Baltimore, Md. – Two races before he sends out Old Homestead in quest of his first official graded-stakes win as a trainer, Brett Brinkman will saddle a filly that – save for a technicality – would have given him his first such triumph.
The trainer’s 4-year-old Cilla, the 7-2 morning-line favorite to win Saturday’s $100,000 Skipat at historic Pimlico Race Course, won the Prioress (G2) at Saratoga last September. But, rather than deal with the red tape required to acquire a New York training license for what amounted to a single race, the Louisiana-based horseman handed her over to Charlton Baker, who received credit for the win.
Marablue Farm and Pegasus Stud’s Old Homestead could provide Brinkman with his first graded-stakes win in the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3), a six-furlong dash for 3-year-olds, also part of Saturday’s Preakness Day program. Old Homestead is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a field of nine.
But Cilla will come first for Brinkman when she takes on fillies and mares in the six-furlong Skipat. The filly holds a special place in Brinkman’s heart. He not only raced the filly’s dam, Sittin At The Bar – a winner of more than $700,000 – but made the decision to breed her to two-time Horse of the Year and 2014 Preakness (G1) winner California Chrome.
“Cilla’s mother was my top horse,” Brinkman said of Sittin At The Bar. “When I nicked her to California Chrome, it was the Pulpit cross and the fact he was a freshman stallion that year that attracted me to him. It worked.”
The result was Cilla, winner of seven of 15 career starts and nearly $500,000 in earnings. Cilla opened her 4-year-old campaign with a pair of easy victories in listed stakes at Delta Downs before venturing to Keeneland and the Madison (G1). Cilla caught a muddy track and stiffer competition in the seven-furlong Madison, finishing sixth.
“We felt [the muddy track] did compromise her a little bit, just by the way she traveled over it,” Brinkman said. “And we were taking a shot at the Grade 1. We took a roll at it.”
Brinkman said “we just wanted to make things a little easier on her” by running in the Skipat, a race that should suit Cilla. She has won three of her four career starts at the six-furlong distance of the Skipat.
In the meantime, Brinkman said Sittin At The Bar has produced a Frosted baby and is in foal to red-hot sire Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year.
“She’s worthy, so we stepped her up,” Brinkman said.
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photo: Cilla winning the Prioress at Saratoga. (NYRA/Coglianese)