In a year where Maryland-bred 3-year-olds have already made an impact on the national racing scene, eight of them will try to make marks of their own Saturday, June 29 in the seven-furlong $75,000 Star de Naskra Stakes at Laurel Park.

Circle P, bred by Marathon Farms Inc., is the only stakes winner in the field. He won last December’s Maryland Juvenile Championship by 1¾ lengths with a strong rally from the back of the pack. In five starts this year, he’s managed one stakes-placing, finishing third in the Feb. 24 Miracle Wood Stakes. He’ll break from post position three for owners Desales 85 LLC, trainer Flint Stites, and rider Ricardo Chiappe. 

Five horses in the Star de Naskra are coming in off a win. Perhaps the most prominent is Quint’s Brew, a homebred for Paul Berube, Karen Linnell, and Heather Hunter. The son of Mosler is a perfect 2-for-2 in his career, having won his two starts by a combined 6¼ lengths, with impressive speed figures both times. He most recently won a one-mile first-level allowance at Laurel April 5, and has worked three times at Delaware Park since rejoining the worktab in late May. Raul Mena has the mount from post position seven for trainer Mike Gorham. 

Haileysfirstnotion, a Great Notion homebred for Daniel C. Crowley and trainer Gary Capuano’s Non Stop Stable, is also undefeated in his two-race career. He lasted through an early duel and broke his maiden by 3¼ lengths at Laurel on April 27, and followed it up with a 3¼-length win against first-level allowance foes at Delaware on May 18. Jaime Rodriguez has the call from post position five, making for three different jockeys in three races. 

Play Harder, bred by Maria Haire and owned by Rising Sun Racing Stables Inc., is less than a length away from sporting a 5-for-5 career record, all at Laurel. He won his first two starts, then finished third by three-quarters of a length April 7 after an awkward break. He went on to win his next two, most recently by a neck on June 1 in a game performance following a wide trip. The Claudio Gonzalez trainee drew post position four and will be ridden by J.G. Torrealba.

Blue Kingdom, bred by Tom and Chris Bowman, won a maiden special weight at fifth asking by 7¾ lengths at Laurel June 2. The son of First Mondays, owned by Strongline Thoroughbreds LLC, will break from post position six for trainer Ben Feliciano and jockey Jean Alvelo. Celtic Contender (by Irish War Cry), well-beaten in his first two tries against stakes company, rebounded with a 4¼-length win on this track June 8. The Fred Lewis DVM homebred breaks from the outside post for trainer Hammy Smith, with Victor Carrasco aboard.

The 2022 MHBA Yearling Show champion, The Band Runs On, a Hillwood Stable LLC homebred by Bandbox, and Cap Com, bred by The Elkstone Group LLC, round out the field. It will be the eighth race on the Laurel program, with a scheduled post time of 4:02 p.m. 


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