A holy terror on the Laurel and Charles Town circuits the past two seasons, West Virginia-bred mare Aspenglow takes a six-race win streak into the $150,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel Park Feb. 19.
Nancy L. Terhune's 5-year-old daughter of Lion Hearted has won 14 of 19 races and earned $429,017 since debuting with an 11-length maiden score at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in January 2009. The Fritchie will be the front-running gray/roan mare's first graded stakes start.
A field of seven older fillies and mares, including defending champion Sweet Goodbye, are signed on for the seven-furlong Fritchie. The first graded event of the year at Laurel is the eighth race on the program with a probable post time of 3:53 p.m. EST.
Trained by Gary Capuano, the homebred Aspenglow began 2011 with a 4 1/4-length triumph as the 3-5 favorite in Laurel's What A Summer Stakes Jan. 15.
Her biggest win to date came against state breds in the $250,000 West Virginia Jefferson Security Bank Cavada Breeders' Classic Stakes last October, which was the second race of her current winning streak. Aspenglow won six of eight tries last year.
Travis Dunkelberger, who has ridden Aspenglow in all but three of her races, will break her from the rail post under 117 pounds.
The 120-pound high weight in her Fritchie defense is the consistent 6-year-old mare Sweet Goodbye, who drew the far outside post with J.D. Acosta aboard for trainer Chris Grove.
William R. Harris' Maryland homebred won last year's Fritchie by a head in a 6-1 upset after rallying from far off the pace. Last year's race was pushed back a couple of days by crippling snow storms in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore area, though it drew a 14-horse field when it was finally contested on Presidents' Day.
Sweet Goodye has raced just four times since then, winning once, and is coming off a distant third behind Aspenglow in the six-furlong What A Summer. That was her first start since May 31. The daughter of Louis Quatorze has won 10 of 17 lifetime starts and earned $498,072.
Harissa, a 4-year-old Afleet Alex filly trained by Michael Hushion for owner Gem, figures to attract solid support in her Laurel debut. Carrying 119 pounds in the Fritchie, she comes off a 4 3/4-length triumph as the odds-on choice in the Sleigh Ride Stakes at Philadelphia's Parx Racing Jan. 4. Ramon Dominguez rides.
Also coming into the race off victories are Chad Brown-trained Kid Kate, who edged Fritchie rival Meese Rocks in the six-furlong Correction Stakes Jan. 29; and R Betty Graybull, who captured a one-mile stake for New York-breds Jan. 13. Both races were contested over Aqueduct's inner track.
Fascinatin' Rhythm, fourth in the What A Summer for trainer Richard Small, completes the field.
$150,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 3:53 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Aspenglow (WV), T L Dunkelberger, 117, G Capuano
2. Harissa (KY), R A Dominguez, 119, M E Hushion
3. Kid Kate (KY), C H Velasquez, 118, C C Brown
4. R Betty Graybull (NY), J Pimentel, 116, L A White
5. Fascinatin' Rhythm (MD), F Boyce, 113, R W Small
6. Meese Rocks (NY), J F Chavez, 117, E R Barker
7. Sweet Goodbye (MD), J D Acosta, 120, C W Grove