BALTIMORE, 05-12-13---When the field for Friday's $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) appeared to come up short, trainer Doug O'Neill considered two options: to enter both Richard's Kid and Handsome Mike or place the latter in a different spot.
Some late additions to the Special enlarged the lineup to seven and made the decision for O’Neill. Only Richard's Kid will vie for the $180,000 top share in the Special. It is an appropriate homecoming spot for Richard's Kid, a Maryland-bred by Lemon Drop Kid out of Tough Broad originally under the tutelage of trainer Dickie Small.
After a victory in the John B. Campbell Handicap at Laurel in 2009 and two more races, the grandson of Broad Brush moved on to the barn of Bob Baffert and became a three-time winner of Grade 1 stakes in California.
Another ownership change brought the horse, now 8 years old, to O'Neill, who burst into national prominence last year as the trainer of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion I'll Have Another.
After eight starts under O'Neill, Richard's Kid, who has lifetime earnings of $2,332, 259, has yet to reach the winner's circle.
"I really think he's been a lucky trip or two away," said O'Neill, " He could have had a big Breeders' Cup Classic (finished fifth) and it's been a little bit challenging to find good spots for him."
O'Neill said he will remove the blinkers from his charge for the Special after sending his horses directly to Pimlico from Churchill Downs after the Derby.
"All of them have settled in well," he said. "Richard's Kid is quite a professional. It would be quite an honor if he goes off as the favorite."
Former Maryland riding star Rosie Napravnik, who rode Richard’s Kid in his first start on November 8, 2007 at Laurel Park, has the assignment.
The morning line odds list him as the third choice at 7-to-2 behind Last Gunfighter (7-5) and local favorite Eighttofasttocatch (9-5), who is coming into the race off an impressive gate-to-wire score in the Henry Clark Stakes here last month where the Tim Keefe trainee earned a career-best 105 Beyer Speed figure.
“He came out of the race in fantastic order and is training phenomenally,” said Keefe. “He has put two of his best races together back-to-back. Coley (Pimlico stakes coordinator Coley Blind) told me the race was coming up lighter than they would have liked so I went to Arnold (Heft, husband of owner Sylvia Heft) and he encouraged me to do the best for the horse so I told him I would enter and take a look at it. I see no reason not to give it another shot.”
As for Handsome Mike, he will go instead in the Grade 3, $150,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) on Preakness Day, almost a half-mile shorter than the 1 3/16 mile Special.
"He's a horse who can run just about any distance," said O'Neill.
PIMLICO SPECIAL LINEUP
|Avenida Paseo||J. Corrales||K. McManigell||30-1|
|Indian Dance||L. Murray||L. Garcia||15-1|
|Brimstone Island||W. Campbell||X. Perez||12-1|
|Eighttofasttocatch||T. Keefe||F. Boyce||9-5|
|Richard's Kid||D. O'Neill||R. Napravnik||7-2|
|Concealed Identity||L. Gaudet||A. Serpa||15-1|
|Last Gunfighter||C. Brown||J. Castellano||7-5|
BEN’S CAT LOOKING FOR 16TH STAKES WIN IN JIM McKAY TURF SPRINT
For the third straight year, the popular Ben's Cat will run in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes on the Preakness card for venerable owner-trainer King Leatherbury.
Ben's Cat, Leatherbury's first to topple the $1 million mark in earnings during his storied career, won the race in 2011 but was upset last year, finishing fifth.
"Every 80 years, a man gets this kind of horse," Leatherbury half-joked. "He's never been better."
The 77-year-old ranks fifth on the all-time win list with 6,381 career victories.
The oddity is that Ben's Cat will be competing against another Leatherbury trainee, Ken's Cape, who has different ownership (Double K Stable) and a conquest of Ben's Cat in an allowance race in April of 2012.
"May the best horse win is all I can say," said Leatherbury. "You run against yourself, but you've got a backup in case something happens."
Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan 13-race card drew 156 entries. The card includes eight stakes races, the Xpressbet Battle Of The Sexes Jockey Challenge featuring four top female riders against four of the best male jockeys and the Lady Legends for the Cure IV, presented by Wells Fargo. A pari-mutuel event with eight retired female riding pioneers, the race is run as part of joint effort between Pimlico and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer organization.
About Pimlico Race Course
Historic Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness® Stakes, the middle jewel in horse racing's famed Triple Crown, first opened its doors on October 25, 1870, and is the second oldest racetrack in the United States. Pimlico has played host to racing icons and Baltimoreans have seen the likes of legendary horses such as Man o’ War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Affirmed and Cigar thunder down the stretch in thrilling and memorable competition. For more information on Pimlico, visit www.pimlico.com.
Pimlico Race Course is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and is one of North America's top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world's largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a major producer of televised horse racing programming through its HRTV cable and satellite network and is North America's premier supplier of virtual online horse racing games, as well as a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry.