Richard Santulli's Force the Pass is on quest to reestablish himself as the premier 3-year-old turf horse in North America Saturday in the $400,000 Commonwealth Derby (G2) at Laurel Park.
The Grade 1 stakes winner topped a field of eight 3-year-olds entered Wednesday for the 1 1/8-mile turf stakes that will be co-featured on a 10-race program with the $250,000 Commonwealth Cup (G2).
On the strength of sensational back-to-back stakes victories, the son of Speightstown went to post for the Secretariat (G1) Aug. 15 as the 3-2 favorite, only to break in the air and trail the seven-horse field for the first 6 furlongs of the 1¼-mile stakes for 3-year-olds. He rallied to finish third, 5½ lengths behind victorious European shipper Highland Reel and a head behind runner-up Closing Bell.
"It was a heartbreaker," trainer Alan Goldberg said. "He got all jazzed up with that [stormy] weather, he lunged at the break. We thought we'd be second or on the lead early. We didn't expect to be that far back. Everything went wrong that day. Hopefully, at Laurel, everything will go the right way."
Goldberg reported that Force the Pass was a little tired for a few days upon returning home to Colts Neck Stables. The homebred colt signaled his readiness to resume his winning ways Tuesday with a 47-second half-mile on turf at the Colts Neck, N.J., training center.
Before his unfortunate start at Arlington, Force the Pass had captured the Penn Mile (G3) May 30 and the Belmont Derby (G1) July 4. At Penn National, he lacked running room until deep stretch, surging from eighth in deep stretch to prevail by a head. He had an easier time of things at Belmont Park while closely stalking the pace before going to the lead with three-eighths of a mile to go in the 1¼-mile stakes and drawing off to win by 3¾ lengths under regular rider Joel Rosario.
Trevor McCarthy has picked up the Commonwealth Derby mount from Rosario, who has a commitment to ride Frosted in Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby (G2).
Before his third-place finish in the Secretariat last time out, Force the Pass had finished no worse than second in the first six starts of his career. After finishing a late-closing second in his debut Feb. 14 at Gulfstream, he won his next two races during the Hallandale, FL track's Championship Meet, including the Cutler Bay Stakes. He went on to finish a troubled second in the James Murphy Stakes at Pimlico on May 16 before his back-to-back graded-stakes wins.
Major Arena Soccer League
Blast will open season at home vs. Chicago
The Blast will open its 2015-16 Major Arena Soccer League regular season with a home game against the Chicago Mustangs on Nov. 7. Game time is set for 7:35 p.m. at Royal Farms Arena. Baltimore will play a 20-game regular-season schedule — 10 home games and 10 away — in the 21-team league. Expansion Hartford FC joins the Blast, Harrisburg Heat, Syracuse Silver Knights and Detroit Waza Flo in the Eastern Division. Among the highlighted home games is a matchup against the longtime rival San Diego Sockers, which is set for Dec. 4. Last season, the Blast reached the championship series, falling to now-defunct Monterrey. The regular season begins Oct. 24 and runs through March 4.
Ex-St. Frances basketball guard Richard picks Siena
When it came time to make his college visits, Khalil Richard didn't get very far. The former St.Frances star, whose finalists were Boston University, Siena and Wright State, needed just one trip before making his decision. "Siena was actually my first one," Richard said. "When I got there I was like, 'Wow, I don't even want to visit anywhere else. This is great.'" Richard, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound combo guard, committed to the Saints on Tuesday. He plans to sign with Siena in November.
For more of Matt Bracken's blog post on Richard, go to baltimoresun.com/varsityletters.
Football: Fans can begin buying tickets to the 2015 Military Bowl, which will be Dec. 28 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Midshipmen, provided they win six games to become bowl-eligible, will meet an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference in the game, which has a 2:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised on ESPN. ... Lincoln running back Stephen Scott (Poly) has been named the Division II Boxtorow National Player of the Week after he carried the ball 50 times for 282 yards and two touchdowns in the Lions' 28-17 victory over North Carolina Wesleyan on Saturday.
Men's soccer: Philadelphia sophomore goalkeeper Ben Sauer (Perry Hall Christian) was named Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Defensive Player of the Week. He made seven saves and had a 0.45 goals-against average in 200 minutes.
Castle and Baloga earn last Four-Ball sectional berth
Jeff Castle of Eagle's Nest two-putted for a winning par on the third playoff hole, boosting himself and partner Chris Baloga of Hillendale Country Club into the final berth in sectional qualifying for the U.S. Four-Ball championship at Worthington Manor Golf Club in Urbana. When play was suspended after the completion of the regulation round Tuesday, 17-year-olds Rij Patel, Hayfields CC-Eric Hall, Old South CC, and Manor CC members Brandon Cigna-Ben Warnquist had medal-sharing scores of 9-under-par 63 to collect two of the three available spots. Five teams returned Wednesday and Baloga-Castle won when University of Maryland GC members Dan Phattiyakul-Lee Flemister bogeyed the third playoff hole to become the first alternate. Washington residents Nathaniel Hoopes and Brian O'Toole became second alternates when Hoopes birdied No. 17.
More golf: Kevin Lee and Bob Mark Schechter of the University of Maryland GC were the low-gross champions at 68 at the Free State Seniors Open Two-Man Championship Tournament on Tuesday at Argyle Country Club. Ed Kreinheder and Bill Parks of the U.S. Naval Academy GC were the low-net champions at 63.
Ray Lewis to sign copies of memoir Oct. 22 in Bel Air
Ray Lewis will sign copies of his memoir at Barnes & Noble in Bel Air next month. The former Ravens inside linebacker will hold the signing for "I Feel Like Going On: Life, Game and Glory" on Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. The book will be released Oct. 20. Barnes & Noble will issue wristbands to customers beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday and they'll be allowed in line in predetermined order. Lewis will sign two books per person and won't pose for pictures to keep the line moving. The book is co-written by Daniel Paisner .
NBA: The Phoenix Suns signed center Henry Sims (Mount Saint Joseph). Sims, 6 feet 10, averaged 8 points and 4.9 rebounds in 73 games last season for the Philadelphia 76ers. The former Georgetown player has averaged 7.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in 121 career games in three seasons with New Orleans, Cleveland and Philadelphia.