02/10/2016 2:30PM

Lady Sabelia's connections hope history repeats itself in Fritchie

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Lady Sabelia will attempt to win the Barbara Fritchie for the second time on Saturday at Laurel Park.

The Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park on Saturday has an eerily familiar ring to it. In 2015, the locally based Lady Sabelia faced a red-hot 4-year-old shipper who went off favored. Last year, that role was filled by Sam’s Sister. On Saturday, it will be Hot City Girl.

Even the weather figures to be about the same for this edition of the Fritchie. The coldest temperatures of the season are expected this weekend, just in time for Laurel’s two-day Winter Carnival.

Nothing would make trainer Robin Graham or owners Frank and Virginia Wright happier than if the Fritchie results mirror those of last year, when Lady Sabelia took jockey Horacio Karamanos to the lead and never looked back while winning by 1 1/2 lengths.

“It would be huge to repeat in this race,” Graham said. “Whenever you can win a graded stakes at home, it’s special. And this is such an old race, it seems to have always been around.”

The Fritchie has been run since 1952. Four horses have won the race twice, the most recent being Xtra Heat in 2002-03. Xtra Heat, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2001, won 26 of 35 career starts.

Lady Sabelia, 6, has raced only 18 times. Her 10 wins include seven stakes. She comes into the Fritchie off victories in the Willa On the Move Stakes at Laurel and the Pumpkin Pie at Belmont Park.

Graham and the Wrights have discussed retiring Lady Sabelia, but those plans are on hold.

“If everything stays the way it is now, we’ve kind of decided to run her again this year,” Graham said. “The reason she’s doing what she is now is because the Wrights gave her time whenever she needed it. There was never an agenda or a plan. We’ve always just run her when she was right.”

Lady Sabelia is distinctive on the track because she races with a plastic bubble over her right eye, which has been susceptible to ulcers since the end of her 3-year-old season. Her eye flared up following her Dec. 5 win in the Willa On the Move.

“It’s just one of those things,” Graham said. “There’s never any warning, but it will swell up and make her uncomfortable. Having been poked in the eye myself, I know an injured eye will make you feel bad all over.”

Graham said Lady Sabelia’s eye is fine now and that the 10-week break between races is not a concern. Lady Sabelia has won following much longer layoffs three times in her career.

“She has a ton of class,” Graham said. “She listens to what you want her to do, and then she does it.”