Cure The Blues, who has convinced local racing fans that he is the best young thoroughbred in America, will get his chance to establish a national reputation today.
He will meet six rivals, including two formidable invaders from New York, in the $159,360 Laurel Futurity. This is the event in which Maryland's last great racehorse, Spectacular Bid, sewed up the 2-year-old championship of 1978, and Cure The Blues will be favored to emulate his feat.
Despite the colt's shining record -- four straight victories by a combined margin of 32 lengths -- skeptics still are asking the predictable question: Whom has be beaten? Indeed, the answer is: Not much. Cure The Blues' only stakes victory came in the unfamous Marlboro Nursery Stakes at Bowie.
Today the colt will be tested by two performers of established quality, Noble Nashua and Well Decorated.
Noble Nashua won his first two starts in New York, then ran second in the prestigious Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, finishing 2 1/2 lengths behind Lord Avie, the pro-tem leader of the country's 2-year olds.After that performance, jockey Angel Cordero Jr. told trainer Jose Martin, "That's my Derby horse."
Cordero will ride Noble Nashua again today, making his first Maryland appearance since the Preakness, when his mount Codex "mugged" Genuine Risk and created a nationwide controversy.
Well Decorated, the other significant contender in the Futurity field, scored a victory over Lord Avie in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, then ran a disappointing fourth in the Champagne.Trainer Eugene Jacobs blames that performance on an infection that set back Well Decorated's training. But the colt's real problem may be an inability to go a distance, and he may not be able to handle the Futurity's 1 1/16 distance.
The other members of the field will be John's Roll, Matching Gift, Linnleur and Kan Reason. All seem to be in over their heads.
Bernie Bond, the trainer of Cure The Blues, says he doesn't know how his colt will handle such tough competition. "He's shown more at this stage of his career than any horse I've ever had," Bond declared, "but I don't know how he'll handle the heavy heads (top horses)."
Martin, Noble Nashua's trainer, echoed these same sentiments. "I don't think Cure The Blues has run against a top horse," he said. "The Futurity will be his first time in a decent race."
In fact, there is no reason to doubt that Cure The Blues will run well in high-class company. His previous performances have been demonstrably superior to those of his rivals in the Futurity. When he won the Marlboro Nursery he raced seven furlongs in a sizzling 1:23 2/5. None of the New York 2-year-olds has ever run nearly that fast.
If the Maryland colt has an obstacle today, it will be the race track, rather than the supposed class of his rivals. He will be breaking from the No. 1 post position on a track which has been hindering horses on the inside. The possibility of a muddy track adds another problem. "Your guess is as good as mine as to how he'll handle it," Bond said.