Old Homestead and Charlie Marquez winning the Concern at Laurel Park
Marablue Farm and Pegasus Stud’s Old Homestead, knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten in his last trip to Maryland, got back on the winning track in his return with a popular one-length triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 Concern at Laurel Park.
The sixth running of the seven-furlong Concern for 3-year-olds, honoring the first Maryland-bred winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), served as co-headliner of a 10-race program with the $100,000 Caesar’s Wish for fillies and mares 3 and up going one mile.
The Concern and Caesar’s Wish are the first of 11 stakes worth $1.05 million in purses run every other Saturday during the month of July at Laurel, where the 37-day summer meet began June 3 and continues through Aug. 21.
Ridden for the first time by Charlie Marquez, Old Homestead ($4.60) completed the distance in 1:22.65 over a fast main track to beat fellow stakes winner Nimitz Class by a length and avenge his first career loss in the May 21 Chick Lang (G3) at historic Pimlico Race Course after three straight wins.
“I’m glad the old Old Homestead showed up,” winning trainer Brett Brinkman said. “This horse gives you a lot of confidence with how easy he does things, and that day at Pimlico he just looked like he struggled the whole race. He never looked like he was comfortable. I don’t know what it was, but it just wasn’t his day. I was glad to get him back to the winner’s circle.”
Nimitz Class stumbled out of the gate and trailed the field as Old Homestead and Defend to his inside vied for the early lead along with Scaramouche along the rail. Scaramouche forged a short lead after going the opening quarter-mile in 22.68 seconds pressed to his outside by Old Homestead as Defend dropped back into third.
Marquez gave Old Homestead his cue on the far turn and the bay son of Grade 1 winner Overanalyze surged to the front following a half-mile in 45.86. Marquez took a peek behind him as they came into the stretch with the lead, and they were never really threatened coming through the lane. Nimitz Class made a big run on the far outside for second, a length ahead of Scaramouche. Defend and Alottahope completed the order of finish. Tops the Chart was scratched.
“I knew [Defend] was going to show some speed, as well. The goal was to just try and get out of there in front of him and kind of set the pace, and that’s what we did,” Marquez said. “We got into a little bit of a duel, but that didn’t seem to bother him; in fact, he really enjoyed that. When I asked him to run, he really kicked on.
“Once Defend kind of took back, I kind of took back off [Scaramouche] a little bit and was sitting in like the four path, just to give him a little bit of a breather,” he added. “I came down around the turn, and the trainer mentioned he takes the turns very well, so I tried to make some lengths around the turn and once we straightened out, he was gone. It was game over.”
Old Homestead went unraced at 2 before winning his Jan. 28 unveiling by 11 ½ lengths at Delta Downs, where he returned to beat his elders in an open allowance March 2. His third straight front-running triumph came in his stakes debut, the seven-furlong Lafayette April 8 at Keeneland, before chasing the pace and ultimately finishing fifth in the Chick Lang.
Brinkman credited the 19-year-old Marquez with a great trip for Old Homestead, who had been ridden exclusively by Tom Pompell – a winner of nearly 3,000 career races riding currently in Indiana.
“Once he got away where he did and Charlie put him in position, that’s the way the horse breezes when we work him. I felt like if he runs to his breezes he’s going to be fine, and he was,” Brinkman said. “For never having sat on him, Charlie followed instructions really well and rode him with a lot of confidence and that always helps matters.”
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).