At this time of year, it pays to keep an eye on every significant stakes races for three-year-olds around the country, because you never know where the next up-and-coming star might come from.
That’s why handicappers should keep an eye on Saturday’s $125,000 Weber City Miss Stakes at Laurel Park. The 8.5-furlong race three-year-old fillies has attracted a competitive field of nine starters, including a few with experience in graded stakes company.
In terms of overall accomplishments, Layla Noor brings arguably the best form into the Weber City Miss. The Arnaud Delacour-trained filly competed with consistency over a wide variety of surfaces last year, turning in respectable efforts on fast tracks, a sealed track, firm turf, and soft turf. Her graded stakes efforts were particularly noteworthy, as she finished a solid fourth in the Jessamine Stakes (gr. III) behind future Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. I) winner Rushing Fall and third in the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) behind the talented Wonder Gadot.
But Layla Noor hasn’t run since December, so she’ll be conceding the advantage of a recent run to Shamrock Rose, who already has two starts under her belt this season, including a runner-up effort in the Cicada Stakes going six furlongs at Aqueduct last month. Trained by Mark Casse, Shamrock Rose won the Ontario Debutante Stakes in her debut at Woodbine last summer and subsequently ran second to Wonder Gadot in the Mazarine Stakes (gr. III) over the same track. However, those efforts were on Woodbine’s Tapeta track, and it remains unclear whether Shamrock Rose can be as effective on dirt.
Stakes On a Plane and Indy Union, seventh and eighth in the Demoiselle, are also experienced in stakes company but may need to step up a notch to compete against this caliber of competition. In contrast, Blue Union Rags and Stormologist will be making their stakes debuts, but they enter off of career-best allowance victories at Laurel last month and could be poised for further improvement.
Completing the field are Goodonehoney, winner of a maiden claiming race going six furlongs at Laurel last month; Firth, who crossed the wire just a half-length behind Stormologist in the latter’s allowance victory; and Empress Livia, a maiden winner against Pennsylvania-breds at Penn National two starts back.
The Weber City Miss Stakes is the eighth race on the card, with a projected post time of 4:40 p.m. Eastern.