O Dionysus returns to winning form in turf bow
O Dionysus. Photo by The Racing Biz.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Marathon Farms’ O Dionysus, a two-time stakes winner on dirt, made a successful transition to the turf by capturing Thursday’s Opening Day feature as racing returned to legendary Pimlico Race Course.
The 12-day Preakness Meet at Pimlico runs Thursday to Sunday through Memorial Day, May 28, highlighted by the 143rd running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, Saturday May 19 and the 94th running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Friday May 18.
O Dionysus ($13.20) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.30 over a firm turf course to notch his first win since taking the Miracle Wood Stakes for 3-year-olds last February at Laurel Park and give jockey Jevian Toledo – Maryland’s leading rider in 2017 – his 800th career victory in his first mount of the day.
Winner of the Christopher Elser Memorial and second by a nose to subsequent Grade 2 winner and Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up Irish War Cry as a 2-year-old, O Dionysus was sidelined after running second in the Federico Tesio last April. He didn’t return to the races until Feb. 24 and was off the board in a pair of sprints, the latter in the Not For Love Stakes March 17.
“I was hoping [he’d like the grass],” trainer Gary Capuano said. “He’s a nice horse. A couple races we brought him back sprinting, he didn’t have much of a shot against those real, real fast horses. He’s a big, long-striding horse that kind of needs to get his feet under him and he ran well today.”
Toledo settled O Dionysus in fourth as Dattt Melody took the field of six through fractions of :24.95, :49.87 and 1:14.85, pressed by both Grandiflora and Southside Warrior. Toledo tipped O Dionysus out to the five path straightening for home and they powered past the pacesetter at the eighth pole and edged clear.
Kabang, favored at 4-5, made a belated bid to get second by a nose over Dattt Melody, with Barney Rebel another half-length back in third.
Marathon Farms’ Peter Angelos is also majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles, who are last in the American League East standings. They snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating the Kansas City Royals Wednesday night.
“The Orioles are struggling so maybe the horses will pick his head up a little bit,” Capuano said.