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Jockey Jose Ortiz celebrates with owner Morris Kernan after winning the Dinner Party Stakes withe Somelikeithotbrown on the 2021 Preakness undercard.
The COVID-limited 10,000 paying spectators in attendance at Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes (G1) were treated to a marathon 14-race card with the first race, the Sir Barton Stakes, off at 10:33am. Conditions were excellent, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70's, the main track rated fast and the turf course firm. Total betting on the card was a record $113.41 million, the first time handle exceeded $100 million and up 13.6% over the previous record set in 2019. This was the final card of racing to be run over the original Pimlico track as the facility will soon be demolished and a new racing surface built in time for the 2022 running.
Immediately before the Preakness, a field of 8 older horses contested the $250,000 Dinner Party Stakes (G2) over 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The race had been run as the Dixie Stakes for several years but reverted to its original name last year. Maker's Mark Mile (G1) third place finisher Sacred Life was sent off as the 6-5 favorite over 11-4 second choice Somelikeithotbrown, 7th in the Maker's Mark Mile, and 4-1 third choice Kuramata, making his stakes debut off 2 allowance wins.
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. sent 30-1 longest shot Flying Scotsman to the lead through fractions of 23.78, 47.33, and 1:10.52 while pressed by Somelikeithotbrown and stalked by 9-1 Bye Bye Melvin and 14-1 Talk or Listen. Turning for home Flying Scotsman tired badly as Somelikeithotbrown inherited the lead through 1 mile in 1:34.17. Kept to task by Jose Ortiz, Somelikeithotbrown outfinished Talk or Listen to win by 1 length in a new course record 1:40.09, 15/100 second faster than Inside Out's previous record from 2016. It was a head back to 19-1 Midnight Tea Time third, and 1/2 a length more to favorite Sacred Life fourth.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Somelikeithotbrown in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Mike Maker said, "Jose and I talked about it. Last time that horse [Flying Scotsman] broke a step slow, came to our outside and he never settled in the Makerís Mark and it cost him in the end. I told Jose, 'If the horse goes, letís see if we canít get to the outside of him and see you in the winnerís circle.' He just doesnít seem to fire his A game at Gulfstream. After [the Dec. 12 Fort Lauderdale], we decided just to give him the winter off and point to this year."
Right: Somelikeithotbrown in the post parade. Winning jockey Jose Ortiz said, "I have ridden this horse before in the Breedersí Cup Juvenile Turf as a 2-year-old, and it has been a long time since I have ridden him. Heís matured a lot. He showed me some speed early on, and I got him to relax on the first turn and that was the key. He relaxed nicely and from the half-mile pole to the 3/8ths pole I was just waiting and waiting and when I asked him to go he did."
Left: Second place finisher Talk or Listen heads out to the track. Trainer Arnaud Delacour said, "They were all bunched up together. I thought we had a great trip. Flavien [Prat] did a great job and the horse was there for him, so I'm delighted. I'll have to see how he comes back. I wouldn't mind to run him a little bit longer."
Right: Third place finisher Midnight Tea Time returns after the race. Trainer Joe Sharp said, "We were really happy. Obviously, this was a big step up from his last race, but heís just a horse that has continued to move forward as heís gotten older. [Owner] Frank [Corigliano] has been patient with him and given him the right amount to time and spacing and breaks when he needed them. He just keeps on taking us to fun places and showing up every time. Thatís all you can ask for."
Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Sacred Life in the post parade. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "He tried really hard. Today just wasnít his day. He is developing himself. I tried hard to get him closer, but he is a European horse and you canít rush him too much. All his races, he comes from behind. They just didnít come back to me."
Left: The King Cheek gets hosed off after the race. Winning Trainer Jamie Ness said, "The favorite came up inside us, it looked like, uh-oh. But he re-engaged and it was a hard-fought battle right to the wire, and luckily we got in front. I always thought he was a two-turn horse. I thought about putting him on the grass today for the first time."
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Hozier returns after the race. Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, said, "He ran a very good race. [Jockey] Joel [Rosario] thought he made the right move, getting down to the inside. Give a lot of credit to the horse that won. He fought back on and passed us."
Left: Mighty Mischief returns after the race. Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said, "This is a nice horse. We have a lot of confidence in him. We've always loved this horse from Day 1. He's improved a lot. They let me walk the first quarter. I was really happy. He was really comfortable. The first quarter, when they let me walk in 23 [seconds], I knew I was going slow. I knew he was going to accelerate for home, and I just waited for company to come back to me. And when they came close to me, I had a lot left."
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Jaxon Traveler in the post parade. Trainer Steve Asmussen said, "The race might have been a little quick back for Jaxon Traveler. He didnít have as much speed as he normally does, and the race got away from him a little bit from the half-mile to the three-eighths. Jaxon Traveler has been a very versatile horse. Heís traveled, and being a Maryland-bred, [there are] Mid-Atlantic opportunities for him."
