Laurel Park’s Saturday program includes both the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Championship and the $125,000 Dave’s Friend Stakes.
The Dave’s Friend Stakes has seven runners named to start including the 8-5 program favorite, This Ones for Phil. Rick Dutrow sent the 6-year-old to Laurel in February for the General George Stakes (G2) and picked up a check for second. The Florida-bred Untuttable gelding has earned better than $750,000 with nine wins in 26 starts. He enters Saturday’s six-furlong event off a second place finish in Aqueduct’s Fall Highweight Handicap (G3). Erick Rodriguez has the mount.
Il Villano (7-2) and Florida-bred Immortal Eyes (4-1) finished second and third in October’s Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, then switched positions in the Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National, finishing second and fourth, respectively. Il Villano won the Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness undercard and has finished off the board just twice this year. Kendrick Carmouche will ride the Susan Crowell trainee.
Immortal Eyes, by Greatness who stands at Woodford Stallions LLC at Stonewall Farm Ocala, has three stakes victories at Charles Town this year for trainer Damon Dilodovico. The 7-year-old has been first or second in 22-of-37 lifetime starts. Sheldon Russell will be aboard.
“He has been really consistent for us but we are concerned about how the race will unfold with an inside post (Immortal Eyes will break from post 2),” Dilodovico said. “He has not won at Laurel (0-for-3) but I think he has run some of his best races here.”
Fiddlers Afleet (4-1) ran a 99 Beyer Speed figure during a second place finish at Aqueduct earlier this month and was claimed for $75,000 by trainer Rudy Rodriquez. The New York bred has won two restricted stakes this year, one at Belmont Park and one at Saratoga. Angel Arroyo has the riding assignment.
“This race came up really strong,” added Dilodovico. “Ricky Dutrow’s runner is strong, Rudy will be tough with his claim and Il Villano has run well all year. My guy is really good at 4-1/2 with a heart of a lion to get him that extra furlong and a half. He is nasty as a snake and when he is put to task he comes up for us.”
Rounding out the field are Wolfcamp (8-1), Broad Rule (12-1) and My Charming Clyde (20-1).
Ten colts and geldings are entered in the 7-1/2 furlong Juvenile Championship. Dale Capuano trains morning line favorite Lunar Rock (3-1), who comes into the race off back-to-back allowance scores. The son of Cherokee’s Boy, who has never finished out of the money in eight starts, was third in both the Maryland Million Nursery and the Laurel Futurity.
“He always runs his race and is there every time,” Capuano said. “He’ll do anything: turf, dirt, long, short and whatever you need him to do from a pace standpoint though he is a little better coming off the pace. The race seems to be evenly matched but I think he is going to run well.”
The first four finishers from the Maryland Million Nursery are entered, including winner Keep Momma Happy (15-1), runner-up Alpha Mike Foxtrot (5-1) and D C Dancer (5-1), who was fourth.
Il Vilano/McCue photo