Winter Sprintfest was delayed a week by … well… winter, so we’ll re-rack and try again this Saturday. Winter Sprintfest features a pair of typical-President’s Day Weekend fixtures for the track among 6 stakes on a loaded card. The Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie for the fillies/mares and the Grade 3 General George for the colts/geldings have warmed up winter for decades in greater DC. The Fritchie looks like a strong spot for favorite Hello Beautiful to run her local record to 8-for-8 lifetime. The General George provides quite a few more options for the discerning horseplayer.
Grade 3 winners in the field include LAKI, MAJESTIC DUNHILL and SHARE THE RIDE. Meanwhile, FUNNY GUY is Grade 2-placed. Several listed stakes winners will be looking to make the grade. MAJESTIC DUNHILL has consistently kept the strongest competition since last summer, along with SHARE THE RIDE.
There’s not as much front-end speed as you’d expect for a stakes sprint, but the 7-furlong distance can dissuade some of the fleet burners. ARTHUR’S HOPE might be best-equipped to make the front, and should have the likes of LAKI, LEBDA, SHARE THE RIDE and FORTUNATE FRIENDS in closest pursuit. This race can, and is projected to be, won near the front.
Aqueduct shippers are 2-for-20 in the General George over the past 8 editions, including 2015 winner Misconnect and last year’s odds-on victor Firenze Fire. FUNNY GUY vans to Laurel from his New York base and will vie for favoritism. Trainer John Terranova shipped Killybegs Captain to Laurel to win the 2019 DeFrancis Dash, but there’s no guarantee FUNNY GO will appreciate the barn’s return trip. Since 2013, sire Big Brown is a modest 13% winners with Laurel runners (and 1-17 at 7 furlongs). His offspring are 0 for the last 23 since December 2018. While I respect FUNNY GUY, he’s been favored in each of his last 5 starts and delivered just 1 victory in a photo at 4-5. I’ll try to beat him.
#1 Laki – Ridden by Horacio Karamanos and trained by Damon Dilodovico. Lost all chance last time out when clipping heels early in the race. He still managed to run 4th, but was beaten by almost 5 lengths. He draws the rail and will likely use some of the early speed to sit close or on the pace. He also comes in here on pretty good form having finished in the top 4 in the last 8 races. This jockey/trainer combination has teamed to win at a 17% rate as well.
#2 Funny Guy – Ridden by Sheldon Russell and trained by John Terranova. Funny Guy has been the favorite in the last 5 outings, and he has won just 1 of those races. This horse loves to burn money, and while he is a good horse there is just no way I can put him on top. Also, this will be the first time Sheldon Russell pilots this horse which is a new dynamic. The horse must be respected, but if he once again goes off as the favorite I will be trying to find value elsewhere.
#3 Lebda – Ridden by Alex Cintron and trained by Claudio Gonzalez. Lebda is 0 for his last 6, and he hasn’t really been all that great either. His last outing was his best though so you do wonder if he turned a corner, but I think there are too many other good options in here to consider Lebda for a win bet. He is another one though that should be close to the lead which fits this race so it wouldn’t be a total surprise if he upsets this field.
#4 Majestic Dunhill – Ridden by Fergyl Lynch and trained by George Weaver. The last 2 outings have been poor to say the least. Those 2 races came against good competition and both times Majestic Dunhill had issues in the gate, or leaving the gate. Three starts back in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler he was able to leave the gate properly and sat close to the lead and won that race beating the #6 horse in here Share the Ride. This is a live longshot that if he breaks well will certainly put himself in position for a win.
#5 Fortunate Friends – Ridden by Jevian Toledo and trained by Shaun Morrow. This horse is taking a major leap in class, and while he has speed I just do not see how Fortunate Friends finds his way into the winners circle. He has a lot of trouble beating very lowly competition in the last year. I don’t see anything that shows he is ready for these types of horses.
#6 Share the Ride – Ridden by Victor Carrasco and trained by Miguel Penaloza. Share the Ride should sit one of the better trips in this race. He is drawn to the outside of the speed horses, and absolutely loves to stalk. Expect this one to be sitting in 3rd or 4th, and waiting to make his normal one big run at the top of the long Laurel Park stretch. He is a must-use on any type of wager in here. I would not be surprised if this horse ends up being the favorite instead of Funny Guy.
#7 Informative – Ridden by Roimes Chirinos and trained by Uriah St Lewis. There is not very much good to say here about this horse. The trainer won only 6% of his horses starts in 2020. The jockey has 1 win at Laurel so far this year. The horse is 0-16 on a fast track and 0-3 at the 7 furlong distance. Basically, I will pass.
#8 Arthur’s Hope – Ridden by Alcibiades Cortez and trained by Marco Salazar. Will likely be gunning it for the lead here, but he is also very unlikely to hold on to it. While there isn’t a ton of early speed in here I think there will be enough to keep him pressed and eventually tire out. However, if you are looking to take a big swing at this race he is probably the one to go with and just hope that he gets free and clear lead and never looks back.
#9 Chilly in Charge – Ridden by JD Acosta and trained by Miguel Vera. Winner of 2 his last 3 starts, but against weaker competition. The knock on this one for me is just that he will leave himself with too much work to do. He is going to sit pretty far back from the leaders and hope the race melts down in front of him. I don’t think that will happen, but I do think he can pass a few tiring horses and maybe finish top 3.
#10 Tattooed – Ridden by Angel Cruz and trained by Timothy Keefe. Not a ton of early speed from this one either, and breaking from the 10 hole makes it worse. If Angel Cruz decides not to press for position then he will have to let some horses go and get over towards the rail, but that will spot the field an extra few lengths. Either way the post really hinders this one, and allows to me leave this one out completely.
1: #1 Laki
2: #4 Majestic Dunhill
3: #6 Share The Ride
4: #2 Funny Guy