As the late summer/fall/early winter meet at Laurel Park begins Sept. 8, there are less than four months remaining in the Fantasy Ownership Challenge, and it's still pretty wide-open in the standings given the fact one or two wins in races with generous purses can make a big difference.
That was the case with Yes Mz Adah, the Parx Racing-based 4-year-old filly who won three in a row since the claim by owner Andrew Sulley and trainer Patricia Farro. The current standings leader with $66,370 in earnings since the Challenge began March 18 at Laurel, Yes Mz Adah is entered in a $69,000 allowance race on the grass at Parx Sept. 9.
Not far behind in second is Gunpowder Farms' Indian Paint ($63,745), who is based at Fair Hill Training Center with trainer Kelly Rubley. The 4-year-old filly has tried stakes company this year and in late June led the standings—she only had to beat one horse in an off-the-turf $36,000 allowance race at Delaware Park.
The top five is rounded out by Danny Limongelli's Flight Crew ($53,396), trained by Hugh McMahon; Participate ($45,253), recently claimed by owner/trainer Ann Merryman; and Triple Tree Stable's Claravoyant ($41,260), a Mary Eppler trainee who won a $50,000 maiden special weight event on the first day of the Challenge.
The complete listing is available under the Standings tab. The contest runs through Dec. 31. Remember that you can track your horse (entries, results, workouts, scratches) by signing up for Virtual Stable at the Equibase website.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Horse Breeders Association in March announced that $50,000 is up for grabs based on horses' earnings from March 18-Dec. 31 as recorded by Equibase. Most of the about 40 horses in the Challenge have three fantasy owners, so prize money will split accordingly based on the final results.
The horse with the highest earnings will net his or her fantasy owners $30,000, followed by $10,000 for second, $5,500 for third, $3,000 for fourth, and $1,500 for fifth.
Through Sept. 7 Challenge horses have won most of their races at Laurel and Delaware. All of them combined have earned about $750,000—for their real owners—since March 18.
Colony Strike, in his first start for Hooties Racing off a claim for $4,000, displayed his affinity for a wet dirt surface with a commanding off-the-pace victory in a $5,000 claiming event Sept. 6 at Delaware Park.
It was the third win for the 8-year-old Smart Strike gelding since the launch of the Fantasy Ownership Challenge March 18 at Laurel Park. Colony Strike increased his contest earnings to $34,063, which moved him from 16th to ninth in the standings.
Colony Strike, who paid $6.40 to win, made his first start for trainer Jeff Trosclair and was ridden by Jose Bracho. He defeated To the Stars by 6 1/2 lengths and covered the one mile and 70 yards on a track rated good in 1:43.79.
The 3-year-old Ghostzapper gelding Resident Scholar earned his first victory in the Fantasy Ownership Challenge Sept. 4 at Delaware Park.
Owned by 3 Amigos 3 Stable and trained by Jorge Diaz, Resident Scholar was close up throughout in the 1 1/16-mile event for $5,000 claimers and surged late under Christian Olmo to win by a neck over Dads Party in 1:50.19 on a track rated good. He paid $37.20 to win as the longest shot on the board in a field of seven.
Resident Scholar in his previous start was trained by Laurel Park-based Ferris Allen and raced for a different owner, so he appears to have been sold privately. His contest earnings now stand at $12,315.
Jay Em Ess Stable's My Golden Rose on Aug. 13 returned to the track at which she has done her best work and collected her maiden victory in a waiver maiden claiming event at Laurel Park.
Ridden by Victor Carrasco for trainer Michelle Nevin, favored My Golden Rose rallied from off the pace in a six-horse field to win the $33,000 event by two lengths over Victory Rally. The 3-year-old Mineshaft filly earned $18,810 for the win; that increased her Fantasy Ownership Challenge bankroll to $31,560, which moved her to ninth in the standings.
Two other contest horses raced at Laurel on the Sunday card, and both finished third. Men's Grille Racing's Crookit, trained by Linda Albert and ridden by Carrasco, collected $2,717 in the fourth race and is now eighth in the standings, while Triple Tree Stable's Claravoyant, trained by Mary Eppler and ridden by Alex Cintron, earned $2,530 to pad her bankroll to $41,260; she is fifth in the contest standings.
On March 18, the first day of the Challenge at Laurel, My Golden Rose finished second by a nose behind Claravoyant in a $50,000 maiden special weight event, and then finished fifth in a $75,000 maiden special weight contest at Belmont Park. She hadn't competed since the New York race.
Celebrate your "Maryland pride" at Laurel Park Aug. 19 with a live racing program devoted to Maryland-sired or -bred horses as well as local vendors, other promotions, and a handicapping contest.
The Saturday afternoon event, dubbed Maryland Pride Day, will feature various food and beverage offerings with a Maryland flavor. Vendors will be located on the apron under the tent adjacent the grandstand.
On the beverage side, the following will be represented: Sagamore Spirit Distillery of Baltimore, Hidden Hills Farm and Vineyard of Frederick, Linganore Winecellars of Mt. Airy, Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, and Jailbreak Brewing Co. of Laurel.
Anyone who purchases a live racing program will get a free Maryland Jockey Club cap, and the MJC also will offer a Champions Handicapping Tournament with a $300 buy-in ($100 entry fee and $200 for players' live bankrolls. Details on registration are available at www.laurelpark.com.
As for racing, there are four $75,000 stakes scheduled, all for Maryland-bred or -sired runners: the Star De Naskra and Miss Disco at six furlongs on the dirt, and the Find and All Brandy Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
The racing office also plans eight state-bred or state-sired maiden and allowance races with purses of $40,000-$45,000 to fill out the card; the substitute races in the condition book are $25,000 starter allowance events at one mile on the dirt.
Runnin Shoes Stable's Gethot Stayhot has consistently earned decent checks the last few months, and on Aug. 3 at Penn National Race Course she collected her second victory since the start of the Fantasy Ownership Challenge March 18.
With David Cora riding for trainer Kimberly Graci, the 5-year-old mare by Posse asserted herself early in the race for $5,000 claimers, took over entering the far turn and pulled away to win by three lengths over Secret Score in 1:12.30 for six furlongs on a track rated fast. Gethot Stayhot also won at Penn National May 25.
The purse was $12,400, and Gethot Stayhot earned $7,440 for her connections. That moved her from 19th to 17th in the contest standings with earnings of $21,283.
On July 31 at Parx Racing, Anthony Fontana's My Cotton Jones collected a $16,800 first-place check for winning a $7,500 claiming race and, after a subsequent third-place finish at Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts Aug. 5, quickly jumped to sixth-place in the contest standings.
The 3-year-old Pennsylvania-bred gelding by Smarty Jones is trained by Juan Vazquez and was ridden by Edwin Rivera. He paid $13.60 to win.