Double Crown’s Polynesian win tops Pimlico stakes

Built Wright Stables’ Grade 2 winner Double Crown, just six days removed from competing in an out-of-town grass stakes, returned to the Maryland dirt and powered through an opening along the rail in mid-stretch en route to a 4 ½-length triumph in the $100,000 Polynesian at historic Pimlico Race Course.

The 19th running of the 1 1/16-mile Polynesian for 3-year-olds and up was the last of three stakes on opening Sunday of Pimlico’s nine-day fall meet, following Whiskey and Rye’s victory in the $100,000 Sensible Lady, which was rained off the grass, and Swill’s win in the $75,000 Challedon.

Ridden by Jeiron Barbosa, who notched seven wins over opening weekend, Double Crown ($15.80) earned his fourth career stakes victory and first since a 42-1 upset of the one-mile Kelso Handicap (G2) last October at Aqueduct.

“We knew it was going to be a short field, and last [fall] this horse won a Grade 2 on seven days’ rest,” owner Norman ‘Lynn’ Cash said. “He’s always the high odds. When he fires, it doesn’t matter about the rest. We’re going to give him two or three weeks of rest this time. He’s one of those horses that when he fires, he’s good.”

Multiple stakes winner Ournationonparade, breaking outside three of his four rivals, was intent on the lead and held it through an opening quarter mile that went in a deliberate 25.93 seconds. Zabracadabra, a winner of two straight but unraced since July 7, forced the issue in second with Un Ojo, 72-1 upset winner of the 2022 Rebel (G2), in third and Double Crown saving ground along the rail in fourth. Be Better, riding a three-race win streak that included the July 29 Deputed Testamony at Laurel Park, trailed the field.

Ournationonparade remained ahead after the half went in 49.59 still tracked by Zabracadabra as Double Crown moved into third narrowly ahead of Un Ojo on the outside and Be Better between them. Un Ojo swung three wide to challenge Zabracadabra for the lead as Ournationonparade began to fall back and Be Better was tipped to the far outside to launch his bid. Barbosa stayed patient and had plenty of room once straightened for home to rally on the inside of Ournationofparade and draw clear in 1:45.09 over a main track rated good.

Un Ojo held second, 1 ½ lengths ahead of Be Better. It was another 1 ¾ lengths back to Zabracadabra in fourth with Ournationonparade fifth.

“[Barbosa] had him in great position. He saved ground and it was a slow pace, so it was surprising that the rest of them didn’t come running, too,” Cash said. “It’s kind of like the day when he won the Kelso in New York. It was a slower pace and he just came through. This was a good field, too.”

Bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and Rebecca Davis, Double Crown won his 2019 debut at Laurel for trainer Lacey Gaudet before being purchased privately by Dean Reeves. At 3 he won the Roar and Carry Back, was second in the Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico and third in the Smile Sprint (G3) for trainer Kathy Ritvo.

Double Crown ran six times for trainer Tom Amoss, including a second in the 2021 Maryland Million Sprint, before being claimed by Cash for $40,000 out of a runner-up finish last June at Churchill Downs. The 6-year-old Bourbon Courage gelding was second, beaten 7 ½ lengths by Benevengo, in last year’s Polynesian.

Double Crown
Double Crown won the Polynesian Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue.

“It seems like he’s running really good. He didn’t like the track at Charles Town two back and I got sucked into the turf because of the short field last time,” Cash said. “We’ll probably look for a stakes similar to this. The Mid-Atlantic is full of these.”

The Polynesian is named for the 1945 Preakness (G1) winner that put together a record of 27-10-10 with purse earnings of $310,410 from 1944-47, 16 of his victories coming in stakes. Named the U.S. champion sprinter in 1947, he went on to a successful stud career most notably as the sire of Hall of Famer Native Dancer, the 1953 Preakness winner, and grandsire of 1966 Preakness winner Kauai King.

NOTES The first of the day’s three stakes, the Challedon, scratched from five runners down to three and went to Swill. Once a $285,000 yearling, Swill earned his first career stakes win and fourth victory from 10 outings. Sheldon Russell was in the irons for wife Brittany Russell, who trains the Munnings gelding for Kueber Racing and Ten Strike Racing… Whiskey and Rye, at 9-1 the longest shot in the four-horse field, won the Sensible Lady, which was taken off the turf, for her first stakes win. Owned by Mens Grille Racing, the five-year-old Maclean’s Music mare is trained by John Robb and was ridden by Xavier Perez… A pair of horses who made their previous starts at Timonium won maiden special weight contests for two-year-olds Sunday, Divine Magic (trainer Timmy Salzman, jockey Jean Alvelo) taking the first via disqualification after getting herded out late and Fainor’s Filets (Brittany Russell/Jevian Toledo) winning the third…