Five-Furlong Dash Marks Fifth Stakes Win for 6YO Gelding
BALTIMORE, Md. – William A. Branch’s Carotari, unraced since late December, made a triumphant return to competition with a front-running 1 ½-length score in Saturday’s $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The 17th running of the McKay, a five-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up, was the eighth of 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.75 million in purses on a blockbuster 14-race program, immediately preceding the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Carotari ($4.80) gave jockey Luis Saez – who rides Kentucky Oaks (G1)-winning filly Secret Oath in the Preakness – his second consecutive stakes victory following Ethereal Road in the $100,000 Sir Barton. It was the first McKay win for both he and trainer Brian Lynch.
A gelded 6-year-old son of Grade 1 turf winner Artie Schiller, Carotari broke alertly from Post 2 and flashed his speed, blazing through a quarter-mile in 21.90 seconds and a half in 44.69. Carotari began to edge away from the field once straightened for home and had plenty left to hold off late runs from Smokin’ Jay on the far outside and Seven Scents, who were separated by a nose on the line.
Grateful Bred, the 2021 Maryland Million Turf Sprint winner, was fourth, followed by Mr. Hustle, Bank, Arthur’s Hope, The Wolfman and Hollis. Concrete Glory was scratched.
Carotari earned his ninth career win in his first start since capturing the Janus Dec. 31 at Gulfstream Park. Prior stakes wins came in the 2020 and 2021 Silks Run, also at Gulfstream and the 2020 Preview Turf Sprint at Turfway Park. He has also placed in four other stakes including a second in the 2021 Troy (G3) at Saratoga.
The Jim McKay Turf Sprint pays homage to the late Hall of Fame broadcaster and Philadelphia native who considered Baltimore his home. McKay first gained notoriety as host of ABC’s ‘Wide World of Sports’ in 1961 and then wide acclaim as voice of the Olympics, winning 13 Emmy Awards and the Eclipse Award of Merit. He was instrumental in conceiving and launching the groundbreaking Maryland Million in 1986 and passed away in 2008 at 86.
$100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint Quote
Winning jockey Luis Saez, Carotari: “He is pretty fast. He is pretty quick. That is the way he likes to be. Today, he ran pretty nice. I rode him pretty confident. When I came to the top of the stretch, I had a lot of horse. We just waited for somebody to come and close and just let him run. He did the rest. He was very comfortable. I could feel someone coming, but I had so much horse. He was still pretty strong. He is a pretty nice horse. He likes a track like this [firm]. It was perfect.”
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photo by Maryland Jockey Club