Combat Diver (outside, #1) finished second in the Miracle Wood at Laurel on Feb. 16.

Combat Diver (outside, #1) finished second in the Miracle Wood at Laurel on Feb. 16.

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

Private Terms Could be Combat Diver's Launch

Jay Em Ess Stable's By the Moon tops Caesar's Wish on Laurel card.

Trainer Gary Contessa is very optimistic about the future of Combat Diver and is looking at the March 21 Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park as a launching pad for the son of Line of David's Triple Crown hopes.

At 1 1/8 miles, the $100,000 Private Terms drew a field of six 3-year-olds but carries no points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

"We look at Saturday's race this way," Contessa said, "if he wins, we have eight weeks to get enough points to get into the Derby."

Contessa believes Combat Diver, owned by Wounded Warrior Stable, could be a classic horse and thinks the Private Terms is "a great opportunity to try your 3-year-old this time of year around two turns. I'd love to see the Derby give points for the Private Terms."

Contessa isn't the only horseman to use the Private Terms as a starting point to bigger and better things.

Kid Cruz, a former $50,000 claimer who won his stakes debut in last year's Private Terms, went on to win the Dwyer (gr. III) and two other stakes before finishing third in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) and fourth in the Travers (gr. I). After winning the Private Terms in 2005, Malibu Moonshine went on to win three stakes races, including the Stymie. Maryland Juvenile winner Magic Weisner, victor in the 2002 Private Terms, would go on to finish second in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and Haskell Invitational (gr. I), and win the Ohio Derby (gr. II), while Oliver's Twist, second in the 1995 Private Terms, finished second in the Preakness.

Beaten a nose Feb. 16 at Laurel in the Miracle Wood, Combat Diver comes into the Private Terms off a ninth-place finish in the Gotham  Stakes (gr. III).

"He ran lights out at Laurel last time and should have won," Contessa said of the colt, who broke his maiden at Belmont Park last October before finishing off the board in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II). "Then we went to the Gotham and he didn't have the best of trips. I think coming back to Laurel will very much be the best to our advantage.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who saddled Mr Palmer to victory in the 2013 Private Terms, will send WinStar Farm's Net Gain from Belmont for Saturday's race. A son of Include , Net Gain broke his maiden Feb. 22 at Aqueduct Racetrack at a mile in his fifth career start.           

Bodhisattva, trained by Jose Corrales, comes into the Private Terms off a fourth-place finish in the Miracle Wood, beaten only a half length, and is the most experienced horse in the field, with nine lifetime starts.

Missing from the Private Terms lineup is Howard Bender's Ghost Bay, who broke his maiden while winning the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Futurity Dec. 27.

"We've missed so much time because of the weather that I don't think we'll make this one," trainer Lawrence Murray said of Ghost Bay. "It's no one's fault. It's just been a very unusual winter."

Murray said Ghost Bay, a son of Ghostzapper , could run next April 18 in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, or that same day in the Illinois Derby (gr. III) at Hawthorne Race Course.

"And it still remains to be seen if he's that kind of horse," Murray said. "But so far he acts like he's a nice horse."

In the $100,000 Caesar's Wish Stakes on the Saturday card, Jay Em Ess Stable's grade I winner By the Moon tops the field of seven 3-year-old fillies that will be going a one-turn mile.

A winner across a sloppy Belmont track last fall in the Frizette (gr. I), By the Moon will be making her first start since finishing fifth Jan. 24 in the Forward Gal (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.       

"She's doing very good," said trainer Michelle Nevin, who shipped the daughter of Indian Charlie to Laurel from her winter base at Palm Meadows Downs. "She's been doing well down here and now we just need to get her there."

By the Moon broke her maiden at Saratoga Race Course, then finished second over a sloppy track in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I), before winning the mile Frizette, which was a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event. The filly ended her juvenile season with an eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). By the Moon made her 3-year-old debut in the Forward Gal, finishing second behind Birdatthewire.
"I think she needed the last one," Nevin said.           

Among the six other 3-year-old fillies entered are Gypsy Judy, winner last time out at Laurel of the Wide Country Stakes, and Hot City Girl, second in the Wide Country and second at Aqueduct in December in the East View Stakes.

Entries: Private Terms S.

Laurel Park, Saturday, March 21, 2015, Race 4

  • STK
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $100,000
  • 3 yo
  • 1:56 PM (local)
11Bodhisattva (CA)Trevor McCarthy116Jose Corrales-
22Net Gain (IA)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulian Pimentel116William I. Mott-
33Now We Are Free (KY)Victor R. Carrasco116Michelle Nevin-
44Slick William (MD)Jevian Toledo116Hamilton A. Smith-
55Combat Diver (MD)Sheldon Russell116Gary C. Contessa-
66Bridget's Big Luvy (MD)Angel Cruz116Jeremiah C. Englehart-

Entries: Caesar's Wish S.

Laurel Park, Saturday, March 21, 2015, Race 6

  • STK
  • 1m
  • Dirt
  • $100,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 2:52 PM (local)
11Been Here Before (KY)Jevian Toledo116Kiaran P. McLaughlin-
22Mytrack Marie (ON)Taylor M. Hole116Jose Corrales-
33Country Mamma (WV)Keeneland Sales GraduateXavier Perez116Ollie L. Figgins, III-
44Lake Sebago (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateTrevor McCarthy116John J. Robb-
55By the Moon (KY)Victor R. Carrasco122Michelle Nevin-
66Hot City Girl (NY)Sheldon Russell118Linda Rice-
77Gypsy Judy (KY)Horacio Karamanos116Robin L. Graham-