Runnymoore Racing’s multiple stakes winner Alwaysmining collared stubborn longshot pacesetter Bustoff in mid-stretch and edged clear to a 1 3/4-length victory in the $75,000 Jennings.
Ridden by Julien Pimentel for trainer Kelly Rubley, 4-year-old Alwaysmining ($2.60) powered to the wire in 1:37.75 as the 1-5 favorite to earn his eighth career win, all at Laurel, and first over older horses.
“He had a tough campaign last year. He did a lot of winning, which was spectacular, but then he deserved some time in the pasture and time to be a horse,” Rubley said. “I think it’s paying us back.”
Alwaysmining was making his third start off a 4 ½-month gap between races, having finished fifth in the Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial and second in the Native Dancer last month at Laurel, beaten two lengths both times.
Pimentel, aboard for the fourth straight race, kept Alwaysmining in the clear two wide behind 20-1 Bustoff, a winner of five of his previous six starts, who sailed through splits of 24.57 and 48.25 seconds with John Jones, a stakes winner on turf and dirt, in third on the rail.
Alwaysmining ranged up to the leader on the turn, was set down once straightened for home and went on to register his first victory since the Federico Tesio Stakes last April, the last in a five-race win streak that earned him an automatic trip to the Preakness (G1), where the Maryland-bred ran 11th.
“It was just a great trip. The speed went and I was right behind it,” Pimentel said. “I took my time and when it was time to go I just pushed the button and he went on. I had a lot of horse the whole way around there.”
Other stakes wins for Alwaysmining came in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity and Heft at 2 and Miracle Wood, Private Terms and Tesio at 3.
“He certainly deserved a break and I’m glad to see him come back to where we were hoping to be,” Rubley said. “I’m never going to look far ahead but we’re glad to here today and we’ll regroup and figure it out.”
John Jones finished second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Clubman. It was a neck back to Bustoff, followed by Bonus Points and Alwaysmining’s stablemate Pretty Good Year.
The Jennings is named for William Jennings Sr., one of Maryland’s all-time great horsemen. Jennings’ Glengar Farm, located six miles from Pimlico Race Course, came to national prominence in the late 1800s thanks to horses like 1887 Preakness winner Dunboyne. Jennings’ grandson is Hall of Fame trainer Henry S. Clark, honored with his own stakes in Maryland.