Miss Leslie kicks off Laurel stakes double for Paynter
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Paynter tallied a pair of stakes winners Saturday at Laurel Park, with Miss Leslie winning her stakes debut in the $100,000 Anne Arundel County, while Harper's First Ride made it four stakes wins in 2020 with his victory in the $100,000 Native Dancer S. 

Paynter, the sire of 2020 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Knicks Go, is the #1 Fourth-Crop sire with nine stakes winners and more than $6.2 million in progeny earnings. He is also the leading sire of black type horses for any sire standing for lest than $30,000.

Miss Leslie, 2, won the Anne Arundel in a three-horse photo after a dramatic stretch run. Sitting in sixth for the first six furlong, Miss Leslie came four-wide into the stretch as she and The Grass Is Blue chased Buckey's Charm, who had a two-length lead with a furlong to run. Despite the leader drifiting into her path, Miss Leslie forged to the lead in the final strides to beat the The Grass Is Blue by a head. 

“We were talking about it in the paddock and she broke pretty good. I saved the most ground I could, and she was relaxed,” jockey Roimes Chirinos said. “She wasn’t scared at all. She was just fighting to take the lead and she fought pretty good.” 

Miss Leslie has now won three starts in a row and is 3-1-1 in five outings and has earned $108,630. She is owned by BB Horses and was bred by Maxis Stables in Kentucky.

In the Native Dancer, Harpers First Ride put the finishing touches on an outstanding 2020 by defeating Forewarned by 3 ¼-lengths. Sent off as the heavy favorite, 4-year-old Harper's First Ride tracked longshot Saratoga Jack before taking command after six furlongs. Cordmaker mounted a challenge at the top of the stretch, but Harpers First Ride dismissed him easily and drew off for the convincing win.

“(Trainer) Claudio (Gonzalez) told me to get a good position and just sit behind the speed. The speed’s on the outside so [I] just [tried to] get him to relax and go on from there,” jockey Angel Cruz said. “At the top of the stretch I had so much horse, when I asked Harper he responded very well. When Cordmaker came by me I just sat patient and waited a little bit and when I asked him he responded for me. He’s just a game horse. He fights to the end.” 

Harpers First Ride won four of his last five starts this year, all of them in stakes – the Deputed Testamony, Pimlico Special (G3), Richard W. Small and Native Dancer. Bred by Sagamore Farm and owned by MCA Racing Stable LLC, the dark bay has earned $573,055 and is an excellent 10-2-1 in 17 starts.

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