Locally-based horses appear ready to dominate the competition in the two statewide stakes races this weekend. The $50,000 Mike Rowland Memorial will be run Saturday at Thistledown and the two favorites come from the backstretch at River Downs. Two-time Ohio Horse of the Year Catlaunch keeps defying time under the cautious eye of trainer Ivan Vazquez. Now 10-years-old, Catlaunch won the Ed Babst Memorial in his seasonal debut and pushed his career earnings to $923,944. His main competition may come from Doug Cowans trainee Drummond Island. Winner of the Hoover Stakes here in 2009, the 4-year-old won the prep for the Rowland at Thistledown going wire to wire.
On Sunday River Downs will feature the $50,000 Green Carpet at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. None of the 3-year-olds have ever raced on the grass, but on any surface it appears Doug Cowans holds the strongest hand here. Trophy Boy comes into the race undefeated. Unraced at 2, he won his debut cruising to a five length win. He duplicated that effort a month later on April 16 at Beulah Park when he dominated 10 rivals in the $50,000 Howard B. Noonan Stakes. Trophy Boy indicated his readiness for the Green Carpet with a bullet five furlong workout here May 22. Stablemate No Garlic ran third in the Noonan and has a slight edge on his stablemate in seasoning. No Garlic won the Hoover Stakes last season and rounded out his campaign winning the one-mile Freshman Stakes at Thistledown.
According to Cowans, "Trophy Boy was not ready or developed last year, but now he's unbelieveable - he seems to improve each week, each day. He'll be awfully tough in there." No Garlic was voted the 2-year-old Ohio Champion last year. "The edge he (No Garlic) could have in the Green Carpet is that he has some grass breeding in his pedigree."
The Mike Rowland Memorial, named after the popular jockey who died tragically while riding in 2004, will be simulcasted on Saturday as the 7th race. The Green Carpet will take place as the 7th race on Sunday with an approximate post time of 3:45 p.m.