Laobanonaprayer goes for three straight stakes wins in $100K Franklin Square
by Ryan Martin
Two-time stakes winner Laobanonaprayer will cut back in distance in Saturday’s seventh running of the $100,000 Franklin Square, a 6 1/2-furlong test for New York-bred sophomore fillies at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Owned and trained by Daniel Velazquez, the bay filly is a daughter of second crop stallion Laoban, who broke his maiden against stakes company in the 2016 Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga Race Course.
Like her sire, Laobanonaprayer also notched her first career win at stakes caliber when defeating next-out winner Frost Me in the one-mile Maid of the Mist on October 24 at Belmont Park, which took place following a respective third and second against maiden special weight company at Delaware Park.
Piloted by jockey Kendrick Carmouche in her maiden score against fellow state-breds, Laobanonaprayer tracked a close fifth in behind horses, weaved her way through traffic up the rail around the far turn, took command approaching the eighth pole and drew off to a 5 ½-length victory.
Last out, Laobanonaprayer displayed another dominant effort in the seven-furlong NYSSS Fifth Avenue on December 6 at the Big A, where she rated off the pace from the four path and picked up runners around the far turn before taking command at the three-sixteenths pole and striding away an eight-length winner as the odds-on favorite under Carmouche.
Velazquez said Laobanonaprayer is better suited for longer distances, but a cutback in ground won’t hinder her winning chances.
“I still think six-and-a-half is not her key distance,” Velazquez said. “It’s just the way things went. We debuted her going 5 ½-furlongs and she was third. I’m not saying she can’t do six-and-a-half, but she would be better going anywhere from seven-eighths, a flat mile to a mile and a sixteenth. That’s more her cup of tea.”
Based at Parx Racing for the winter, Laobanonaprayer worked five-eighths over the Philadelphia oval in 1:02.24 on January 9.
“We’re excited,” Velazquez said. “She’s doing really well and it’s a good spot for her to win. We were going to try open company, but we figured why do that when we could run against New York breds. She’s extremely versatile and I know she handles the wet track.”
Bred in New York by Christina Deronda, Laobanonaprayer is out of the Raffie’s Majesty mare Raffie’s Chance. She was purchased by Velazquez for $15,000 from last year’s Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, where she was consigned by Hidden Brook.
Carmouche, the leading rider at the winter meet, will retain the mount from post 4.
Laobanonaprayer will face a stiff test from up-and-coming filly Vacay, who is unbeaten in two career starts.
Owned by Repole Stable and Aron Wellman’s Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, the dark bay or brown daughter of second crop sire Not This Time won on debut over a sloppy and sealed main track at Belmont Park before winning the six-furlong Key Cents against state-breds on November 15 at the Big A.
Piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the Key Cents, Vacay was in stalking position and went five wide at the quarter pole before edging up to even terms with the frontrunners at the three sixteenths pole and strolling home a 5 ½ length winner for trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the 2016 Franklin Square with Clipthecouponannie.
Bred by J Stables, Vacay is the third progeny out of the Belgravia mare Florida Sun, who was a stakes winner at six furlongs.
Vacay will emerge from post 1 under jockey Jose Lezcano.
Trainer Ray Handal will saddle Key Cents runner-up Rossa Veloce in attempt of her first stakes victory.
Co-owned by Handal with Blue Streak Racing, Rossa Veloce defeated winners last out in wire-to-wire fashion on December 20 at Aqueduct going six furlongs. With five career starts, the chestnut daughter of Girolamo is the most seasoned filly in the Franklin Square field with a record of 2-1-0. Rossa Veloce won her August 5 debut at Saratoga by a half-length, defeating subsequent stakes winner No Mo Spending.
Jockey Manny Franco retains the mount from post 5.
Completing the field are maiden special weight winners Secret Love [post 2, Pablo Morales], A Life That’s Good [post 3, Trevor McCarthy], and Caramocha [post 6, Dylan Davis].
The Franklin Square is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s nine-race program, which has a first post of 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
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