Firsts and desserts were the noisemakers at Laurel yesterday.
- Trainer Charlie Forrest — formerly a seemingly mishap-prone rider — earned his first win as a conditioner in the fourth yesterday. Two year-old filly Burning Vow did the honors in a maiden claiming sprint, besting the amusingly named Pink Beauty and Punch Like a Girl in the process. Congratulations!
Another first — a first starter — made noise with a flashy victory on the grass in the nightcap. Mystic Love, a daughter of Not for Love running for the Fran Campitelli barn, burst away from the field in the last furlong to win by an impressive four lengths in the turf sprint. She stopped the timer in 1:02 2/5 after getting the last furlong and a half in around 17 seconds flat.
- The hunch play of the day came in the eighth, an allowance test for juveniles. Keep the Canoli and Kentucky Pie comprised the dessert hunch play and nearly the exacta. Keep the Canoli was an easy winner, but Kentucky Pie could only get third. Yum.
- Congrats to jockey Mario Pino — winner of some 5,000 races in Maryland — who yesterday earned his career victory 6,470. That ties Earlie Fires for 10th on the all-time list.
- Our Race o’ put us back in the win column with the $60 exacta. Hidden Ball Trick (“demand value,” we said, and as her odds rose from a 9-2 morning line to more than 7-1 at post time, we received) just held off the late charge of somewhat trip-troubled post-time fave Buleria (“a horse I am more excited about”). Lion Down by Me just missed rounding out the triple at 16-1, finishing fourth, while Terralba (“a little bit interesting”) was a little bit out of it, finishing 11th. Morning line favorite Seeyouinthetown, a horse we did not like (“not super-excited about her”), dead-heated for seventh.
For today’s Race o’, let’s look to the 10th, the All Brandy Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. All Brandy, by the way, was a Maryland-bred filly of 1959, who won multiple stakes in her career, including the 1963 Barbara Fritchie. The 9-5 fave is local standout Baltimore Belle, earner of more than $360,000 and four-time stake winner. She hasn’t been in great form of late — winless this year and coming off three straight mediocre efforts — but on class alone, it’s hard to throw her out. She apparently didn’t take to the Presque Isle synthetic in her last, but she’s been training well for this. Charged Cotton (#1, 4-1) hasn’t done much wrong in her brief, four-race career: two wins and two thirds. Most recently, she did a lot wrong but still had enough to run down the leader late and win an allowance at Delaware in her first try at a route distance. She ran like a horse who will go farther, and she has every right to continue moving forward. A longshot I’m keeping an eye on is Cross Mountain (#9, 20-1) whose better grass efforts are competitive here. She was fourth, beaten just five, in the Rooney at Delaware back in June, and that was a better field than she’ll see here today. She came in a good second at monster odds, with a big late kick, in a starter handicap two after that. In her last two, it’s likely that track conditions — yielding turf in one, slop in the other — compromised her chances. She’s got some talent — her allowance win back in May was eye-catching — and getting back to firm turf might bring it out. Look for an improved effort today. I can’t quite throw out Access to Charlie (#2, 12-1) , whose last, a fourth in the Unbridled Belle at Delaware, was not bad. She’s won a stake and two other races in her 11-race career to date, and while she looks to be an inch better on dirt than turf, this feels like it’s not out of range for her.