Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. sent the son of Lion Heart to Maryland to pull off the win in his stakes debut. With Victor Santiago aboard they took an early lead, surrendered the front to even-money favorite Glib in mid-stretch, then reclaimed the lead nearing the wire to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:32.09 for 7 1/2 furlongs on the fast track. Jack's In the Deck finished third.
King and Crusader paid $34.60, $11.80, and $7.20, and topped a $106.80 exacta (6-9). The trifecta (6-9-5) with second choice Jack’s in the Deck paid $445.40.
“The assistant trainer told me now he was going from three-quarters to seven-eighths so you might be in front, be second, be third,” said Santiago, who recently re-located to Maryland from the New York-New Jersey circuit. “He broke sharp and I settled him down, made a little slow pace. My horse was not cooperating with me, he was lugging in a little bit. I had to grab the reins. As soon as I hit him he straightened up and came back again. From there on, it was ride him to the wire.”
King and Crusader was bred by North Highland Farm and is out of the Regal Intention mare Sugarloaf. It was his second victory in five starts, the other coming in a $25,000 maiden claimer at Belmont Park in October.
Dutrow claimed King and Crusader for Riccio for $35,000 In August at Saratoga. The colt was a $26,000 buy at the OBS 2011 spring sale of 2-year-olds in training for Alex and JoAnn Lieblong. Alexandra de Meric and Brandon Rice consigned him.
Earlier in the day in the co-feature, Dark Hollow Farm’s homebred Plum got up in the final jump to win the $75,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship by a head (VIDEO).
Travis Dunkelberger guided the daughter of Pure Prize in the 7 1/2-furlong test, as she narrowly defeated More Than a Cruise as the 8-5 favorite. Plum stopped the clock in 1:33.95 on the fast dirt. Bluegrass Atatude finished third.
“I thought I got there,” said Dunkelberger. “They were getting away from me on the turn. I hit her right-handed, she kind of sulked a little. I hit her left-handed, she exploded. Amazing filly.”
Plum, now three-for-four lifetime for trainer Rodney Jenkins, has made all of her starts at Laurel. Jenkins won last year’s running of the Juvenile Filly Championship with Love’s Reason. Plum is out of the Not For Love mare Bamba.
“This filly as done everything we’ve asked her,” said Jenkins. “It gives you confidence when breeders like their own horses and care about them. We haven’t seen the best of this filly. Wait until she goes a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter.”
Plum paid $5.20, $2.80, and $2.20.