American Pharoah draws rail, at 4-5
BALTIMORE – American Pharoah, the Kentucky Derby winner, on Wednesday landed the rail and was installed as the odds-on favorite for the 140th Preakness Stakes on Saturday here at Pimlico.
A field of eight entered the Preakness. From the rail out, the field is American Pharoah, Dortmund, Mr. Z, Danzig Moon, Tale of Verve, Bodhisattva, Divining Rod, and Firing Line. Mike Watchmaker,
national handicapper, has American Pharoah favored at 3-5. Dortmund, the Bob Baffert-trained stablemate of American Pharoah who was third in the Derby, is next at 7-2, with Derby runner-up Firing Line the third choice at 9-2.
Keith Fuestle, the linemaker at Pimlico, has American Pharoah at 4-5, Dortmund at 7-2, and Firing Line at 4-1.
Baffert said the draw was not ideal.
“I’m just glad we didn’t draw that for the Derby,” Baffert said. American Pharoah originally had post 18 in the Derby, and Dortmund post 8.
Having his horses side by side will make the start “easy to watch,” Baffert said.
“We have it, can’t do anything about it,” he said. “If he’s the best horse,” he said, referring to American Pharoah, “we’re going to find out.”
The lone surprise entrant was Mr. Z, who went into the race following a private sale Wednesday by his original owner, Ahmed Zayat, to the Calumet Farm of Brad Kelley. So, Zayat, who owns American Pharoah, will have as one of his rivals a horse he owned in the Derby and up until three days before the Preakness.
“They gave us an offer we could not refuse,” Zayat said in a phone call from Italy, where he was on a brief business trip.
Mr. Z, 13th in the Derby, was one of five Derby runners entered in the Preakness. But it’s the presence of American Pharoah, Firing Line, and Dortmund – the first three finishers from the Derby – that kept the overall size of the Preakness field down. If all eight start, this will be the smallest Preakness field since 2000, when Red Bullet upset Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.
American Pharoah arrived at Pimlico around 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday following a flight from Louisville, where he won the Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2. He continues to wear a protective plate on his left front hoof, as he has for weeks. Preakness runners Danzig Moon, Dortmund, Firing Line, and Tale of Verve also were on the flight.
The Preakness, at 1 3/16 miles, is 110 yards shorter than the Derby and is the shortest of the Triple Crown races.
Dixie Stakes draws a full cast
They might have had trouble rounding up enough horses for the Preakness Stakes, but that certainly wasn’t the case when it came to the Grade 2, $300,000 Dixie Stakes for older males.
An overflow field of 16 was
entered for the Dixie, one of seven stakes on the undercard of Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness program at Pimlico. Only 14 will be permitted to start in the Dixie, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf and the 12th race on the card, directly preceding the Preakness.
Lochte and Up With the Birds are Grade 1 winners, but the race features a rematch between Aripeka, Long On Value, and Legendary, the second-, third-, and fourthplace finishers behind Jack Milton in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland on April 10.
Long On Value could be an emerging talent for Bill Mott. He won the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream from off the pace before racing on the lead in the Maker’s 46 Mile and fading to third in a race run over soft turf. He got saddled with post 12 for the Dixie.
Another emerging talent is War Correspondent, who won the Grade 3 Appleton by a neck over Aripeka. He got stuck in post 13.
Skyring, who upset the 2013 Dixie at 24-1, is back in.
Gallorette Handicap draws 13
Watsdachances, second in the Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap last spring, and Hard Not to Like, second in the 2013 Gallorette, top a 13-horse field of fillies and mares entered for Saturday’s 64th renewal of the $150,000 Gallorette, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf.
This year, Hard Not to Like was disqualified from a win in the Grade 3 Endeavour and then finished third in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, a race she won last year. She drew post 7 for the Gallorette.
Watsdachances, who won her first two starts in this country at age 2, has gone only 1 for 11 since. She has not raced since finishing fourth in last year’s Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park. She’ll break from post 8.
Sistas Stroll, the winner of the Grade 3 Pucker Up last year, makes her second start off a layoff for Tom Proctor. Other contenders include Emotional Kitten, Mango Diva, Run of the River, and Cat’s Claw.
Happy My Way seeks repeat in Sprint
Happy My Way looks to end a year of frustrating defeats and earn a repeat victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Maryland Sprint Championship.
Since his victory here, Happy My Way has lost six straight, including runner-up finishes in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga and Frank De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel. In two starts this year, he has a third in the Sunshine Millions Sprint and a second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint.
In an eight-horse field, he’ll have to fend off the late run of Coup de Grace, a multiple graded stakes- winning sprinter who is coming off a third-place finish in a thirdlevel allowance race at Fair Grounds in March. In other Pimlico stakes:
Donworth and Fame and Power, second and third behind Preakness contender Divining Rod in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, head a field of nine entered in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for 3-yearolds at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.
Bold Conquest, third behind American Pharoah and Madefromlucky in the Rebel Stakes, drew post 5, while Fame and Power drew the rail and Donworth drew post 6.
Holy Boss, the winner of the Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn, and Gimme Da Lute, the winner of the Echo Eddie Stakes at Santa Anita, top a field of 11 entered in the $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.
Ageless, who won the The Very One last year, and Shrinking Violet, the winner of the Grade 2 Monrovia at Santa Anita in January, head a field of 11 entered for the $100,000 The Very One at five furlongs on turf.
Force the Pass, the winner of the Cutler Pass Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and Bluegrass Singer, the winner of the Parx Derby, head a field of eight entered in the $100,000 James Murphy for 3-year-olds scheduled for a mile on turf.
Belmont: La Verdad faces four in Vagrancy
Headed by dual Grade 2 winner and 121-pound highweight La Verdad, a field of five fillies and mares was drawn Wednesday for Saturday’s 65th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park.
Coming off a second consecutive score in Aqueduct’s Distaff, La Verdad breaks from the rail in the 6 1/2-furlong Vagrancy, which is carded as the sixth of 12 races; post time is 2:59 p.m. Eastern.
Set to oppose La Verdad are two fillies trained by Kiaran Mclaughlin, Sustainable and Mamdooha; and two mares trained by David Jacobson, Room for Me and Frivolity.
There will be no show wagering on the Vagrancy.
Also on tap is the $100,000 Wait a While Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, which is scheduled for the Widener turf at seven furlongs and positioned as race 10 at 5:38 p.m. Eight were entered for the grass, headed by Sunset Glow, the winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and Grade 2 Sorrento on Del Mar’s recently removed Polytrack.
Dortmund finished third after setting the pace in the Derby.