Pimlico News and Notes

May 21, 2021

Wondrwherecraigis Has Connections Excited After Impressive Comeback

Multiple Stakes Winner Anna’s Bandit Breezes Wednesday, Nears Return

Sunday Program Includes Maiden Special Weight for Juvenile Fillies 

BALTIMORE, Md. – Wonder no more. Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ stakes-placed Wondrwherecraigis is back, and in a big way.

The 4-year-old Munnings gelding made a triumphant return after 258 days between races with a front-running, three-length allowance score May 14 at Pimlico Race Course on the undercard of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

Trained by Brittany Russell and ridden by her husband, jockey Sheldon Russell, Wondrwherecraig completed six furlongs over a fast main track in 1:09.38 to earn his third win from five career starts and first since back-to-back victories to open his career last spring at Laurel Park.

Wondrwherecraigis then ran third in the Gold Mover at Belmont Park and fourth in the Amsterdam (G2) at Saratoga before going to the sidelines. The top three horses in the Amsterdam were Yaupon, a next-out, record-setting winner of the 2020 Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico; 2019 Hopeful (G1) winner Basin and Premier Star, who came back to win the Jersey Shore in his subsequent start.

 “It’s so rewarding because the whole group, when I said the horse needed a break, he got the break. No pushing to get him back. The way it worked it out to make his comeback was even better. It’s really cool,” Brittany Russell said. “We’ve always liked him. He ran up against some nice horses in New York, and he’d been training really well. I think he was just ready to go.”

Entered in the second-level optional claiming allowance with Belle Tapisserie, in for a $35,000 tag racing first off the claim for Russell, Wondrwherecraigis quickly established a forward position from Post 7 in a field of 10 while his favored stablemate was slow to get going from Post 2 and wound up far back.

Wondrwherecraigis sailed through splits of 22.65, 45.33 and 57.15 seconds and cruised home an easy winner. Belle Tapisserie wound up ninth, beaten 10 lengths, to snap a four-race win streak and was claimed out of the race.

“We kind of thought the other horse might bounce out of there and ‘Craig’ might stalk, but Sheldon took advantage of a good situation. He broke well and he had to go with it. He traveled well and it worked out,” Russell said.

“Trust me, I don’t think he’s a speed horse. We didn’t really think that he would break on top and try and wire them, but he broke away from there so fast. I looked twice thinking Brittany’s other horse was going to run up the rail and I’m five ahead,” Sheldon Russell said. “I just put him in front, parked him as slow as I could and turning for home I still had a lot of horse. Great job by Brittany and her team. He was ready to go.”

Wondrwherecraigis breezed once in late October and early November before going to the sidelines, returning to the work tab March 21 at Laurel and posting six timed moves at Laurel and Pimlico for his return. 

“To be fair, he’s always been a nice horse. We’ve always thought he was really nice. He showed us that last year when he ran a great race in the Amsterdam,” Sheldon Russell said. “We just gave him some time. Obviously, you never know if they’re going to come back the same horse. When he came back, he started working good, but it’s really hard to get them fit to go first time. He put in a really nice bullet work out of the gate [May 6] and we were sort of like, ‘What do we do?’ Brittany and the owner came up with a plan to start him in an easier spot and he showed he has maintained a lot of his ability.”

Where that ability takes him next remains up for discussion. The $100,000 Lite the Fuse for 3-year-olds and up sprinting seven furlongs, a Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series race scheduled for July 4 at Laurel, is possible.

“It was just kind of getting him back to the races and seeing how it went, and it went well. We’ll see how he comes out and make a plan moving forward,” Brittany Russell said. “There’s plenty of local stakes and things. We just want to make sure that he comes out of this fine.”

Anna’s Bandit (Maryland Jockey Club)

Multiple Stakes Winner Anna’s Bandit Breezes Wednesday, Nears Return

No Guts No Glory Farm’s 11-time stakes-winning mare Anna’s Bandit, bred, owned and trained by Jerry Robb, worked five furlongs Wednesday at Delaware Park as she nears her return to the races.

The 7-year-old Great Notion mare was timed in 1:01.80, fourth-fastest of 10 horses, following three sharp breezes at Pimlico Race Course and two others at Laurel Park since the end of March. Anna’s Bandit last raced in the July 11, 2020 Dashing Beauty at Delaware, finishing third.

