Well-Traveled Golden Soul Seeks First Stakes Win in $100,000 Richard Small Ivan Fallunovalot Can Make the Grade in $250,000 De Francis Dash (G3)
LAUREL, MD – Charles Fipke homebred Golden Soul, the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up that has raced at nine tracks from California to Dubai, will make his Maryland debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Richard W. Small presented by Samsung Business at Laurel Park.
The 1 1/8-mile Richard Small is one of seven stakes worth $825,000 in purses on an 11-race Fall Festival of Racing program highlighted by the 25th running of the $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) presented by Maker’s Mark. First race post is noon.
A 6-year-old chestnut son of Perfect Soul, Golden Soul has three wins and $656,732 in purse earnings from 28 lifetime starts, but is seeking his first stakes victory. As 3 he was runner-up in the LeComte (G2) before finishing second in the Derby at odds of 34-1, and ran third in the Louisville Handicap (G3) on turf last May.
“We’re trying to win a stake with him,” trainer Dallas Stewart. “Dirt or turf, we’d like to win a stake with him. This race is in our time frame, he’s doing good and he travels well so we’re going to take our shot.
“There’s some nice horses in the race,” he added. “He shipped over and jogged this morning over the track and from all reports I got he looked good,” he added. I look forward to running him.”
Golden Soul will break from Post 8 in a 14-horse field for the Small under Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado. It is just his fourth start this year and second since returning from spending the winter in Dubai, having run fifth in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance Oct. 19 at Keeneland.
“We gave him some time off. He did some recouping over at WinStar [Farm] and did pretty well over there, and actually ran pretty well his first race back, so we were encouraged by that,” Stewart said. “He’s a tough campaigner. He’s a lovely horse. He was second in the Derby and he’s a competitor. He’s fun to work with. He’s very healthy and doing great. I think he should be competitive if he runs his race.”
Ivan Fallunovalot Can Make the Grade in $250,000 De Francis Dash (G3)
Lewis E. Matthews Jr.’s Texas-bred gelding Ivan Fallunovalot, already a six-time stakes winner in the Midwest, goes after his first graded stakes success in Saturday’s De Francis Dash presented by Maker’s Mark.
The 6-year-old son of Valid Expectations has tried graded company twice before in his 23-race career, finishing second last year in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park and ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland.
Overall, Ivan Fallunovalot owns 14 wins and $650,808 in purse earnings and enters the De Francis on a three-race win streak. He captured the six-furlong King Cotton Jan. 30 and most recently notched his third straight win in the David M. Vance Sprint Sept. 25 at Remington Park.
“Of course we enjoy all of them, but [a graded stakes win] would be good. It would be very good,” trainer W.T. ‘Tom’ Howard said. “We’ve grown to expect quite a bit out of the boy. Not only has he been good to us, but we have a lot of confidence in him. We’d love to see him with that feather in his hat.”
Ivan Fallunovalot drew Post 2 in the nine-horse De Francis and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, who returned in August from a five-month retirement and has been aboard for five of his six stakes wins.
“Calvin’s going to ride him. We thought that would work well since he knows him so well, now that he’s back from his retirement deal or vacation I guess you could call it,” Howard said. “He said he’s ready to go.”
Howard, 68, is approaching his 1,000th career victory since taking out his trainer’s license in 2001 after working under Sam David Jr., Cole Norman, Gene Norman and J.J. Pletcher. His wife, Kathy, is a former jockey who works as his assistant and is racing manager for owner Frank Fletcher.
“We have great expectations, I guess you could say. I think he’ll run well. I don’t believe there’s a reason he won’t,” Howard said. “I like being under the radar. I’m comfortable with it. I just want to get the trophy so I can get out of town.”
Never Gone South Returns to Races in $100,000 City of Laurel
Nearly six months since he was last seen finishing fifth in the Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness (G1) undercard, M M G Stables’ multiple stakes winner Never Gone South makes his return to competition in the $100,000 City of Laurel presented by Fidelity First.
The bay Munnings colt was given a break after finishing off the board in back-to-back races this spring, the only times he has been worse than third in eight lifetime starts. He won the Strike Your Colors Stakes last August as a 2-year-old, and opened this year with a 7 ¼-length romp in the Frank Whiteley Jan. 16 at Laurel.
“He’s coming back bigger and stronger than he was before. We’re really pleased with him,” trainer Cal Lynch said. “He’s definitely grown up a little bit and strengthened. We’re hoping he continues to improve a little bit. He doesn’t have to get a whole lot better to be a good horse. He’s done everything right so far. The little break has done him a world of good.”
Never Gone South was purchased for $90,000 as a 2-year-old in training last April and has earned $155,625 in purse earnings. Second in the James F. Lewis III and Marylander in 2015 and third in the Miracle Wood in February, he tired to sixth in the Federico Tesio prior to the Chick Lang, where he ran fifth but was placed fourth following a difficult trip.
“He doesn’t have to have the lead. If he gets it that’s fine, but he’s not a need-the-lead type of horse. He’ll be laying pretty handy. I think he’ll have to be close on Saturday,” Lynch said. “I don’t want any more traffic. He got in a little trouble at Pimlico in his last race and got bumped around leaving the gate and then got in trouble again at the three-eighths pole. We just want a clean trip for him, and I think he’ll be very competitive.”
Fall Turf Festival Weekend Closes Sunday with Full Fields
A total of 108 horses were entered for nine races, an average of 12 starters per race, on Sunday’s program that closes Laurel’s Fall Festival of Racing weekend.
Four of the races will be contested over Laurel’s world-class turf course, attracting 51 entries, averaging 12.75 starters per race.
First race post time Sunday is 12:35 p.m.
Every Sunday during the NFL season, Laurel is offering a Premier Parlay wager for club members. For more information, visit http://www.laurelpark.com/events/premier-parlay.