Saturday’s Chick Lang (G3) Would Make Race Namesake Proud

May 18th, 2023

Multiple Graded Winner Havnameltdown Tops Solid Field of Seven

BALTIMORE – Chick Lang would have loved the 48th running of the stakes bearing his name on Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) program at historic Pimlico Race Course.

The $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) presented by Case Tractor is named for one of racing’s great track executives, characters and storytellers. Lang, who died in 2010 at the age of 83, did many things in his life, including serving as legendary jockey Bill Hartack’s agent, Pimlico’s general manager for 20 years and WBAL’s racing analyst. His love affair with and tireless promotion of the Preakness led to Lang’s nickname, Mr. Preakness.

Saturday’s six-furlong stakes features a compact seven entries but they offer story lines that would have delighted Chick Lang.

“I do believe that it is going to be one of the best races on the card,” said Jorge Delgado, trainer of the 6-for-8 Super Chow, the 3-1 second choice behind the Bob Baffert-trained 8-5 morning-line favorite Havnameltdown.

Lea Farms LLC’s Super Chow in his last start romped to a 5 1/4-length victory in Gulfstream Park’s Hutcheson Stakes.

“The horse hasn’t done anything wrong since he came to the barn as a 2-year-old,” said Delgado, who is based at Monmouth Park in the summer and Gulfstream Park in the winter. “His record is magnificent. In his eight starts he has run at [five] different racetracks with six wins, one second and one third. The last time he got beat, he got beat by a horse that won at Churchill [Downs] on Derby Day. So he’s been competing against real quality horses. I do know the race is going to be very competitive, but my horse is 100 percent ready to run this race.

“Last year we won the race with Lightening Larry so we’re hoping to repeat,” he added. “It’s all the same connections so hopefully we can have the same luck as we did last year.”

Havnameltdown sports four wins and two seconds in six starts, most recently a defeat by a head in the $1.5 million Saudi Derby at a mile. His victories include Del Mar’s Best Pal (G2) and Bob Hope (G3) last year and Santa Anita’s San Vicente (G2) in his first start of 2023. He’s owned by Mike Pegram, who campaigned 1998 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness winner Real Quiet, and his frequent partners Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.

“He ran a great race,” Baffert said of the Saudi Derby. “A mile is a little bit too far for him. He’s a sprinter. That’s his distance, six to seven furlongs.”

Among those Havnameltdown will have to beat is a horse trained by fellow Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the only trainer in North America to win 10,000 races, including the Chick Lang a record five times. Asmussen shoots for No. 6 with 7-2 shot Ryvit, owned by Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, three-time winners of the Chick Lang, and ridden by Asmussen’s 24-year-old son, Keith.

“Havnameltdown, I remember watching the Saudi Derby and thought he was the sure winner,” Keith Asmussen said. “It’s definitely a competitive field, and I’m very much looking forward to it.”

There’s another family affair in the Chick Lang with Prince of Jericho, trained by Brittany Russell and ridden by her husband, Sheldon Russell. After finishing a close sixth in Laurel’s 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio, Prince of Jericho is back sprinting, including 2-for-2 at six furlongs.

“The idea is to cut him back and get him back to what we know he likes to do,” Brittany Russell said. “Honestly, I don’t think he ran terrible last time in the Tesio. He took a lot of dirt and a mile and an eighth was probably a bit of a stretch. I just think, cut him back, he’s going to be happier sprinting.

“He’s actually quite an easy horse to have around and train,” she added. “We don’t do a ton in the morning. We might back off of him a touch just to have him bouncing a bit more, but he’s a pretty cool-natured horse. He’s fit. He just ran a mile and an eighth, so fitness isn’t an issue. The main thing with him is just make sure he’s happy and he’s bouncing.”

Kenny McPeek, who won the pandemic-delayed Preakness of 2020 as his filly Swiss Skydiver outfought Derby winner and Horse of the Year Authentic, is running Frosted Departure in the Chick Lang. Frosted Departure also is shortening back in distance, with his lone stakes victory in nine attempts being Oaklawn Park’s six-furlong Renaissance.

Also in the field are Laurel allowance winner Prove Right, sixth in Aqueduct’s Bay Shore (G3) in his last start, and long shot Bristol Channel, a Charles Town allowance victor in his previous race.

The Chick Lang is carded sixth on a 14-race program with a scheduled post time of 1:29 p.m. EST. First race post time Saturday is 10:30 a.m.

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