05/21/2011 5:32PM

Pimlico: Paddy O’Prado digs deep in comeback to win Dixie

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John Bambury
Paddy O'Prado rallies past Baryshnikov to win the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico.

BALTIMORE - The first stage of trainer Dale Romans’s revised three-phase plan for his turf star Paddy O’Prado went to expectations Saturday at Pimlico, as the heavily favored gray 4-year-old colt rallied from last under Kent Desormeaux to win the Grade 2, $200,000 Dixie Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths over Baryshnikov.

Baryshnikov finished two lengths ahead of Bim Bam, who was followed in the order of finish by Pocket Patch, Slews Answer, Lonely Whistle and Eighttofasttocatch.

Paddy O’Prado was making his first start since finishing fifth in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on dirt. He was returning to turf, a surface over which he had won four previous graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington Park last August. Romans is targeting a return trip to Arlington later this summer for the Arlington Million on Aug. 13. Prior to that, Paddy O’Prado will run in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs on June 18.

Romans had hoped to bring Paddy O’Prado back to the races in south Florida this winter and then run in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at Churchill on Derby Day. But the colt got a little body sore while training this winter and Romans needed to stop on him.

The extra time obviously did Paddy O’Prado well as he was ready to run a powerful race over a demanding turf course labeled good.
Desormeaux had Paddy O’Prado in the back of the pack while Baryshnikov got loose on the lead through fractions of 24.76 seconds for the quarter, 49.07 for the half-mile, and 1:14.21 for six furlongs.

Desormeaux made a wide move around the far turn, but got taken out even further when Rajiv Maragh, aboard Slews Answer tried to run with him turning for home. Paddy O’Prado quickly discarded Slews Answer as well as Pocket Patch later on and set sail for Baryshnikov, who had run a mile in 1:40.06.

Paddy O’Prado took the lead inside the sixteenth pole and drew clear. Paddy O’Prado, a 4-year-old son of El Prado owned by Donegal Racing, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:53.56 and returned $3.20 to win.

“He had to reach up and find his class from the three-sixteenths to eighth pole,” Desormeaux said. “Once he gutted that out and got near [Baryshnikov] I found him to be a lot more of a racehorse to get by him. Then he boxed on and got me home.”

Said Romans: “It was a big race first time back. I was a little concerned, but when he made his move around the turn I knew he was good enough to keep it up.”