16 Stakes, Nine Graded, Worth $3.35 Million in Purses Oct. 1-3
Black-Eyed Susan (G2), De Francis Dash Join Preakness Lineup
Historic Pimlico Special (G3) Tops Claiming Crown Preview Day
Sophomores in Spotlight in Chick Lang (G3) to Open Weekend
BALTIMORE – A total of 464 nominations were made to 14 Thoroughbred stakes, seven graded, worth $2.25 million in purses to be contested Oct. 1-3 at Pimlico Race Course highlighted by the 145th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1).
The 1 3/16-mile Preakness will be run for the first time this year as the final jewel in a refashioned Triple Crown, having been rescheduled from May 16 to Oct. 3 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It will also be the first Triple Crown race ever to serve as a ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Along with the main event, Preakness Day, Oct. 3, will offer a spectacular all-stakes lineup of 12 races including the 96th running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies and the 29th renewal of the $200,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs.
Grand Cru Classe, undefeated in three career starts for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, earned an automatic berth to the Black-Eyed Susan with her victory in the Weber City Miss Sept. 7 at Laurel Park. Graded-stakes winners Bonny South, Harvest Moon, Harvey’s Lil Goil, Hopeful Growth, Perfect Alibi, Project Whiskey, Tonalist’s Shape and Venetian Harbor are also nominated to one of the country’s most prestigious races for sophomore fillies.
Grade 1 winners Echo Town, Vekoma, Volatile and Whitmore are prominent among 28 nominations for the De Francis Dash, which features an illustrious roster of past winners that includes Hall of Famer Housebuster and fellow sprint champions Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo and Benny the Bull. Last year’s race was won by Killybegs Captain, trained by John Terranova, who nominated Funny Guy and Stan the Man this year.
Previously run as the Dixie but reverting back to the original name from its 1870 debut, the $250,000 Dinner Party (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the grass drew 44 nominations led by Digital Age, winner of the Turf Classic (G1) Sept. 5; and graded-stakes winners Almanaar, Casa Creed, Cross Border, Doctor Mounty, Eons, Factor This, Neptune’s Storm, Next Shares and Somelikeithotbrown.
Rounding out the graded action on Preakness Day are the $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs, and the $150,000 Gallorette (G3) where fillies and mares 3 and up will travel 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
Wicked Whisper, winner of the 2019 Frizette (G1); Fly On Angel, who upset Wicked Whisper in the Charles Town Oaks (G3) Aug. 28; and multiple graded-stakes winner Frank’s Rockette top 21 nominees to the Miss Preakness. Defending champion Mitchell Road is among 35 horses nominated to the Gallorette along with multiple graded-stakes winners Regal Glory and Secret Message.
Juveniles will be in the spotlight on Preakness Day in the $150,000 Laurel Futurity and $100,000 Selima for fillies, each going 1 1/16 miles on the grass. With Anticipation winner Fire At Will and Sapling winner Waist Deep are among 25 nominees to the Futurity, while the Selima – won last year by subsequent 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) heroine Sharing – drew 39 nominations led by turf sprint stakes winners Alda and Emro and Sorority winner Mischievous Dream.
Turf sophomores get their due in the $100,000 James W. Murphy and $100,000 Hilltop for fillies, both at one mile. Bye Bye Melvin and Don Juan Kitten, separated by a head in the Saranac (G3) last out at Saratoga, and graded winners Fancy Liquor, Field Pass, Fighting Seabee and Pixelate top 34 Murphy nominees, while the Hilltop drew 46 nominations including Ontario Colleen (G3) winner Chart and Lake George (G3) winner Selflessly.
Defending champion Chalon and Las Setas, the Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old filly of 2019 who is entered in a turf allowance Saturday at Laurel Park, are among 23 nominees to the $100,000 Skipat presented by Runhappy, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3 and up.
The historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) headlines a Friday, Oct. 2 program that also serves as Claiming Crown Preview Day for the main event, to be held Saturday, Dec. 5 on opening weekend of Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet. Tenfold, You’re To Blame and Cordmaker, separated by two necks while respectively running 1-2-3 in last year’s Pimlico Special, are prominent among 37 nominees along with Brad Cox-trained stablemates Owendale and Warrior’s Charge, third and fourth, respectively, in Preakness 144.
Stakes action kicks off Thursday, Oct. 1 led by the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3), a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds. Its 29 nominees include two-time Grade 1 winner Basin, trained by Todd Pletcher; 2020 H. Allen Jerkens (G1) winner Echo Town; multiple stakes winners Double Crown and Lebda; and 2020 Amsterdam (G2) winner Yaupon.
Joining the Chick Lang are a pair of five-furlong turf sprints, the $100,000 The Very One for fillies and mares 3 and older where Wild About Star is nominated to defend her 2019 title, as is Completed Pass in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up.
In addition to its Thoroughbred action, Pimlico will also host the $100,000 UAE President Cup (G1) for Arabian horses 4 and up Oct. 3. Nominations for the UAE President Cup were due Sept. 18.