05/30/2013 12:59PM

Pimlico: Mettee can jump-start meet with Cerro in Canonero II

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Barbara D. Livingston
Cerro will race with blinkers for the first time on Saturday.

Rick Mettee sent out his first two starters as the trainer for Team Valor International this week, picking up a pair of second-place finishes, one in a maiden claiming race at Parx and the other moved up by disqualification in the Little Silver Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Mettee, who most recently served as the trainer in charge of Godolphin Racing’s division of horses based in the United States, is well positioned to pick up his first win for Team Valor on Saturday when he sends out the Irish-bred Cerro in the $75,000 Canonero II Stakes for 3-year-olds at Pimlico. He faces just four rivals in the 1 1/8-mile race on the main track.

Cerro opened some eyes when he cleared his first allowance condition going 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park in late January. Ambitiously spotted in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, Cerro finished 11 1/2 lengths behind Orb, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Almost two months later, Cerro held the lead at the stretch call, but weakened in deep stretch to finish fourth on Polytrack in the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland. The runner-up that day, General Election, came back to win last weekend’s $150,000 American Classic on turf at Arlington.

Cerro, who will race with blinkers for the first time, is one of three runners in the Canonero II field with a win going two turns. The others are Dreaming of Jazz, a former claimer who cleared his first allowance condition going 1 1/16 miles a month ago, and Midnight Cello, winner of a slowly run one-mile maiden race at Parx on May 14.