well, Glorious Empire. We just decided to take our time. He’s a nice horse and he’s got a good turn of foot. He’s very adaptable. He won going 6 1/2 downhill at Santa Anita and he won a mile going around here. He’s a cool little horse.”
Caribou Club scored two of his six prior stakes wins here, in the 2016 Laurel Futurity and 2018 Henry S. Clark. The son of City Zip and multiple Grade 3 vixen Broken Dreams also boasts victories in last year’s Seabiscuit H. (G2) and Connaught Cup (G2) along with the Joe Hernandez (G3) on New Year’s Day 2019. His scorecard reads 21-9-2-4, $673,427.
The stakes-laden day’s signature event, the $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) on the main track, likewise witnessed a swift time as Curragh Stables’ Killybegs Captain sped six furlongs in 1:08.10. According to Laurel publicity, this was the fastest edition since Richter Scale blasted in a track-record 1:07.95 July 15, 2000.
The 5-2 second choice exiting a third in the Forego (G1), the John Terranova II charge broke alertly, then jockey Eric Cancel eased well off the torrid pace set by the 42-1 Old Time Revival. The longshot grew leg-weary in the stretch, and as he drifted out, Killybegs Captain had clear sailing up the inside to take charge. The stalking Altissimo, who had to tap on the brakes when Old Time Revival came across his path, recovered quickly to challenge, but Killybegs Captain rebuffed him by three-quarters of a length. He Hate Me, the 6-5 favorite, checked in a further 3 1/4 lengths adrift in third, and Old Time Revival faded to last of the six.
“John didn’t tell me really any instructions because I’ve ridden the horse a few times already,” said Cancel, who was aboard for his graded placings in both the John A. Nerud (G2) and Forego. “I’ve gotten to know him pretty well. He just told me to ride him with a lot of confidence and to bring home the winner and, thank God, he made it possible.
“I had a lot of confidence. The horse has been training very good. I’ve been watching him work in the mornings and he’s been running his last few races super good. He’s in very good shape. I never had a doubt that he could win this race.
“The horse, sometimes he has his good breaks and sometimes he has his bad. Today, he broke pretty decent. I put him in the spot that I really wanted to be, laying close third or fourth, and once I asked him to run he just started going and never hesitated. I took advantage and it worked out very well.”
Killybegs Captain’s first graded tally improved his resume to 24-6-5-3, $521,453. The son of Mizzen Mast had earned his previous stakes coup in the Pelican at Tampa Bay Downs, where Imperial Hint was a subpar third.
Earlier on the turf, sharp Saratoga maiden winner Sharing kicked off a juvenile stakes double for trainer Graham Motion and jockey Manny Franco in the $200,000 Selima. By Speightstown and out of Motion celebrity Shared Account, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) upsetter, the 1-2 favorite furthered her ambitions toward the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) on “Future Stars Friday” at Santa Anita.
“We’re hoping to get to the Breeders’ Cup,” Motion said. “That’s why we came here. Hopefully, this race is a good stepping stone because it’s a $200,000 race. Hopefully, this will get us into the Breeders’ Cup.”
Sharing worked out a textbook stalk-and-pounce trip in her two-turn debut. After tracking Sunset Promise in second, she asserted down the lane in a convincing 2 1/2-length tally and clocked 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.61. Sunset Promise crossed the wire by the same margin ahead of the closing third Love Beach.
“(Franco) said she got to looking around a little when she got the lead,” Motion said of Sharing, “but she did it the way I hoped she’d do it. I would have been disappointed if she hadn’t probably because she seems like she’s that caliber.”
Campaigned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gainesway Stable, Sharing made her career debut in a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint at Saratoga, where she rallied in a near-miss third. Her next start was also intended for turf, but the seven-furlong maiden was transferred to the Spa’s main track. Sharing was happy on the surface switch in her 6 1/4-length romp, and accordingly found a spot midpack on my first Kentucky Oaks Top 10 list for 2020. Only time will tell if she ends up favoring one surface over another, but Sharing looks a class act.
Motion sees a trait in common between mother and daughter.
“She was one of my favorite mares,” the trainer said of Shared Account. “Any time you win big races like that, it’s pretty special to you. She had a very kind personality, and this filly is very similar.”
Sharing is the second stakes winner produced by Shared Account, following Riley’s Choice, who garnered the All Brandy S. last year on the Laurel main.
Stablemate Irish Mias was a maiden going into the $200,000 Laurel Futurity, but the Isabelle de Tomaso homebred had placed to a pair of promising rivals in both of his outings on the Saratoga dirt. Runner-up to next-out Skidmore winner Another Miracle in his off-the-turf debut, Irish Mias then chased American Butterly, who came back to finish fourth in the Hopeful (G1).
“He’s always shown a lot of ability,” Motion said. “Him and Sharing have been working together, so I thought a lot of him all along. Everybody asks you at Saratoga, ‘Do you like your two-year-olds?’ You don’t take your two-year-olds to Saratoga if you don’t like them.”
Although the Laurel Futurity marked the Sky Mesa colt’s first turf attempt, Motion expected him to prosper on it.
“Honestly I kind of got talked out of running back on the grass with this horse at Saratoga because he ran so well on the dirt, which is a little confusing I think, because really I’ve always thought he was better on the synthetic. I knew (Irish Mias) was going to be a little sharp, because that’s how he trains in the mornings. I just didn’t want them to get caught up together.”
The “them” referred to Motion’s less-fancied runner, the 15-1 Torres del Paine, who fought Wes Hamilton’s restraint when leading early and was wrangled to prompt Benny Havens. The 3-1 Irish Mias took a strong hold but Franco got settled him in a ground-saving fourth. Torres del Paine regained the lead in the stretch, until Irish Mias rode the rail to deny him by a head in 1:44.03. (The time can’t be compared to the Selima since the two stakes were held on different course configurations, the Laurel Futurity on the Dahlia course and the Selima on the All Along.)
While the winner enjoyed a charmed run, several others had varying degrees of trouble. Torres del Paine, wayward in the stretch, had to survive objections lodged by Lynch (aboard perhaps the unluckiest, third-placer Doc Boy), Alex Cintron (rider of 6-5 favorite Field Pass in fourth), and Xavier Perez (on sixth Benny Havens) before the stewards let the result stand and the Motion exacta was confirmed. Another troubled trip to note was Fair Haired Boy in fifth.
Irish Mias is the latest member of his family to join the stakes winners’ club. Half-brother Regally Irish landed the Bridgetown this spring at Aqueduct, and their dam, the Even the Score mare Irish Score, is a half to multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Irish War Cry and Grade 3 turf hero Irish Strait.