04/22/2017 6:35PM

Ascend, Danilovna give Motion sweep of turf stakes

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Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
Feargal Lynch collects his third stakes win of the card aboard Ascend in the Henry Clark.

Though trainer Graham Motion has won a Kentucky Derby and is in position to win it again in two weeks with Irish War Cry, it was his prowess with turf horses that first put him on the map in the U.S.

That prowess was on display again Saturday at Laurel Park as Motion won both $75,000 turf stakes on the program. Ascend, who had not raced since Oct. 19, came with a flying finish in the lane to rally from last and win the Henry S. Clark Stakes.

Earlier on the program, Motion brought Danilovna back off a five-month freshening to win the $75,000 Dahlia Stakes for fillies and mares.

Feargal Lynch rode Ascend to victory, capping a three-stakes win afternoon for him. Lynch won the $125,000 Federico Tesio on Twisted Tom and the $125,000 Weber City Miss on Lights of Medina.

Trevor McCarthy rode Danilovna to victory.

Ascend, a 5-year-old gelding by Candy Ride, was making his stakes debut in the Clark. He got bumped out of the gate and was last through the opening six furlongs. Lynch began to ask him around the far turn but Ascend still had only two horses beaten in upper stretch. He was forced to go in the No. 8 path but that didn’t matter as he was able to win a four-horse photo, besting Synchrony by a half-length. It was a head to Ghost Hunter and a nose to Irish Strait, also trained by Motion.

“I had so much horse when I turned into the straight I wanted to give him a clear run,” Lynch said of Ascend’s last-to-first venture. “He’s a very nice horse.”

Ascend, owned by Stone Farm and Madaket Stables, covered the mile in 1:36.30 and returned $14.20.

“He’s a useful horse,” Motion said. “He’s on the improve.”

Motion mentioned the Grade 2, $250,000 Dixie Stakes on Preakness Day as a possible next spot for Ascend.

Danilovna takes Dahlia

Danilovna was not only well-spotted in the Dahlia, but she was in prime position to take the lead when pacesetting Catcha Rising Star bolted at the top of the stretch. Danilovna inherited the lead turning for home and she maintained that advantage through the stretch to post a one-length victory over longshot Northern Smile.

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It was a neck back to Cambodia, the 6-5 favorite, in third.

The win was the third from seven starts for Danilovna, an Irish-bred daughter of Dansili owned and bred by Bjorn Nielsen.

“She worked very well in England last year. She didn’t quite do it on the track,” Nielsen said. “We thought American racing might suit her. Graham’s a great trainer. I’ve known him for a while. He won with her first time out. She’s done very well for us. Hopefully, she can win a couple of stakes for us this year and we’ll see where she goes.”

Motion said earlier this week he had high hopes for Danilovna this year and she would likely make her next start in the $150,000 Gallorette at Pimlico on Preakness Day.

“This filly could be very decent. She’s improved over the winter. I think she’s filled out and grown up and we’re excited about her,” Motion said.

Danilovna covered a mile in 1:36.80 over yielding turf and returned $8.40 to win.

Absatootly takes Primonetta

The New York-based and bred Absatootly improved to 3 for 3 at Laurel Park with a 1 1/2-length victory over Lovable Lady in the $75,000 Primonetta Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs. It was four lengths back to Next Best Thing in third.

Jockey Kevin Gomez recorded his first career stakes victory in this spot.

Absatootly stalked the pace in the clear about three- to four-wide. Appealing Maggie, off a step slow rushed to the lead but faded by the quarter pole. Lovable Lady took over from Appealing Maggie turning for home, but Absatootly, despite slipping and sliding in the stretch, ran by Lovable Lady to get her fifth win from 12 career starts.

Absatootly, a New York-bred daughter of Mineshaft owned by Newman Racing and trained by Charlton Baker, covered the six furlongs in 1:11.00 and returned $23.40.