Arabian Lion much the best in the Sir Barton (Maryland Jockey Club)
3YO Scores by Four to Open Preakness Day Stakes Program
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
BALTIMORE— Zedan Racing Stables Inc.’s Arabian Lion kicked off the Preakness Day stakes program in style Saturday, rolling to a popular four-length victory in the $100,000 Sir Barton sponsored by Brandon and Diannah Perry to benefit the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The 25th running of the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton for 3-year-olds was the first of 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.75 million in purses headlined by the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Arabian Lion ($2.80) broke sharply and found himself in familiar position on the lead under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, chased by 25-1 long shot Feeling Woozy around the first turn in a 24.47-second quarter of a mile, until Tapit’s Conquest moved up to the stalking spot racing two wide after a half in 48.13.
Velazquez had yet to ask Arabian Lion at the top of the lane, but the son of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify responded when roused in mid-stretch and drew clear to win in 1:41.43 over a fast main track. Tapit’s Conquest was a game second, 6 ½ lengths ahead of Denington. Sheriff Ronnie and Feeling Woozy completed the order of finish. Masterwork was scratched.
It was the second Sir Barton win for Velazquez, following King for a Day in 2019. Hall of Famer Bob Baffert – who also trained Justify – earned his fourth Sir Barton victory after Fame and Power (2015), American Freedom (2016) and Ax Man (2018).
Arabian Lion fetched $600,000 as a 2-year-old in training last April and broke his maiden at first asking in October. He raced twice more as a juvenile, finishing fifth as the favorite in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). This year he was fourth in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) Feb. 4 at Santa Anita and second by a half-length to First Mission in the April 15 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland.
Sir Barton won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1919, becoming the first horse to sweep what wouldn’t become known as the Triple Crown until Gallant Fox matched the feat in 1930. He won or placed in all 13 of his starts as a 3-year-old and retired in 1920 with 13 wins from 31 races. In 1957 Sir Barton was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame.
$100,000 Sir Barton Quotes
Winning Trainer Bob Baffert (Arabian Lion): “I should have run him in the Preakness! I didn’t think he could lose in the Lexington (when second behind First Mission). I was just, ‘How did he get beat?’ I think that race sort of helped him, and I wanted to give him one more time around two turns. He is such a beautiful horse. He is like a smaller version of Justify and I think he is just starting to wake up. What I saw today, and that time was pretty impressive, I think he [belonged] in the Preakness the way he ran today, and I probably should have put both of them in there. The Belmont is a possibility with him.
“He left there well. Johnny (Velazquez) got aggressive with him. When he came back, he was not blowing hard. He did it the right way and the time was really impressive. I don’t know how far he is going to go, but, right now, it’s all about if your horse is peaking and moving forward. When I first got him, he was sort of heavy and now he is getting fitter. What I saw today I thought I was going to see in the Lexington. If he would have won the Lexington, he would have definitely been in the Preakness. I would have had two (National Treasure being the other).
Winning Jockey John Velazquez (Arabian Lion): “I wanted to keep his mind on running because he got to the stretch and started drifting out. Obviously, he has changed a lot from two starts back when I rode him (fourth in Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita), because when I rode him, he was a bad fourth. It didn’t seem like he wanted to go the two turns. He’s a different horse from two starts back.”