11/12/2015 2:31PM

Hot City Girl has momentum coming into Safely Kept

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Hot City Girl wins the Charles Town Oaks on Sept. 19.

The five $100,000 stakes that lead up to the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park on Saturday cover a lot of territory and should keep everyone entertained until the featured race arrives. The Richard W. Small is for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, the City of Laurel and Safely Kept are for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the James F. Lewis III and Smart Halo are for 2-year-olds at six furlongs.

The races have attracted a number of out-of-towners, including New York-based Hot City Girl, El Kabeir, and Paulassilverlining and Marylanders Page McKenney, Legendary, Gypsy Judy, and Lake Sebago.

The undercard stakes are spotted as races 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9, with the De Francis going as the 10th.

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◗ The most wide open of the undercard stakes appears to be the Safely Kept, for 3-year-old fillies.

Hot City Girl, a daughter of City Zip trained by Linda Rice, is improving with each start. Since being freshened over the summer, she has won the Grade 3, $350,000 Charles Town Oaks at seven furlongs around two turns and a 6 1/2-furlong, second-level race at Belmont Park. The 92 Beyer Speed Figure she earned last time out is the highest lifetime figure in the field.

Paulassilverlining, a Grade 2 winner trained by Michelle Nevin, will be making her first start since April. Gypsy Judy spent the summer racing two turns on turf for Robin Graham but won the Wide Country Stakes going seven furlongs on dirt at Laurel in February.

Lake Sebago is also an interesting possibility. She won a pair of Laurel stakes at 2 late last year, then went to the sidelines in early spring. She was moving well late in her comeback race, a turf sprint, and Jerry Robb has worked her twice for this.

John Terranova switches turf/synthetic specialist Ancient Goddess to the main track for this race and adds blinkers to her equipment.

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◗ Terranova has entered the three-time graded stakes winner El Kabeir in the City of Laurel Stakes.

El Kabeir, owned by Zayat Stables, was entered in the Kentucky Derby but was scratched with a foot injury. He returned to the races in the seven-furlong Bold Ruler but tired in the stretch to finish last in the five-horse field.

“He came back absolutely fine,” Terranova said. “We blew him out Tuesday. Everything’s been good. We’ve kind of been scratching our heads over it.”

Although El Kabeir is stabled at Belmont, his only two off-the-board finishes have come there. He returns 14 days after the Bold Ruler.

“We absolutely would not be considering it if he wasn’t 100 percent,” Terranova said. “He’s run well on short rest for us before.”

◗ Page McKenney is based at Pimlico with trainer Mary Eppler, but the Richard W. Small will be his first home-state start since he finished second in the Pimlico Special in May. He has since been third in the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows, second in the West Virginia Governor’s at Mountaineer, won the Pennsylvania-bred Robellino at Penn National, and been second, beaten a nose, in the statebred Roanoke at Parx.

The 12-time winner of $860,178 has not finished worse than third in his last 19 races, dating back to April 2014.

Legendary will make his first career dirt start for trainer Niall Saville. In four seasons of competition, Legendary has made all 26 of his starts, both in Britain and the United States, on either turf or synthetic.

Legendary most recently finished fourth at Belmont in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker, a race he won last year.

◗ The James F. Lewis III and Smart Halo are both wide open.

King Kranz, second in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont for Terranova and Zayat Stables, and Awesome Speed, a sharp maiden winner at Laurel for Alan Goldberg, are top contenders, along with the Rudy Rodriguez-trained Voluntario and the 2-for-2 Never Gone South, trained by Cathal Lynch.

In the Smart Halo, for fillies, Keeneland maiden winner Twirl Girl, trained by Joe Sharp, looks well spotted, as does the Todd Pletcher-trained Lost Raven.