Pimlico stakes questions for Sept. 10
Pimlico hosts four stakes on September 10 to punctuate Old Hilltop’s opening weekend. Racing will remain in Baltimore for three weeks before heading south to Laurel Park for the rest of the year.
The list of stakes includes the bulkily named Grade 3 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup, and there’s no truth to the rumor (or maybe there is) that it’s named after the airport. Also on the docket are a turf stake for the distaff set, the All Along, as well as a pair of main-track sprints.
Some questions we’ll be looking for answers to:
- Charles Town: Which trainers are in the zone?Which Charles Town trainers are off to hot starts? Asking for a friend; no, wait, actually asking for the betting public. Answers within…
HOW WILL PAO ALTO TAKE TO LIFE IN MARYLAND?
The French-bred Pao Alto will make his first start Stateside for trainer Graham Motion in the Turf Cup. The five-year-old’s credentials are as good as any here; he owns Group stakes wins in France and in Qatar.
Motion is just 1-for-19 in recent years with horses making their first North American start. Jevian Toledo, a rider he doesn’t use much, will have the mount. Pao Alto is 6-1 on a morning line receiving a late adjustment.
WILL FIELD PASS BE HERE, THERE, OR EVERYWHERE?
Maryland-bred Field Pass (4-1) certainly has some options: he can race in the Turf Cup and defend his title. Or he can race at Kentucky Downs in a $1 million race Saturday. Or at that same track in a $180,000 handicap September 14.
Which way will he go? While he’s 4-1 here, he’s 5-2 on the morning line in the handicap and 8-1 in the Kentucky Downs stake. Decisions, decisions for trainer Mike Maker.
ALL SET FOR SET PIECE?
Trainer Brad Cox is slated to send out Turf Cup morning line favorite Set Piece. Set Piece won the Grade 2 Dinner Party over the strip May 21 for the second graded win of his career.
Notably, Cox does just fine at Pimlico. In the last five years, he’s sent out 24 Old Hilltop starters, winning with seven of them (29%) and finishing in the money with eight others.
Set Piece will have Sheldon Russell in the irons and is 9-5 on the revised morning line.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME FOR JAXON TRAVELER?
Maryland-bred Jaxon Traveler doesn’t make too many starts in his home state. Coming from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who’s based just about everywhere that isn’t Maryland, that’s to be expected.
But when he has run in the Free State – especially at Pimlico – he’s made the most of it. He’s won three of his four Old Hilltop starts, and in May he earned the first graded stakes win of his career when he won the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Stakes on the Preakness undercard.
In Saturday’s six-furlong Lite the Fuse Sheldon Russell – who won aboard Jaxon Traveler in his only previous try aboard, that coming in the 2021 Star de Naskra, held, of course, at Pimlico – has the mount.
The field also includes the hard-hitting Wudda You Think Now and the improving Sibelius, among others.
FANCY BLOODLINES FOR GLADYS?
Of the seven runners in the All Along, one who could surely benefit from a stakes win is Gladys.
The Kelsey Danner trainee was a game third on boggy turf at Delaware Park in the Grade 3 Robert Dick Memorial two back but followed that up with an even seventh-place finish in the Old Nelson at Colonial Downs over firm turf.
So why would a stakes win matter? You have to think it would significantly aid in her next career, as a broodmare; Gladys, by Medaglia d’Oro, is a full sister to Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra.
Junior Alvarado is slated to ride Gladys, who is 6-1 on the morning line.
The morning line favorite is Plum Ali (9-5). She won a Grade 2 as a two-year-old, and while she hasn’t quite validated herself as that sort since, the Christophe Clement trainee has won two stakes in her last five starts. Dylan Davis will ride.
SIXTH TIME A CHARM FOR OXANA?
Four-yer-old Oxana has made five starts in stakes company, among them three stakes placings and a good fourth-place finish in the 2021 Grade 2 Prioress, behind Cilla.
What she hasn’t done is win a stake. Last out she was a well-beaten third in the Dr. Teresa Garafalo Memorail at Parx, behind Remain Anonymous and Chub Wagon. In her prior start, she finished third in the Regret at Monmouth Park.
This race – limited to horses fillies and mares that have not won an open stake – could be just what the doctor ordered. Oxana, trained by Tim Hills, will have Dylan Davis up and is 5-2 on the morning line.
She is favored in a wide-open heat.