Lynch mounts make grade at Laurel

Just Howard, Fergal Lynch up, wins the Commonwealth Derby at Laurel.


Racing Roundup / John Manley

Fergal Lynch was the riding star of Saturday’s stakes-studded card at Laurel. The reinsman from Derry knocked out four victories, including two in graded stakes. His first mount was in the third race, the Brookmeade Stakes on the lawn for Virginia-breds, and he got Queen Caroline home in front by just over a length for a $5.00 win mutuel.

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Lynch came right back in the fourth race, a maiden special weight sprint on the main track, aboard the favored Sue Me. They split rivals after straightening for home and caught the pacesetter inside the sixteenth pole to score by one and one-quarter lengths. The win price came back $4.40.

Lynch made it 3-for-3 on the card when he guided Rymska to victory in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Oaks for trainer Chad Brown. The 3-year-old filly, off since February, trailed early and got rolling late, in time to get up by three-quarters of a length. Rymska paid $6.80 to win.

Lynch then had to settle for second place in the next race, the Grade 2 Baltimore/Washington Turf Cup. He finished second aboard Catapult, also trained by Brown, in a race won by another Brown runner, Projected.

An 8th-place finish in the 10th race, another maiden special weight sprint, was the only off-the-board finish for Lynch on the afternoon. He came back, however, to ride Just Howard to victory by three-quarters of a length in the Commonwealth Derby on the grass over Voodoo Song, hero of the recent Saratoga meet. Just Howard let Voodoo Song dictate the pace and then caught that rival in the final sixteenth. The win price came back $16.80.

“I tried to actually come away from Voodoo Song because I didn’t want to go head-to-head with him, because he battles back again,” Lynch said of his ride aboard Just Howard. “I tried to keep out to the middle of the track to keep away from [Voodoo Song] so we didn’t get into it. They came to him in Saratoga and he kept finding a little bit, so I thought, ‘Keep away from him.’ It came down to us and we got the better of him.

“It’s a great day,” Lynch said. “It’s been a great year. It just all came together today. When you’re riding for Chad Brown and Graham Motion, they put their horses in the right spots and make you look good.”


Brendan Walsh sent out Honorable Duty to win the Grade 3 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The 5-year-old gelding, owned by DARRS, Inc., took the lead soon after the start, disposed of a pace rival around the far turn and widened to victory by almost five lengths. Corey Lanerie rode the winner of this nine-furlong feature on the main track. This was Honorable Duty’s first race since finishing second to Gun Runner in the Stephen Foster in Louisville in June. He paid $3.20 to win.

Walsh sent a pair of 2-year-old maidens to Indiana Grand for the Friday card and nearly came away with two victories. Chad Schumer and Shaun McCarthy’s Snapperette scored by two lengths in the sixth race, a maiden special weight mile on the main track, as the odds-on favorite. She paid $3.40 to win. Declan Cannon rode the winner.

Later, in the ninth race, a companion race on the turf, Miraculously, owned by Madeline Auerbach and Nathan McCarthy, ran out of ground in trying to reel in the eventual winner. The Walsh trainee, also ridden by Cannon, settled for place honors in her first try under silks. She went off at 12-1.

Eddie Kenneally has always been an able hand at getting a first-time starter into the winner’s circle. That was lost on many playing Saturday’s seventh race at Churchill as She’s Pretty Lucky, a 2-year-old homebred filly owned by Kari Will, battled the length of the stretch to score by a neck under Joe Rocco, Jr. The Texas-bred by Lookin at Lucky paid $49.60 to win.


Coolmore appears to be well situated to grab championship honors in the 2-year-old filly category with Moonshine Memories. She solidified her claim with a dominant victory in the Grade 1 Chandelier at Santa Anita on Saturday. Flavien Prat got her to the wire almost three lengths in front. A similar performance in next month’s Breeders’ Cup would be a clincher. The filly, which is trained by Simon Callaghan and owned in part by Bridlewood Farm, paid $6.00 to win.

Later on the same program, Irish-bred Mubtaahij injected himself into the Breeders’ Cup Classic picture with a rallying victory in the Grade 1 Awesome Again. The 5-year-old horse, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, got up by one and one-half lengths under Drayden Van Dyke. Cupid, a Coolmore colorbearer also trained by Baffert, checked in fourth as the heavy favorite. Mubtaahij paid $8.20 to win.