Always Sunshine is brightest in Maryland Sprint
Always Sunshine. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
On a cloudy and cool Saturday afternoon, Always Sunshine broke through with his first career graded-stakes victory in the $150,000 Sagamore Spirit Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.
It was certainly a bright moment for a horse whose recent months have been spent in quarantine at Parx Racing, a situation resolved just this past Tuesday — much to trainer Ned Allard’s relief.
“I was very confident going in,” Allard said. “I was really up for this horse’s race. He’s such a nice horse. He’s turned into a monster. He’s one of those horses that trains like a good horse, acts like a good horse, and now he has to go out and prove it. He’s on his way to doing that.”
The 30th running of the Maryland Sprint for 3-year-olds and up was the first of eight stakes and four graded stakes on a spectacular 14-race Preakness Day program at Pimlico Race Course.
Bred and owned by Gilbert Campbell’s Stonehedge Farm and trained by Ned Allard, the same connections that will run Abiding Star in the 141st Preakness Stakes (G1) later Saturday, Always Sunshine took the lead from Cinco Charlie in mid-stretch and pulled away to a 2 ½-length victory in 1:10.49 over a muddy main track.
A trio of longshots — All Star Red (15-1), Rockinn On Bye (54-1), and Sonny Inspired (21-1) — filled the next three spots, with favored Salutos Amigos never involved en route to a fifth-place finish.
Stephen Casey, the locally-based trainer of Rockinn On Bye, was more than satisfied with his charge’s effort.
“He ran super. We’re really proud of him” Casey said. “He’s never run with this type of horse before. And he did (today). He was flying the last part, so we’re really proud of him.”
It was the fifth career win, third in as many tries over an off track and second in a stakes for Always Sunshine ($5.80), second choice in a field of seven at 9-5 under regular rider Frankie Pennington. The bay West Acre colt was second in the Tom Fool (G3) March 12 at Aqueduct in his only previous attempt at graded company.
All Star Red was second, two lengths ahead of 50-1 long shot Rockinn On Bye. Grade 1 winner Salutos Amigos, the 6-5 favorite who entered the race 7-for-7 on off tracks, was a non-threatening fifth.