Berned can make big statement in Barbara Fritchie

Laurel’s biggest card of the winter meet takes place this Saturday and is headlined by the Grade II, $300,000 Barbara Fritchie Stakes for older female sprinters. The seven-furlong heat drew a field of 11. Post time for the Barbara Fritchie, Race 10 of 11, is 5:00 p.m. EST. As always, feel free to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#6 BERNED (6-1) ran a hole in the wind when last seen in Laurel’s Safely Kept Stakes back in November. She didn’t get much pace to close into but passed every horse in the field and drew off to win by over four lengths. This is a slightly tougher spot, but there are a lot of early speed types running in this race. That should give her the pace she wants to close into. BERNED doesn’t have the back class that some of her opponents possess, but she could move forward in her first start at four. Feargal Lynch maintains the assignment for Graham Motion.

#1 DIVINE MISS GREY (9-2) would probably prefer to stalk the early pace but will likely have to duel for the front from this post. However, she’s still very much a threat to take the Barbara Fritchie. DIVINE MISS GREY has won her last two by open lengths, including a score in the contentious Interborough Stakes at Aqueduct last time out. She’s 2-for-3 at seven furlongs and holds a similar record over wet tracks, which she might have to deal with on Saturday. Kendrick Carmouche will ship in for the mount.

#10 QUEZON (9-2) would benefit most if the rain falls in earnest before the Barbara Fritchie. She’s 4-for-7 over the wet and 3-for-4 all-time at seven furlongs. QUEZON’s also won two straight after struggling to find the winner’s circle at short prices for much of 2017. Joe Rocco Jr. has been aboard for each of those last two starts and has the call once more. QUEZON could have first run at the leaders at the top of the lane but must avoid losing too much ground on the turn from this post.

#11 HIGHWAY STAR (7-2, morning-line favorite) is the class of the field despite dropping her last two starts. She won three graded stakes in 2017 at three different distances, including the seven-furlong Distaff at Aqueduct and the one mile Ruffian over a sloppy track at Belmont (the 6.5 furlong Gallant Bloom was the other). Like QUEZON, she’ll also have to avoid going wide from this extreme outside post. There’s no rider listed on HIGHWAY STAR as of Friday afternoon.

The play: $10 win 6

DFJ analysis: Kendrick Carmouche has four mounts on Saturday, all in stakes races. Wentz (5-2, Miracle Wood Stakes) gives Carmouche his best chance for a win before he climbs aboard DIVINE MISS GREY in the Barbara Fritchie.

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