By Tom LaMarra
Lewisfield has done everything asked of him thus far, and on May 19 at Pimlico Race Course he’ll face his biggest test to date in the grade III, $150,000 Maryland Sprint Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs.
The Maryland Sprint, which attracted a field of nine and is slated as the ninth race, is one of two stakes on the Saturday program that are part of the 2018 MATCH Series. The other one is $100,000 The Very One Stakes for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf. The first two of 25 MATCH Series races will be held May 18 at Pimlico.
Lewisfield, a 4-year-old Maryland-bred Great Notion gelding owned and bred by Linda Zang, most recently won the state-restricted Not for Love Stakes at Laurel Park on March 17 in 1:09.13 for six furlongs. In his previous start, he won a six-furlong allowance race by 6 3/4 lengths in 1:08.95 at Laurel. His efforts at Laurel opened some eyes.
Jeff Runco, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races-based trainer who conditions Lewisfield, prefers to space his horses’ races, and he said Lewisfield has had sufficient time between races heading into the Maryland Sprint.
“He’s doing really well,” said Runco, the leading trainer once again at Charles Town. “His works have been good, and he has had some time since that last race. It’s going according to plan. I expect a good performance out of him.”
Lewisfield, who has five wins, one second and one third in seven starts, has won impressively twice in open allowance company in Maryland. Arnaldo Bocachica, who has ridden the gelding in all of starts, is named to ride again.
Woodford Racing’s Switzerland needed eight tries to break his maiden, but thereafter he won two consecutive sprints in quick time at Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve Asmussen. Ricardo Santana Jr., who rode the 4-year-old Speightstown colt at Oaklawn, has a return call.
The Maryland Sprint Stakes is the first of five races in the 3-Year-Old and Up Sprint–Dirt Division.
The Very One drew a full field of 14, though the condition of the turf course in light of predicted rain could play a factor. Ten Broeck Farm’s 6-year-old mare Chanteline, who won stakes on dirt and turf in her last three races, drew the inside post and will run on the turf or dirt.
“We’ll see if they run on the turf,” said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. “She will run either way. She’s very versatile. I don’t think she really cares what the surface is. I think with the distance, it’s just a good spot for her.”
Chanteline won the Spring Fever Stakes at six furlongs on the dirt at Oaklawn in her last start, and three starts back won the Richard Scherer Memorial Stakes at five furlongs on the turf at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Sycamore Racing V’s Jessica Krupnick, trained by Francis “Tres” Abbott III, finished off the board in her only turf attempt but has a win and a second in two starts on off tracks, including her most recent victory at Laurel. The 5-year-old Uncle Mo mare, to be ridden by Forest Boyce, shipped to Woodbine in Canada for her last start and led until the final yards in a six-furlong Canadian grade III stakes.
The Very One is the first race in the five-race Filly & Mare Sprint–Turf Division of the MATCH Series.