Pimlico Race Course News and Notes

April 28, 2021

Jaxon Traveler Pointed to Chick Lang (G3) May 15 at Pimlico

Fritchie (G3) Winner Hibiscus Punch Faces Champion Gamine Saturday

Watch, Wager on Kentucky Derby (G1), Oaks (G1) at Pimlico, Laurel

BALTIMORE – West Point Thoroughbreds and Marvin Delfiner’s multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old Jaxon Traveler, a head shy of being undefeated through five career starts, is pointing toward making a return to Maryland for Preakness weekend.

West Point president and CEO Terry Finley said Jaxon Traveler is likely to make his next start in the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico Race Course May 15 on the undercard of the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. A. Leonard Pineau, Jaxon Traveler is trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, a three-time winner of the Chick Lang with Lantana Mob (2008), Holy Boss (2015) and Mitole (2018), the champion male sprinter of 2019.

“I haven’t locked it down with Steve, and he’s really the captain of the ship, but that is going to be the thought,” Finley said. “Obviously we’re back a little bit quicker than we’d like, but we’re OK there.”

Jaxon Traveler earned his fourth win and second in a stakes in the six-furlong Bachelor April 24, going gate to wire to score by 2 ¾ lengths. The victory came four weeks after suffering his first loss in the March 20 Gazebo, also six furlongs at Oaklawn, a race where he was unable to establish his regular prominent position up front and had his rally come up just short.

The Gazebo was Jaxon Traveler’s first start of 2021. He had been pointed to make his sophomore debut in the Jan. 13 Spectacular Bid at Laurel Park, but was sidelined by a minor foot injury.

“He came out of the race very good,” Finley said. “I don’t know if Steve’s going to take him to Kentucky or go back to New York. He’s probably going to come to Kentucky because I’m sure he’s got some other horses to run over the weekend at Preakness, so that’s probably what we’re looking at.”

The six-furlong Chick Lang would mark a homecoming for Jaxon Traveler, who romped to a front-running 10-length maiden special weight triumph last September at Pimlico. He won twice more in Maryland, both at Laurel – a six-furlong optional claiming allowance in October and his first career stakes win in the seven-furlong Maryland Juvenile Futurity in December.

Jaxon Traveler, by multiple graded-stakes winning sprinter Munnings, was named Maryland’s champion 2-year-old of 2020.

“He’s really thrived. We’re looking forward to getting him back East and seeing what opens up,” Finley said. “We know that he doesn’t need a racetrack. He takes his racetrack with him, but it is very, very reassuring to know that he likes [Pimlico].”

The Chick Lang is among 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.25 million on the Preakness Day program. The 97th running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies headlines a card featuring six stakes, four graded, worth $1 million in purses May 14.

Fritchie (G3) Winner Hibiscus Punch Faces Champion Gamine Saturday

Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson’s homebred Hibiscus Punch, upset winner of the Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) Feb. 20 at Laurel Park, is entered to make her first start since in Saturday’s Derby City Distaff (G1) on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard at Churchill Downs.

Hibiscus Punch, based at Laurel with trainer Justin Nixon, drew Post 5 in a field of six for the seven-furlong sprint led by 2020 champion female sprinter Gamine. It is carded seventh on a 14-race program (1:56 p.m.).

“Ed wanted to give her a whirl over there. He wanted to take a shot in a Grade 1 with her,” Nixon said. “We had to juggle some things, so it kind of turned into Plan A.”

Hibiscus Punch was entered in the $100,000 Primonetta April 24 at Pimlico Race Course, originally part of the six-stakes, $650,000 Spring Stakes Spectacular program, but the race didn’t fill. Instead, the 6-year-old mare breezed five furlongs that morning in 1:02.80 over Pimlico’s main track.

“We adapted to the schedule change and we got in a nice work at Pimlico,” Nixon said. “She’s doing good.”

Following the Fritchie, Nixon had initially hoped to send Hibiscus Punch to Kentucky for the seven-furlong Madison (G1) April 3 but was unable to travel due to an equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) quarantine at Laurel that has since been lifted. 

