TRAINER KENT SWEEZEY TAKING AIM AT PIMLICO STAKES
Seeking spots to run a pair of his lightly raced 3-year-old turf fillies, whose starts have been hampered by the wet Mid-Atlantic summer, trainer J. Kent Sweezey has found them on Saturday’s stakes-filled program at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Though it means sending them up against their elders, the 35-year-old Sweezey will run Irish-bred Marlborough Road in the $100,000 Big Dreyfus and speedster What a Trick in the $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash, two of four grass stakes worth $500,000 in purses on a nine-race program headlined by the $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3).
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The 1 1/8-mile Big Dreyfus and five-furlong Sensible Lady are both for fillies and mares 3 and up. Marlborough Road and What a Trick are the only sophomores in fields of six and seven, respectively.
“I’m going to run two fillies that are 3 years old against older, which I don’t love to do,” Sweezey said. “But, I think with the way the weather’s played out, I’ve scratched off the turf three times. I don’t care who it’s against, they just need to run.”
Sweezey, a former assistant to trainers Jimmy Jerkens, Eoin Harty and Christophe Clement juggling strings in South Florida and on the Jersey Shore, is on track for his best year since going solo in 2017. John McCormack’s Marlborough Road broke her maiden going a mile in her juvenile finale last December at Tampa Bay Downs, but has gone winless with one third in four tries at 3.
Marlborough Road made her first five starts for trainer Brendan Walsh before debuting for Sweezey in the 1 1/16-mile Boiling Springs June 26 at Monmouth Park, running fifth behind stablemate Por Que No. She is a daughter of multiple Group 1 winner The Gurkha out of the Storm Cat mare Song to Remember.
“We’re just trying to find the best spot with her. This is one that we’re taking as stab at, but she’s doing really good and her pedigree suggests that the further they go the better. She’s got a lot of class in that pedigree, so we’ll see how it plays out,” Sweezey said.
“She came out of the stake in real good shape. She hadn’t run in a while, and I don’t think we really got to know her as much as we do now,” he added. “I’m hoping that we’ve figured her out a little bit better and sort of figured out how she wanted to be trained, and hopefully that works out for us.”
Jevian Toledo rides from Post 4 at 116 pounds, getting six to 10 pounds from her rivals.
“I do like that I don’t have to ship her very far. Pimlico is a pretty easy ship for us,” Sweezey said. “She’s incredibly well-bred and owned by a guy that’s very well-respected. I’ve known him a long time and I owe him the opportunity to come and shop some of these races around.”
Marlborough Road is a 30-1 outsider in the Big Dreyfus. The Chad Brown-trained Counterparty Risk is the 6-5 morning line favorite.
Two races prior to the Big Dreyfus, Mary Jo Kuehn’s What a Trick will look to earn back-to-back wins in the Sensible Lady Turf Dash. She’s 4-1 on the morning line in a wide-open contest; So Gracious, trained by Brittany Russell, is the 3-1 chalk.
Racing exclusively at Gulfstream Park, What a Trick had been knocking at the door since making her career debut Jan. 1. She was third second time out, beaten a length, then finished second in back-to-back starts after setting blazing fractions.
What a Trick rolled by three lengths in a May 16 maiden special weight, her most recent start. She has worked four times at Monmouth Park for her return, her third straight race against older horses, going a half-mile in 48.60 seconds July 11, ranking 12th of 134 horses.
“She had to run against older a couple times and then she finally got through. When you’re – especially on the Gulfstream turf course – if you’re quick like she is, five-eighths is a great spot,” Sweezey said. “Coming up here there were lots of options for a straight 3-year-old filly going five to 5 ½ [furlongs] on the turf and she’s scratched out of three races now. Not only is the owner getting a little bit frustrated, I am too. We’re just going to try and see how we do.”
What a Trick drew Post 2 and will carry 116 pounds including jockey Feargal Lynch, getting six pounds from each of her six opponents.
“The owner bred the horse and getting black type is important,” Sweezey said. “You never know how long they’re going to stick around and she’s doing really good right now, so if there’s ever a time to take a shot with her it would be now.”