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Pimlico: Lukas sends Optimizer, four others, on Preakness undercard
BALTIMORE – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will have plenty to keep him busy Saturday at Pimlico even before he saddles three horses in the 138th Preakness Stakes.
Lukas has five horses running in three undercard stakes, topped by the uncoupled entry of Optimizer and Skyring in the Grade 2, $300,000 Dixie Stakes.
The Dixie, run at 1 1/8 miles, drew a bulky 13-horse field that lacks a standout.
Optimizer, who ran sixth in last year’s Preakness, is coming off a second-place finish behind Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve two weeks ago at Churchill Downs. Earlier this year, he won the Colonel Bradley and Fair Grounds handicaps, both Grade 3 events.
Skyring is winless in 11 starts since taking the James Murphy over this course last Preakness Day. Most recently, he finished fourth behind Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland.
Contenders abound in the Dixie, including recent allowance winners Imagining, Howe Great, and Utley, as well as Willcox Inn, who was second to Amira’s Prince in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap in March at Fair Grounds, and Swift Warrior, winner of a pair of Grade 3’s to begin the year.
Maryland Sprint: Lukas targets repeat
Lukas, who won the Maryland Sprint Handicap last year with Hamazing Destiny, sends out Laurie’s Rocket in Saturday’s renewal of the Grade 3, $150,000 race at six furlongs.
Laurie’s Rocket will be making his seventh start of the year. He’s won three races, including the Hot Springs Stakes, and most recently finished third in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes.
Laurie’s Rocket drew post 8 in the 10-horse field, which should allow Joel Rosario to take up a stalking position in a race loaded with speed.
Among the early speed types is Poseidon’s Warrior, last year’s Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt winner, who makes his first start in five months.
Action Andy, Gentlemen’s Bet, Immortal Eyes, and Candyman E add to the field’s depth.
Gallorette: Samitar sheds arch-rival
Without Centre Court in the field, Samitar looks well spotted to gain her first win of the year in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Gallorette Handicap.
Samitar was a Group 1 winner in England before coming to the U.S., where she has won the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont from five starts. Three of her losses came to Centre Court, to whom she ran third in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley.
Samitar, trained by Chad Brown, will face nine rivals, including stablemate Pianist. Other contenders include Embarr and Charged Cotton, the first- and third-place finishers in the Dahlia Stakes here on April 6; Daydreamin Gracie; and Old Tune, who had a six-race winning streak snapped in the Jenny Wiley.
Allaire DuPont: Brushed by a Star sharp
Brushed by a Star’s North America tour hits Pimlico Saturday when she and Summer Applause head a field of seven entered in the Grade 3, $150,00 Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.
In three starts this year, Brushed by a Star finished second in the Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston in January; third in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita in March; and second in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne in Chicago in April.
She gets a rider switch to Rosario and will break from post 7.
James Murphy: Pletcher brings Notacatbutallama
Trainer Todd Pletcher kept all his 3-year-old dirt horses in New York, but sent Notacatbutallama here for the $100,000 James Murphy Stakes at a mile on the turf.
Notacatbutallama went 3 for 6 on turf last year before he tried the dirt in an effort to see if he was Triple Crown material.
His main rivals in the 11-horse field look to be Redwood Kitten, third in the Grade 3 Transylvania, and China Holiday, who was beaten a head when second in the Sophomore Turf Stakes at Tampa.
Chick Lang: Undrafted back in sprint
Undrafted, owned by NFL star receiver Wes Welker, returns to sprinting in Saturday’s $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes at six furlongs.
Undrafted, third in the Swale and Hutcheson at seven furlongs, most recently finished 13th in the Blue Grass Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.
Among his eight rivals are Zee Bros, a fast maiden winner at Santa Anita for Bob Baffert, and Clawback, winner of the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct in the winter.
◗ The fillies Sweet Emma Rose and Knit One Purr Too head a field of eight 2-year-olds in the $100,000 Rollicking Stakes at five furlongs. Wesley Ward, who trains Sweet Emma Rose, also sends out the colt No Nay Never, who like his female counterpart was a debut winner at Keeneland.
Brushed By A Star,s North American American Tour...well put...She,s ran at 14 different racetracks in her 23 races. with a record 6 8 3 earnings $629,031.Rosario will be her 10th different rider.What an honest filly!
Last time I checked,D Wayne Lucas was in the Horse Racing Hall Of Fame in Saratoga Springs,NY....Guess what people?,we all grow old in time,and whatever skills we have tend to diminish...how would u like it,if u were a senior citizen doing something you loved and some moron came along and said,"get lost your too old!". Never seizes to amaze me that whatever the topic on DRF...it's followed by lots of negative ,ignorant comments by the uninformed.
I really sympathize with Optimizer. He must be made out of iron to survive his trainer. Just think what a good horse he could have been, in more caring hands. Chez McGaughey or Drysdale, for example.
Why Wayne lukas don't retire, the game is really leaving him
Just a few thoughts.... 1-Orb and 5 others ran the derby 2wks ago....only 3 fresh players 2-Optimizer is the only one who ran all 3 legs of the triple crown last year....he ran all yr long and is running this yr...seems he is healthier/more durable than most
A lot of horses from last years Kentucky Derby couldn't make it to the fall...Union Rags, I'll Have Another, Bodemeister, Hansen, Gemologist but Optimizer, Trinniberg, and Take Charge Indy...still running. Glad there are still owners who are willing to campaign their horses and not go for the quick breeding bucks.
A thought about the Dixie: Why is the Team Valor horse, Howe Great, still being trained by Graham Motion? Really strange that Rick Mettee hasn't started any horses for the group, considering that Mr. Irwin's well-worded press release stated a May 1st start date!!
DWL , didn't you just run Optimizer ? Cool em out and run em back quick ! Wow..
Optimizer is grossly handled. I think he could have been a very good turfer with the right trainer.
The poor horse even looks sad in photo. Poor baby being part of such a butchery of a barn. I feel bad for the horse.