BALTIMORE, 05-17-12---Headed by the oldest stakes race in Pimlico Race Course's storied history, the Preakness undercard offers stakes purses worth nearly $1 million.
The $300,000 Dixie Stakes (G2)--first run in 1870 as the Dinner Party Stakes and won by the horse Preakness--tops the list with 11 runners scheduled to go immediately before the Preakness Stakes.
In the forefront with the 7-2 overnight favorite is trainer Graham Motion and former Maryland riding star Edgar Prado, who will team up with Smart Bid.
Both have visited the winner's circle after the Dixie previously with Motion scoring twice (Dr. Brendler, 2003) and (Better Talk Now, 2006) and Prado once (Ops Smile, 1997).
"He's doing well. This is the race we've pointed him for," Motion said of Smart Bid, who has run exclusively on turf the last two years. "He's a pretty straightforward horse."
Smart Bid has three lifetime victories and five runner-up finishes on the surface and prefers coming from slightly off the pace. Prado has been aboard the 6-year-old grandson of Mr. Prospector in his last 10 starts.
"I've been lucky enough to win this race before. It's one I always like to enter," said Motion.
Another duo with a backlog of success in the Dixie, jockey Ramon Dominguez and trainer Alan Goldberg, are on board with Straight Story (10-1), who is coming off a win in the Autumn Stakes (G2) and is 6-for-19 on the grass.
Dominguez has been the dominant jockey in the Dixie of late, taking five of the last nine runnings, teaming with Goldberg to prevail two years ago with Strike a Deal and with Motion on his two triumphs.
Also figuring to be in the thick of the battle are Todd Pletcher’s Hudson Steele (9-2), a horse who won the Henry Clark Stakes at Pimlico strip last month and Casino Host (5-1), who is on a two-race winning streak with the latest a G2 victory at the Fair Grounds.
Air Support took the Virginia Derby (G2) at Colonial Downs last summer and Trend has an impressive turf record as well (two wins and eight seconds in 12 starts).
"This field is tougher than I thought it would be," said Ignacio Correas, trainer of Sagamore Farm's Humble and Hungry, a 12-1 longshot in this lineup who finished fourth behind Hudson Steele in the Henry Clark Stakes on April 28. "It's going to be a good one for the fans to watch."
The $150,000 Gallorette Handicap (G3) has drawn seven females for the 1 1/16-mile grass race with Zagora the 8-5 morning line choice. She has been running exclusively in graded company and thriving. Her resume includes a win in the Diana(G1) at Saratoga last summer.
Her main challenger appears to be Laughing (7-2), trained by Goldberg, who is 3-for-4 on the grass.
Five other thoroughbred stakes are offered, including the $100,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) and the $100,000 Allaire Dupont Distaff Stakes (G3).