“We were disappointed not to go to Keeneland, obviously, but that’s what happens. Horse racing, you make the best of plans and you better be ready to make changes,” Nixon said. “It doesn’t always go the way you want it to. We’ll see how she fares at Churchill. We’re looking forward to it, to give her ran opportunity. Hopefully she runs well.”

Hibiscus Punch provided Nixon with his first career graded-stakes victory in the Fritchie, sitting off a pace set by multiple stakes winners Hello Beautiful and Dontletsweetfoolya before sweeping past to win by 2 ½ lengths at odds of 41-1.

“Yeah, we watch the replay quite a bit. I’m guilty of that,” Nixon said. “I do go back and watch the replay and it’s definitely a ‘wow’ kind of a race, isn’t it?”

Following Saturday, Nixon said the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship Series, a collection of 24 stakes worth $2.75 million in purses held primarily in Maryland through Dec. 26, is a possible target for Hibiscus Punch.

The MATCH Series kicks off with the $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) and $150,000 Allaire du Pont (G3) May 14 and $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) and $100,000 Skipat May 15 at Pimlico.

“I’ve talked to Ed about the MATCH Series, so there’s a possibility of her participating in some of those,” Nixon said. “We’re just going to take it one day at a time after Saturday and see what happens.”

Watch, Wager on Kentucky Derby (G1), Oaks (G1) at Pimlico, Laurel

Pimlico Race Course will open its doors at 10 a.m. and offer a special 12:15 p.m. post time for its live nine-race card on Kentucky Derby (G1) day, Saturday, May 1.

Doors will also open at 10 a.m. at Laurel Park on Derby day from Churchill Downs, which will run the first of its 14 races at 10:30 a.m. The Kentucky Derby will go off as Race 12 with a scheduled post time of 6:57 p.m.

Pimlico’s $5 live program Saturday will include the entire card from both Churchill and Gulfstream Park. While the clubhouse remains closed, the grandstand concession stand and bar will be open. Attendance is limited to 25 percent of capacity, with all health and safety protocols being enforced including social distancing and the wearing of masks.

Laurel Park’s second-floor clubhouse sports bar and concession stand will be open to the public on Derby day, along with the grandstand’s sports book. The Ruffian Room on the second floor will be available to patrons as an additional simulcast location, while tickets are available for the Silks Room at a cost of $15 that includes a daily race program.

The first-floor simulcast area at Laurel will also be supplemented by locations in the conference center and apron tent on Derby day.

Both Pimlico and Laurel will offer advance wagering on Saturday’s full Derby card Friday, April 30, Kentucky Oaks (G1) day. Pimlico’s nine-race live program will have a regular post time of 12:40 p.m.

Doors will open at 10 a.m. Friday. Oaks day post time is 10:30 a.m. with the Oaks going off as Race 11 of 13 with a scheduled post time of 5:51 p.m.

The Maryland Jockey Club will also be accepting wagers Friday on the Oaks-Derby double and the Derby Pick 3 (Oaks, Old Forester Turf, Derby). Bets must be made by post time of the Oaks.

Pimlico’s $5 live daily program Friday will include advance information on the Derby along with the entire Oaks day card from Churchill as well as Gulfstream Park.

As with Derby day, only the grandstand concession stand and bar will be open at Pimlico Friday. The second-floor clubhouse sports bar and concession stand and the grandstand sports book areas will be open to the public at Laurel Park on Oaks day.

Live racing returns to Pimlico for the ongoing Preakness Meet with a nine-race program Thursday. Post time is 12:40 p.m.

For info on our Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby webinar / seminar, click HERE, you won’t want to miss this. Be prepared, be with us!

Maryland Jockey Club

Photos: Jaxon Traveler and Hibiscus Punch, (Courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club)

@PastTheWire Great read brought back some sad memories.The only race she lost killed her. Legacy. @jonathanstettin pic.twitter.com/Jx9WF7OjUe

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