Photo Finish Sees Rattle N Roll Come Out on Top in G3 Pimlico Special

May 19, 2023

Rattle N Roll (outside) takes the Pimlico Special by the narrowest of margins (Barbara Singer/Past The Wire)

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

BALTIMORE— Lucky Seven Stable’s Grade 1 winner Rattle N Roll, trailing all but one horse in the early going, powered through the stretch on the far outside to run down pacesetting Speed Bias and get his nose down on the wire in a thrilling edition of the historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.

The 53rd running of the 1 3/16-mile Pimlico Special for 3-year-olds and up was the fifth of six stakes, three graded, worth $1 million in purses on a sensational 14-race Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Day program, immediately preceding the 99th edition of the 1 1/8-mile fixture for 3-year-old fillies.

It was the second straight stakes victory on the program for jockey Flavien Prat following AsprAy in the $100,000 Hilltop, and both he and trainer Ken McPeek’s first in the Pimlico Special.

Favored at even money in a field of seven, Rattle N Roll ($4.20) led only late-running multiple stakes winner Armando R in the early stages as Speed Bias, a 4-year-old son of champion Uncle Mo making his stakes debut, lived up to his name and took the field through fractions of 23.56 seconds, 47.58 and 1:10.77 tracked by 17-1 long shot Keystone Field, winner of the 1 1/8-mile Claiming Crown Jewel last fall.

After saving ground early Prat swung Rattle N Roll to the outside on the far turn and they began to pick up horses, cruising up to even terms with Keystone Field at the top of the stretch and moving into second after the mile went in 1:35.61. From there it was a matter of having enough time to catch Speed Bias, and the 4-year-old colt was relentless in his pursuit, emerging from the photo finish in front as the two horses battled to the wire.

The winning time was 1:54.72 over a fast main track. It was 4 ¼ lengths back to last out Ghostzapper (G3) winner Clapton in third. Keystone Field, Kuchar, Law Professor and Armando R completed the order of finish.

Rattle N Roll after his determined victory in the Pimlico Special (Maryland Jockey Club)

McPeek and the connections initially considered the 1 1/8-mile Blame (G3) June 3 at Churchill Downs but opted instead for the Pimlico Special because of the distance. Rattle N Roll is now two-for-three at 1 3/16 miles, the same distance as the Preakness, a race McPeek won with filly Swiss Skydiver in 2020.

Previously, McPeek ran fifth with Rated R Superstar in the 2018 Pimlico Special and third with Tejano Run in 1997.

Already a millionaire, 5-year-old Rattle N Roll improved to seven-for-17 lifetime including wins in the April 22 Ben Ali (G3), 2022 Oklahoma Derby (G3), St. Louis Derby and American Derby, and 2021 Breeders’ Futurity (G1).

The Pimlico Special was created in 1937 by Alfred Vanderbilt, the master of Sagamore Farm, as the first major stakes in the United States set up as an invitational, and was won by Triple Crown champion War Admiral. The following year, War Admiral was upset by Seabiscuit in what Sports Illustrated called the ‘Race of the Century.’

Revived in 1988 by late Maryland Jockey Club president Frank De Francis, the Special’s illustrious roster of winners also includes Triple Crown winners Whirlaway, Citation and Assault, and modern-day Horses of the Year Criminal Type, Cigar, Skip Away, Mineshaft and Invasor.

$250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) Quotes

Winning Trainer Kenny McPeek (Rattle N Roll): “Well he’s a smart horse. He knows where the running starts and finishes. He doesn’t get all worked up early. It compromises his chances sometimes, but he just seems to be getting a little bit better. I think this was another really good spot for him. We’ve been a little conservative. We tried him against the higher level 3-year-olds last year and he struggled. He ran a couple of fourths. But when we went around and placed him in generous spots he gets it done.”

(What did he think at the wire?) “I wasn’t sure. I was standing maybe a sixteenth that direction (before finish). So it looked to me like it was tough. But on the video, it did look like he got his head down. Ron’s horse ran fantastic, he really did. He ran super.”

(Was it the plan to get him in the clear?) “That’s been where he’s been successful when Brian Hernandez has ridden him. We weren’t planning on coming … Then we got the probables, and it didn’t look like at a mile and three-sixteenths that this was a race we should pass. It looked like a race we should go for.”

(On winning a race with the Pimlico Special’s history): “It means a lot. I’ve seen so many really good horses win this race. The Pimlico Special has been historically one of the greatest races in America. We’d love to see it a Grade 1 again.”

Winning Jockey Flavien Prat (Rattle N Roll): “To be honest, I thought I was going to open up turning for home. But that horse on the inside really dug in. It was a nice battle, and he ran a good race. I thought for a minute I took the lead, and the other one just didn’t want to quit. He really put his heart on the track. He was brave today.”

Trainer Ron Moquett (Speed Bias, 2nd): “I thought we won it on every deal, but when they showed it, I thought, ‘Ok, they got a better view than we did.’ Naked eye, I thought we had won it, but I don’t have the angles right here, and I will leave it to the good hands of the judges. I know we ran well. We ran a winning race. I am very proud of him. This is a big race for me. This is one of the races I grew up wanting to win. Watching Mineshaft (2003 winner), watching all those kinds of horses, to be competitive in this kind of race is what we’re after. We’re not a win percentage group, we’re not a go to win at all costs every out, but when you can run well in these kinds of races, that is what makes you get up in the morning. It was a great ride. Everything worked out well but the photo.”

Jockey Luis Saez (Speed Bias, 2nd): “He tried hard. He was fresh. He ran good and was right there. For a second I thought he was going to hold on, but the other one got us at the end.”

Stable manager Brian Cohen (Clapton, 3rd): “We were happy with the way he ran. For most of his races he kind of likes to be on the outside. We tried to save ground in the first turn, and he did, and then get to the outside. But Rattle N Roll had that spot. He did his best to make that move on the inside and get through horses. He made a good run and we’re happy with him, but Rattle N Roll was the best.”

@jonathanstettin the win train keeps rolling down the tracks!

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