Updated on 09/18/2011 12:02AM

Sir Ray eyes shorter path to victory

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Jim Lisa
Sir Ray, winning last year's Maryland My Maryland at Calder, returns to defend his title on Saturday.

MIAMI - Preakness Day 2005 will forever be remembered for Afleet Alex winning the middle leg of the Triple Crown after nearly being knocked off his feet at the head of the stretch.

But Afleet Alex was not the only horse to recover from a nearly disastrous trip and win a race that afternoon. Earlier in the day, Sir Ray somehow managed to come back after bolting around the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch to win the Maryland My Maryland Stakes at Calder.

One year later, on Preakness Day 2006, Sir Ray will return to defend his title in the Maryland My Maryland, which carries a $45,000 purse this year. A 1 3/16-mile overnight stakes, the Maryland My Maryland will share top billing on Saturday's 12-race program along with the $45,000 Big Bubble Stakes, which is scheduled to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

appeared more likely not to make the course than win last year's Maryland My Maryland after taking jockey Manoel Cruz to the outside fence in the run around the first turn. The pair remained along the outside rail down the backstretch, with Cruz having to call off the outriders who were attempting to pull his mount up. Approaching the far turn, Cruz was finally able to steer Sir Ray back toward the inside, at which point he went after the leaders before pulling away to a 2 1/2-length triumph.

Sir Ray has changed hands numerous times via the claim box in the year since his memorable performance in the Maryland My Maryland, most recently being claimed by trainer Dan Hurtak for $16,000 out of an easy victory here just eight days ago. A 6-year-old son of Sir Leon, Sir Ray should be able to control the pace on Saturday if he can keep a straight course. Hurtak has given Cruz the return call.

If Sir Ray does get leg weary coming back on short rest, could pick up the pieces. Expeditious has not started since finishing sixth under second-level allowance conditions at Aqueduct on Feb. 11. He has since been purchased privately by owner-trainer Brian Prichard, who registered the first two victories of his training career here Tuesday.

Tacit Agreement returns to the main track after finishing a fast-closing fourth under second-level allowance conditions over the turf earlier in the session. Both of his career victories came at 1 1/8 miles.