02/12/2015 12:25PM

Barbara Fritchie distance perfect for Sam's Sister

Benoit & Associates
Sam's Sister has yet to lose at seven furlongs.

Jerry Hollendorfer has the favorite and highweight for the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap on Saturday at Laurel Park in Sam’s Sister.

Mike Hushion will be shooting for his fourth win since 2008 in the $300,000 race with Princess Violet.

And then there is the Florida-based Best Behavior, the quickest runner in the lineup, as well as Lady Sabelia, who has been ripping up the local stakes division.

The seven-furlong Fritchie is the highlight of the first day of Laurel’s winter carnival, which concludes Monday with the $250,000 General George Handicap. A pair of $100,000 supporting stakes will be run each day.

Sam’s Sister has won 5 of 6 starts and is a perfect 3 for 3 at seven furlongs, including the Grade 2 Santa Monica and Grade 1 La Brea. This is not an easy assignment, however. She has had to fly across the country into the heart of winter and will be running over a surface that is quite different than that of Santa Anita, where she is based.

In addition, she has been assigned 123 pounds and will concede seven to 11 pounds to her 10 rivals. What she has in her favor is a desire to win.

“She is remarkably consistent and tries very hard,” Hollendorfer said.

Hushion won the Fritchie last year with My Wandy’s Girl, who finished a close second in 2013. He also won in 2011 with Harissa and in 2008 with Golden Dawn.

Princess Violet won four of her eight starts last year at 3, with all of her victories coming by three lengths or more. She beat older New York-breds in the 1 1/16-mile Empire Distaff Handicap at Belmont Park in October, and then, after dropping too far back, she was flying in the stretch of the one-mile Go for Wand but came up a nose short.

“She didn’t break,” Hushion said. “I think seven-eighths should be right in her wheelhouse.”

:: BARBARA FRITCHIE: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s Laurel Park card live

Key contenders

Sam’s Sister (Last 3 Beyers: 88-87-77)

* In her last two races, both at seven furlongs, the six-furlong split has gone in 1:08 and change, and the final time has been 1:22 and change, meaning she has been closing into soft 13-and-change final quarters.

Princess Violet (Last 3 Beyers: 96-93-90)

She was taken to Florida after the Go for Wand and has worked six times at Palm Meadows. She was vanned to Hushion’s Belmont barn last week.

“I’ve kept her in light training, just let her relax a little and get a little sunshine,” he said. “I’ve been pointing to this race a long time.”

Will have to work out a trip from the rail. Runners starting from post 1 in races under a mile at Laurel are 11 for 94 (12 percent) since Jan. 1.

Best Behavior (Last 3 Beyers: 92-78-82)

Is stepping up in class here, but her speed makes her dangerous since Sam’s Sister, Princess Violet, and Expression are all late runners.

:: DRF Live: Watch live handicapping analysis of Saturday’s biggest races, starting at 12:30 Eastern

Lady Sabelia (Last 3 Beyers: 91-97-99)

May be overlooked in the wagering. Her last three races have been strong, and she is tractable enough to work out a good trip from post 9.

Expression (Last 3 Beyers: 84-77-78)

She is in top form for Charlton Baker, who claimed her on his own behalf out of a maiden race for $35,000 in January 2012 and has run $352,000 out of her.

A closer, she has been running six furlongs and should benefit greatly from the extra furlong here.