McLaughlin originally entered Ladies Handicap winner Wow Me Free and Rare Treat Handicap runner-up Wild Hoots, but when he learned the Next Move had only four participants, decided to add Cowgirl’s Don’t Cry to the mix. All three will run as separate betting interests, as they are owned by different people.
The other two probable starters for the Next Move are Stage Luck, and Rare Treat winner Runway Rosie, who are trained by Tom Albertrani and Gary Contessa, respectively.
Jeff Singer’s Cowgirl’s Don’t Cry will be the likely pacesetter, if she goes. The Pure Prize filly has sprinted in all five of her lifetime starts, most recently going wire-to-wire in a six-furlong allowance event at Aqueduct Feb. 14. That was her 4-year-old debut and first start in more than six months, as she was given time off after scoring by a length in the Aug. 5 Anna M. Fisher Debutante Stakes at Ellis Park.
A winner of three of five career starts, Cowgirl’s Don’t Cry is out of the Crafty Prospector mare Emphatic Style. She will break from post four with C.C. Lopez aboard.
Also likely to be near the front is Dell Ridge Farm’s Wild Hoots. The 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song --Cahooters, by Storm Cat was only a head from winning for the third consecutive time when she was caught by Runway Rosie in the 1 1/8-mile Rare Treat at Aqueduct Feb. 23.
“She ran very well in the Rare Treat,” said Art Magnuson, McLaughlin’s assistant. “That was a tough beat after she opened up the lead and lost by a head.”
Prior to that effort Wild Hoots won the Jan. 26 Nellie Morse at Laurel Park by 4 ½ lengths, her first try in stakes competition. Earlier, in her final start as a 3-year-old, she won an allowance event at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack by 14 lengths. Mike Luzzi will get the call this time.
McLaughlin’s final entrant, Ed Seltzer’s Wow Me Free, will be making her 4-year-old debut. Her final start last year resulted in a neck victory in the Ladies Handicap, where she came from off the pace to corral the frontrunner just in time. In fact, all four of her lifetime wins have come from a deep closing position.
“She hasn’t run since December, but we’ve never stopped on her,” Magnuson said. “She’s had a couple hiccups; we didn’t like the way she was traveling at one point, but she’s doing very well now.”
Alan Garcia will get the return call on Wow Me Free, who is a chestnut daughter of Menifee.
Winning Move Stable’s Runway Rosie has won all three of her starts this year, including the Rare Treat, when she caught Wild Hoots in the final stride under Rajiv Maragh. Three weeks prior to that the Include filly won the one-mile Ride Sally by 4 ¼ lengths at Aqueduct, which was her first stakes score since her 2-year-old campaign.
Runway Rosie spent much of her 3-year-old season running in graded stakes company, and has a pair of in the money finishes to show for it. Now, she seems to be in her best form since that time.
“I like the distance and she’s coming up to an ‘A’ race,” Contessa said. “It seems like the farther the better for her. She’s kind of lightly built. We bought her for races like this and the overnight stakes during the winter.”
Darley Stable’s Stage Luck was third in the Rare Treat, but beat Runway Rosie in the 1 1/16-mile Affectionately Handicap Jan. 12 at Aqueduct. The Unbridled's Song filly has never been off the board in five starts. She drew the rail in the Next Move, with Stewart Elliott in the irons.
$100,000 Next Move Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 4:25 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Inner Track)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Stage Luck (KY), 116, Stewart Elliott
2. Wow Me Free (KY), 116, Alan Garcia
3. Wild Hoots (KY), 116, Michael J. Luzzi
4. Cowgirls Don't Cry (KY), 114, Charles C. Lopez
5. Runway Rosie (KY), 116, Rajiv Maragh