Laurel Park Barn Notes

MCA Racing Stable’s veteran campaigner Next Best Thing split horses leaving the backstretch, opened a clear lead down the lane and held off late-running If I Was a Boy to win the $75,000 Conniver by a length.

It was the first stakes victory for jockey Katie Davis, who escaped injury in a late-race spill one week ago, and Next Best Thing ($8.60), a 7-year-old mare making her 55th lifetime start for meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez.

“It’s amazing. I couldn’t thank Claudio’s crew and everybody enough; they pretty awesome to give me this opportunity,” Davis said. “I’m super excited for my first stakes.”

One Proud Gal ran the first quarter-mile in 24.34 seconds with 4-5 favorite Bawlmer Hon and Next Best Thing right behind. Davis, aboard for a one-mile optional claiming win March 4 at Laurel last time out, guided Next Best Thing between One Proud Gal and Bawlmer Hon after a half in 47.86 and took over the top spot, extending their lead around the turn.

Davis kept busy on Next Best Thing in the final furlong as If I Was a Boy made a late run along the inside but held sway, finishing in 1:24.40. Bawlmer Hon was 3 ½ lengths behind If I Was a Boy in third.

“She’s not an easy filly to ride. Just like in the morning, she’ll just rip your arms right out,” Davis said. “When I saw the opening I had to go or I knew I would be right up on them. I made the decision to scoot between them and she went right on by.”