03/15/2012 12:57PM

Laurel Park: Raconteur, Hakama land in softer spot for Private Terms Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Raconteur will get some class relief in in Saturday’s $100,000 Private Terms at Laurel Park.

A pair of colts who finished far behind two of this season’s top Kentucky Derby prospects in graded stakes last time out will attempt to regroup against easier competition in Saturday’s $100,000 Private Terms at Laurel Park.

Raconteur, a Todd Pletcher-trained runner whose chances plummeted from slim to none when he got off to a rough start facing Hansen in the Grade 3 Gotham two weeks ago, and the Maryland-based Hakama, who flashed speed and stopped against Alpha in last month’s Grade 3 Withers, should be far more prominent facing seven other 3-year-olds, all seeking their first stakes victory, in the one-mile Private Terms.

Raconteur, who will break from post 3 under Chris Decarlo, and Hakama, who retains regular rider Julien Pimentel from post 5, are two of the four Triple Crown nominees in the field, along with the 2-for-2 stretch-out sprinter Cop a Tude and recent maiden winner Street Life. Street Liife is expected to scratch in favor of the Broad Brush at Aqueduct.

Cop a Tude, trained by Graham Motion, will be ridden by Laurel's top rider, Sheldon Russell.

“I have been impressed with him and know Graham thinks highly of him,” Russell said. “This will be his first time going a route of ground but he showed in the sprints that he is fine behind horses and gallops out fine after the race so distance should not be an issue.”

Raconteur needed six starts to clear his maiden condition, but then displayed dramatic improvement in his first start against winners, when he rallied to win a first-level optional $75,000 claimer by three-quarters of a length while raising his Beyer Speed Figure from 61 to 80. That performance earned Raconteur a shot in the Gotham, but he lost all chance when he was bumped and steadied coming out of the gate en route to a seventh-place finish, 12 lengths behind Hansen.

Back-to-back wins over maidens and first-level optional claimers encouraged trainer Mike Trombetta to ship Hakama to New York for the Withers. He raced up close to the pace through the first six furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile race before backing up to finish last of six, more than 15 lengths behind Alpha.

The other intriguing horse is Brimstone Island, who stepped up off a $16,000 claim by trainer Bill Campbell to finish second in Laurel’s Miracle Wood behind The Lumber Guy, whose connections think highly enough of him that he will attempt to stretch out from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles for the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 7. In his two previous starts at a mile or longer, albeit against claimers, Brimstone Island won by a combined margin of 19 lengths.

◗ Saturday’s card will include the first two turf races of the year, a 1 1/16-mile maiden race for fillies and mares (race 5) and a 1 1/16-mile claiming race for $25,000 fillies and mares (race 7).