01/17/2013 3:26PM

Laurel: Ore Pass, Heat Press among multiple contenders in Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Alpha Mike Foxtrot overcame severe traffic trouble to win the Maryland Juvenile Championship, but will need to improve upon the 67 Beyer Speed Figure he earned that day to contend in Saturday's Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes.

Ore Pass, who romped in his career debut but regressed badly in his first against winners, and Heat Press, who earned a relatively high Beyer Speed Figure for trouncing maidens last month, are among the most intriguing prospects in a group of 10 3-year-olds entered for Saturday’s $100,000 Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes at Laurel Park.

The cast for the seven-furlong sprint also includes Keep the Canoli, who cuts back in distance following a strong two-turn stakes effort at Delaware Park in the fall, and Alpha Mike Foxtrot, upset winner of the Maryland Juvenile Championship.

At least one contender will not run, however. In the Fairway, whose 4-for-5 record includes three stakes at Charles Town, is expected to scratch in favor of Monday's Jimmy Winfield at Aqueduct.

Ore Pass crushed maidens by 10 3/4 lengths with an 87 Beyer in his career debut at Laurel, but flashed speed and faded to last as the 3-5 favorite facing first-level allowance sprinters at Parx on Jan. 5.

“I really don’t know what happened last time,” said jockey Julian Pimentel, who retains the mount on Ore Pass. “It was disappointing because we think he is a nice horse. When he won first time out, he did it so easy. He was pretty impressive that day. He broke out front and kept running. I don’t think he has to be on the lead to be successful Saturday. We’ll just see how the race develops. It looks like a wide-open race but if he runs the way he did first time out, he is going to be tough.”

Heat Press improved dramatically last time out while making his fourth lifetime start. Returning to Maryland following a pair of fourth-place finishes in Kentucky, Heat Press cruised to a 14-length win, earning an 83 Beyer Figure. On the downside, trainer Graham Motion is 0 for 4 with maiden winners on the main track cutting back to a sprint in their next start.

The New York-based Keep the Canoli won in his only previous trip to Laurel last September and followed up by finishing second by a nose in the mile-and-70-yard Dover at Delaware Park. The Dover looks like a strong race in retrospect. The winner, Vegas No Show, returned to finish second to the highly regarded Violence in the Grade 2 Remsen. Fifth-place Tour Guide won his next start in an optional claimer at Churchill Downs with an 83 Beyer.

Alpha Mike Foxtrot had to chec four times going down the backstretch and rallied from seventh to win the Maryland Juvenile Championship by 2 1/4 lengths. The Beyer came back a light 67, and he will need to run faster than that to beat the group he faces Saturday.