With an eye on returning to New York for the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on April 8, M M G Stables' multiple Grade 3 winner El Areeb breezed Thursday at Laurel Park for trainer Cal Lynch.
Regular rider Trevor McCarthy was up for the work in company with 4-year-old stablemates Winter and Vorticity.
El Areeb was credited with a half-mile time of 49.40 seconds, seventh-fastest of 14 horses at the distance in the second work since his four-race winning streak ended with a third-place finish as the favorite in the Gotham (G3) on March 4 at Aqueduct. Winter and Vorticity were each timed in 50.00.
"He worked a mile and an eighth and finished up really, really well. We were very pleased. Everything's good," Lynch said. "I'll talk to the owners after his work next week and we'll make a plan, but it looks like the Wood's on schedule unless something changes." El Areeb is scheduled to work again March 29 and April 4 leading up to the Wood, weather permitting.
Thursday's move was his second straight in company, having gone four furlongs in 51.40 seconds with Winter on March 17.
"I put him in behind horses today. He was like two or three lengths behind those two horses and then finished up a little stronger than they did," Lynch said. "I just wanted to make sure Trevor felt the horse relaxing for him. It's going to be him on him in the afternoon so I just wanted to give him the feel of a race scenario and have him on there to know how he felt. He was very good today. I was very pleased."
El Areeb, winner of the Jerome (G3) and Withers (G3) at Aqueduct to kick off his 3-year-old campaign, set a demanding pace of 23.58 seconds, 47.70 and 1:13.59 before tiring to third, beaten 11 lengths by J Boys Echo.
Winner of the James F. Lewis III Stakes to cap his juvenile season, El Areeb remains among the leading contenders on the Triple Crown trail. He ranks ninth with 30 qualifying points for the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1).
"I'm pleased with him. We were pleased with how he came out of the race, it was just one of those things with the pace scenario unfortunately," Lynch said. "He's always been a nice horse and he's continued to be. We're just optimistic he shows up with a little different pace scenario next time and we're hopefully looking at a different result."
Also on Laurel's work tab Thursday morning was 26-time stakes-winning multi-millionaire gelding Ben's Cat, going a half-mile in 48.80 seconds gearing up for his 11-year-old debut. The time ranked fifth of 14 horses at the distance.
Bred, owned and trained by Hall of Fame horseman King Leatherbury, Ben's Cat has had three works this month at Laurel since returning from his annual winter vacation. He breezed three furlongs in 37.40 seconds March 11 and went four furlongs in 52.60 March 18.
More Laurel Park: There will be carryovers in the 50-cent Late Pick 5 and 20-cent Rainbow 6 wagers when live racing returns with a nine-race program today that begins at 1:10 p.m. The Late Pick 5, with a 12 percent takeout, offers a carryover of $7,281.00 after not being hit Sunday. Today's sequence covers Races 5-9 and includes both one-mile $42,000 feature events, an optional claiming allowance for 4-year-olds and up in Race 7 and an entry-level allowance for females 4 and up in Race 8. A carryover jackpot of $3,945.54 is available in the Rainbow 6, which begins in Race 4. The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 60 percent of that day's pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners while 40 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool. ... Fans are invited to watch and wager on the Dubai World Cup program from Meydan Racecourse Saturday before Laurel's live-race card. Doors will open 75 minutes early at 10:15 a.m. Wagering will be available on Races 6-9 from Meydan: the $2 million Golden Shaheen (G1), $6 million Dubai Turf (G1), $6 million Sheema Classic (G1) and $10 million World Cup (G1), the latter with an approximate 12:45 p.m. EST post time.
Federer is next for Marylander Tiafoe
Now things will get a little more challenging for Frances Tiafoe at the Miami Open. Tiafoe, a 19-year-old from Riverdale in Prince George's County, set up a second-round meeting against 18-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at the hard-court tournament by beating Konstantin Kravchuk, 7-5, 5-7, 6-1, on Thursday in Key Biscayne, Fla. Tiafoe hit 12 aces and accumulated 14 break points, converting five, on the 32-year-old Kravchuk's serve. This was Tiafoe's third career match victory at a Grand Slam or Masters event. Kravchuk dropped to 0-7 overall this season. Tiafoe is ranked 101st, Kravchuk 103rd. The level of competition will rise against the fourth-seeded — and former No. 1-ranked — Federer. "It's Roger Federer," Tiafoe said. "This guy has about a million Grand Slams. He's done everything. I can't tell you how excited I am to play. … He's my idol, everyone's idol."
Capitals beat Blue Jackets in shootout
T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets, 2-1, Thursday night.
Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.
Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington's 35th shot of the game. Orlov's goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.
Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.
NFL: Former Ravens running back Trent Richardson is denying charges that he hit his former girlfriend, who is the mother of his four children. Richardson, 26, told Al.com that he would never strike a female. He says his February arrest in suburban Birmingham, Ala., happened after former girlfriend Sevina Fatu punched him and pulled out some of his hair. Fatu was arrested Monday night in Pensacola, Fla. Police say she rammed a Mercedes-Benz SUV into a car containing Richardson and another person. Fatu was released from jail Wednesday. The former Alabama star is trying to get back to the NFL after spending four seasons at Cleveland and Indianapolis. He has been cut by the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens in recent years. ... The Chicago Bears re-signed former Ravens wide receiver Deonte Thompson to a one-year contract.
Women's college lacrosse: Meghan Duffy and Danita Stoup each had a hat trick to help No. 17 Northwestern (4-5, 1-0 Big Ten) win, 10-8, over host Michigan (3-8, 1-1). The Wildcats used a 2-0 run early in the second half to secure the lead.
Men's college basketball: Navy assistant coach Ernie Nestor is retiring after coaching college basketball for 40 seasons. Nestor, 70, was a head coach at George Mason and Elon, and has spent the past five seasons as an assistant with the Midshipmen. ... Morgan State junior forward Phillip Carr and UMES senior forward Bakari Copeland were named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches' Division I All-District 15 first team. Morgan State junior guard Tiwian Kendley made the second team.