BALTIMORE, Md. – On the day before the 145th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1), the Maryland Jockey Club played host to eight Claiming Crown qualifying races on the Pimlico Special (G3) program Friday at Pimlico Race Course.
Legendary Pimlico, celebrating its 150th anniversary, showcased some of the best blue-collar runners in the Mid-Atlantic in preparation for the 22nd Claiming Crown, which The Stronach Group will host for the ninth consecutive year on Saturday, Dec. 5 at Gulfstream Park. The event will take center stage on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 Championship Meet at Gulfstream that begins Wednesday, Dec. 2.
Highlighting the prep races at Pimlico was Wicked Awesome, who parlayed a main-track-only status to a resounding 10 ¾-length score in an off-the-turf $25,000 starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares 3 years old and up.
Trained by Ferris Allen for Warwick Stable, the 4-year-old daughter of Awesome Again was sent off at odds of 3-5 in the field of five in the qualifier for the $95,000 Tiara in the Claiming Crown. Under jockey Horacio Karamanos, Wicked Awesome tracked the leaders in the three path throughout the race and then rolled by and opened up in the lane, winning in a time of 1:45.14.
Wicked Awesome came into the race off a four-length score in the Twix Stakes on Sept. 5 at Laurel Park following a fifth-place finish behind Dunbar Road in the Delaware Handicap (G2).
For the qualifier for the $95,000 Emerald Stakes, trainer Horacio DePaz came down from Belmont Park, legged up Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, and watched 5-year-old gelding Singapore Trader put on a dominant performance winning a $25,000 starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles. Owned by Barry K. Schwartz, Singapore Trader, a gray or roan son of Flatter, pressed even-money favorite Abiding Star to the lane and then opened up by four lengths, ultimately winning by 2 ½ in a time of 1:44.18.
Proving content to compete in an off-the-turf five-furlong sprint, David Staudacher’s Unmoored showed a sharp turn of foot, leading gate-to-wire to win the prep for the $90,000 Canterbury Tom Metzen Memorial for 3-year-olds and up. Part of the large contingent in town for trainer Michael Maker this weekend, the 6-year-old son of Midshipman toyed with five other runners, completing the race in 57.64 seconds under Pimlico’s leading rider Trevor McCarthy.
In another off-the-turf five-furlong sprint, Laura M. McKinney’s Little Skiff pulled off a shocker for veteran Pimlico-based trainer Ann Merryman in the qualifier for the $90,000 Distaff Dash. Ridden by Paco Lopez, the 5-year-old mare – another offspring of the stallion Midshipman – led the entire way to win by a neck in a time of 59.48.
McCarthy struck again in the prep for the $85,000 Rapid Transit, perfectly timing his late move aboard Thundershook to score in a $16,000 starter allowance. Thundershook, a 4-year-old gelding by Super Saver, trained by Jamie Ness for tRun To Win Stable and Jagger Inc., turned six furlongs in 1:11.08.
Aaron Racing Stables’ Mia Bella Rossa broke sharply under Alex Cintron, dropped back on the backstretch and then powered home five wide to win the qualifier for the $80,000 Glass Slipper for fillies and mares by two lengths. Trained by Scott Lake, the 6-year-old daughter of Hold Me Back ran the 1 1/16-mile dirt starter allowance in 1:46.76.
Mohan Stables Inc.’s Bobby G upset a field of six at odds of 10-1, winning the prep for the $75,000 Iron Horse Kent Stirling Memorial. Trained by Jonathan Maldonado and ridden by Alex Cintron, the 6-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again ran the 1 1/16-mile dirt race in 1:45.61 to win by 3 ¼ lengths.
Pimlico-based Dirtyfoot, owned by Proud Stables Inc., hauled in leader Phantom Ro late to win the qualifier for the $75,000 Express Stakes for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs. The 5-year-old gelded son of Tiz Wonderful, trained by Bruno Tessore and ridden by Luis Garcia, turned six furlongs in 1:11.23 at odds of 2-1 to win by 1 ½ lengths.
The Claiming Crown is a partnership event of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). The nine-race card at Gulfstream Park will offer combined purses of $835,000.
Press Release Photo: Wicked Awesome. Credit: Ma