Kirwan Equine Group, LLC & Ed Hipps' Extrasexyhippzster waited behind traffic, pounded through an opening when the field straightened for home and pulled away to an impressive score in the $100,000 Miracle Wood Stakes for 3-year olds, one of four stakes on Saturday's nine race program. Performing for trainer Mike Trombetta and jockey Julian Pimentel, the son of Stroll completed the one mile distance in 1:36.75 and won by 3-3/4 lengths. He paid $8.40 as the third betting choice. Joint Custody loomed an early threat but succumbed to the winner to finish second. Mr. Rover rallied for third. "Mike told me to sit behind those two horses and make my move when I thought the time was right," Pimentel said. "I did just what he said and when things opened up I made my move and he just took off and that was it." Extrasexyhippzster finished fourth in the Marylander on December 7, then shipped to Aqueduct two weeks later and posted a convincing win in the Don Rickles Stakes. "This was huge today," Trombetta said. "I'm extremely pleased with this performance. You hope that everything turns out perfect the way a race develops but rarely does it. This was so impressive the way he rated behind all that speed. He was kind to Julian the whole way. When he found that spot at the top of the lane I was very impressed with the way he went forward. This time of the year you start trying them a little further to see if they're going to be able to get the longer distances and for me today he passed the test. I don't know where I'll run him back but the obvious is to continue to add distance and two turns." Trombetta became a major player during the 2006 Triple Crown scene with Sweetnorthernsaint, the betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and runner-up in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
What A Summer Stakes
Martin Scafidi's Winning Image showed initiative and showed the way in the $100,000 What A Summer Stakes, the last of four stakes races Saturday afternoon at Laurel Park. Away alertly under Tony Black for trainer Michael Aro, Winning Image battled post time favorite She's Ordained into defeat and completed the six-furlong distance in 1:10.37 to win by 1-3/4 lengths. "She had some early pressure but she's used to it," said Black, who ranks 23rd on the all-time North America win list with 5,205 career victories. "She broke a little awkward. She broke in on the six (Vicki's Dancer) and the eight (Crespano) stumbled out of the gate. I was able to get her back into position. She has natural speed. She's as quick as some of the better horses I have ridden like Dave's Friend and My Juliet." The win was the eighth stakes victory for the 7-year-old daughter of Southern Image, which included a run of four straight stakes from December 2012 to July 2013. "We were locked down for two months because of the quarantine at Parx which kept us from running anywhere," Aro said. All we did was train, train, train. This mare is very fast and that's always been her style, just go to the front. Jose Caraballo had to ride in Florida so he couldn't get up here and he recommended giving Tony a shot. He thought with his expert technique on speed horses and being the journeyman that he is he would get along with her perfectly. Glad I took his advice." Winning Image paid $9.40.
Native Dancer Stakes
Harry C. & Tom O. Meyerhoff's Bold Curlin had to muscle his way between horses to make a path to the winners' circle in the $100,000 Native Dancer Stakes, one of four stakes races Saturday afternoon at Laurel Park. Victor Carrasco, the recent winner of the 2013 Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice rider, was winning his first stakes as a journeyman in the Native Dancer and marking the second stakes win of his career. This was the first stakes win for Bold Curlin, who paid $9. "We broke okay and settled between horses," Carrasco said. "I just make sure I gave him a good trip. I just kept him moving and got pinched a little but when I was able to get the opening I put him in there and he went on." Mike Trombetta trains the son of 2007 Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Curlin, who completed the 1-1/16th mile distance in 1:43.62. He won by two lengths over Indian Jones and Managed Account, who finished a nose apart for second. "I originally went into this race to take a look because he's basically a three other than horse, but this time of year they don't fill very well," Trombetta said. "There were a couple of scratches (including morning line favorite Mail) that worked in our favor. I told Victor we're probably one cut below the top ones but if everything goes just perfect we could win this. That was about as good a ride as you are going get. It was better than superb. He's a nice young man and I think he has a tremendous future ahead of him. This horse responded very well for him today." The victory was the second of the afternoon for Trombetta, who also saddled Extrasexyhippzster to a score in the $100,000 Miracle Wood Stakes.
Wide Country Stakes
Commonwealth New Era Racing's Taris quickly dispensed of Jonesin for Jerry and sped away to an easy victory in the $100,000 Wide Country Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, the first of four stakes on Saturday at Laurel Park. Away from the gate at odds of 1-5 under Clinton Potts, Taris beat Steady N Love by 5-1/2 lengths in 1:24.71 for the seven-furlong distance for trainer Todd Beattie. "It was a pretty simple race today," Potts said. "I had some pressure early in the race and I was a little concerned because the track was deep but this horse handles everything right. Todd deserves great credit for getting this horse ready because she does everything just like an older horse. Her career is definitely going to go far." The daughter of Flatter was an impressive 11-3/4 length winner in her debut at Aqueduct on December 21. "She just continues to impress me," Beattie said. "I'm going to go south with her and try to avoid this cold weather, freshen her up a little bit at my sister Holly's farm in Ocala. The logical spot to run her back would be the one turn mile here on March 8 (Caesar's Wish Stakes) but we'll have to see how the weather and all plays out. I love to run in this region. I'm stabled at Penn year round and I like the way I get treated when I come down here but I have the option in Florida to stay there and run in the Honeybee on the same day." Taris paid $2.40.