O Dionysus set to kick off sophomore campaign in Frank Whiteley Jr.

January 18, 2017 10:41am
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Photo: Maryland Jockey Club

Marathon Farms’ stakes winner O Dionysus, narrowly beaten in his most recent start New Year’s Eve, is set to kick off his sophomore campaign in Saturday’s $75,000 Frank Whiteley Jr. at Laurel Park.
The sixth running of the six-furlong Whiteley for 3-year-olds is one of four stakes worth $300,000 in purses on the nine-race program highlighted by the return of multiple stakes-winning millionaire Page McKenney in the $75,000 Native Dancer.
Also on tap are the $75,000 Marshua for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs and the $75,000 Nellie Morse for fillies and mares 4 and older at about 1 1/16 miles.
O Dionysus, a bay son of Bodemeister, enters the Whiteley off a gutsy effort in the seven-furlong Marylander Dec. 31 where he dueled for the lead the length of the stretch before falling a nose short of well-regarded Irish War Cry.
Prior to that he was fourth in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity behind multiple stakes winner Greatbullsoffire, who he defeated in the Christopher Elser Memorial Stakes at Parx. He was also runner-up in his second career start to No Dozing, who went on to finish second in the Remsen (G2).
“He came out of the last race good. It was a great race and he did run super. He’s prepping up to it fine,” trainer Gary Capuano said. “I’d sure like to stretch him out at some point but I think with him the more racing he does, the better he’s going to be. He’ll get better the more he runs and the more comfortable he gets.”
Worse than third only once in six starts, O Dionysus was equipped with blinkers for the first time in the Marylander and Capuano said he will continue to use them for the foreseeable future.
“It was just to make him focus a little more at the gate. He can be a handful at the gate at times so we put the blinkers on. It seemed to make him focus a little more in the gate and not be so antsy in there,” he said. “It worked out good. He broke really well last time. He had been breaking a little bit slow because he’s been a little wound up in the gate and he doesn’t settle real good. That seemed to help him, at least in that race.”
Capuano’s brother, trainer Dale Capuano, will send out stakes-placed High Roller in the Whiteley. Louis Ullman and Stephen Parker’s bay High Cotton colt was behind stablemates El Areeb and Two Charley’s in the James Lewis III Nov. 19, also at six furlongs, and was second in a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance Dec. 26 behind The Great Ronaldo, who also returns in the Whiteley.
Based at Laurel with trainer Cal Lynch, El Areeb stamped himself a Triple Crown race contender with his victory in the Jerome (G2) Jan. 2 at Aqueduct to open his 3-year-old season.
“He won his first start and then he was third to that real good horse of Cal Lynch’s. He’s a killer,” Capuano said. “That race wasn’t too bad. Five-and-a-half furlongs was too short for him, but we couldn’t get any races to fill going longer so we ended up there.
“We’re hoping the seven-eighths should be right up his alley this weekend,” he added. “He’s been training excellent since that race. He’s had a couple of good works so he should be all set. We’re looking forward to running him seven-eighths and see how he does.”
The Great Ronaldo, stakes-placed In Arrears and Butch Walker, and recent Laurel maiden winners Blackjack Buster, Eastern Bay and Generous Jack are also entered.
Lucky in Malibu Tries Again in $75,000 Marshua
Placed in back-to-back stakes after breaking his maiden in October, ZWP Stable and Non Stop Stable’s Lucky in Malibu will try stakes company again in the six-furlong Marshua.
Bred in Maryland and trained by Gary Capuano, the Lookin At Lucky filly broke her maiden on her sixth try before running second behind undefeated Crabcakes in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship.
Following that effort, Lucky in Malibu encountered early traffic trouble before rallying to be third in the Gin Talking Dec. 31, her second straight start at seven furlongs. Capuano feels Lucky in Malibu, like stablemate O Dionysus, is yearning for more ground.
“She’s run some really nice races lately and she’s another one that wants two turns. She’s not really a sprinter,” he said. “She doesn’t really have the speed to go three-quarters, but she’s ready to go.”
Trainer Cal Lynch entered a pair of fillies in Equine Prep’s Star Super and Clairvoyant Lady, who he also owns. Star Super, by Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, has placed in three stakes including runner-up efforts in the Gin Talking and six-furlong Smart Halo, both at Laurel. Winner of the White Clay Creek Stakes in August at Delaware Park, Clairvoyant Lady most recently ran third to Crabcakes in an six-furlong optional claiming allowance Jan. 7.
Rounding out the field are 2015 Maryland Million Lassie winner Item; 2015 Rachel’s Turn Stakes winner Unaquoi; stakes-placed Ianthe; maiden winners I Am I Will and Scarlett’s Ransom and Squan’s Kingdom, fourth in the Smart Halo and Gin Talking.
Marabea Seeks Third Straight Win in $75,000 Nellie Morse
Farfellow Farm’s Marabea, unbeaten in two starts since being claimed last fall, goes after her third straight victory for trainer Lacey Gaudet in the Nellie Morse.
The late-running 5-year-old mare rallied to win the Claiming Crown Tiara Preview Nov. 6 at Laurel, one of Gaudet’s three wins that day, then shipped to Gulfstream Park in South Florida to upset the $125,000 Claiming Crown Tiara by a neck.
“She’s doing well. We kind of gave her a couple of weeks to recoup and she’s been breezing well off that race,” Gaudet said. “We kind of tossed back and forth about maybe sending her back down but with the weather and the travel and everything it’s a little easier to stay home.”
Though the Nellie Morse will be the first race on dirt for Marabea, who has a record of 5-2-1 and purse earnings of nearly $181,000 from 12 turf starts, she regularly trains over Laurel’s main track.
“Even before she won in Florida we had talked about since we’re here for the winter, trying her on the dirt,” Gaudet said. “She’s always trained well over the dirt and always breezed very well, and everybody always asks if she’s run on the dirt because she gets over it so well. I know nice horses can do that regardless, whether they like to race on it or not. We’re going to give it a try.”
Gaudet said Farfellow picked out Marabea for her potential as a broodmare but her success on the track has kept her racing career going.
“The owners really picked her out. They like to claim broodmares and they’ve been gracious enough to give me the opportunity to run these mares that they claim a few times and see if it works out,” she said. “If it does, great, we keep running them. If not they usually take them home and buy and sell them in the sales as broodmares.
“She’s been fun to have in the barn and clearly her record has kept her in training,” Gaudet added. “Right now she’s already proven herself as a grass horse, so it’ll just make her that much better on paper if she can transition to the dirt, too.”
Stakes winner Mecke’s Madalyn; stakes-placed Love Came to Town; Addibel Lightning, Alpine Sky, Bawlmer Hon, E Lizzy, Moon Virginia and Winter are also entered.

Source: Maryland Jockey Club


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