Updated on 04/28/2012 5:46PM

Pimlico: Hudson Steele returns from long layoff to take Henry Clark

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Hudson Steele, ridden by Chris Decarlo, may move on to the Grade 2 Dixie on May 19 after winning his season's debut in the Henry Clark.

Hudson Steele, returning from an absence of nearly a year, hardly looked rusty coming from slightly off the pace to capture Saturday’s $75,000 Henry Clark Stakes on Pimlico’s turf course.

A 5-year-old gelding trained by Todd Pletcher for owner Roger Weiss, Hudson Steele ($6.20) was racing for the first time since missing by a neck as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy last May 7.

Sent off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10 older turf runners, Hudson Steele, ridden for the first time by Chris Decarlo, sat in third  during the early stages of the race as El Commodore set the pace while pressured by Barbaro’s younger brother Nicanor through a half-mile in 48.39 seconds.

Hudson Steele responded to Decarlo’s urging to grab the lead with a quarter-mile remaining and won by 2 1/4 lengths while covering the mile in 1:38.50. Monument Hill rallied to get second over El Commodore.

Decarlo said he got some advice on how to handle Hudson Steele from Pletcher earlier in the day.

“I spoke to Todd this morning and he said he was a really nice horse. ‘He’s going to give you a really good turn of foot’,” said DeCarlo. “He broke sharp and put me in a good spot. I was biding my time, just waiting to go. As soon as I asked my horse he took off, kind of idled a little bit once we hit the turn but I cracked him once or twice and he just went on. He’s a nice horse.”

Pletcher indicated he may point Hudson Steele to the Gade 2, $300,000 Dixie Stakes on Preakness Day, May 19.

“He got a perfect trip and it was a solid comeback,” Pletcher said. “We will see how he comes back and keep an eye on the Dixie.”

Other Clark runners that could return for the Dixie include Humble and Hungry (fourth place) and Concealed Identity (seventh).

A son of Johannesburg, Hudson Steele has now won 5 of 9 starts. His previous stakes win came as a 3-year-old of 2010 in the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park.