WILD ABOUT STAR, COMPLETED PASS SEEK TITLE DEFENSES
Three stakes highlight Pimlico’s Preakness Thursday card, and while the feature of the day is the Grade 3 Chick Lang, a sprint on the main track for sophomores, a pair of turf sprints offer intriguing opportunities.
Oddly enough, in both the Jim McKay Turf Sprint and The Very One Stakes, the defending champ — Completed Pass and Wild About Star, respectively — is among the hopefuls.
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More than a year since becoming a stakes winner last spring over the same track, Robert D. Bone’s Completed Pass returns to Pimlico Race Course with sights set on a repeat victory in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint Thursday, Oct. 1.
The 15th running of the McKay for 3-year-olds and up and the 21st renewal of the $100,000 The Very One for fillies and mares 3 and older, both sprinting five furlongs on turf, join the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) in opening a spectacular Preakness weekend of 16 stakes, nine graded, worth $3.35 million in purses featuring the 145th Preakness (G1) Saturday, Oct. 3.
Post time for the first of 10 races Thursday is 12:40 p.m.
Completed Pass joined trainer Claudio Gonzalez’s string for the 2019 season and promptly won three of his first four starts for the new connections including a one-length victory as the favorite in last year’s McKay over Tempt Me Twice, who also returns Thursday.
Gonzalez is confident that familiarity with the track as one of just three horses in the field of 10 to have run at Pimlico, along with Tempt Me Twice and 2019 allowance winner Love You Much, will serve to benefit Completed Pass.
“It helps that he raced there last year because he knows the track already and especially good because he won,” Gonzalez said. “It would be really nice if he could win it again. He’s doing really good. I believe he’s doing the best he ever has.”
Completed Pass enters the McKay off an effort in the 5 ½-furlong Laurel Dash Sept. 7 where he clipped heels at the five-sixteenths pole and nearly went down but recovered quickly and went on to a three-quarter-length win under Angel Cruz, who returns to ride from Post 6.
“Last time was a big race because when stumbled I was like, ‘Yikes,’” Gonzalez said. “In that one second, you think of a lot but to come back and win the race was amazing. Not just any horse can do that. They need to have a big heart.”
Two races after the McKay, a full field is set to contest The Very One.
Brittlyn Stable, Inc.’s Wild About Star, winless in her only two starts this year, looks to get back on the winning track in a familiar spot when she returns to Pimlico Race Course Thursday to defend her title in the $100,000 The Very One.
Wild About Star, a 6-year-old daughter of multiple stakes winner Star Guitar, sprung a mild upset in last year’s The Very One by 1 ¾ lengths over Jo Jo Air, who is the only other returnee from 2019. Five of her six career wins have come on the grass but she has not raced on the surface since last summer after her two starts this year were rained off.
Fifth in the Incredible Revenge Stakes at Monmouth Park following her Pimlico score, Wild About Star didn’t return until running fifth to The Very One foe Mr. Al’s Gal in an optional claiming allowance July 23 at Delaware Park. Most recently she tired to third after chasing the pace in a similar spot Aug. 20, also at Delaware.
“After the last race she ran at Monmouth, the owner and I decided to give her time off and see how she’s doing and we decided to bring her back,” trainer Jose Camejo said. “She ran two races on the dirt because they came off the turf and now she’s doing really good. We’ll see if we can get lucky a second time and win again.
“I feel good about her. She’s much better than she was before,” he added. “She’s in the right shape right now, she looks really good and she’s doing very well. I think we’ve got a good chance.”
Alex Cintron rides Wild About Star, the 124-pound co-topweight, from Post 5 in a field of 16 that includes main-track-only entrant Never Enough Time and also-eligible Philipine Cobra.