05/19/2016 12:06PM

Rain could send Dixie south in a hurry

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Grand Arch won the Shadwell Turf Mile over a yielding course at Keeneland last year, but he won't run in the Dixie on Saturday if forecast rains turn the turf course soft.

BALTIMORE – On paper, Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Dixie Stakes, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf, looks to be a really good race.

But Mother Nature could take some of the fun out of it if forecasted showers impact Pimlico’s turf course. Many of the connections of the 13 Dixie entrants expressed concern about racing over a yielding or boggy turf course.

The Dixie would mark the 7-year-old debut of Grand Arch, who won the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile over a yielding course last Oct. 3 before running third to Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile four weeks later.

Trainer Brian Lynch noted that Grand Arch has not handled soft ground at Woodbine in the past, and regarding the Dixie, he said, “It would be a no-go if they get the rain they’re talking about getting.”

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Lynch said he had hoped to have Grand Arch ready for a race like the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland last month, but “they just got behind with him at the farm.”

Trainer Alan Goldberg scratched Dixie entrant Force the Pass out of the Fort Marcy at Belmont on May 7 in part due to a rain-softened turf course. Goldberg said he scratched knowing that the Dixie was a good backup and noted that Force the Pass ran well over “good” Gulfstream turf in the Grade 3 Appleton.

“I’m on plan B now; there is no plan C,” Goldberg said. “If it stays on the turf, I’m running. Will I run well? If it was okay turf, I think he will. He’s doing great.”

Adam Wachtel is part-owner of both Long On Value and Take the Stand, and he said they most likely would scratch if the turf course came up soft.

Trainer Mark Casse said that rain likely would prompt him to scratch the 8-year-old Za Approval. Casse would, however, run Conquest Typhoon.

One trainer who might welcome a soft turf course is Chad Brown. He entered Takeover Target, who has two wins over soft or yielding turf.

The Dixie is race 12, one race prior to the Preakness.


Grand Arch, by Arch

Last 3 Beyers: 102-104-106

◗ Recorded back-to-back graded stakes wins at Saratoga and Keeneland last year and ran third with trouble behind Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

◗ Worked a very strong five furlongs in 1:01.41 – the last quarter in 22.50 seconds – over the Belmont turf last Sunday in company with Lightstream, who is entered in Saturday’s Wonder Again at Belmont.

Force the Pass, by Speightstown

Last 3 Beyers: 100-91-92

◗ Came off a 6 1/2-month layoff to run third, beaten a half-length, in the Appleton on April 2. Divisidero, who finished second in the Appleton, came back to win the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

◗ Finished second in the James Murphy going a mile over this course last Preakness Day.

◗ Joel Rosario, aboard Force the Pass for victories in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby and Grade 3 Penn Mile, will be back aboard Saturday.

Takeover Target, by Harlan’s Holiday

Last 3 Beyers: 96-98-100

◗ Won the Grade 3 Hill Prince over soft turf last October and won his career debut over yielding turf in the fall of 2014.

Makes his second start off a layoff after finishing second as the 3-5 favorite in the Danger’s Hour Stakes over yielding turf at Aqueduct.

Cage Fighter, by Closing Argument

Last 3 Beyers: 77-104-100

◗ Finished second to Ironicus in this race last year at 25-1.

◗ Shows two solid works since being pulled up after bobbling as the 2-1 favorite in the Henry Clark Stakes at Laurel on April 23.