There was a lot going on Saturday at Laurel Park. Six stakes races, all run in a snowstorm that got increasingly heavier as the day went on. Although the snow had not yet reached its peak, the Miracle Wood Stakes certainly featured a lot of action, especially for even-money favorite Still Having Fun.
“His will to want to be the first one to the wire got him there,” Tim said Wednesday morning a few days after the colt’s triumph in the $100,000 Miracle Wood.
Still Having Fun fought his way to a second stakes victory, in similar fashion to his first.
“I was concerned when he broke so slow, then I was concerned when he was running last down the backside,” Tim said. “He gave every reason why he didn’t have to win. He never really had it easy, but he overcame everything and was able to get there by a neck.”
The 3-year-old broke lackadaisically from his inside post and found himself in last as the field raced out of the 1-mile chute. After briefly steadying off heels down the backside, Feargal Lynch stayed to the inside with the favorite and kept progressing forward around the turn.
Lynch and Still Having Fun were kept inside by their rivals as the field straightened for home. With longshot pacesetter Old Time Revival and familiar foe Wentz to his outside, Still Having Fun gritted out one last push in the final furlong to get up and win by a neck.
“He had to work harder in this race than he has had to in his last couple. He really had to dig down deep to gut this one out,” Tim said.
Despite a tough race, all signs have been positive from the colt following his win and the future is bright for the Maryland-bred who has built up an impressive resume so far in his short career.
“We have a couple of different options,” Tim said. “I’ll talk with Adam, Gary, and Jimmy about it and make a definite plan. We’re going to nominate for a few different races and then get together to see which way we’ll go.”
Before all the action Saturday, the barn sent out two runners Friday. Tattooed put in a solid effort over a muddy surface to finish fifth against a talented group of 3-year-olds. An hour later, Cyndara came splashing up the inside from off the pace under Sheldon Russell to break her maiden for the barn’s first win of the weekend.
Although the temperature reached 80 degrees for a few days earlier this week, wet weather and an off-track are likely to be present at Laurel again this weekend.
One horse who did not over the wet surface Friday was Honey Bun. The 4-year-old half-sister to Still Having Fun was scratched Friday and sent off for broodmare duty.
“Because of Still Having Fun’s success, we’re going to give Honey Bun a reprieve and she’s going to go off to be a broodmare,” Tim said.
Entered in the same race as Honey Bun, Perfect Deal won Friday’s third. The filly owned by Nancy Lee Farms stalked the pace before rolling to an easy win.
Velocita Brillante is the first of the barn’s two runners Saturday. The filly is owned by Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds, of longtime clients Stephen Brandt and Richard Boylan. She will contest the day’s fourth race, a 5 1/2-furlong maiden.
“She’s been doing well, training nicely,” Tim said. “When this race came up last time, I skipped it just to give her a little more time between races to freshen her up a little it. It seems to have helped.”
Bestkindoftrouble goes a few hours later in the eighth race against a salty group of second-level allowance sprinters. The 4-year-old Shackleford gelding races for Cynthia McGinnes and Francis Clemens.
“I think shortening him up to the 5 1/2 will help. I’m looking forward to running him,” Tim said.
As temperatures start to rise, horses start to migrate north. The barn has welcomed back a few familiar faces from Ocala, FL this week in Irish Access and Dendrobia. Irish Access was last seen breaking her maiden by 5 3/4 lengths in December. Dendrobia showed promise in two turf starts in the fall and hopefully will be able to take advantage of the reopening of the turf course in April.
A new face into the barn from Florida is Love Me Forever, an unraced 3-year-old Lookin at Lucky filly owned by the McGinneses, who are of course the co-breeders of Still Having Fun with Tim.