04/20/2017 2:40PM

Top of Mind ends layoff with Henry Clark Stakes

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Top of Mind has not raced since winning an allowance at Laurel on Oct. 29.

Top of Mind found a new lease on life when his connections put him on the turf last year. Top of Mind will seek his first stakes win Saturday when he takes on 12 runners in a salty renewal of the $75,000 Henry Clark Stakes, scheduled for a mile over Laurel Park’s turf course.

Trainer Rodney Jenkins put Top of Mind on the turf for the first time last June at Pimlico, and he won a $35,000 claimer by three lengths. He proceeded to win two of his next three starts, with a half-length loss to Blacktype in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Cup at Laurel.

“The jock lost his stick that day,” Jenkins said.

Top of Mind hasn’t run since winning a third-level allowance at Laurel last Oct. 29. He shows five works for his return, including a bullet five-furlong move in 59.40 seconds April 11.

“It’s his first race back from last year, but he’s doing all right, and I think he’s fit enough,” Jenkins said.

The field includes last year’s Clark winner, Rose Brier, an 8-year-old gelding who is 4 for 4 over Laurel’s turf course. Rose Brier hasn’t run since finishing fifth, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths by longshot Flatlined, in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale at Gulfstream in January.

“He came out of the last race fine, no problems at all. We just gave him a little bit of time off,” trainer Jane Cibelli told the Laurel publicity department.

“Age is definitely not on his side anymore. It’s so tough at Gulfstream, and this horse goes out there and runs against some of the best horses in the country and never really gets beaten that badly by them, but he does get beaten.”

Trainer Graham Motion sends out the uncoupled entry of Ascend and Irish Strait. Ascend hasn’t run since winning a third-level allowance last October at Keeneland. Motion fears that the one-mile distance might be too short for him.

Irish Strait, a half-brother to Kentucky Derby contender Irish War Cry, was third in two starts at Tampa Bay Downs. Motion felt both races came up extremely tough.

“I thought both of his races were good,” Motion said. “He’s just improved.”

Best Bard, Xmas Sky, Silent Waters, Heiko, Marengo Road, Synchrony, Ghost Hunter, Talk Show Man, and Postulation complete the field.

Dahlia looks wide open

The Dahlia, like the Clark, drew a highly contentious field for $75,000.

Cambodia, a daughter of War Front trained by Tom Proctor, returns to Laurel, where she won a first-level allowance last October before venturing to Fair Grounds.

In New Orleans, Cambodia won a second-level allowance, then finished a close third in a pair of listed stakes. She turns back to a mile and could fall into a nice stalking trip under Chris DeCarlo.

Motion sends out the uncoupled entry of Danilovna and Catcha Rising Star. Motion said he has high hopes for Danilovna, a filly who was beaten a nose in a Grade 3 race at Santa Anita last October before finishing seventh, beaten only three lengths, in the Winter Memories at Aqueduct in November.

Trainer Shug McGaughey ships in All in Fun, who makes her 5-year-old debut in the Dahlia after ending her 2016 campaign with a last-place finish in the Grade 3 Athenia at Belmont.

“The whole thing with her is getting her to settle,” McGaughey said. “There’s plenty of horses in there, Edgar [Prado] should be able to settle her in.”

Primonetta Stakes

New York shipper Appealing Maggie may be the one to catch in Saturday’s $75,000 Primonetta Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

Appealing Maggie is making her first start since finishing last in the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga last September. Trainer Mike Hushion said Appealing Maggie emerged from that race with bruised feet.

Prior to that, Appealing Maggie won the Miss Woodford Stakes at Monmouth, dueling through swift early fractions and still drawing off. DeCarlo has the call.

Sweet on Smokey, a four-time winner at Laurel, drops back into a listed stakes after finishing sixth at 59-1 in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie.

Bodacious Babe, Next Best Thing, and Stormy Sky are other contenders in the field.