Grand Arch makes return in competitive Dixie

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

May 19th, 2016

Grand Arch, who proved himself one of America's top turf milers last season when taking the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and Fourstardave H. (G2), returns to action Saturday in the $250,000 Dixie (G2).

The historic 1 1/16-mile, which immediately precedes the Preakness (G1), has attracted a field of 13, with Grand Arch breaking from post 7 under Luis Saez. After narrowly prevailing in the aforementioned graded events, defeating such talents as 2015 Dixie winner Ironicus and The Pizza Man, Grand Arch concluded his campaign with a third to Tepin in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland.

The Dixie also marks the return of Ring Weekend, who has not raced since taking the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita in March of last year. The Kilroe was the Graham Motion-trained gelding's third graded score in his last four outings.

Also expected to garner wagering support are the Bill Mott-trained pair of Muniz Memorial (G2) winner Take the Stand and Grade 2 scorer Long On Value; 2015 Belmont Derby (G1) winner Force the Pass, third in the April 2 Appleton (G3) in his comeback; and multiple graded stakes winner Takeover Target, runner-up in the $100,000 Danger's Hour in his seasonal bow.

Here's a look at the other Preakness Day undercard stakes, a number of which are on turf and might be negatively affected by forecasted rain:

$150,000 Gallorette (G3): This renewal of the old 1 1/16-mile turf feature for fillies and mares is rather light on star power compared to recent years. Grade 3 scorers Tiger Ride, Ol' Fashion Gal, and Mizz Money might all be vulnerable to Josdesanimaux, a solid second in the Florida Cup Distaff Turf at Tampa Bay Downs in her debut for Mark Casse last out.

$100,000 Maryland Sprint (G3): Carter H. (G1) winner Salutos Amigos will attempt to run down Cinco Charlie, a multiple stakes-winning speedster from the Steve Asmussen barn, and Always Sunshine, whose only loss in his last four starts was a second to Salutos Amigos in the Tom Fool (G3), in this six-furlong feature on the main track.

$100,000 The Very One: Provided this five-furlong dash for fillies and mares does not fall victim to the rain and stays on the turf, Lady Shipman will be an overwhelming favorite. However, the world-class sprinter drew post 12 and faces the up-and-coming Exaggerated, who landed the $100,000 Giant's Causeway at Keeneland last month.

$100,000 Chick Lang: Justin Squared, Quijote, and Counterforce are the three likely betting choices, but Never Gone South could be effective cutting back from nine furlongs and Discreet Angel brings strong form in from Puerto Rico.

$100,000 James W. Murphy: Another race that could be affected by rain, this one-mile test for three-year-olds includes recent Rushaway winner He'll Pay, stakes winners Copingaway and Marengo Road, and the lightly-raced Aquaphobia.

$100,000 Sir Barton: This 1 1/16-mile feature for three-year-olds that have never won a stakes attracted a full field of 14. Dazzling Gem, third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1), faces off against American Freedom, beaten favorite in the Pat Day Mile (G3) two weeks ago, and the Todd Pletcher-trained pair of Donegal Moon and Gettysburg.

(NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)