Friday, April 10, 2009

Laragh put to dirt test in Comely

If she kicks off her 2009 campaign the way she finished up 2008, it could be quite a year for Laragh.

The lanky gray daughter of Tapit, who closed out her 2-year-old season with a front-running victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet on December 13, makes her sophomore and main track debut at Aqueduct Racetrack Saturday, heading a field of six in the 60th renewal of the Grade 2, $150,000 Comely for three-year-old fillies at a mile. She is considered a prospect for the Kentucky Oaks, a decision that will likely be determined based upon her performance on dirt in Queens.

“She’s bigger, she’s stronger, and hopefully, she’s faster,” said John Terranova, who trains Laragh for IEAH Stable. “She had a nice break over the winter. We originally had planned on bring her back in March, but the extra time off did her a world of good. We went right up the to end of last year with her with a lot of travelling, and the transition from age two to age three is a real jump.”

Laragh made her first three starts on turf and artificial surfaces in Canada before being purchased by IEAH and joining Terranova’s barn in the fall. In her first start for her new connections, she won the Jessamine Stakes on the turf at Keeneland, earning a berth in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita, in which she lead to the final furlong and finished third, a length behind Maram.

Her final performance of the year was a memorable one – in her first Grade 1 race, she struck the lead under Edgar Prado and held on for a one-length victory over Wynning Ride on the artificial surface at Hollywood Park.

Although the Santa Anita Oaks was under consideration for Laragh, with IEAH also owning Stardom Bound, it was decided to skip that race and head elsewhere. The Comely, at a mile, seemed like the perfect spot, said Terranova.

“We had a few options, including the Beaumont, the Ashland or the Fantasy, but figured, let’s just come here and try her on dirt,” he said. “A mile is great for her – when the gates open, she knows where she wants to be. In each of her races, she’s taken control.”

After spending the early part of the year at Palm Meadows in Florida, Laragh was sent last month to Terranova’s barn at Belmont Park, where she has had a pair of works, including a five-furlong move on April 5 in 1:00.22, fastest of six on the main track at the distance.

“This will be her first start on dirt, but she has been training really well on it,” said Terranova, who will give a leg up to jockey Ramon Dominguez in the Comely, in which Laragh will break from post No. 4. “She trained great on it at Palm Meadows, and also before she went to Keeneland. She’s just a class filly who’s done everything right so far.”

One who’s also done well so far is Don’t Forget Gil, a dark bay daughter of Kafwain who is coming off a four-length victory in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs on March 14. Trained by Mark Hennig for Alan Brodsky, Don’t Forget Gil began her career in New York, winning at first asking, finishing second in an allowance over a good track and closing out her freshman campaign with a win in the East View Stakes. She was third to Pumpkin Shell in the Busanda in her first start of 2009, then headed south to finish third in the Suncoast, also at Tampa Bay Downs.

She will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh from post No. 2.

Another who will receive considerable support is Stewart Armstrong’s Dream Play, the beaten favorite in the Grade 3 Cicada after a slow start. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the daughter of Hennessy won the Dearly Precious on Valentine’s Day by 8¼ lengths under Eddie Castro, who will return in the irons. Dream Play will leave from post No. 5.l

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens sends out Edward P. Evans’ Subprime, who broke her maiden over Aqueduct’s main track on an off-the-turf event last October, then ran into a buzzsaw in her first two starts this year, finishing third to What a Pear in the Wistful on Feb. 1 and second to that one on Feb. 22 in the Busher.

She will be ridden by Richard Migliore and break from post position No. 3.

R. Mary Zuckerman’s Platinum Girl brings a two-race winning streak into the Comely, having taken a one-mile optional claimer at Laurel on Feb. 21 and posting a 12 ¼-length win in a claiming race on Jan. 24 at Philadelphia Park. Trainer Todd Pletcher has named Mike Luzzi to ride from the rail.

Rounding out the field from post No. 6 is Karen S. Farrar’s Holdontoyourdream, who has a record of 2-1-0 in three starts at Philadelphia Park for trainer Anthony Dutrow. David Cohen will ride. -- NYRA

At the Races selections:

Dream Play

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