Call Paul looks to dial up Md. Million Sprint win
Call Paul and jockey Trevor McCarthy cruised in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes. Photo by Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO.
Call Paul may not have attracted as much attention as some others in trainer Jason Servis’ powerhouse stable, most notably Maximum Security and World of Trouble. But he’ll get plenty of notice Saturday, when he is likely to go to the post as the favorite for the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint Handicap at six furlongs.
Call Paul is the 9-5 morning line favorite in a terrific field that also includes multiple stakes winners Lewisfield, the defending champ in this event, and Laki.
A $210,000 Timonium purchase, Call Paul is eligible for the race because is sire, Friesan Fire, is a registered Maryland sire. He’s also a perfect example how a horse can maximize his earnings through state-bred incentive programs.
A Pennsylvania-bred, Call Paul is a two-time graded stakes winner, having won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special last year as a two-year-old and the Grade 3 Swale earlier this year. He also has won the winner’s share of two lucrative Pennsylvania-bred sprints, the $104,000 Danzig Stakes at Penn National in June and the $100,000 Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes as a 2-year-old last December. And in his last start, the $97,000 New Castle Stakes for Delaware certified runners, Call Paul notched his sixth win from 12 career starts and increased his career earnings to a very hefty $546,020.
Call Paul is owned by a partnership of Michael Dubb, who signed the ticket for him in May 2018 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic two-year-olds in training sale; David Simon; and Bethlehem Stables LLC.
“Wow, $546,000,” Call Paul’s trainer said. “I knew he had won some races with big pots, but I hadn’t realized he’d won that much. But he was cut out to be a good horse from early on. My owners went to $210,000 to buy him at the Timonium sale, a big number for that venue, and they did so on the advice of Gary Young, whose opinion on young horses is one of best in the business. And certainly the fact he was a PA-bred, was Delaware certified and qualified for races like Saturday’s due to his sire, played a part in their decision to spend that kind of money. He’s a really nice, honest type of horse that, when you run him where he belongs, he’s going always going to give a good account of himself.”
This season Call Paul ran sixth, beaten just over three lengths in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens going seven furlongs at Saratoga and was seventh in a turf experiment over a yielding turf course in the Grade 3 Quick Call in a race Servis admitted was probably not a good idea.
“We’ve run him in a few spots where he was in a little deep, mainly because there just wasn’t anyplace to run him, but he’s always given a dead honest effort,” Servis said. “That’s all you can ask of a horse. That’s why when he’s the heavy favorite in a state-bred or restricted race, it’s not like he hasn’t deserved to run in a little softer spot once in a while.”
Call Paul was 1-9 in his most recent outing in the New Castle, so winning wasn’t a big surprise. But Call Paul still ran a good one, cutting out a final quarter of :24 flat while pulling away from his rivals to win by three while stopping the clock in a sharp 1:09.38 for six furlongs.
There are several others in the Maryland Million Sprint with strong early speed, but while most of his wins have come when he was on or near the lead from the start, Servis says his star is definitely not a one-dimensional runner. He’ll leg up journeyman rider Paco Lopez on Saturday.
“He’s got plenty of natural speed and Paco has ridden him before, so he knows him,” Servis explained. “He can come from a little off of it if he has to; he did that in the Swale (where he closed from fifth in the early going). That’s why I like Paco, he’s got nice, soft hands on a horse and seems to communicate with his mounts really well. He’s run at nine different tracks in 12 starts so I’m not concerned with him handling the track. Hopefully he’ll run well Saturday, and then we plan on keeping him north this winter.”
Which perhaps will enable him to add to one of the more varied stakes resumes in the game. A win Saturday would leave him with two graded victories and four wins in state-restricted company – in three different states.
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