Multiple G1 Winner A.P. Indian Targets $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3)

Maryland-Based Eclipse Award Finalist to Make Local Debut in Six-Furlong Stakes
 
BALTIMORE – Though he is based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. near the border with Pennsylvania, circumstance and opportunity have kept A.P. Indian from racing in his home state. The anomaly ends Saturday, as Green Lantern Stables’ star sprinter is set to make his next start in the $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) at historic Pimlico Race Course.
 
The 31st running of the Maryland Sprint at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up is one of eight stakes, four graded, worth $2.55 million in purses on a spectacular 14-race Preakness Stakes (G1) Day program highlighted by the 142nd running of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. First race post time is 10:30 a.m.
 
A.P. Indian, 7, will be making just his second start of the year in the Maryland Sprint, coming off a game runner-up effort in the seven-furlong Commonwealth (G3) April 8 at Keeneland, his first race in five months. He has tuned up with three straight bullet works at Fair Hill, most recently going a half-mile in 48.60 seconds May 15.
 
“I thought his last race was a very gutsy effort. It was a good performance and he came back very well,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said. “He’s been breezing every week and looks like he’s ready to go again. We’re excited to bring him back to the races.
 
“He bounces back from his races quickly. He’s an older horse and he’s a tough little horse, as well. It’s going to be six weeks between the two races and that’s kind of what we wanted,” he added. “We don’t really want him to run too hard too early. Hopefully he can be at his prime in late spring and the summer. That’s what we’re aiming for and I think the timing of the Pimlico race makes sense.”
 
A.P. Indian enjoyed a coming-out party 2016, winning six of seven starts including five consecutive stakes from June to October, topped by the A.G. Vanderbilt (G1) and Forego (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. His lone loss came when fourth to Drefong in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 5, though he was later placed third following the disqualification of runner-up Masochistic due to a post-race positive.
 
A gelded bay son of Indian Charlie earned nearly $1.2 million of his $1.447 million bankroll last year and was an Eclipse Award finalist for champion sprinter, won by Drefong. Overall he owns 11 wins and has been worse than third only twice in 19 starts.
 
“It was kind of a breakthrough year for us to have a horse like that that can compete at the Grade 1 level in probably some of the best competition in North America. We were so delighted to be part of that, the history and the kind of races he won,” Delacour said. “He’s been nursed along for different little issues and everybody that’s been part of his career has done a great job to help bring him back at his top at the time. Gradually I think he got there. Everything came together at the right time, I would say.
 
“It’s hard to duplicate something like that. That would be great but there’s also some new shooters in the division that in my opinion are pretty tough,” he added. “There’s a lot of nice horses around. As long as he gives his best effort and the horse is happy, that’s what we’re looking for now. It would be nice to win some of them again but he’s been good to us, so there’s no pressure there.”
 
Among A.P. Indian’s rivals will be Classy Class, an early Triple Crown prospect in 2015 for Cheyenne Stables and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin before being kept to shorter distances. With Rajiv Maragh aboard, he snapped a seven-race losing streak with a front-running two-length victory in a 6 ½-furlong third-level allowance April 13 on Aqueduct’s inner track in his most recent effort.
 
“It was a confidence-booster for the horse and for the jockey and owner and trainer. It had been a long time in between wins but he always has been a nice horse and trains well so we were definitely needing the win. It was nice for all of us,” McLaughlin said. “He’s a beautiful colt. After he won we were just looking for a spot and this was great timing with the five weeks and it’s good distance-wise, also.”
 
Laurel Park-based multiple stakes winner Never Gone South, trained by Cal Lynch for MMG Stables, returns to the dirt after a failed turf experiment April 29 at Belmont Park where he was seventh in the seven-furlong Elusive Quality. He is winless in eight starts since taking the 2016 Frank Whiteley at Laurel and has yet to win at six furlongs, but has two seconds from three tries.
 
Never Gone South was third at odds of nearly 38-1 in the seven-furlong General George (G3) Feb. 18 at Laurel, his only other graded stakes attempt.
 
“We’re assuming he didn’t like the turf. He had worked really well on it twice and I was going in there expecting him to run well. He just didn’t seem to handle it up there that day,” Lynch said. “We’re expecting he’ll run back. He’s worked good and came out of it good. He wasn’t too beat up in there so fingers crossed he’ll show up like he usually does on the dirt. It’s going to be a little salty. There’s some nice horses in there, but he’s got a right to be there. We’re expecting good things from him.”
 
Multiple stakes winner Awesome Speed, unraced since late November, makes his 4-year-old debut in the Maryland Sprint. He is joined by 2015 Amsterdam (G2) winner Holy Boss; Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) winner Whitmore and Laurel-based Not For Love winner Laki, both undefeated at six furlongs; multiple stakes winners Sonny Inspired and Awesome Banner and 2016 De Francis Dash (G3) runner-up Rockinn On Bye.