06/24/2017 4:56PM

Special Envoy noses Rose Brier in Edward Evans Stakes

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Special Envoy paid $5.80 in winning the Edward Evans Stakes at Laurel on Saturday.

The name Rose Brier pops up all over in the running lines of Special Envoy, and until Saturday at Laurel Park Rose Brier had won every battle. But in the $75,000 Edward Evans Stakes, Special Envoy finally turned the tables. Kept right off the flank of Rose Brier throughout the one-mile grass race, Special Envoy came hard through the final half-furlong to get his nose down just before the wire.

“We really prepped him for this race,” winning trainer Arnaud Delacour said. “Everything went very well.”

Rose Brier, the 3-10 favorite who won the 2016 Evans, went to the front under Edgar Prado, but Daniel Centeno on Special Envoy focused from the start on keeping Rose Brier well within range. Rose Brier set solid splits of 24.03, 47.86, and 1:10.58 as the top two ran away from the rest of the field,  and after briefly getting away from his pace rival in upper stretch, Rose Brier was reeled back in by Special Envoy.

The margin of victory was a nose, the time for the mile on firm turf a good 1:34.38. It was another 5 1/4 lengths back to Speed Gracer in third.

Special Envoy paid $5.80 to win as the strong second choice in a field of six Virginia-breds. Galaxy Express was scratched.

A 6-year-old gelding bred and owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, Special Envoy won for the sixth time in 20 starts and for the first time since March 2016. He’s a son of Stroll, out of the Cozzene mare Diplomacy.

Queen Caroline controls Cox

Queen Caroline on paper was the best horse in the $75,000 Nellie Mae Cox Stakes, a one-mile turf race for Virginia-bred fillies and mares, and once she was clear on an easy lead Saturday, the Cox was a wrap.

Queen Caroline set slow splits of 25.16, 49.75, and 1:12.50 while never pressured. She dashed away from her pursuers at the top of the stretch and beat Armoire to the finish by 1 1/4 lengths, with Complete St. third by the same margin. Queen Caroline, winning the Cox for the second year in a row, clocked 1:36.24 over firm turf and paid $3.60.

"I had a lot of horse,” winning jockey Alex Cintron said. “First time she ran on the lead with me, and she felt so happy there. Today she was much the best.”

Queen Caroline, a 4-year-old filly by Blame out of Queen’s Plaza, by Forestry, won the Cox as a 3-year-old last year before twice beating open stakes company in 3-year-old filly turf stakes at Indiana Grand. Queen Caroline, who is owned by Amy Moore, had been sixth and fourth against stronger competition than she faced Saturday in her first two starts this year.
“It was a good race to give her a lot of confidence,” said Michael Matz, who trains the winner.