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October 7, 2011

Laurel Futurity Returns to Top Saturday’s Card

Posted in: Press Releases by Shawn Short on October 7, 2011 at 6:16 am

LAUREL, MD. 10-06-11—The historic Laurel Futurity returns to Laurel Park after a three year hiatus as the feature offering on Saturday. Nine 2-year-olds, including an entry, are entered to race six furlongs on the turf.

In the past, the Futurity was a graded event contested around two turns and the list of winners includes a who’s who of racing greats with Triple Crown winners Count Fleet, Citation, Secretariat and Affirmed using the race as a launching pad to 3-year-old greatness.

This year’s line-up contains one stakes winner and one maiden. The stakes winner is Lemon Juice, the stronger half of a Dane Kobiskie trained entry. The entry is listed at 9-5 on the morning line. The two have combined to finish in the money in 10 consecutive races.

Lemon Juice, a Johannesburg colt, broke his maiden on the turf at Colonial Downs, won a $40,000 claiming event on the dirt at Delaware and captured the Charles Town Juvenile in his most recent start. Travis Dunkelberger is named to ride Lemon Juice for the first time. Kobiskie has crossed entered Lemon Juice in Saturday’s Dover Stakes at Delaware Park, as well, but indicated he is 90 percent sure he will be running at Laurel.

“He has grown up a lot and is becoming very professional,” Kobiskie said. “He is learning how to win and comes with his run every time and you can’t ask for much more than that.”

Oil Rig is the other part of the Kobiskie entry. The speedy son of Henny Hughes, who is a two-time winner at Charles Town, will be adding blinkers for the first time. Joshua Navarro has the riding assignment.

“I really like this horse in this race,” Kobiskie said. “I worked him on the grass at Colonial but haven’t had a chance to get him on since. I have been dying to run him on the turf and really think he is going to like it. This horse has a lot of ability but every time he runs kind of gawks around on the front end. He has a lot of natural speed but we are not sure if we’ll go to the lead or let him stalk and have something to run at. The blinkers on and the sharp work on Monday (five-furlongs in one minute at the Bowie Training Center), I would not be shocked if Oil Rig won and beats my other horse.”

Seeking Romance (5-2) finished second behind Lemon Juice when the latter broke his maiden at Colonial. The Maryland-bred son of Swain won his next start, a 7-1/2 furlong contest on the turf at Delaware Park. Jeremy Rose was aboard that day and will continue as his pilot for trainer Hamilton Smith.

“Hammy Smith’s horse is nice,” added Kobiskie.

New York-bred Sportswriter (3-1), from the barn of Carlos Martin, has made two starts, both turf races at Saratoga this summer. He broke his maiden against restricted company, then faded to eighth in the Grade II Anticipation Stakes. Jorge Chavez is to accompany the colt from Belmont Park.

The Richard Small trained maiden Just Sayin (15-1) and maiden winners Freshy Francesco (6-1), Play Eighteen (12-1) Magical Season (20-1) and Distinctly Donovan (20-1) complete the line-up.

Originally run at Pimlico Race Course (from 1921 until 1965) as the Pimlico Futurity, the Futurity has always served as a showcase for up-and-coming 2-year-olds.

Morvich won the first running of the Futurity on his way to victory in the 1922 Kentucky Derby. Fifteen other winners have gone on to capture a Triple Crown race: Challedon (1939 Preakness); Bimelech (1940 Derby & Preakness); Count Fleet (1943 Triple Crown); Jet Pilot (1947 Derby); Citation (1948 Triple Crown); Capot (1949 Preakness & Belmont); Quadrangle (1964 Belmont); High Echelon (1970 Belmont); Riva Ridge (1972 Derby & Belmont); Secretariat (1973 Triple Crown); Affirmed (1978 Triple Crown); Spectacular Bid (1979 Derby & Preakness); Bet Twice (1987 Belmont); Go and Go (1990 Belmont) and Barbaro (2006 Derby).

At one time it was one of the nation’s most prestigious Grade 1 stakes for two-year-olds. Fifteen Futurity winners have earned the Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old colt. They are: Bimelech, Count Fleet, Platter, Star Pilot, Citation, Crimson Satan, Vitriolic, Riva Ridge, Secretariat, Protagonist, Honest Pleasure, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Deputy Minister and Devil’s Bag.