03/31/2011 11:21AM

Pimlico stakes offers payday for speedsters


Opportunity is knocking for eight Maryland-bred fillies and mares in Saturday’s $50,000 Shine Again, a race restricted to statebreds who have never won a stakes. The first stakes of the Pimlico meet, the race is also a rare chance for the trainers with the three fastest horses in the Shine Again lineup to cash in a stakes event.

Longtime trainers Sam Cronk and Janon Fisher III, along with relative newcomer Taryn Tagg, daughter of veteran trainer Barclay Tagg, work with small strings of horses of mostly modest ability. Since 1976, Cronk is 1 for 45 in stakes races, with the lone win in September 1995 when Secret Assembly won the $20,000 Delaware Horsemen's Association Stakes at Delaware Park, and Fisher is 0 for 24. Tagg, with a 3-for-57 record the last five years, is 0 for 4 in her limited stakes opportunities.

Yet this looks like an ideal spot for one of the trio to reach the winner’s circle in a 1 1/16-mile race that lacks a clear standout.

The Tagg-trained Lily Quatorze owns the best recent form. A 4-year-old filly, Lily Quatorze began her career by going 1 for 9, but is a nose shy of being 3 for 3 since Tagg changed riders to apprentice Christopher Ho. Lily Quatorze cleared her first two allowance conditions by winning her two most recent starts by a combined 12 3/4 lenths with Beyer Speed Figures of 83 and 77. She has been off since New Year’s Day, however.

Cronk, 75, who spends his winters at Tampa Bay Downs and summers at Delaware Park, where he was the leading trainer from 1989 to 1991, brings in the 6-year-old D Day, who last year went 0 for 8, but recorded a string of Beyers in the low to mid-80s that would make her a serious threat against this group. D Day, idle since finishing fifth in a no-conditions allowance at Parx Racing on Dec. 4, is winless since January 2009.

Fisher will saddle the 6-year-old Amelia’s Bro, who shortens up slightly in distance after finishing fourth against open company in the 1 1/8-mile Maryland Racing Media on Feb. 12. Her 81 Beyer is the best last-race figure in Saturday’s field. Amelia’s Bro is 0 for 3 in stakes, with her best showing a third on turf in last fall’s Maryland Million Ladies.

The best of the rest appears to be Princess Malka, a nine-time winner who has won 2 of 3 since she was claimed for $12,500 out of a win on New Year’s Day by trainer Phil Schoenthal.