Preakness Day Offers Thrills All Day and Night

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Ted Black

May 21st, 2017

Saturday's 142nd edition of the Preakness Stakes for three-year-old colts at Pimlico Race Course took center stage, but it was hardly the only thoroughbred or standardbred race that featured quality animals.

Much of the attention heading into the Preakness Stakes, as is typically the case, focused on Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, who splashed home through the sloppy surface at Churchill Downs to garner the run for the roses for trainer Todd Pletcher, who was made the 6-5 favorite in the Preakness. Classic Empire, last year's champion two-year-old colt, was the solid 2-1 second choice in the Preakness, retaining his role in that regard from the Derby where he suffered a troubled trip.

When the gate opened in the Preakness Stakes, Always Dreaming and Classic Empire both broke alertly to vie for command past the finish line the first time and through the clubhouse turn, while Cloud Computing, who one of the 'new shooters' in the field who had bypassed the Derby, broke well to sit just behind the dueling leaders as the two favorites set honest fractions of 23 flat and 46.4 over a track that was not conducive to fast clockings and may have been a second slower than the day before.

Always Dreaming and Classic Empire continued to battle down the backside and into the far turn where Classic Empire surged o command as the Derby winner had nothing to offer approaching the top of the lane. Classic Empire looked like a certain winner a furlong out, but Cloud Computing angled off the rail and took dead aim at the juvenile champion. Those two colts staged an epic battle through the lane where Cloud Computing posted a 13-1 upset by stopping the timer in 1:55.98, a solid clocking considering that Shaman Ghost had covered the same distance in 1:54.55 one day earlier in the Pimlico Special on a day when the track was at least a full second faster.

One race earlier on the card, World Approval became a millionaire in style when he captured the Grade II, $250,000 Dixie Stakes on the turf. One race prior to that, No Mo Dough recorded his third win in four starts when he captured the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for three-year-olds. Two races earlier on the card, Whitmore lived up to his role as the 6-5 favorite and his billing as one of the best sprinters in the land when he rallied from midpack and widest of all to edge A.P. Indian and longshot Awesome Banner to prevail in the Grade III, $150,000 Maryland Sprint Stakes by getting six furlongs in 1:09.90.

Several other stakes on the undercard had a decidedly Maryland flavor. In the $200,000 Chick Lang Memorial Stakes for three-year-old colts and geldings, Recruiting Ready maintained his razor sharp form by leading throughout to score in two lengths in 1:10.35. A sophomore son of Algorithms trained by Horacio DePaz for owner Sagamore Farm notched his second straight stakes and third straight tally overall and now sports four wins and nearly $310,000 banked from nine lifetime tries.

Several races earlier on the card, Everything Lovely displayed plenty of speed and some late grit as well to capture the $100,000 The Very One Stakes on the grass. A five-year-old daughter of Pollard's Vision bred in Maryland by Charles & Cynthia McGinnes, Everything Lovely recorded her first stakes score by getting the five panels in 57.93 and she now owns a 6-6-4 slate and $310,000 bankroll from 21 lifetime outings. Her score in The Very One was her first stakes tally.

That same evening at Yonkers Raceway, the three-year-old pacers of both genders were on display as the New York half-mile oval hosted eliminations for the Lismore Stakes for three-year-old fillies and the Art Rooney Memorial for three-year-old colts. Nearly one-half of the starters in the Lismore were eliminated from next week's $150,000 final, while only one colt was bumped from next Saturday's $300,000 Art Rooney.

Just before the midway point of the card, Agent Q (David Miller) overcame post seven to gain command in a 28,2 opener, got a breather to the half in 58.4 and then held safe the late bid of Tequila Monday to score in 1:55.1. It was her second win in as many starts to begin the campaign, while Maryland-bred Tequila Monday finished second for the second time in as many outings this season. Then one race later in the second Lismore elim, Big City Betty (Jim Marohn, Jr.) posted a 10-1 upset in 1:55.2 as longshot Gotthisonehanover (George Brennan) finished second.

Several races later in the $40,000 Art Rooney elim, Downbytheseaside (David Miller) lived up to his role as the 1-2 favorite when he overcame post nine in the second tier and an extended bid to gain command before the half in 55.4, raced unpressed down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:24 and held safe the late bid of Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley) to score in 1:52.2. One of last year's top juvenile colt pacers, Downbytheseaside has now won both of his starts this year and owns 10 wins in 15 career outings with earnings of more than $615,000.

