Nimitz Class, yet to race outside of his native Pennsylvania, and fellow stakes winner Old Homestead, who suffered his first career loss in his last trip to Maryland, are among five shippers that will line up for the $100,000 Concern Saturday, July 2 at Laurel Park.
The sixth running of the six-furlong Concern for 3-year-olds, honoring the first Maryland-bred winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), co-headlines a 10-race Independence Day weekend program with the $100,000 Caesar’s Wish for fillies and mares 3 and up going one mile.
First race post time is 12:40 p.m.
The Concern and Caesar’s Wish are the first of 11 stakes worth $1.05 million in purses during the month of July at Laurel, where the 37-day summer meet began June 3 and continues through August 21.
Thomas Coulter’s Nimitz Class, a homebred son of multiple Grade 2-winning sprinter Munnings, enters the Concern having won three straight races by 7 ½ combined lengths. He has run exclusively at Penn National, where trainer Bruce Kravets is based, but being out of the Flatter mare Five Diamonds is a younger full brother to Kaylasaurus, winner of the 2021 Willa On the Move and April 23 Primonetta at Laurel.
“It’ll be the first time shipping, new track, different surface. You just hope for the best,” Kravets said. “He came out of the last race great, he’s training great, and we expect him to run really big.”
Nimitz Class didn’t get his career under way until December of his 2-year-old season, finishing fourth in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight. He graduated at second asking with a front-running six-length triumph Jan. 4, then ran fourth as the favorite his first time facing winners in a March 2 allowance.
Twenty days later Nimitz Class won a similar spot by 3 ½ lengths and has faced fellow Pennsylvania-breds in each of his last two starts, beating his elders in April 21 allowance before rallying to capture the June 3 Danzig in 1:09.82 for six furlongs.
“He broke just a hair slow and we tried to rush him up and got caught in between horses,” Kravets said. “He had to kind of fight his way through the pack there to get some running room, and then he just took off.”
Horacio Karamanos gets the riding assignment from outside Post 6 on Nimitz Class, who Kravets said has improved since an equipment change in the spring.
“I think in the last three [races] since we put blinkers on, that made a big difference, and I do think that seven furlongs this weekend will make a big difference, too,” he said. “That way you don’t really have to rush him early.”
Marablue Farm and Pegasus Stud’s Old Homestead arrived at historic Pimlico Race Course with a perfect 3-0 record heading into the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) on the undercard of the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1). Ahead at every call of his first three races, the colt by Grade 1 winner Overanalyze found himself behind horses for the first time in the early going and wound up fifth, beaten 5 ¼ lengths by Lightening Larry.
“We got him back to the barn and went over him and watched him and nothing really jumped out. I think he just had an off day,” Louisiana-based trainer Brett Brinkman said. “It seemed like horses that were getting up there and getting to the lead on that racetrack were having success. I kind of chalked it up to him just not bringing his ‘A’ game that day.
“We’ve had him there at Delaware [Park] and we’ve got him back into a good rhythm since the race at Pimlico,” he added. “We’ve got to get him back started somewhere, so it seems like a good race to hit.”
Old Homestead went unraced at 2 before an 11 ½-length debut romp Jan. 28 at Delta Downs, where he returned to beat winners in a March 4 allowance, both races coming at five furlongs. A month later Brinkman sent him to Keeneland for the seven-furlong Lafayette, which he won by 3 ¾ lengths over a wet main track.
“He definitely had horses over a barrel in his maiden race and in the a-other-than. We got to Keeneland and he kind of skipped over that racetrack. Things kind of went his way as far as getting up there and getting to the lead,” Brinkman said. “I don’t think he’s a need-the-lead kind of horse. He stayed on but [jockey] Tommy [Pompell] said just from the gate he felt like he never really got into gear at Pimlico that day. He said he just wasn’t the same horse away from the latches that day.”
Currently riding in Indiana, Pompell has been the only jockey on Old Homestead in his races but travel concerns means Charlie Marquez will be aboard Saturday from Post 5.
“I love Tommy and he’s been great with this horse, but [we didn’t want] to put ourselves in a pickle about trying to make arrangements since flights have been so crazy,” Brinkman said. “He’s not a hard horse to ride. He’s pretty straightforward and he’s a real kind horse.”
Also in from out of town are Defend, Scaramouche and Tops the Chart. Nick Sanna Stables and Susan Montanye’s Defend is a bay son of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharaoh that has won three of four career starts, all over his home track at Delaware Park, including a six-furlong allowance June 8 in his sophomore debut. His only loss came in the Hopeful (G1) last summer at Saratoga where he lost his footing and was taken up, finishing 10th.
Nicholas Cammarano Jr.’s Scaramouche, also by Munnings, raced once last year before opening 2022 with back-to-back open-length victories including the six-furlong Rittenhouse Square by 5 ½ March 8 for trainer Guadalupe Preciado. Fifth in the April 9 Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct, his only time away from home, Scaramouche rebounded with a front-running two-length allowance score May 21 at Parx.
Colts Neck Stables’ homebred Tops the Chart is the most experienced Concern runner with eight prior runs including one other stakes attempt, when he finished sixth after dueling for the lead in the six-furlong James F. Lewis III last November at Laurel in his third start. The Macleans Music gelding had not raced beyond six furlongs before dead-heating for the win in a one-mile entry-level allowance May 29 at Monmouth Park.
“We stretched him out to two turns. It seems like the family wants to go more ground, but I feel like the seven-eighths will kind of hit him right between the eyes. It’s one turn and it’s not three-quarters. He’s doing good. He’s pretty honest. He tries every time. I think the track at Laurel will suit him,” trainer Jorge Duarte Jr. said. “He’s raced and he’s got a good foundation under him. He’s been pretty sound and he’s happy and he’s thriving through his racing, so we’ll see if he can step it up a little more.”
Completing the field is No Guts No Glory Farm’s Alottahope, bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and Dr. Brooke Bowman and based at Laurel with owner-trainer Jerry Robb. The Editorial gelding, second to dirt and turf stakes winner Joe in the seven-furlong Maryland Million Nursery last fall, ran fourth in each of his last two starts including the Chick Lang, where he beat Old Homestead by two lengths.
Concern, trained by the late Dickie Small, won seven of 30 career starts and more than $3 million in purse earnings from 1993-95. His 1994 season included wins in the Breeders’ Cup and Arkansas Derby (G2), seconds in the Travers (G1), Super Derby (G1) and Ohio Derby (G2) and thirds in the Preakness (G1), Haskell (G1), Molson Export Million (G2) and Round Table (G3).