05/18/2013 4:27PM

Pimlico: Pianist wires Gallorette field under Mike Smith

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Barbara D. Livingston
Pianist wins the Gallorette under an aggressive ride by Mike Smith, giving trainer Chad Brown a repeat in the race.

BALTIMORE - The Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith was riding his first race for trainer Chad Brown when he climbed aboard Pianist in the Grade 3, $150,000 Gallorette Handicap at Pimlico on Saturday. If first impressions count for much, it won’t be the last.

Smith put Pianist on the lead coming out of the gate, set pretty strong early fractions, but they kept on going as Pianist scored a 2 3/4-length victory in the Gallorette. Hard Not to Like, under John Velazquez, chased Pianist home and took second, finishing 1 1/4 lengths in front of Appealing Cat. Samitar, the 6-5 favorite and also trained by Brown, could do no better than fourth.

[PREAKNESS STAKES: Race replays and reactions from Pimlico]

It was the first graded stakes win for Pianist, a 4-year-old daughter of More Than Ready owned by Hidden Brook Farm and Dan Zucker. Pianist had won the listed Given Stakes at Belmont last September.

It was the second straight year Brown has won the Gallorette. He took it last year with Zagora, who went on to be crowned female turf champion.

Brown figured to win Saturday’s Gallorette with Samitar, but that 4-year-old filly just “spun her wheels” on the Pimlico turf course, according to jockey Javier Castellano.

The plan for Pianist was to go to the front, but Brown left it up to Smith on how fast to go. He ended up covering the first half-mile in 46.65 with Pianist.

“She jumped very well," Smith said. "I was going to take the initiative. Chad - he’s an extremely talented horseman - told me, ‘You can win this race, but you’re going to have pull an upset. You can’t just do the norm, you got to do something a little [abnormal].’ The [46.65] was probably a little [abnormal], but it worked.”

Brown said he was a little nervous when he saw that half-mile fraction, but felt better knowing it was Smith in the irons.

“I don’t think anybody’s got a better clock than him in the whole game,” Brown said.

Pianist covered the 1 1/16 miles over firm turf in 1:40.60 and returned $15.40.

Smith said he looks forward to riding for Brown again in the future.

“I was excited about riding for him and I’m glad I pulled it off,” Smith said. “He’s a guy you’re going to hear a whole lot of. I plan on staying around for at least five more years, so hopefully I get more business.”