(from Laurel Park report)
Trainer Mike Trombetta considered Dubai but has opted to give stable star Sweetnorthernsaint a confidence builder in Saturday’s $100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Handicap at Laurel Park.
The 1-1/8 mile on the main track attracted a field of seven. The son of Sweetsouthernsaint is the 1-2 morning line favorite.
Trombetta’s star was invited to Dubai for the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II), but after careful consideration, Team Trombetta decided to keep him home and mount a spring campaign.
“We looked at Dubai, but there were a couple things out there that we weren’t sure how they were going to unfold-one of them being Discreet Cat. No one seems to know exactly which race he’ll be running, and we didn’t want to run into him,” Trombetta said.
“This is a good distance, and we have had a chance to breeze him a few more times to let him get his feet back under him. We are pretty confident we should do well.”
Sweetnorthernsaint rocketed to fame last year after capturing the Illinois Derby (gr. II), starting as the betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) while finishing off the board. He then finished second in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
The 4-year-old gelding shipped to Florida this winter, where he finished third in the Hal’s Hope Handicap (gr. III) and fifth in the Sunshine Millions Classic, then returned to his Laurel Park base to regroup.
Mario Pino, who rode Sweetnorthernsaint to victory a year ago in the Miracle Wood Stakes, has regained the mount Saturday. Sweetnorthernsaint drew the rail and will carry high weight of 123 pounds.
If Sweetsouthernsaint is anywhere near his old self, then the others will be left to battle it out for second money. They include My Dream, Easy Red, Future Fantasy, Trapped Again, Due, and Capac.
Future Fantasy is a budding route specialist. His connections had been eager to find a race for him around two turns, and when trainer Leona McKanas started him in the 1 1/8-mile John B. Campbell Handicap last month, they were able to meet him back in the winners’ circle after his rousing last-to-first performance under jockey Winston Thompson. Future Fantasy is listed at 6-1, and Thompson will be at the controls again.
My Dream, Trapped Again, and Capac finished one-two-three in their latest start, a 1-1/8 mile optional allowance on March 3. Capac had an excuse, as he lacked room on the far turn. My Dream (8-1) returns with Vladimir Diaz as his new rider. Oliver Castillo gets another chance atop Trapped Again (15-1), while Jonathan Joyce keeps the mount on Capac (8-1).
Maryland Million Classic winner Due (8-1) finished second to Future Fantasy in the Campbell under jockey Luis Garcia. They will team up again on Saturday.
$100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Handicap (Race 9, 4:40 p.m.)
3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Sweetnorthernsaint (FL), 123, 1/2
2. My Dream (BRZ), 115, 8/1
3. Easy Red (MD), Ryan Fogelsonger, 114, 15/1
4. Future Fantasy (FL), Winston A. Thompson, 117, 6/1
5. Trapped Again (KY), Oliver Castillo, 115, 15/1
6. Due (MD), Luis Garcia, 116, 8/1
7. Capac (KY), Jonathan Joyce, 114, 8/1