Nicole H will try to secure her fourth straight stakes victory in five starts and ninth of her career when she returns to Laurel Park for the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) Feb. 16.
One year after finishing second to Magical Feeling in the Barbara Fritchie, Nicole H will face nine other fillies and mares in the seven-furlong race. The 6-year-old Mr. Greeley mare will carry high weight of 122 pounds as the 8-5 morning line choice. Nicole H will be looking for her first win at seven furlongs since the 2011 Distaff Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Fritchie kicks off holiday racing this weekend at Laurel Park. The John B. Campbell Handicap is the co-feature Saturday with the $250,000 General George Handicap (gr. III) headlining Monday's President's day card. Post time for the Fritchie, the eighth race on the program, is 3:55 p.m. EST
Gem Inc.'s Nicole H closed out 2012 with victories in the Endine Stakes at Delaware Park and the Daylily Stakes at Penn National Race Course. She opened this season with a stakes win at Aqueduct, taking the Interborough Jan. 1, before pushing her career earnings to $796,144 with a close runner-up finish in Aqueduct's Correction Stakes.
"I haven't done much with her since her last start but I am comfortable she is coming into the race tight enough and ready to go seven-eighths," said trainer Michael Hushion, who has won two of the previous five renewals of the Barbara Fritchie. "She is an old pro. She shows up every time. Not everybody feels good every day but no matter what she runs her race. She is a very tough mare and a pleasure to be around."
The Belmont Park-based Hushion also will send out a top contender in My Wandy's Girl, who will drop down in class in her first start of 2013. The 4-year-old Flower Alley filly finished third in the Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) Nov. 24 at Aqueduct. After winning 13 of 17 starts in Puerto Rico, Guillermo Berrios' My Wandy's Girl won the Pentelis Stakes in November at Aqueduct before closing her year out in the Gazelle.
"We are hoping her game is going to be going long, so this is a starting point," Hushion said of My Wandy's Girl, 7-2 on the morning line. "She's got so much talent that she could be a factor in here and have a fair chance at winning also. I took her to Aqueduct this morning and she worked a half in 48 (seconds) and looked good doing it."
Bold Affair (5-1) was recently named the champion Maryland-bred mare for 2012. The daughter of Two Punch won five stakes races last year and she started her 5-year-old campaign off with dominating performance in the What A Summer Stakes at Laurel Jan. 12 for trainer Howard Wolfendale. Abel Castellano will be aboard for the 11th straight time.
Onepointhreekarats (5-1) became a stakes winner for the first time in the Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes at Laurel in last December at one mile, defeating Bold Affair. She has won three straight races for trainer Graham Motion since he returned the Medaglia d'Oro mare to the mid-Atlantic after campaigning in Florida, Kentucky, and New York last spring and summer. Jeremy Rose retains the mount.
"We have pointed to this race and I have been able to freshen her up off of that last start," Motion said. "Things are going smoothly with her. I was confused with her last spring but she has thrived since coming to Fair Hill. I would prefer if the race was a mile. The seven-eighth's is a bit of an unknown but Jeremy seems to think she has enough tactical speed to handle it."
$250,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II, race 8, approximate post time 3:55 p.m. EST), fillies & mares, 3YOs & up, 7 furlongs
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. My Wandy's Girl (KY), I. Ortiz Jr., 120, M. Hushion
2. Funnys Approval (KY), J. Vargas, 111, J. Lopez
3. Onepointthreekarats (FL), J. Rose, 116, H. Motion
4. Withgreatpleasure (KY), T. Dunkelberger, 117, D. Nunn
5. Nicole H (KY), D. Centeno, 122, M. Hushion
6. Dance to Bristol (KY), X. Perez, 114, O. Figgins III
7. Morrow Cove (KY), J. Albarado, 115, T. Pletcher
8. Bold Affair (MD), A. Castellano Jr., 118, H. Wolfendale
9. Ms. Cruisen' (KY), J. Caraballo, 113, M. Aro
10. Celtic Chant (KY), J. Pimentel, 113, M. Gonzalez