TRAINER GONZALEZ POINTING THREE TO PREAKNESS WEEKEND STAKES
With a bevy of stakes to be contested over Preakness weekend October 1-3, trainer Claudio Gonzalez is hoping to participate in a significant way.
Gonzalez said he is pointing three horses toward stakes that weekend at Pimlico Race Course. A total of 16 stakes, nine graded, worth $3.35 million in purses will be contested, led by the 145th running of the Preakness (G1), presented this year as the final jewel in a refashioned Triple Crown as well as a ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
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Gonzalez said he is looking at the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for 3-year-olds sprinting six furlongs Oct. 1 for BB Horses’ Lebda, most recently third in the seven-furlong Robert Hilton Memorial Aug. 28 at Charles Town. Third in the Iroquois (G3) last fall at Churchill Downs, Lebda won the one-mile Miracle Wood and 1 1/16-mile Private Terms over the winter at Laurel before live racing was paused in Maryland for 2 ½ months until May 30 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the Hilton, Lebda set the pace before finishing sixth in June 27 Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown and July 18 Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park, both contested at 1 1/8 miles. He has two wins, one second and two thirds at distances under one mile.
Gonzalez is also considering the $200,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up Oct. 3 for Robert D. Bone’s Eastern Bay, winner of the six-furlong Polynesian Stakes Sept. 5 during Laurel’s Preakness Prep Weekend. The Polynesian was the first career stakes win for the 6-year-old E Dubai gelding after seven previous tries on turf and dirt.
Eastern Bay has won three of four starts since being claimed by Gonzalez for $35,000 out of a runner-up finish in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance Feb. 21 at Laurel. Overall he owns 10 wins and $419,184 in purse earnings from 33 races.
Gonzalez also trains Completed Pass for Bone and is planning to bring the 6-year-old Pass Rush gelding back to defend his title in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up going five furlongs Oct. 1. Bred in Indiana, where he began his racing career in 2017, Completed Pass became a stakes winner for the first time in last year’s McKay, rallying for a one-length triumph as the favorite.
Completed Pass has won two of his last three starts capped by a three-quarter-length victory in the $100,000 Laurel Dash Sept. 7 at Laurel, overcoming a stumble after clipping heels nearing the stretch to win in 1:04.41 for 5 ½ furlongs.