By Mike Farrell
Laurel Park does its part to keep the holiday season merry for racing fans by offering eight stakes Saturday on its Christmastide Day card.
The $150,000 Allaire du Pont (G3) for fillies and mares is the main attraction. The race, usually part of Preakness weekend, was shifted to this late-season spot when the coronavirus upended the schedule.
The other $100,000 stakes include four for juveniles spring-boarding into their 3-year-old campaigns.
The du Pont at 1 1/8 miles might be stretching the distance envelope for five of the seven runners. But for Another Broad and Ice Princess, 9 furlongs hits their respective wheelhouses.
Another Broad is 1-1-4 in 10 tries at the distance as she continues her transition from a future to a current Hall of Fame trainer. The 5-year-old was a member of the Todd Pletcher stable as recently as Nov. 7 when she finished fourth in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct.
Now conditioned by Steve Asmussen, she arrives fresh from a third-place effort in the 1 1/8-mile Falls City Stakes (G2) on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs. Another Broad was fourth in the 2019 edition of the du Pont.
Ice Princess heads south from Belmont Park for trainer Danny Gargan. The gray 3-year-old exits a pair of second-place finishes in 9-furlong stakes. She missed by only a neck in the Fleet Indian for New York-breds at Saratoga, and was runner-up in the Comely (G3) last month at Aqueduct. This is her first start against older rivals.
“She should have won the race at Saratoga,” Gargan said. “She had a really bad trip. She got stuck down on the inside and she doesn’t like to be on the inside of horses.”
That shouldn’t be a problem from post 5.
Ice Princess has a pair of wins and the two seconds in five races this year. Her lone off-the-board finish was to subsequent Preakness (G1) winner Swiss Skydiver in the Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn.
“I shipped her to Oaklawn in a last-ditch effort because COVID hit, and everything got canceled in New York,” Gargan said. “It was probably a bad decision just trying to make something happen.”
She is lightly raced this year as Gargan passed up several spots he felt were too short. A third straight try at 9 furlongs looks ideal to the trainer: “The distance is never going to be a problem. She’ll run all day.”
Eres Tu easily won her two starts since transferring from Asmussen to Arnaud Delacour at the Fair Hill Training Center. Both victories were at 1 1/16 miles and this is her first venture beyond that range.
Delacour believes her efficient cruising speed will carry her the added ground, but it remains an unknown until proven.
“That’s only a guess,” Delacour said. “She needs to confirm that.”
No Cents has been as good as gold, winning his last three races including Laurel’s James F. Lewis III Stakes. He’ll be a short price in the Heft at 7 furlongs.
Three-time stakes winner Street Lute will be tough to beat in the Gin Talking for fillies at the same 7 furlongs.
The Anne Arundel County for fillies and the Howard County are both 1 1/16 miles.
Zeyaraat returns to the main track for the Anne Arundel following a pair of unsuccessful turf tries in stakes races. The Honor Code homebred for the Shadwell Stable should perk up back on dirt where she was a debut winner in September at Parx.
Erawan aimed too high last time, absorbing a 34½-length loss earlier this month in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct. Back home at Laurel, the closer should be well positioned to save ground from the rail in the Howard.
Mike Farrell has worked in thoroughbred and harness racing for much of his career in journalism. Mike is a turf writer, harness writer, and handicapper, covering and analyzing races at dozens of racetracks around the country. Based on the East Coast, Mike has covered the Triple Crown races and the Breeders’ Cup for a number of publications, including Daily Racing Form, as well as The Associated Press. He spends time at Gulfstream Park taking in the races, and also hits the harness racing circuit in the Northeast region. He’s been a fixture at The Hambletonian and the Haskell Invitational for longer than he’d like to remember.