Grade 1-placed Favorite Tale wins the Jan. 8 Dave's Friend Stakes at Laurel Park

Grade 1-placed Favorite Tale wins the Jan. 8 Dave's Friend Stakes at Laurel Park

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

Awesome Banner, Favorite Tale Meet Up in Fire Plug

Multiple graded stakes winners will take on a full field at Laurel Park.

Multiple graded-stakes winning homebreds Awesome Banner and millionaire Favorite Tale will have their 10 rivals surrounded when they load in the gate for the $100,000 Fire Plug Stakes Jan. 20 at Laurel Park.

Jacks or Better Farm's Awesome Banner will make his 5-year-old debut in the six-furlong Fire Plug, and has been off since he finished fifth in the Fabulous Strike Nov. 22 at Parx Racing—behind Chief Lion, Favorite Tale, and Flashy Kyem, the top three finishers who all return in the Fire Plug.

The break appears to have served Awesome Banner well, as the son of Awesome of Course has posted a pair of bullet works at Laurel leading up to Saturday's race, most recently going five furlongs in :59 3/5 Jan. 9.

"He's doing pretty good. He's worked back a couple times since not being able to get in and his works have been pretty good over a racetrack that's been a little dead," said trainer Ken Decker. "We're looking forward to him getting back to his form."

Awesome Banner has six wins and $803,390 in purse earnings from 22 starts. He took the 2016 Hutcheson (G3) and Swale (G2) in the winter and a pair of Florida Sire Stakes in the fall of his 3-year-old campaign.

He went winless through 10 starts in 2017, but came in third by a half-length to Whitmore in the Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3), second to Imperial Hint in the Smile Sprint Stakes (G3) and El Deal in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1), and fell a nose short of Whitmore again in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (G2).

"Through the summer and the fall, he's hooked some of the better sprinters in the country, and just got beat a couple times by horses that went to the Breeders' Cup," Decker said. "When things are good for him, he puts his best foot forward and they've got to outrun him when he goes in there. Hopefully we can get that win for him."

Breaking from the rail will be PJG Stable's Favorite Tale, who enters the Fire Plug just 12 days following his front-running 1 1/4-length win in the six-furlong Dave's Friend at Laurel.

BLOODHORSE STAFF: Favorite Tale Scores in Rescheduled Dave's Friend
It was just the fourth start in 22 months for the 7-year-old Tale of the Cat  gelding and first win since the 2015 Fabulous Strike. Favorite Tale won the the 2014 Gallant Bob (G3) and 2015 Smile Sprint, and came in third in both the Twinspires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) and Vanderbilt in 2015.

"I'm very proud of him. It's been a long way back. He finally got it done," said owner and breeder Paul Conaway. "We bred the horse (and) we own the mare, so we've had him since he was born. He's very special to us. He's family."

Entries: Fire Plug S.

Laurel Park, Saturday, January 20, 2018, Race 7

  • STK
  • 6f
  • Dirt
  • $100,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 3:30 PM (local)
11Favorite Tale (PA)Frankie Pennington122Guadalupe Preciado6/1
22Someday Jones (PA)Jorge A. Vargas, Jr.120John C. Servis12/1
33Colonel Sharp (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateUNKNOWN118Hugh I. McMahon30/1
44Do Share (KY)Jevian Toledo122Linda Rice3/1
55Two Charley's (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateSteve D. Hamilton118Cathal A. Lynch20/1
66Life in Shambles (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFeargal Lynch120Steven M. Asmussen5/2
77Something Awesome (ON)Elvis Trujillo118Jose Corrales8/1
88Chief Lion (FL)Keeneland Sales GraduateSheldon Russell122David Jacobson8/1
99Rockinn On Bye (MD)Taylor M. Hole118Stephen M. Casey12/1
1010It's the Journey (MD)Julian Pimentel120Michael J. Trombetta15/1
1111Flashy Kyem (PA)Jomar Torres118Keith Nations20/1
1212Awesome Banner (FL)J. D. Acosta118Kenneth Decker20/1