Updated on 02/17/2017 12:44PM

McLaughlin has solid duo for Barbara Fritchie

Joe Labozzetta/NYRA
Takrees won the Interborough at Aqueduct on Jan. 22.

The Maryland Jockey Club has tightened up its traditionally two-day Winter Festival at Laurel Park into a single six-stakes card this year, and the result packs an undeniably stronger punch.

The festival is topped by two seven-furlong races, the Grade 2, $300,000 Barbara Fritchie and the Grade 3, $250,000 General George, which are supported by four $75,000 stakes. The one-mile Miracle Wood and seven-furlong Wide Country are for 3-year-olds, and the 1 1/8-mile John B. Campbell and 1 1/16-mile Maryland Racing Media are for older runners.

The six stakes are slotted as the final races on the 10-race card and will make up all of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 and the 12-percent-takeout late pick five. The card will be streamed live on DRF.com. The weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high temperature in the mid-60s.

The Fritchie, for fillies and mares, has drawn a highly competitive field of eight. Kiaran McLaughlin, who swept the exacta last year with Dancing House and Clothes Fall Off, is back this year with Takrees, who closed like a shot to win the Interborough at Aqueduct in her last start, and Clothes Fall Off, who tossed her head at the start and got away poorly in that race en route to a fifth-place finish while making her first start in nine months.

“We were very pleased with the way Takrees closed to win the Interborough,” McLaughlin said. “We’d like to get a Grade 2 win under her belt. Clothes Fall Off was a little rusty in the Interborough, but she’s always been a nice filly and should improve off that race.”

Irad Ortiz Jr., the leading rider at Aqueduct, has a return ride on Takrees. Rajiv Maragh, who has been red-hot in February while winning with nine of his 31 Aqueduct mounts through Wednesday, will be aboard Clothes Fall Off.

High Ridge Road and By the Moon, the first- and second-place finishers in the one-mile Thirty Eight Go Go at Laurel on Dec. 31, also figure as major players.

By the Moon, trained by Michelle Nevin, took jockey Victor Carrasco to the lead on the far turn of that race. She was headed by the Linda Rice-trained High Ridge Road in upper stretch, and the two put on a spirited battle to the wire, with High Ridge Road prevailing by a half-length.

“She relishes a one-turn mile,” Rice said of High Ridge Road. “I’m sure she’ll run well cutting back to seven furlongs. The question is whether others in the race will like the distance better than she will.”

By the Moon, 5, is zeroing in on a million dollars in earnings. The shorter distance of the Fritchie may work to her advantage.

“You could say perhaps he moved just a little too soon,” Nevin said, “and maybe a mile is just taking her a step farther than what she truly wants to do, but I was still pretty happy with her.”

High Ridge Road earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure in the Thirty Eight Go Go, while By the Moon was given a 98. They are the highest recent figures in this field.

Of the others, Wonder Gal will be cutting back in distance off her 13-length victory in the mile-and-70-yard Ladies at Aqueduct; Sweet On Smokey will be stretching out from her six-furlong score in the What a Summer at Laurel; and Regia Marina is coming off a November win in the Mahoning Valley Distaff in Ohio.

If that isn’t enough, the Kelly Breen-trained longshot Rowd E Allie has the best early speed in the lineup and may make an open lead while shooting for her fourth straight win.

Barbara Fritchie, Race 9

Key Contenders

By the Moon, by Indian Charlie
Last 3 Beyers: 98-87-98

◗ Winner of the Grade 1 Frizette in 2014, she has turned in some very strong races over the years, such as her close seconds in the Grade 1 Ballerina last summer and in the Grade 1 Acorn in 2015.

◗ Has good stalking speed and should be in the game from the beginning.

Takrees, by Daaher
Last 3 Beyers: 88-78-80

◗ A deep closer, she received a nice pace setup in the Interborough as runner-up Disco Chick and third-place Hot City Girl prompted each other early. The pace Saturday may not be as lively.

High Ridge Road, by Quality Road
Last 3 Beyers: 99-85-86

◗ Bled through Lasix when fourth in the Lady’s Secret at Monmouth Park in July, according to Rice. She was turned out after that race but has put in two sharp efforts since, just missing in the Grade 3 Go for Wand and then winning the Thirty Eight Go Go.

Wonder Gal, by Tiz Wonderful
Last 3 Beyers: 96-85-80

◗ Has always had a lot of quality and comes into this at the top of her game for trainer Leah Gyarmati. At this level of competition, though, the distance may be a little short for her.

– additional reporting by David Grening

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated where the What a Summer Stakes was run. It was at Laurel, not Aqueduct.