Youth Versus Experience in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 14th, 2018

Veterans, up-and-comers, specialists sticking with their forte, plus newcomers looking to shake things up—there’s something for everyone in Friday’s $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse.

Held at five furlongs on turf, the Jim McKay Turf Sprint has attracted ten horses that bring a wide variety of form and experience into the race. For example, there’s the unbeaten Imprimis, a lightly-raced four-year-old that compiled a perfect 3-for-3 record in five-furlong turf sprints at Gulfstream Park over the winter. The Joseph Orseno-trained colt will be making his stakes debut, but looks like a rising star in the turf sprint division with a chance to make a big impact on Friday.

In contrast, there’s Hogy, a veteran with 51 starts under his belt. Despite being nine years old—more than twice as old as Imprimis—Hogy has been in great form this year, with a victory in the one-mile Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. III) being his most noteworthy achievement. But he’s still effective going five furlongs, as he showed while winning the Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint Stakes at Sam Houston in January.

The eight-year-old Oak Bluffs is another experienced competitor with 15 wins from 40 starts. Following  a series of runner-up efforts in turf sprints at Gulfstream, the son of Defrere broke through with a narrow victory in a five-furlong allowance race on February 18th, his most recent start.

But not all of the Jim McKay entrants are proven five-furlong sprinters. Quite to the contrary, Field of Courage has never competed over this distance and will be cutting back off a fifth-place finish in the seven-furlong Elusive Quality Stakes at Belmont last month. Unbridled Daddy will be making an even more dramatic shift in race conditions, as the son of Scat Daddy has spent the majority of his career running a mile or longer, and his last five starts have come on dirt.

Rocket Heat, long a competitor on the California circuits, was recently claimed and brought to Maryland, where he won an allowance sprint at Laurel Park on April 15th. It was a quality victory too, as the runner-up—Triple Burner—is an accomplished stakes-placed runner based in Maryland.

Dubini, who boasts four wins from eight starts, will seek to rebound from a series of losses against tough company, while Pool Winner—a stakes winner at Monmouth Park—will seek to do the same. Rounding out the field is Vici, who has been competing admirable in allowance races at tracks in Kentucky, New York, and Florida.

The Jim McKay Turf Sprint is the tenth race of the day, with a post time of 4:14 p.m. Eastern.