If Something Awesome is to successfully defend his title in Saturday’s $250,000 General George (G3) at Laurel, he’ll have to overcome post 13 in the seven-furlong dash.
Subsequently victorious in the lucrative Charles Town Classic (G2) last April, Something Awesome has been limited to just three starts since May, with two of them being lackluster attempts in the Pimlico Special (G3) and Pegasus World Cup (G1).
“In the Pegasus, the horse came for the last five-sixteenths and was making a good move and got squeezed in between two horses and did not finish the way he can finish,” trainer Jose Corrales said. “To me, the horse was not tired. I think maybe it took the air out of him.”
Other previous graded stakes winners looking for another in the General George are the eight-year-old Life in Shambles, who upset the Fall Highweight H. (G3) at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving Day, and Woody Stephens (G2) winner Still Having Fun, who faces older rivals for a second time after finishing third in the Malibu (G1) against three-year-olds in late December.
With seven wins and four placings from 11 previous starts at Laurel, Laki is as consistent a horse-for-the-course can be. A three-time stakes winner and runner-up in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) in September, Laki enters off a bit of a freshening after finishing a close third to Colonel Sharp in the $100,000 Dave’s Friend on December 29.
“He’s doing very good,” trainer Damon Dilodovico said. “I kind of feel like maybe I rushed him into the last race. He had run so well early in the month and it just seemed like he came out of the previous race so well, [but] maybe I ran him back too quick and it showed in the race.
“We just let him regroup. He’s been training very well for us. We got a nice little breeze into him the other day and he came out of it well. Hopefully we can get him back to the form where he was last fall.”
It’s Good to Be Us enters the stakes ranks for the first time after winning three of his first four starts, including a one-length allowance score at Parx on January 8.
“He’s a real nice horse that’s had a lot of issues,” trainer John Servis said. “We’ve had to stop and give him time quite a few times. He didn’t even come to the racetrack until he was a 3-year-old. They had to stop on him a few times on the farm, nothing super-major just little things that kept popping up. But, he’s got a lot of talent. It’s by far the toughest group he’s hooked into, but he does it the right way.
“The race the other day, which was his first race back off a long layoff, he did all the heavy lifting. He was head and head for the lead every step of the way, and then as soon he shook that horse off another horse hooked him, but, he’s got the talent and he’s got the want. The jock even said he could feel him getting a little tired and when that horse ran up to him late, he just swelled up and dug in. He wasn’t going to get beat.”
Home Run Maker, winner of three straight including the $100,000 Fire Plug over six furlongs last month, has won three of four over the track. Stakes veterans Uncontested and Do Share, one-two in a Laurel allowance in late December, also merit respect.
Ms Locust Point is also back to defend a title, hers being the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) for fillies and mares over seven furlongs, but she must reverse a November loss to Late Night Pow Wow, the Grade 3-winning West Virginia-bred who’s captured 10 of her 11 lifetime outings.
Infusing some additional class into the field are last-out La Brea (G1) winner Spiced Perfection; Dawn the Destroyer, last-out heroine of the $100,000 Interborough at Aqueduct, her second win in row after undergoing throat surgery; and Gallant Bloom H. (G2) runner-up Your Love.
Discreet Lover, the upset winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) in September, makes his season debut in the $100,000 John B. Campbell at 1 1/8 miles. He was last seen finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
The last horse to win the Gold Cup and then the Campbell the following year was five-time Horse of the Year Kelso in 1963.