Trainer Chad Brown shipped four horses to Laurel Park for stakes on Saturday. In less than a half-hour’s time Rymska and Taperge finished first and second in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Oaks and Projected and Catapult ran one-two in the day’s feature race, the Grade 2 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup.
“I’m very pleased with the performances of my horses,” Brown said. “I do not have any immediate plans for either Projected or Rymska.”
The complexion of the Turf Cup changed when 50-1 shot Xmas Sky ran off to a long lead in the one-mile race, forcing the riders of the other five runners to bide their time while keeping an eye on a distant target. Xmas Sky opened up by as many as 10 lengths on the backstretch.
On the far turn, Nick Juarez, the rider of 6-5 favorite Projected, and Catapult, ridden by Feargal Lynch, began to advance. Projected took the lead outside Xmas Sky nearing the furlong pole and pulled away to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Catapult, who drifted in momentarily in mid-stretch, held second by a nose over third-place Ring Weekend, who rallied in the stretch outside horses.
“I had a perfect trip,” Juarez said. “That horse set a fast pace and all I had to do was sit there and be patient.”
Projected paid $4.40.The Chad Brown exacta returned $10.60. The Brown exacta in the Oaks paid $32.
Projected was timed in 1:34.25 over a firm Kelso turf course. Xmas Sky cut out fractions of 23.60, 46.21, and 1:10.33. Projected covered his final furlong in 11.86 seconds following a seven-furlong split of 1:22.39.
The win was a big improvement over Projected’s prior effort, when he finished fifth in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga. Brown said earlier in the week that the yielding turf may have affected his performance that day.
Projected, who raced in France in 2014 and 2015, did not compete last year as a 4-year-old. He debuted for Brown at Gulfstream Park in March and is 2 for 7 with three seconds at age 5.