02/08/2017 12:47PM

Big day for Maryland runners in graded stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Prior to winning the Holy Bull, Irish War Cry had won two straight starts in Maryland.

Maryland racing pulled off a somewhat amazing triple last Saturday when Laurel Park-based El Areeb scored his fourth consecutive victory in the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct and Irish War Cry and Tequilita won Grade 2 stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Holy Bull Stakes winner Irish War Cry, trained by Graham Motion, and the Michael Matz-conditioned Tequilita, the $31 winner of the Forward Gal, were based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., during their 2-year-old seasons before being shipped to Florida in late fall.

Irish War Cry, now 3 for 3, had made both of his prior starts at Laurel. Tequilita, owned and bred by Matz’s wife, Dorothy, had raced three times at Laurel between July and November. She also started at Saratoga and Keeneland.

In her race prior to the Forward Gal, Tequilita won the $100,000 Smart Halo Stakes at Laurel by a half-length over Star Super, who has since finished second in the Gin Talking Stakes and won the Marshua.

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Irish War Cry followed up his debut maiden victory at Laurel with a determined nose victory over O Dionysus in the Marylander Stakes. O Dionysus has since finished second in the Frank Whiteley Jr. at Laurel.

El Areeb has won his last four races by sizable margins. Since Oct. 15, he has romped in a maiden race, the James F. Lewis III at Laurel and a pair of Grade 3 stakes at Aqueduct, the Jerome and Withers.

Mike Watchmaker, the national handicapper for Daily Racing Form, has ranked Irish War Cry as the fourth-best 3-year-old in North America and El Areeb as 10th in his Watchmaker Watch rankings, which can be found under the news tab at DRF.com. This week’s National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll of 3-year-olds has Irish War Cry as No. 1 and El Areeb as No. 5.

Not bad any way you cut it.