Left: Mean Mary in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Graham Motion said, "Could not have asked for a better comeback. I was a little nervous; first time sheís run without Lasix. Thatís all I said to Luis is to make sure she was settled. She wants to be pretty wound up. Perfect comeback. Couldnít have asked for anything better. It was perfect. I couldnít have asked for anything else, really. I didnít know that they would let her go that easy on the lead. My main concern was that she was settled, that she was relaxed."
Right: Mean Mary heads back to the barn. Winning jockey Luis Saez said, "She broke right there on her own. She was doing it pretty easy, and I knew I had a lot of horse. At the top of the stretch, I just let her run. She did it pretty easy. I didnít have to use my stick for nothing. Sheís been running with tough fillies. Today was a little easier. It was a little short for her, because she loves to go a mile and a half, thatís her distance. But with the layoff, it was perfect for her. Thereís a lot more horse there. I had so much horse."
Left: T D Dance in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "He has always trained really well. And I think he is improving mentally as time goes on. Hopefully, we can compete with the horses on the NYRA circuit in the 3-year-old division. That is the goal. He has been a horse, who in his last few races has been sort of leaning in a little bit. He seems to have straightened up a little bit. Javier said he galloped out really well and gave him confidence to think that he is a horse that would go further. He doesnít take a hold of the bit, but he is a horse that has learned to relax."
Right: T D Dance in the post parade. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "We had a great trip, a dream trip. We saved all the ground on the first turn. Even though it was a small field, I covered him up on the first turn. On the far turn, he cut the corner and finished up and galloped out strong. He took off when that seam opened. I told Brad that he could be really competitive at a longer distance."
The $100,000 Skipat Stakes featured a field of 7 older fillies and mares sprinting 6 furlongs. 10-1 Dontletsweetfoolya set the pace of 22.87 and 46.05 while pressed by 5-2 second choice French Empire and stalked by 6-5 favorite Chub Wagon. Entering the lane jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. moved Chub Wagon out for room and she took over through 5f in 57.76. Kept to task by Ortiz, Chub Wagon drew off to win by 2 lengths over late-running 3-1 third choice Casual in 1:09.71. It was a nose back to 7-1 Club Car third.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Chub Wagon in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Guadelupe Preciado said, "We wanted to try to [sit off the pace], and today was the perfect day. We wanted to see if she could rate in case, one day, we've got a lot of speed, we know whether we can do it or not. And it worked out good today. We know she can come from behind. She does whatever we ask of her. The first time I breezed her, you could see right away the talent. Any good horse you can see the way they do it."
Right: Chub Wagon heads back to the barn. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "She relaxed more. I broke out of there, I see the other horse had some speed, so I just went to Plan B. She relaxed. She did great. She was all class. When I asked her to run, she just went on like a nice horse. Her mind is getting better. The way she ran today, she looked like a really nice sprinter. She would be right there in the conversation with the good ones."
The $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint featured 13 older horses going 5 furlongs on the turf. Jockey Luis Saez sent 8-5 favorite The Critical Way to the lead through fractions of 21.92 and 43.95 while pressed by 10-1 Firecrow and stalked by 7-2 second choice Completed Pass. The Critical Way continued to lead to the 1/16 pole by Firecrow, confidently ridden by Joel Rosario, rallied late to win by a neck in a new course record 55.30. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Completed Pass third.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Firecrow in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Ron Moquett said, "I knew we would be near the front end early. I was leaning heavily on Joel [Rosario] to do the rest, and I thought he did a great job. Well, heís a stakes-winner on turf now, so I guess [heís better on] turf. Weíre tickled to death. We want to win these kinds of races on these kinds of days. It helps my owners. It helps my career. It helps the barn. We want to win big races on big days, and races that matter. Win percentage doesnít mean anything if you canít win the big ones."
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite The Critical Way in the post parade. Jockey Luis Saez said, "I had a good trip. He broke running and he just got beat. Heís a good horse. I thought he was going to get there. I saw the other horse. He was in hand at the top of the stretch. We tried to get the jump on him, but in the end, we could not hold on. Itís tough. He gave me everything. He was trying hard. It happens. Itís the game."
Left: Special Reserve in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Mike Maker said, "He was in at Oaklawn (for a $40,000 claiming tag on Feb. 6). We've got to have this horse, and we claimed him. He had a bit of a bleeding issue that we addressed and got taken care of, and the rest is history. We originally liked him because he was still eligible for two-other-than [allowances]. You never know in this game. I just gave a leg up to Irad [Ortiz Jr.] and said 'Good luck.í That was about it. He was going to be forwardly placed."
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Strike Power in the post parade. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said, "He ran hard and gave me everything he had. We had a good trip Ė just second best today."
Left: Paddys Day in the winner's circle. The Ramon Davila Aguayo trainee improved his record to 30 wins, 10 seconds, and 2 thirds in 51 starts, earning $749,925 for owner-breeder Jane Teutch.
Right: Paddys Day heads out to the track before the race.
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