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small;">Silver Spring, MD --- Total purses for the Maryland Sire Stakes  (MDSS) and Maryland Standardbred Race Fund (MSRF) will amount to $1.85 million this year, up 8.1 percent from 2016, according to a schedule approved by the Maryland Racing Commission Thursday (April 27).


Cheri Stambaugh, administrator of the MSRF, said $1.35 million has been allocated for sire stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds; $100,000 for sire stakes for 4- and 5-year-olds; and $400,000 for MSRF stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds.


The MDSS program kicks off May 9-10 at Rosecroft Raceway with the 4- and 5-year-old open pace and 4- and 5-year-old open trot, respectively. The Rosecroft winter/spring meet ends May 31 with four sire stakes finals for 3-year-olds.


All MSRF events as usual will be held during the Casino at Ocean Downs meet.


In other business, the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) welcomed a new member, Clarissa Coughlin, whose family has a background in Standardbred racing. Her husband, trainer James, owns the promising 4-year-old Artistic Fella mare Arts and Flowers, who won a non-winners of two races lifetime condition pace April 25 for her second win in three career starts, all this year at Rosecroft.


James Coughlin said the mare, who lowered her lifetime mark to 1:55.2 with her latest victory, didn’t begin training until midway through her 3-year-old year. She was bred by Era Williams in New Jersey. Roger Plante Jr. has driven Arts and Flowers in all of her starts.


As the first 3-year-old sire stakes eliminations and final approach at Rosecroft, several eligible horses have qualified or raced to prep for the series. One of them, Dr. William Solomon’s 3-year-old Holy Guacamolie filly Holy Trout, won her 2017 debut from the outside post nine versus older trotters, most of them males, April 26 at Rosecroft.


Trained by Steve Le Blanc and driven by Plante, Holy Trout won the $40,475 MDSS final for 2-year-old trotting fillies at Rosecroft to end her 2016 campaign. Last year she won eight of 12 starts for earnings of $59,706.


Solomon, who owns and operates Pin Oak Lane Farm in Pennsylvania and breeds Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds, said he was pleased the filly came back a winner and credited Plante for a heady drive. Holy Trout’s time of 1:59.1 was a lifetime mark for the Pennsylvania-bred filly.