Somelikeithotbrown was best in the Grade 2 Dinner Party. Photo by Allison Janezic.

Trainer Michael Maker used the 120th running of the Grade 2 Dinner Party Stakes on the Pimlico turf to win back-to-back stakes races on back-to-back days over Preakness weekend.  

Somelikeithotbrown (5-2) won the contest for three-year-olds and upwards going 1 1/16 miles on the turf by a length while lowering the track record to 1:40.09.  The win came after Maker won the Maryland Sprint Stakes run just prior with Special Reserve.  On Friday at Pimlico, Maker won the Pimlico Special with Last Judgement before winning the Black-Eyed Susan with Army Wife.

Early on winning jockey Jose Ortiz tracked pacesetter Flying Scotsman ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr. through steady fractions in 23.76 and 47.33 opening quarters positioned two lengths back in second.  Before entering the turn, Ortiz was within a length and used nearly all of the turn make up the final length running outside Flying Scotsman, taking the lead as they straightened up in the turf lane.  Flying Scotsman finally had given way and challengers began to take aim at Somelikeithotbrown.

“He showed me some speed early on, and I got him to relax on the first turn and that was the key,” noted Ortiz.  “He relaxed nicely and from the half-mile pole to the three-eighths pole, I was just waiting and waiting, and when I asked him to go he did.”

After reaching the lead, the bay horse continued to set sub 24-second quarters leading to his record setting performance.  Irish-bred Talk Or Listen, trained by Arnaud Delacour, was among the first of the trackers to launch and ran even with the winner before tiring to finish second. Midnight Tea Time with Luis Saez aboard finished well for third, while favorited French-bred Sacred Life and Bye Bye Melvin dead heated for fourth. 

“Jose and I talked about it,” Maker said. “Last time that horse (Flying Scotsman) broke a step slow, came to our outside and he never settled in the Maker’s Mark, and it cost him in the end.  I told Jose, ‘If the horse goes, let’s see if we can’t get to the outside of him and see you in the winner’s circle.'”

Somelikeithotbrown, a New York bred, is by 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown and is out of the mare Marilyn Monroan by Tapit.  The five year old was bred by Hot Pink Stables and Sand Dollar Stables and is owned by Sand Dollar in partnership with Skychai Racing.

On the Derby trail as a sophomore in 2019, Somelikeithotbrown was switched to the turf for good lst June. Maker kept him on the turf after the Fort Marcy Stakes.  A win in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch ensured he’d be a turfer going forward. In last year’s Dinner Party Stakes run in the fall, Somelikeithotbrown finished second a little over two lengths behind Factor This.  

 “I have ridden this horse before in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf as a 2-year old, and it has been a long time since I have ridden him,” recalled Ortiz.  “He’s matured a lot.”

Somelikeithotbrown found turf listed as “good” in his next two start unfavorable finishing out of the money. 

“He just doesn’t seem to fire his ‘A’ game at Gulfstream,” Maker said. “After (the December 12th Fort Lauderdale, we just decided to give him the winter off and point to this year.”

The Dinner Party Stakes formerly known as “The Dixie” is named after the Saratoga social event held in 1868 that resulted in the creation of the eventual middle jewel of the Triple Crown. The first winner of the Dinner Party was Preakness, whose name now graces the state’s biggest race. The Dinner Party later became the Dixie, and in 2020, the Maryland Jockey Club decided to rename Pimlico’s oldest stakes race as a response to civil unrest on issues of systemic racism.