Updated on 12/10/2010 5:01PM

Side by Side back on short rest for Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship

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Trainer Richard Small is no stranger to sending out 2-year-olds on short rest for a late-season stakes at Laurel Park. For the third time in the last five years, Small will saddle a runner coming back in less than two weeks when he sends out the unbeaten Side by Side in Saturday’s $50,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, a 7 1/2-furlong race restricted to Maryland-breds.

The question for horseplayers is whether Side by Side, a winner of two straight narrow decisions, more closely resembles Guardian Spirit or Roaring Lion, two Small-trained horses who were both favored but ran vastly different races in Maryland-bred stakes for 2-year-olds.

In 2006, Roaring Lion returned six days after winning an allowance and scored as the 7-5 favorite in the Maryland Juvenile Championship. But a year later, Small tried bringing back Guardian Spirit nine days after she last ran and she flopped, beaten 16 lengths as the 8-5 favorite in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship.

Side by Side will be stretching out beyond six furlongs for the first time after defeating open maiden special weight company by a neck on Nov. 13 and then coming from off the pace to get up by a half-length in a first-level optional $50,000 claimer Dec. 1.

“She is a nice filly,” Small said. “The only question will be the quick turnaround but she came out of that race in fine shape.”

 

Side by Side is owned by Robert Meyerhoff's Fitzhugh LLC and will be ridden by Laurel's leading jockey, Forrest Joyce.

Fitzhugh, Small, and Boyce teamed up to win two races on Friday’s card at Laurel..

Side by Side's three main rivals in the field of six look to be Indian Tale, winner of her career debut in New York; Congaree Princess, a recent maiden winner going a mile; and Love’s Reason, the third-place finisher in the Maryland Million Lassie two months ago.

Indian Tale, trained by Carlos Martin, received a 75 Beyer Speed Figure that is the best in Saturday’s field for her 4 1/2-length win going 5 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct a month ago. She will be difficult to beat if she moves forward at all while stretching out in distance.

Congaree Princess is the lone filly in the Juvenile Filly Championship who has run well beyond six furlongs. She responded to the addition of blinkers by winning in the mud on Nov. 1. Her trainer, Hamilton Smith, is 3 for 11 with 2-year-old last-out maiden winners who have had more than 30 days to recover before their next start.

Love’s Reason adds blinkers for her first start since Oct. 25. Her trainer, Rodney Jenkins, shows 3 wins and 2 seconds in 7 starts with non-first-time starting 2-year-olds racing with blinkers for the first time. Love’s Reason worked a sharp five furlongs, presumably with the new equipment, in 1:01 from the gate on Dec. 4.