Tartlet Favored in Laurel Rematch

(from Laurel Park report)
Tartlet and  Easy Red, one-two finishers in the Jennings Handicap last month, are set for a rematch in Saturday’s $100,000 Native Dancer Stakes at Laurel Park. Seven other older horses will join them in the starting gate for the one turn, one mile test on the main track.

In the Jennings on Dec. 9, Easy Red overcame traffic problems to beat Tartlet by a head. Tartlet was gritty in defeat, however, fighting back at the end to just miss.

On Saturday, both horses will have new riders. Instead of Mario Pino, Erick Rodriguez will pilot Rickman Racing LLC’s Tartlet (5-2) for trainer Ron Alfano. Pino will be in New Orleans to ride unbeaten 3-year-old Hard Spun in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at the Fair Grounds.

Steve Hamilton, who rode Dumbarton Farm’s Easy Red (10-1) in the Jennings, is on the disabled list with a cracked vertebra that he suffered in a car accident. Ryan Fogelsonger is named to ride the son of Charismatic.

Fogelsonger was injured in a Wednesday spill. After being diagnosed with a sprained neck at Laurel-Beltsville Regional Hospital that evening, the 2002 Eclipse Award winner visited Dr. John Carbone, the director of Orthopaedic Spine Services at Harbor Hospital in Baltimore Thursday afternoon and got a clean bill of health with a “neck bruise,” according to the rider’s agent, Kevin Witte. The 25-year-old jockey will not ride Friday but is expected to be back in the irons for Saturday’s nine-race card.

A year ago, Tartlet finished first or second in 10 of 12 starts with a victory in the Mountaineer Mile and three second-place finishes in added money races. The 5-year-old has won four of six career starts at Laurel.

Alfano said, “He (Tartlet) starts to play around when he gets the lead. In the Jennings, he ran well but he got to goofing around. He dug back in when that other horse passed him, but it was too late. They don’t have clockers here at Delaware Park, but he worked yesterday in .49 and change. He’s doing very well.”

The well-bred Easy Red has finished in the money 12 times from 19 career starts. Since his victory in the Jennings, the grandson of Seattle Slew has three workouts, including two solid five-furlong breezes since Christmas.

Reckless Ways strung together six straight wins from January through October last year and is the co-second choice on the morning line at 7-2. Rosie Napravnik, who rode Reckless Ways in all nine of his starts in 2006, including a trip to the winners’ circle in the Harrison Johnson Memorial Handicap at Laurel, retains the mount for trainer Eddie Gaudet. The 6-year-old gelding has won five of eight at Laurel and has never been off the board.

Judiths Wild Rush is also listed at 7-2 on Frank Carulli’s morning line. The son of Wild Rush won a pair of stakes races at Woodbine last spring and then competed in numerous graded stakes, including a second place finish in the Vanderbilt Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga. Julian Pimentel will get his first look at the 6-year-old for trainer Julian Canet.

Your Bluffing, a local fan favorite with fourteen wins at Laurel Park, is listed next at 6-1. Jose Caraballo has ridden the Pine Bluff gelding in the past for trainer Mike Trombetta and will be taking the reins again. The 7-year-old won this race a year ago then followed up with a first place finish in the John B. Campbell Handicap.

$100,000 Native Diver Stakes (Race 9, 4:26 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. City Attraction (KY), Mike E. Smith, 118
2. Trapped Again (KY), no rider, 118
3. My Dream (BRZ), Horacio Karamanos, 118
4. Easy Red (MD), Ryan Fogelsonger, 120
5. Baby League (PA), Jeremy Rose, 118
6. Your Bluffing (KY), Jose C. Caraballo, 118
7. Reckless Ways (KY), A. R. Napravnik, 118
8. Tartlet (MD), Erick D. Rodriguez, 122
9. Judiths Wild Rush (KY), Julian Pimentel, 118