The $100,000 King T. Leatherbury Stakes (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division) at Laurel Park April 20 offers many possibilities given an expected full field that will race 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
Many of the 14 entered have been off for quite a while, including Pewter Stable’s Dubini, a Kate Demasi trainee who finished second in the division last year after having made four starts in MATCH Series races. The 6-year-old gelding went zero-for-six with three seconds last year but is much better than his record suggests.
Trainer Wayne Potts claimed American Sailor, away since late January, for $7,500 on behalf of owner Raj Jagnana last summer at Suffolk Downs, and the 7-year-old City Zip gelding in his last two starts was stakes-placed in Texas and Florida. He drew the tricky post 1 in a bulky field but does show a victory on the Laurel turf.
Shane’s Jewel, claimed back for $35,000 last time out by trainer Jamie Ness’ Jagger Inc., has shown consistent early speed on the dirt and will try the turf for the second time. Though he didn’t finish one-two-three in his first grass outing, that could change given he has recent form.
Maryland-bred Dirty, a 4-year-old Maclean’s Music colt, made his 2019 debut a winning one for owner Tom Grady and New York-based trainer Jeremiah Englehart, who last year opened a division in Maryland.
Dirty, one-for-one going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf at Laurel, is now two-for-two after a strong run from off the pace that saw him go from eighth in the opening quarter-mile to first by a neck over Robert Bone’s Completed Pass, who was on the pace throughout. DARRS Inc.’s Proforma rallied from far back for third.
Dirty, who gave jockey Jorge Vargas Jr. his first of two MATCH victories on the day, was based in New York last year with an occasional trip out of town.
“I worked him last week and he did well,” Vargas said. “They were going pretty quick up front and he just took off (in the stretch). If you’ve got the horse, (you can win).”
Dirty is now the course record-holder for the distance at Laurel. He stopped the timer in 1:00.65, faster than the previous standard of 1:01.25 established in 2013.
The top three in the division after the first round are Dirty (10 points), Completed Pass (7) and Proforma (5).