Then one race later in the $55,000 Open Handicap for older pacers, a race that looked like a precursor to the lucrative, ultra-tough George Morton Levy Series that Yonkers hosts each spring, Mach It So (Brent Holland) ended a modest skid when he gained command soon after the start, got a breather to the half in 56.3 and sprinted clear of the pocket-sitting Guantanamo Bay to score by three lengths in 1:51.2. It was the first win in eight starts this year for Mach It So, a fixture in the Levy series and Bobby Quillen Memorial Invitational at Harrington Raceway.

Then one race later in a non-winners of $20,000 last five starts class for older pacers, The Real One (Pat Lachance) lived up to his role as the 1-2 favorite when he brushed to command down the backside and held sway late for a two-length score in 1:52.3. After four dull outings to begin his current campaign, The Real One has now won two straight races an the seven-year-old Mach Three gelding, who owns the Yonkers all-age track record of 1:50 flat, soared past the $750,000 plateau in career earnings and now appears to be headed back to the Preferred or Open ranks.

Speaking of promising three-year-olds, that same evening at Rosecroft Raceway, Bunkndunk (Russell Foster) kicked off the card by overcoming post eight to capture a non-winners of two races or $10,000 lifetime class in sharp style. A sophomore son of Rock N Roll Heaven trained by Brian Malone for owner Peter Paul Venturini, Bunkndunk raced parked to gain command in a 27.4 opener, got a breather by the half in 57.1 then sprinted clear in the lane to a four-length score in 1:53.4. It was his third straight tally and fourth win in  seven lifetime outings.

Then right at the midway point of the card, McKenry (Bret Brittingham) benefited from a pocket trip behind Captive Audience (Jonathan Roberts) through wicked fractions of 26, 54.4 and 1:22.3 then angled to the passing lane and surged home late to score handily in 1:50.2. McKenry has won six of 10 starts overall this year and prevailed three times in five local outings and kept his hopes alive for Rosecroft for horse of the meet.

Several races later in a non-winners of $4000 last five starts class for older pacers, Rocktavius (Roberts) lived up to his billing as the even-money choice when he wore down speedy 7-5 second choice Hickory Aloha (Timmy Offutt) to score in 1:51.4. A Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Megan Roberts, Rocktavius ended a modest two-month skid when he notched his second win in eight starts this year and now owns 11 wins from 44 career outings with earnings of nearly $58,000.

Then two races later on the card, Diamondkeeper (Roberts) rallied from well off the pace and third over to prevail as the 8-5 favorite in 1:52.3 in a non-winners of $2500 last five starts condition. A six-year-old Pine Valley gelding owned and trained by Basil Sapienza, Diamondkeeper posted his second win in his last three outings and his second triumph in 11 starts this year when he overhauled early leader Arpeggio Hanover (Russell Foster) to hand that aged pacer his 11th straight defeat to start the season. Diamondkeeper has now won 31 of 94 starts and banked over $293,000.

That same evening at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, Sams Triple Crown (Corey Callahan) rallied from well off the pace to prevail in a non-winners of two races or $20,000 lifetime class for younger pacers in 1:51.3. A three-year-old Art Official gelding owned and trained by Jerry Nock, Sams Triple Crown has won five of nine lifetime starts which included three straight outings at Rosecroft Raceway this spring.

Then two races later in the $20,000 Preferred at the Big M, Clear Vision (Brett Miller) maintained his sharp form when he rallied second over to overhaul 6-5 choice Dealt A Winner (Andy Miller) in the final yards for a neck score in 1:49. An 11-year-old Western Hanover gelding trained by Jennifer Lappe, Clear Vision recorded his fourth win in his last seven starts and he now owns a 4-3-3 slate and $130,000 bankroll from 13 seasonal tries as he nears $2.7 million in career earnings.

But one race later on the card, Lyons Snyder (Yannick Gingras) stopped the teletimer slightly faster when he brushed to command down the backside and then held safe Wakizashi Hanover (Victor Kirby) to score by a neck in 1:48.3. A four-year-old Well Said stallion trained by Jimmy Takter, Lyons Snyder recorded his first win in three tries this year and lowered his lifetime mark by two-fifths of a second. Wakizashi Hanover raced well in defeat and now sports a 1-4-2 slate and $57,500 banked from 11 seasonal outings.