Robb nominated Anna’s Bandit to the $100,000 Runhappy Skipat for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting six furlongs May 15 on the undercard of the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1), but opted to skip the race. Chub Wagon won to improve her perfect career record to 6-0.

“She’s done really good. She’s about ready to run, I just want to find an easy spot to start her in. I don’t want to make her run that hard first time,” Robb said. “There’s an allowance race later in the month, so maybe that.”

Anna’s Bandit tied for the most wins of any horse in 2019 with nine, seven of them in stakes including the Conniver, Maryland Million Distaff and Politely at Laurel. The coronavirus pandemic and a minor foot injury limited her to four starts last year, winning the Original Gold at Charles Town, running second in the Geisha and third in the Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel prior to the Dashing Beauty.

“She bruised a foot and missed all the good races I was pointing to, so I just gave her the winter off. She did good,” Robb said. “She was at my farm, getting babied like she always does. Never missed a beat.

“She’s doing great but she’s so big and fat; I mean, she’s fatter than I am,” he added. “I won’t know how fit she is until I run her. She acts like she’s fit but you never know.”

Anna’s Bandit owns 17 wins, four seconds, eight thirds and $782,655 in purse earnings from 36 career starts. Jockey Xavier Perez has been aboard for all but six of her races, and is also the regular rider for Robb’s younger stable star, multiple stakes winner Street Lute, most recently sixth in the $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) May 14 at Pimlico.

“They’re two of my favorite girls,” Perez said. “Both of them are really, really, really special. Hopefully they just keep getting stronger.

“I get excited. I’m like a proud daddy. Those horses are like my children. I’m one of the few jockeys that fall in love with their horses even when we’re not supposed to,” he added. “I get the chance because I’m riding for an amazing trainer and an amazing organization, the Jerry Robb barn. I’m proud to be riding for him.”

Sunday Program Includes Maiden Special Weight for Juvenile Fillies

Seven fillies, five of them first-time starters, are entered to sprint 4 ½ furlongs over the main track in a $40,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-olds Sunday at Pimlico Race Course.

Post time for the first of nine races Sunday is 12:40 p.m. The juvenile race is carded as Race 2 (1:13 p.m.).

Among the field is Bandits Warrior, a half-sister to 11-time stakes winner Anna’s Bandit, bred, owned and trained by Jerry Robb. The Maryland-bred daughter of Mosler, who runs for No Guts No Glory Farm, shows four timed breezes since late April, the most recent a three-furlong move from the gate in 38 seconds May 18 at Delaware Park.

No Guts No Glory Farm has another Maryland homebred in the group, an Outflanker filly named Mama G’s Wish that ran third, beaten 5 ½ lengths as the favorite, in a 4 ½-furlong waiver maiden claiming spot May 8 at Pimlico.

Also exiting that May 8 race is Cabra Chica, racing first time for owner R. Larry Johnson and trainer Mike Trombetta after being claimed for $35,000 out of her runner-up finish, 2 ¼ lengths behind winner Chica Rabiosa.

Kenwood Racing and Degaetano & Pastore, Inc.’s Tessa P ships in from Monmouth Park via South Florida for trainer Kelly Breen. Bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, the chestnut filly is a daughter of 2012 Malibu (G1) and 2013 Potrero Grande (G2) winner Jimmy Creed.

Sunday’s Race 7 is a second-level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass that attracted a field of eight including multiple stakes-placed Don’t Blame Judy and War Canoe; Stop War, a nine-length off-the-turf allowance winner going one mile Feb. 6 at Fair Grounds; Cat’s Pajamas, fifth by three lengths as the favorite in the 2020 Lake Placid (G2) at Saratoga; and In a Hurry from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

The feature comes in Race 8, a third-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs on the main track. Among the field of seven are 9-year-old gelding Always Sunshine, winner of the 2016 Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) at Pimlico; multiple stakes winner Noble Commander; Absentee, third by less than a length in the 2020 Fall Highweight (G3); Whiskey and You, a winner of two straight; and 2020 Polynesian winner Eastern Bay, second by a nose to Laki in the 2020 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3).

Pimlico Press Release

Photo: 146th Preakness at Pimlico. (Maryland Jockey Club)

@jonathanstettin eaaaaaaaaaazy winner.

Ryan Cimino @smcimino2 View testimonials