Three Rules, Recruiting Ready Clash in $200,000 Maker’s Mark Chick Lang

Hedge Fund Looks to Make a Score in $100,000 Sir Barton
BALTIMORE – While the connections of Three Rules are counting on a return to sprints translating to a return to the winner’s circle, those of Recruiting Ready are looking to keep his momentum going in Saturday’s $200,000 Maker’s Mark Chick Lang at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The eighth running of the six-furlong Chick Lang is one of two stakes for 3-year-olds on the undercard of the 142nd Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. It is joined by the $100,000 LARC Sir Barton to benefit the TAA, contested at 1 1/16 miles.
Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, Inc., Tim Fitzgerald and Geoff Roy’s Three Rules was a multiple stakes winner at 2, opening his career with five consecutive victories at his Gulfstream Park base. The streak earned him a date in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), where he chased for a half-mile before finishing sixth behind eventual juvenile champion Classic Empire. Fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Classic Empire tries again in the Preakness.
Three Rules was on the Triple Crown trail to start 2017, running second in the Feb. 4 Swale (G2) and third in the Fountain of Youth (G2), the latter behind Preakness contender Gunnevera and Practical Joke, who also went on to run in the Derby. Three Rules set the pace into upper stretch in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby (G1) April 1, tiring to finish fifth behind Derby winner Always Dreaming. He was only two lengths and a head behind runner-up State of Honor.
“He ran good in the Fountain of Youth, and the Florida Derby was a great race,” trainer Jose Pinchin said. “He’s doing great. He’s had two real nice works since the race. He’ll probably be the favorite for the race. It should be the right spot for him.”
A dark bay or brown son of multiple graded stakes winner Gone Astray, Three Rules has four wins and a second from five career sprint races, winning the Florida Sire Dr. Fager by seven lengths in his only try at six furlongs.
“The owners wanted to cut back with him, stop sending him going long and get him back to sprinting,” Pinchin said. “I think he’ll handle it. It’s a cutback, but it’s a good cutback in his favor. I think he’s a better sprinter or miler than he is a route horse.”
Sagamore Farm’s Recruiting Ready takes a two-race win streak into the Chick Lang, both at six furlongs. The bay Algorithms colt, based at the Fair Hill Training Center with trainer Horacio DePaz, captured an entry-level allowance March 10 at Laurel Park before earning his first stakes victory in the Bachelor April 13 at Oaklawn Park.
“He’s definitely in good form right now. He had that confidence booster in the allowance race at Laurel and he was able to step it up again and go to Oaklawn on a track that he had never been on. Just being able to run consistent again and a very fast time as well was good,” DePaz said. “The confidence booster really helped him out. He’s really happy with himself. I really think that race at Pimlico will be right up his alley. He’s been there before, he likes it, and he won there. It’s a track that suits his style of running, too.”
Recruiting Ready was a 10 ¼-length winner of his unveiling last May at Pimlico, stepping right into graded stakes company when second as the favorite to Classic Empire in the Bashford Manor (G3). From there he ran second but was disqualified to fourth in the Saratoga Special (G3) behind Gunnevera, was third to Not This Time in the Iroquois (G3), and third and 10th to Sonic Mule in the Buffalo Man and Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream, the latter going one mile Jan. 7.
In the Iroquois, Recruiting Ready wound up just a head behind runner-up Lookin At Lee, who went on to place in three Grade 1 stakes including an impressive second in the Kentucky Derby.
“He ran against some very tough horses and has had some tough beats,” DePaz said. “Hopefully we can continue to build some confidence and get some momentum with him. We may give him a break after this race and just try to keep him together and then maybe go back to Saratoga. Right now we’re taking it one race at a time.”
Also entered in the Chick Lang are 2016 Futurity (G3) winner Theory; stakes winner Proforma; stakes-placed Always a Suspect, Liar’s Dice and Bobby Abu Dhabi; Even Thunder, runner-up in the Bay Shore (G3) last time out; and recent maiden winner Aquamarine.
Hedge Fund Looks to Make a Score in the $100,000 LARC Sir Barton
WinStar Farm and China Horse Club International Ltd.’s Hedge Fund, narrowly beaten in the Illinois Derby (G3) last time out, cuts back in class and distance in the $100,000 LARC Sir Barton to benefit the TAA.
From the barn of Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, Hedge Fund took command of the 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby at the quarter pole and held grimly to the lead until behind passed late by Preakness contender Multiplier, losing by a head.
It was the second straight graded stakes start for the sophomore son of Pletcher’s 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, tiring to third after setting the pace in the Sunland Derby (G3) March 26. Each of the first two finishers, Hence and Conquest Mo Money, are also running in Saturday’s Preakness.
“He put in a good effort last time. It was a tough beat in the Illinois Derby so this hopefully will work out for him,” Pletcher said. “We got a beautiful trip and got everything we wanted. He just kind of missed the bob. Jose Valdivia rode him that day and he said he didn’t really think he saw the horse coming on his outside and just got nailed.”
Pletcher initially had Hedge Fund among his early Triple Crown race candidates. The chestnut didn’t debut until mid-December running fifth in a six-furlong maiden special weight, but was impressive winning by four in his subsequent start Feb. 4 on the Fountain of Youth undercard at Gulfstream.
“We felt like he was behind schedule a little bit to make the Triple Crown races,” Pletcher said. “He ran credibly at Sunland and we kind of felt like hopefully he can step up into that top tier sometime down the road.”
Another horse on the Triple Crown trail, albeit through New York, was Calumet Farm’s True Timber. Another late starter who didn’t race until mid-November, the Mineshaft colt was third in the Jerome (G3) to end his juvenile campaign and second in the Withers (G3) to begin at 3, both at Aqueduct behind highly regarded El Areeb.
True Timber prompted the pace before weakening to fifth in the Gotham (G3) and fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial (G2) April 8, giving his connections reason to forego the Triple Crown races and look elsewhere.
“He ran very well that day. We were happy with his race. He’s had a couple of nice races and he’s doing well,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “[The Sir Barton] is a restricted stake so we like that, non-winners of an open sweepstakes. He’s doing very well.
“We always liked him and we thought distance might help him as he started going further,” he added. “He’s a really nice horse but he just wasn’t quite up to the top horses at that time. But he continues to train well so we’re going to continue to be hopeful. He’s a stakes horse, for sure.”
Rounding out the Sir Barton field are Honor the Fleet, a winner of two straight making his stakes debut; Time to Travel and Resiliency, fourth and 10th, respectively, in the Lexington (G3) April 15; Greek Prince, Society Beau, No Mo Dough and Watch Me Whip.