WOOTTON ASSET TAKING SWING IN BALD EAGLE
Madaket Stables’ Grade 3-placed Wootton Asset, making just his ninth career start and second this year, will go after his first stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Bald Eagle Derby at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The third running of the 1 ½-mile Bald Eagle Derby for 3-year-olds, named for the two-time Washington D.C. International winner and the nation’s champion handicap horse of 1960, is among four turf stakes worth $500,000 in purses led by the $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3).
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Also on the program are a pair of stakes for fillies and mares 3 and up, the $100,000 Big Dreyfus at 1 1/8 miles and $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash sprinting five furlongs. Post time for the first of nine races is 12:40 p.m.
Wootton Asset is trained by Graham Motion, whose He’s No Lemon was declared winner of the 2019 Bald Eagle Derby following the disqualification of Jais’s Solitude. The race was not part of Maryland’s pandemic-shortened stakes schedule last year.
Motion wheels Wootton Asset back of a third-place finish behind Yes This Time in the 1 1/8-mile Kent (G3) July 3 at Delaware Park, his first start since the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) late last November at Del Mar.
“It’s a little bit quick for him back but he’s done well since the race,” Motion said. “It wasn’t an ideal spot to bring him back in last time, but I think he proved he belongs with those horses.”
The Kent was contested over a turf course rated soft, something Wootton Asset has faced in seven of his eight lifetime starts including three of four since coming to the U.S. from his native France last fall.
“Ironically, they brought him over here to run on firm ground,” Motion said. “I don’t think it was too bad last time. It seemed to be in pretty good shape.”
Wootton Asset made his North American debut over Laurel Park’s world-class turf course last October, beaten a nose in the 1 1/16-mile Laurel Futurity. From there he ran fourth in the Awad at Belmont Park prior to the one-mile DeMille.
The Bald Eagle Derby represents the longest race yet for Wootton Asset, a half-mile further than the Kent. Victor Carrasco gets the riding assignment from Post 5 in a field of six.
“It’s an unknown,” Motion said. “His last race would give the indication that he might go further, but I honestly don’t know. He’s a pretty kind horse, very sensible.”
Augustin Stable homebred Experienced is entered to make just his second career start following a gutsy nose triumph in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight June 21 on the Delaware Park turf. The third-place finisher in that race, Entertainment, was a popular next-out winner.
“He was a very professional acting firster,” trainer Jonathan Thomas said. “He did everything very professionally and just got up in time to win. We were pleased with his effort and I anticipate him taking a step forward.”
Though he will be stepping up and stretching out, Experienced will be facing straight 3-year-olds having defeated older horses in his debut. Daniel Centeno, up for the unveiling, rides back from outside Post 6.
“It’s a stake and it’s going from a mile and a sixteenth to a mile and a half,” Thomas said. “It’s a little bit of an ambitious spot, for sure, but we’re going to have a look.”
ZWP Stable, Inc. and Non Stop Stable’s Shackled Love is entered to make his turf debut for trainer Gary Capuano after eight main track starts. The gelded son of 2011 Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford upset the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms at odds of 21-1 March 13 at Laurel and hasn’t run since finishing sixth in the six-furlong Chick Lang (G3) May 15 on the Preakness undercard.
Double O Racing’s Take Profit will be facing a 12-day turnaround after being placed third in a one-mile, 70-yard starter optional claimer at Delaware Park. The Air Force Blue gelding ran fourth, beaten a half-length and two heads in his first race in six months.
“There was nothing wrong with him. We decided that we’d give him a little bit of time. We sent him down to Florida and we just gave him a little bit of time to grow up,” trainer Jerry O’Dwyer said. “He ran well enough. He made a bit of a run there coming home, so it was a nice starting point for him.”
Take Profit’s sire was a three-time Group 1 winner sprinting on the turf as a 2-year-old, but his grandsire, Galileo, won three Group 1 races at a distance of ground including the 1 ½-mile Epsom Derby in 2001 and has gone on to sire a record five subsequent Epsom Derby winners.
“We only considered the stake because it’s a mile and a half, and given his pedigree top and bottom, all turf and all kinds of European, it suggests mile and a quarter, mile and a half,” O’Dwyer said. “Those races don’t come around very often so we’re going to take a chance in there.
“They’re fun because they’re a specialist thing,” he added. “A horse that might just be an average claimer going mile and mile and sixteenth can step up going the distance because stamina really comes into play.”
Sheldon Russell has the call on Talk Profit from the rail.
Also entered are Indian Lake, fourth in the James W. Murphy May 15 at Pimlico that has since run second in the Jersey Derby, also at a mile, and third in the 7 ½-furlong Sussex July 8 at Delaware; and maiden Hanford.