Just Howard aiming at return in G2 Dixie

by | Apr 28, 2018 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing

Just Howard in the G3 Commonwealth Derby. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

From a Maryland Jockey Club release

Just Howard, the now-four-year-old son of English Channel who swept the awards for Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, champion turf horse, and champion three-year-old male, continued to work towards his 2018 debut, most likely in the Grade 2, $250,000 Dixie May 19 at Pimlico on the Preakness Stakes undercard.

Just Howard, whose victory in the Commonwealth Derby (G3) last fall marked his third consecutive Laurel stakes win following the Caveat and Find Stakes, and Grade 1-winning millionaire Ring Weekend, both trained by Graham Motion at the Fair Hill Training Center, are both possible contenders for the Dixie.

Skeedattle Associates homebred Just Howard ended 2017 finishing off the board in the Twilight Derby (G2) and Hollywood Derby (G1) last fall in southern California. He has been working steadily for his 2018 debut, including a six-furlong breeze in 1:16.20 over Fair Hill’s all-weather surface Friday. It was his sixth recorded breeze in preparation for his seasonal debut.

Ring Weekend, who captured his 7-year-old debut in a Feb. 11 allowance at Gulfstream, finished seventh as the favorite in the Henry S. Clark April 21 at Laurel. Fifth in the 2014 Preakness, the Tapit gelding was second in the 1 1/16-mile Dixie in 2016 and 10th last year.

“Just Howard is coming off a layoff. We wanted to give him a break. He did quite a lot of traveling and we kind of threw him in the deep end with his races in California. But, he’s doing well,” Motion said. “Ring Weekend was a little bit of a head-scratcher. I don’t think he had the best trip, to be honest, and it seems like it’s really hard to make up that much ground on that turf course at Laurel.”

Just Howard has four wins from 11 career starts with earnings of $267,210.